Property Manager at Cousins Properties
As a Property Manager at Cousins Properties, Bernard is in charge of the maintenance and operations of the Terminus buildings located in Atlanta, GA. Bernard uses his over 13 years of commercial real estate experience to make sure key objectives and deadlines are met and ensure the success of his team.
Tell me a little bit about the Terminus buildings you manage.
Terminus is located at the corner of Peachtree and Piedmont in central Buckhead. It’s near MARTA, the Buckhead Loop, and GA 400, so it’s easily accessible. There are two towers and a garage, which are home to world-class office space. Terminus also includes five-star dining, luxury condominiums, amenities, and street-level retail. Everything you need is within easy walking distance.
What is the most challenging aspect about your job?
I’d say managing people. I have many responsibilities when it comes to my work, so it’s more along the lines of making sure personalities aren’t clashing, and things are done efficiently. On a slightly different note, my team will tell you that one of the habits I adopted is grabbing my radio if I need to go anywhere on the property. Certain days can be challenging because you never know what will happen when you’re away from your desk. Therefore my tool belt always consists of three things: my radio, cell phone, and keys. I always know I’m going to need them at some point.
You mentioned managing the relationships within your team, but how do you manage the relationships with your tenants?
I think tenant experience is essential. Tenants have a choice. If you are out hunting for an apartment or an office space, you’ll look for a few things right off the bat. You’ll want to determine what area you’re going to be in, price per square footage, things like that. But decisions are also made based on the experience of the building. When you walk into an office and encounter the employees, you will see the amenities and community that the building has to offer. So, our job is to make the experience one that is very customer-service oriented. We want tenants to remember our building when they leave.
How is technology helping you achieve those goals?
In the same way everything else we use today is facilitated through smartphones, a tenant experience platform helps you have everything about your building at your fingertips. One of my favorite things about it is that if we need to put a communication out, we can do it right away. People see it in real-time and we don’t have to wait for a customer contact to disperse it to the employees within their company. Instead, if people have the app downloaded, they get our message immediately. It takes out the need for two or three layers of people to disseminate information. You can also get feedback from individuals directly.
In addition to communications, how is technology helping commercial real estate at large?
Just like everything else in our everyday lives, technology is constantly evolving around us. I don’t think it’s any different for the commercial real estate industry. When we use the word technology, the things that come to mind are our HVAC systems, access control, virtually attending events, even accounting platforms. Even more things have been done remotely since the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve had the luxury of using all of the technologies available to us to continue working.
In some cases, we weren’t even here on-site. So a lot of that has been beneficial to us overall. With the changes that COVID has brought, there are also new technologies in which the various atmospheres can be monitored for health reasons, such as air quality and airflow. All of that is good for the industry.
What does the future of the office look like?
I think hybrid is where we’re headed. The jury’s still out on whether the office will be affected in a big way or not. Some folks are saying they feel it will be impacted, where they expect to see folks downsizing — Who needs an office space anymore, right? I don’t think that’s going to happen because, as we saw during the pandemic, many folks mentally want to be with other people and not just work from home all the time.
So in that regard, and in terms of tax benefits and whatnot, I don’t think it’ll be impacted in a big way especially for many larger companies that enjoy certain benefits of having a physical office space. But I think the companies will have to be a little more open to working from home, at least occasionally, which many companies were already doing before the pandemic. You’ll probably see more workers migrate to the companies that are offering these modern benefits and amenities. It’ll open up competition and there may be a little bit of a shift, but I think the industry will continue to be in a good place for the most part.
Is there anything else you’d like to add about what you’re doing for tenant experience at Cousins?
At the end of the day, we’re big on hosting events and bringing people together. That’s one of the things we pride ourselves on. Even during the pandemic we found ways to continue meeting and gathering, whether in-person or via Zoom. We can continue to bring people together because we need that mentally. My biggest takeaway from this past year is that interaction with others is a must for most people.
Last question before you go. What advice would you give to someone just starting out in your industry?
You can’t be afraid. In this job, you wear so many hats, and you just need to have fun with it. I love what I do. There’s a saying in this business that once it gets in your blood, it stays there. Sometimes people leave the industry, but they all come back because it’s exciting. No two days are exactly the same. You never know what to expect, so be prepared to be a problem-solver and always keep these two things on your radar: being customer service-oriented and thinking in terms of liability. Balancing between the two will help you succeed.
Conversations was a monthly blog series that featured the managers and partners who use HqO at the property level — the things they saw, the challenges they had, and how they thought technology impacted them. You can still catch these stories by subscribing to its podcast counterpart: Conversations with HqO. For more information about Cousins, click here. For more information about how HqO can elevate your tenant engagement strategies, schedule a free demo today.