Jillian Dumerve and Adam Gibbs
Assistant Property Managers at Cousins Properties
As Assistant Property Managers at Cousins Properties, Jillian and Adam help run the main Terminus buildings in Atlanta, GA. With nine years of commercial real estate experience between them, they excel at wearing the many hats their role requires. Whether they are addressing issues with the physical space or helping with accounting needs, they ensure that they efficiently solve the day-to-day problems associated with Terminus’ building maintenance and operations.
Tell me a little bit about where you work.
Jillian: Terminus is located in central Buckhead, at the corner of Peachtree and Piedmont. It consists of two towers and a garage, which are home to world-class office space. The asset also includes five-star dining, luxury condominiums, amenities, and street-level retail.
You’re balancing a lot daily. What would you say is the most challenging aspect of your job?
Adam: I’d say the fact that your day-to-day is constantly changing. You can sit in a construction meeting at 3:00 pm, and then by 3:15 pm, the fire alarm sounds off, and you have to avert your attention to that situation. Anything and everything could go wrong, and you have to be flexible enough to pick up and go to whatever task is at hand before reconvening and picking up your regularly scheduled tasks. There are always those small crazy things that may not happen every day, but they still occur. So, you have to be mentally prepared to make that switch at any moment.
That makes sense. Are there any other aspects of your role that are particularly unique?
Jillian: Some days we’re mediators, some days we’re the accountant, and some days we’re the lawyer — it’s always changing. However, one of the biggest things about our jobs is tenant engagement. After leasing gets the customers in the building, we want them to stay. So we need to keep up with our building community, events, and perks to make sure everyone is as comfortable and engaged as possible.
Let’s expand on that a bit. Does technology play a role in tenant engagement?
Adam: Definitely. If you need office space, you typically look at the price per square foot and the location. When you’re in a situation where 16 other buildings offer the same things as your property, you’re always going to need to provide something extra. Something that makes it a little more personable. That’s a huge thing in today’s market. Tenants want an office that is more than welcoming. They also need a selling point for their employees. If they know that they can provide their employees with an asset enhanced by technology, it will help their company seem more attractive. For instance, you can call and get XYZ things at the touch of your hand through a tenant engagement app. That’s key.
Sounds like it! What are some examples of technology use-cases that are helpful when it comes to attracting and retaining tenants?
Jillian: One of the significant benefits of our app is the convenience. In today’s world, everyone wants things as quickly and as easily as possible. In a Cousins building, you get access to a platform that provides these convenience features. Whether it’s the ability to unlock the doors with touchless access, make easy orders for delivery, or even find out what’s around you (which is especially important for people traveling into the city for work who aren’t familiar with the area).
Now, they have this app in the palm of their hands where they can see there’s a store down the street that’s doing delivery right now. Or they can order lunch from this restaurant that’s a part of the building. Or they can see that more people are coming back into the building, so they can be informed on what’s going on to help them get back into the swing of things. It’s a very easy way to show tenants that Cousins buildings offer all of these additional amenities that other buildings aren’t doing.
Where do you see the evolution of technology going for the commercial real estate industry?
Adam: We’re seeing many technology platforms being combined. Before, we would use something separate for accounting, our reservations, our work orders, and so on. Now, we see entire platforms bring either one or all of those services together. We’re paying one lump sum for multiple services that aid all aspects of our jobs. I think that in the future, such tools will only continue to get easier to use.
Taking a step back, how do you see the future of the office as a whole?
Adam: I think many offices will start playing in on the flexibility of the office environment, whether it’s working from home, having drop stations, or giving employees the chance to work at a different office location. I don’t think office space will go away; there are so many tax benefits and other considerations to take in for that to happen. But this means that office owners will make the best of what they can do with their buildings, which will be about flexible workplaces and policies.
Can technology help with those flexibility needs?
Jillian: Of course! Technology can significantly help in cases where some people are working from home, and some people are working in the office — the hybrid work approach. Technology will help keep people connected no matter where they work. Since the pandemic, doing different virtual events has become the normal thing to complement in-person team-building activities. So allowing people to do something like dial in remotely to cocktail-making or painting classes will strengthen their connection to the office even when they’re not physically here.
We’re coming to the end of our interview. Is there anything else you’d like to add about Cousins’ tenant engagement strategies?
Adam: It all goes back to us wanting to provide things that are unique to us, versus what a typical building would have. Whenever it comes to specific events or on-site amenities, we’re always trying to be proactive and find things that the building across the street won’t have. For example, having a reindeer in for Christmas. You would be surprised at how many adults want to see a reindeer and take pictures with one! When we didn’t have it last year due to COVID, our tenants were asking about it. It was a reminder that we always have to be innovative and find new ways to do things, like sharing new events through our app that all people can join in on.
Jillian: Another thing for us is the TOBY competition for Building of the Year that we entered this past year. In one of the sections, it asks about your community engagement. I know a lot of other buildings were struggling with that part because of the pandemic. Our building stood out because we had many things that we were able to do virtually through our tenant experience platform. It stood out, and now we’re proceeding on to the international level of the competition!
That’s awesome to hear! Before we wrap up, what advice would you give for someone new to the industry?
Jillian: Don’t be afraid to hit the ground running. There are always going to be new things thrown at you, and you will have to learn as you go.
Adam: Yes, and I would add that you can’t let the position limit your mindset. What’s listed in your job description won’t likely be what your actual day-to-day looks like. You’re going to have responsibilities that are outside of where you’re actually at, and that’s okay. We’re really big on team building at Cousins, so we want people to succeed in their roles. Just keeping an open mindset and having a willingness to learn and grow outside of what you think you’re going to know is so important.
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.