A Changing World

By Stephen L. Burger, CPM, CRX, CRM

The world is changing. There are technological and social forces at work that are pushing us to redefine how we work, where we live and even how we socialize.

We at EBMC are proud of the management services we provide our diverse clients, in an equally diverse range of what are commonly called the real estate food groups: multifamily to be sure, but also office, single-family, industrial, retail and even mobile homes.

Just about all of them are shape-shifting under the pressure of those above-named forces. Two of the property types we represent--retail and industrial--are particularly interesting to watch in this watershed time in our history. No one, frankly, knows what the outcome will be, but there seems to be a merging of the two as A) shoppers redefine how they shop and B) online sources such as Amazon totally rewire traditional distribution systems.

When I was a kid, the last mile was a phrase out of Western movies. Today, it refers to the need to get goods into the customers’ hands--as fast as possible.

A recent report that appeared on the website of the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors stated the following: “In today’s ultra-competitive retail marketplace, no retailer can afford to sidestep the challenge of last-mile, same-day delivery. Even minor improvements in arrival time can delight hard-to-please customers. For years, the US’ $700-billion freight transportation market was dominated by a few big companies—but new competitors are rapidly growing. Survival in the fight for the last mile will be determined by each solution’s performance against time, service and capital.”

The article (written by JLL’s Kris Bjorson) continues: “From small urban warehouses to dark stores and showroom-pickup centers, new types of fulfillment centers are taking shape, as retailers and their distribution partners test new approaches to improve their product flow, such as pre-sort and post-sort, aggregation, conveyable versus non-conveyable, returns, and more.”

Notice, he didn’t even mention delivery by drones.

Now, you may ask whatever does this have to do with property management? In a way, everything. While our occupants redefine how they service their customers, property managers will be equally challenged to provide service to fit their new operations. Managing a distribution center with human order pickers is a totally different animal than maintaining an asset with automated processes.

Everyone across all disciplines within real estate will be challenged to adjust to a new era of occupant need, whether it be the broker, the developer or the property manager. Ongoing training, always a hallmark of professionals in this industry, will become an even greater necessity if the goal is to remain relevant to all of our constituencies.

As I stated at the top, no one knows where this race for last-mile primacy will end.The technologies impacting it are still evolving. But we do know this: Those who fail to embrace the development and implementation of these advances will be left in the dust.

Steve Burger

As president and COO of Eugene Burger Management Co., Steve Burger is directly responsible for the overall quality, depth and consistency of management services provided in all 15 regions in the EBMC coverage map.

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