We are happiest when we are helping people. In the instance of Harbour Exchange, this help is guiding a client unfamiliar with the UK property industry through the dos and don’ts of a pretty particular business.
Having been appointed managing agents on three buildings – numbers 3, 4 and 5 – in 2014, we were well placed to be retained when number 3 was sold on to an overseas client. It gives us confidence in our expertise that the new client is keen to learn from us, and continues to work closely with us, to understand the best way to deliver strong returns in a resilient UK property portfolio.
In the beginning, we uncovered a couple of significant issues to address: first, there was a lot vacant space for which our client was covering service charge shortfalls. We focused on cost savings in the first instance by reviewing all the service contracts. A reduction in void costs for our client improved net operating income, and cost savings for occupiers saw reinvestment in improved services.
Once the immediate cost issues were resolved, we set about addressing the cause rather than the symptom – the voids. We worked closely with the client to achieve a rebranded, repositioned property that was underpinned by a comprehensive refurbishment, ready for new occupiers.
Second, we found that occupiers were not being billed accurately for their utilities usage, particularly energy. This was a big thing for us; because it is fair that you only pay for what you use, and because it matters in terms of environmental management. We can only help occupiers improve their performance if we give them the correct usage information. Line by line, we reviewed all the bills and analysed costs v consumption. Our attention to the detail here means that now, occupiers are only being billed for what they use.
Harbour Exchange is just the kind of property we like; we saw lots of ways to use our expertise to make improvements, plenty of property detail on which to focus and a client who needs a different kind of support to keep them happy. And happy clients are the best kind.