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Managing A Chain Of High Street Shops
Borders . . . Jessops . . . Coffee Republic . . . Bay Trading . . . these former retail chains represent a mere handful of the dozens of our once-thriving high street stores which have ceased to exist in recent years. And if retail industry experts are to be believed, these well-publicised recent casualties are just the tip of the iceberg.
A joint research project conducted by the Local Data Centre and the Said Business School (University of Oxford), predicted last month (June 2013) that British high streets are set to lose another 5,000 shops by 2018.
There is little doubt that UK high streets are not so much in decline as in freefall just now: indeed some towns are chockfull to the brim with pay day lenders, pawnbrokers and pound shops galore. Not to mention the abundance of charity shops whose sheer volume dominates the landscape of many a local high street.
But in spite of these inevitable fatalities and the emergence of new brands across our high streets, it isn’t all doom and gloom on the retailing front . . .
Whilst product-based sales environments – particularly those related to technology and fashion – have gradually moved away from the high street in favour of online sales platforms, service-based industries such as hair and beauty salons and pampering experiences like nail bars and day spas, have benefitted from increased visibility in our high streets and surrounds – enjoying a noteworthy growth of 10% in two years.
Several decades have passed since Richard Branson conducted his ‘footfall’ experiment to determine whether to position his first ever Virgin Records store on London’s Oxford Street/ Tottenham Court Road junction as opposed to Kensington High Street. As we all know, Oxford Street won the day and became the first Megastore of Branson’s empire.
Is the correlation between footfall and location in retailing just as relevant today would you say? Or perhaps that rather depends on what you are selling and your all-important USP.
The Financial Times reported last month that our town high streets are diversifying because they are being forced to. In the same piece, retail analyst Clive Black suggested that: “Falling rents could encourage people to start their own shop and bring greater diversity to the UK’s homogenised high streets,” adding that this course of action would require help and support from local authorities and warning that this would not happen overnight.
If you currently manage a chain of high street shops, then staying ahead of the game has to be your number one priority. To this end, having the right software in place could help your business grow exponentially. CAFM software (Computer Aided Facility Management), for example, enables facilities’ managers to integrate and refine common planning and management tasks in order to maximise resources and optimise performance.
Typically, these activities will include:
- Strategic planning – buildings, business operations, HR requirements.
- Space planning - allocations, inventory, classifications.
- People management – occupancy levels, vendors, staffing schedules.
- Maintenance management – ‘on demand’ (reactive) and scheduled (preventive) maintenance.
- Emergency management - disaster planning prevention and recovery strategy, Health & Safety information.
- Capital project management – construction & renovation.
- Lease management - property financial data.
- Asset management - depreciation, equipment, furniture, telecommunications, IT, technology.
- Building information management – integration and interaction.
- Sustainability - energy performance, building certifications, sustainability projects.
So clearly, managing a chain of high street shops amounts to a pretty challenging prospect in this day and age. But one which can be made somewhat easier by the latest generation of CAFM software technology – intelligent and user-friendly systems which facilitate ‘down to the wire’ planning, forecasting and research, so that nothing is left to chance. Not only must today’s retailers have their fingers firmly on the pulse of consumer demand at all times, but they will also need a degree of foresight and strong leadership if they are to achieve longevity.
The key to achieving retail success in today’s uncertain economic climate appears to be the ability to create a distinctive point of differentiation within your company’s DNA in order to build a “lifestyle destination” which shoppers will flock to – not primarily because of what they can buy from you – but moreover for the overall customer experience they will enjoy in doing business with you.
These self-styled “pop-up shops” of the future favoured by the likes of retail expert and TV broadcaster, Mary Portas, appear to be the catalyst for the prospect of a newly-transformed high street presence in the years to come: – one which will comprise a busy, buzzy social hub, where conventional sales mechanisms can happily co-exist alongside thriving ecommerce outlets, without either one threatening to cull the other’s livelihood.
Now that could be really encouraging news for those retailers looking to establish their own unique business model across the UK’s high streets of tomorrow.
The Different Jobs In A Property Management Company
Are you a graduate looking to get your first break in property management? If you are a bright, confident and articulate individual, someone who is practical and possesses excellent attention to detail, then this could be the ideal career for you.
A property manager can represent the interests of landlords or tenants – and sometimes – both. Often this will mean juggling the needs and demands of either side to find the right solutions.
Of course there are many facets to managing property including: lease management, rental collections, the overseeing maintenance issues and handling budgets, not to mention numerous reporting issues you will be required to complete. If you choose an experienced management company from which to get your feet on the first rung of the ladder, it is highly likely that they will use a state of the art management system such as integrated CAFM software to make managing your day to day schedule a whole lot easier!
As a property manager you will need to be methodical, tactful and calm under pressure, as well as being a natural ‘people’s person.’ You will be a good decision-maker, someone who inspires confidence in others, as well as possessing strong leadership skills.
Because you will need to have your finger on the pulse as regards the introduction of new legislation, a career in a property management company is best suited to people with a genuine interest in this type of work. This busy, fast-paced environment will not suit ‘pen pushers’ or people looking for a quiet life, but if you are someone who is naturally proactive – someone who gets a buzz from helping other people and enjoys a challenge, you need look no further.
And your efforts will no doubt be rewarded with a wide variety of experience under your belt that is sure to benefit your future career progression. Indeed, you will most likely find that no two days will be ever the same in terms of the demands placed upon you.
From the graduate’s point of view, the really exciting thing about a career in property management, is that often you will assume a degree of responsibility from day one. You will really feel like you are contributing to the team effort, unlike with some jobs, where you have to undergo an induction training programme for the first six months before they will let you loose on a ‘live’ project.
Your clients will come from all walks of life, be they property investors, entrepreneurs, business professionals, or creative people, and it is the sheer variety of clients you will deal with which will make your work compelling. For example, one of my associates has recently moved a professional footballer and his family into one of her rental properties.
One requirement may well be to visit tenants at regular intervals (usually three-monthly or six-monthly) to make sure that the property is being kept in good condition and to ensure that tenants are complying with the terms of their lease, for example: ‘no pets’ or ‘no smoking’ clauses.
This is where your commercial nous and keen eye for detail will come in useful. It has been known for tenants to sub-let part of their property unbeknown to the landlord and in contravention of their contract terms.
Any problems must be dealt with swiftly to ensure that they do not escalate into a legal battle which could be costly to your client (even if he or she is deemed to be in the right).
Your ability to co-ordinate and prioritise management tasks, deal with outside agencies and contractors and ensure tenant compliance, will make for the smooth running of your agency or property management company.
No doubt you are wondering about salary structure – what could you reasonably expect to earn in your first year? According to the UK-based website Totaljobs, you could expect to receive a salary of between £25,000-£42,500 PA for a residential lettings agency, with the average salary coming in at a respectable £32,500.
For commercial property, the salary bracket is slightly higher between £27,000-£47,500, with the average annual salary being around £37,500.
Whether you like the idea of working in ‘residential’ or ‘commercial’ management the place to start your job search is online. There are a wealth of dedicated specialist recruitment sites from which you can view current vacancies, submit your CV for consideration, and set up job alerts for the terms you wish. Many recruitment agency services are free to job-seeking candidates, so it can be well worth your while signing up.
Like I say, a career in a property management company won’t be for everyone; but if you are a person with good communication skills who enjoys meeting people and excels in a challenging environment, property management has a great deal to offer in terms of career longevity and job satisfaction.