Tricks Of The Trade: Property Manager Or Facility Manager

By James C. Elledge, IFMA Fellow, CFM, FMA, RPA, RIAQM
Published in the October 2010 issue of Today’s Facility Manager

Q Is there any difference, in your opinion, between a property manager and a facility manager?

Debbie Gilmore
Retail Construction Consultant

A There is a difference between a property manager and a facility manager (fm). Claire Saeki with RFP Magazine explains there are several ways to distinguish the two. “Associations such as the International Facility Management Association provide definitions, but the crux of what makes an fm different from what we call a property manager is that the latter is passive or solely reactive, whereas the fm will be actively trying to manage the space so that it better suits the needs of its users.”

So let’s reiterate the differences a bit more for the sake of clarity. A property manager serves as an agent for the owner of the building. The property manager is charged to operate the building in a manner that will provide a profit to the owner. This means the property manager does things like collect rents, pay bills, utilities and taxes, coordinate repairs, develop a budget for capital improvements, bid out services, and strive to keep the property full with occupants.

By contrast, an fm serves as an agent for the management of a business. Fms are concerned not only with the office space, but also with all the things required to make the space productive for the employees. This would include the office floor plan, furniture and fixtures, filing, storage, meeting space, temperature, lighting, etc. The fm is attempting to provide a work environment which allows the occupants to be as productive as possible, in other words, the space and its contents does not interfere with the tasks being completed by the employees.

Conflicts between the property manager and fm occur, since their responsibilities may be counterproductive. The property manager is looking at ways of operating the building more efficiently by adjusting the HVAC operating hours, turning lights off, modifying cleaning schedules, and changing paper goods to either save money, go green, etc.

Meanwhile, the fm is being bombarded with work orders from the occupants, too hot, too cold, too loud, no power, and so on. The fm may want the building to operate the HVAC longer than currently scheduled, special cleaning or trash removal may need to be made during the day, or new paper towels in the restrooms may need to be replaced with towels that won’t disintegrate when occupants try to use them

Just remember that an fm has to be concerned with more than the walls defining the space, but everything contained within.

Elledge,facility/office services manager for Dallas, TX-based Summit AllianceCompanies, is the recipient of the Distinguished Author Award from theInternational Facility Management Association (IFMA), is an IFMA Fellow, and isa member of TFM’sEditorial Advisory Board. All questions have been submitted via the “Ask TheExpert” portion of the magazine’s web site. To pose a question, visit this link.


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