Facility Managers and Property Managers — What’s the difference?

Facility Managers and Property Managers — What’s the difference?

28 June 2019

Facility management and property management are the two roles in maintaining and improving buildings. The two areas have a lot in common, but there are some distinct differences, writes Janelle Penny in Buildings magazine.

Many facility and property manager duties overlap. For example, they’re both responsible for keeping buildings safe and secure, implementing water and energy efficiency initiatives and dealing with third-party service providers. But there are some distinct differences.

Here are some examples:

Property Managers

  • Responsible for whole-building tasks in a leased building occupied by tenants.
  • Manages leases and fulfils the building owner’s responsibilities as spelled out in the lease.
  • Acts as a liaison between the owner and tenants.
  • Handles rent payments from tenants.
  • Implements tenant retention and attraction strategies.
  • Helps the building owner achieve their financial and asset management goals.

Facility Managers

  • Oversees owner-occupied buildings or spaces for specific tenants in leased buildings.
  • Maintains building systems.
  • Coordinates space use and layout.
  • Facilitates moves and reconfigurations.
  • Manages a facility staff and delegates work orders as needed.
  • Makes sure the building and each space within support the owner’s mission by providing a safe, comfortable place to work.
  • Keeps building equipment and infrastructure functional and efficient.
  • Conducts basic troubleshooting with equipment problems to determine when an issue can be fixed by the in-house facilities team vs. when it’s necessary to bring in a specialist.

“A lot of times the facility manager is the jack of all trades, and even though it doesn’t necessarily fit in the job description, things will come along where the facility manager has a role. It’s the same with property management,” says BOMA Fellow Marc Fischer.

“Both of them are jobs where if you have a job description, the last bullet point is ‘Anything and everything else that comes up.’”

What important capabilities do both roles require? The following nine skills stand out:

1. Basic building knowledge

“Regardless of whether you’re the facility manager or the property manager, it’s not voodoo magic that creates air conditioning in the mechanical room,” Fischer says.

“How does that work and what are the pieces? What maintenance should you do and when? When should it be replaced? How should it be maintained? ‘How do things work’ skills are big.

2. The ability to work as a fiduciary

Both types of managers protect the building owner’s financial investment in the building, just in slightly different ways.

3. Contract negotiation and development

“Generally speaking, the facility manager and property manager are both contracting for goods and services, so they’re both putting contracts together. That’s a big responsibility,” Fischer says. “They have to do that in a way that’s ethical and shows good decision-making.

4. Flexibility and being a quick learner

Facility and property managers must be able to observe what’s going on around them and react quickly, says Henry Chamberlain, president of BOMA International.

5. People skills

“Whether you’re running a building with multiple tenants, working for the owner or in your own facility, you really have to have people skills and the ability to work with a lot of folks,” Chamberlain says.

6. Basic finance and accounting knowledge

“Everybody prepares budgets whether you have one building or multiple. You prep the budget for your department as the facility manager,” explains Chamberlain.

“You need the ability to put together those budgets and understand operations enough that you can suggest investments in infrastructure.”

7. Leadership and strategy

As you establish yourself in the field, the ability to lead a team will become more and more important. Be comfortable with presenting in front of a group, participating in meetings and delegating tasks to people on your team.

8. Health and well-being

The emphasis on wellness in buildings impacts both property managers and facility managers.

Property managers need to offer amenities that will encourage existing tenants to renew their leases and attract new tenants to lease out empty spaces, and right now, activity- and wellness-focused spaces are the key.

Facilities managers are charged with creating a healthy environment for building occupants.

9. Community spirit

Property management in particular is taking on a community manager role that involves coordinating social activities as a sort of experiential amenity.

“Tenants are looking more for activities that allow them to get together in the building. That could be an ice cream social, a happy hour or a health and wellness session,” Chamberlain says.

“Facility managers have been doing that for their corporate clients, but now there’s interaction with what’s going on elsewhere in the building or in surrounding areas. People are looking for more service, whether you’re a property manager or facility manager.”