Staffing for Your Properties: Exploring O+M Staffing Ratios and Outsourcing

July 19, 2021 | By: Alec Burchett

When looking at staffing, your individual properties, and your portfolios, it is important to consider your own staffing ratios and how they may compare to overall industry averages. This can give insights into your practices that could lead to change that saves money, improves efficiency, or generates more revenue.

The easiest way to go about planning your staffing and developing these ratios is simply through observation. You must evaluate the tenant mix in your property, evaluate what each of your tenants will require from you, and then use these observations to determine what an appropriate mix of personnel would be to best meet the needs of your tenants. For example, imagine that you own a twelve-story mixed use building, and a competitor owns a single-story industrial complex. You may observe that due to all your different tenants, you need multiple property managers and building engineers for this building. However, the competitor, operating under completely different circumstances, may only need a single property manager and building engineer per building because that is the way they can best serve their tenants. There is no “one size fits all” type of rule to follow when it comes to staffing your properties. You must base your decisions off what will best serve your needs.

That said, it does not mean other decisions and gathered data cannot be used to help you make your own decisions. Chris Lelle, Portfolio Chief Engineer with Lincoln Property company, advises that ratios can vary, but they typically employ one engineer per every 250,000 square feet. Another estimate supported through research sponsored by the BOMA Georgia Foundation as part of the foundation’s 2016 Metro Atlanta Commercial Real Estate Study, found that on average, 0.952 property management staff and 1.244 engineering staff were employed per 200,000 square feet.

The property management aspect cannot be spoken to without more current data but, comparing the engineering ratios can lead to a few possible conclusions. When both data points are converted to a ratio with the same square footage, we see a final ratio of 1.55 engineers per 250k square feet from the BOMA Georgia Foundation research, compared to an even 1.00 per 250k square feet that was previously mentioned from Chris. This decrease simply alludes to the fact that fewer engineers are currently employed over a larger area. This could be due to any number of reasons such as greater current expectations from engineers, increases in efficiency and technology causing less reliance on greater quantities of staff, or even a difficult period that has caused hardships for many companies. This is only one very specific example, but the same principles can be extrapolated and applied to your own decisions.

When thinking whether to staff or outsource work, these same principles can be used. One must evaluate their needs and what the management of the property requires, both in terms of cost and skills needed. Based on those considerations, one can then make a decision on whether to achieve those goals through utilizing their own systems or have someone else accomplish those goals in their stead.



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