A Recipe for Office Productivity
40 years ago, businesses traditionally increased employee productivity through either monetary reward (high salary) and/or reprimand (fear of job loss).
The 21st Century business philosophy for increased employee productivity is vastly different than it was back then. Today, productivity is thought to be motivated by increased employee engagement. This is defined as “an employee’s emotional commitment to the organization and its goals”.
Scheer Partners has welcomed this 21st Century philosophy. We nurture employee engagement through a variety of team building initiatives that have a positive impact on productivity. Scheer Partners has a sense of community and employees are engaged.
While I agree that employee engagement is a key ingredient to office productivity, I also feel the drive to yield results is hard wired in certain individuals. The Scheer Partners office is lucky enough to have such individuals. So, like most things in life, I think productivity requires balance; balance between employee engagement and a determination to work hard.
That’s my opinion. What’s your take?
Standing for Ethics
Even more in today than ever before there is a drive not only to “keep up with the Jones’s”, but to “be the Jones”. Trying to make one more sale, develop one more innovation, and do whatever is necessary to “close the deal” while chasing the ultimate goal of financial success.
This drive for financial success is rapidly being replaced by the desire for financial power and greed. As a result, lack of respect, and a disregard for ethics seem to be the new norm. Respect and morals trickle down from our superiors. Parents teach their children, employers set the bar for their company, and government leaders set the tone for the nation. When irrational behavior, mockery and deceit are not only condoned, but encouraged by our “role models”, it is difficult to do the right thing. People instead do the easy thing. What is easy is rarely right.
Cutting corners or changing the deal is too easy, especially when business is hard and saving money is paramount. Keeping your commitment is hard when business is slow! It is critical, now more than ever, for company leaders to set and maintain ethical standards, and not allow outside elements to lower the ideals that have made American business successful.
“If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.” ~ Alexander Hamilton
Looking for Ways to Save on Building Energy Costs: There is a Webinar for That
Join experts from Scheer Partners, Recurrent, LLC, Montgomery County Division of Environmental Policy & Compliance, Department of Environmental Protection, and the US EPA ENERGY STAR program for an informative webinar on cost savings strategies through energy benchmarking.
Hear from the experts on:
- How and why energy benchmarking has become law in Montgomery County,
- How energy benchmarking will positively impact your building operating costs
- What the new compliance standards in Montgomery County are,
- What free online tools are available to you for energy benchmarking;
- What to do to ensure you meet the required 2016 deadlines
Webinar will be held on Thursday, November 12th at 2 PM EST (live from your computer!). RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Accounting for Real Estate Leases or We’re not in Kansas anymore!
Big news folks, the Financial Accounting Standards Board is modifying how real estate leases will be presented on a company’s financial statement. (YAWN) But wait, this is very meaningful to both real estate owners and tenants, especially if you borrow (LOL). Click here for the details.
ICYMI: Watkins Mill Interchange Project
The project, which has been designated the “Number 1 Transportation Priority for Montgomery County,” is slated to begin construction in the early spring of 2016 and the estimated completion date sometime in 2018. The road construction project has spurred on two residential and commercial developments.
Watkins Mill Road Extended:
The project will connect Watkins Mill Road east of I-270 to Frederick Road/Maryland Route 355 and, ultimately, to the Metropolitan Grove station and interim terminus for the Corridor Cities Transitway. In the future, the State will build an interchange at I-270 and Watkins Mill Road to relieve congestion at the Maryland 124/I-270 interchange, and the Frederick Road/Montgomery Village Avenue and Quince Orchard Road/Clopper Road intersections. Watkins Mill Road Extended will be a six-lane highway that includes a sidewalk, a bike path and street lighting.
Residential and Commercial Developments:
Sitting on 200+ acres, Watkins Mill Town Center, is slated to include 4.5 million square feet of Class A office space, a hotel, restaurants, retail and more than 2,200 homes and apartment units. Currently, the residential component of the project, The Parklands, is the fastest selling residential community in Montgomery County.
The Spectrum at Watkins Mill is a $270 million, 40-acre, mixed-use urban village. Strategically located at the intersection of Watkins Mill Road and MD Route 355, The Spectrum is situated at the heart of Montgomery County’s I-270 bio-tech corridor.
Today: Planning completed.
September, 2015: Engineering completed, including stream restoration and structure plans.
September, 2015: Solicitation of road construction bids.
February, 2016: Road construction begins.
September, 2018: Traffic allowed on Watkins Mill Extended.
Managing Your Building Emergencies Starts with a Plan
As we sit in our buildings throughout the region, we’d like to think that we’re protected from emergencies by our sprinkler systems, electronic alarm systems and staff. However, much as we don’t want to think about it, an emergency situation can happen, and your building should be prepared.
Taking a few steps now can help you manage an emergency, should the situation arise.
You will need to have a written plan on hand in the event of fires, floods, earthquakes, blizzards, and any other unforeseen emergencies. Here are a few suggestions of items which should be addressed in your emergency plan.
Plan for No Power
o The emergency generator should be tied to all life safety and security equipment first. Any left over capacity can be tied to server and other important equipment related to your business activities.
o Generator should be run and tested weekly and should be on a quarterly service contract with a generator service vendor.
o Generator fuel levels should be checked weekly and re-filled if it drops below 70% capacity.
Summer Storm Preparations
o As you enter summer months, your building should: be equipped with the necessary tools to remove down trees and branches.
o Have the capability to manually turn off electricity and plumbing.
o Have equipment on hand to secure broken doors and windows from possible flying objects.
o Landscaping contracts should include a cleanup option to assist in cleaning up brush and debris after a storm.
o Be sure to have staff in place and available to clear all pedestrian areas immediately after a storm as necessary.
Staffing Property During an Emergency
o Dedicated staff should stay centrally located between facilities for quick reaction as needed.
o Property Managers should be on call and available at all times
o A list of all emergency vendors should be maintained and readily available for all locations. Possible suggestions include:
? Fire Department
? Utility company
? Landscaping companies
For more information on what should be in your property’s emergency plan, please contact Charlotte Cassell at email@example.com
What is a Triple Net Lease?
The lease agreement that designates the lessee (the tenant) as being solely responsible for all of the costs relating to the asset being leased in addition to the rent fee applied under the lease. The structure of this type of lease requires the lessee to pay for net real estate taxes on the leased asset, net building insurance and net common area maintenance. The lessee has to pay the net amount of three types of costs, which how this term got its name.
This type of lease can also be referred to as a “net-net-net lease” or a “hell or high water lease”.
If a property owner leases out a building to a business using a triple net lease, the tenant will be responsible for paying the building’s property taxes, building insurance and the cost of any maintenance or repairs the building may require during the term of the lease. Because the tenant is covering these costs (which would otherwise be the responsibility of the property owner), the rent charged in the triple net lease is generally lower than the rent charged in a standard lease agreement.
If you have an empty building, check your insurance
If your buildings are less than 31 percent occupied and have been so for more than 60 days, you need special vacant commercial real estate insurance.
Commercial real estate owners are often shocked to learn their buildings are no longer insured if they become vacant — and that even a partly occupied building can be deemed vacant and therefore unprotected by regular property insurance.
Add 30 Percent
Did you know the average commercial building wastes 30 percent of the energy it consumes? That means that if you haven’t done anything to save energy, chances are, you’ll find many opportunities to improve. Start with having a conversation with your property management firm about some suggestions and tips on energy saving measures.
Here are some of the suggestions the Scheer Partners Property Management team gives to our clients:
Operations and maintenance
- Retrofit or re-commission the building to make sure it’s running the way it was intended.
- Consider energy audits to identify areas where building systems have become inefficient over time and bring them back to peak performance.
- Repair leaking faucets and equipment. A dripping hot water faucet can leak hundreds of gallons per year.
- Adjust your mechanical systems to run at a minimum after hours and on weekends.
- Replace old fluorescent and incandescent lighting with T-8 (or even T-5) fixtures, ENERGY STAR certified CFLs or LEDs, and other energy-efficient lighting systems that improve light quality and reduce heat gain. CFLs cost about 75 percent less to operate, and last about 10 times longer.
- Install LED exit signs. These signs can dramatically reduce maintenance by eliminating the need to replace lamps and can save $10 per sign annually in electricity costs.
- Install occupancy sensors to automatically turn off lights when no one is present and back on when people return. Storage rooms, back-of-house spaces, meeting rooms, and other low-traffic areas are often good places to start. Before you begin, check with your local utility to see if they offer any incentives. Occupancy sensors can save between 15 and 30 percent on lighting costs. And don’t forget — even good equipment can be installed incorrectly, so don’t install the sensor behind a coat rack, door, bookcase, etc. It must be able to “see” an approaching person’s motion to turn on the light as they enter an unlit room.
- Examine the opportunity to switch from high-pressure sodium lamps to metal halide lamps in parking lots and consider upgrading to LED lighting for outdoor signage.
Heating and cooling
Tune up your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system with an annual maintenance contract. Even a new HVAC system, like a new car, will decline in performance without regular maintenance. A contract automatically ensures that your HVAC contractor will provide “pre-season” tune-ups before each cooling and heating season. Your chances of an emergency HVAC breakdown also decrease with regular maintenance.
- Plug air leaks with weather stripping and caulking.
- Install variable frequency drives (VFDs) and energy-efficient motors.
- Balance air and water systems.
- Install window films and add insulation or reflective roof coating to reduce energy consumption.
- Upgrade and maintain heating and cooling equipment. Replace chlorofluorocarbon chillers, retrofit or install energy-efficient models to meet a building’s reduced cooling loads, and upgrade boilers and other central plant systems to energy-efficient standards.
- Contact us if we can provide you with some suggestions on how your building should be performing. Click here for additional energy savings information.
What’s Next for 2015
Optimism. That is the one word that comes to mind when I think of 2015. With a recovering and some would say rebounding economy, a new Governor and a revitalized Montgomery County Executive, we at Scheer Partners are encouraged that this year we will experience healthy economic growth and opportunities.
Working and living in Montgomery County, we have been fortunate to be protected from the economic swings that other jurisdictions face. Although the economy is not completely returned to its peak, we are predicting an increase in occupancy, an uptick in rents, and a more robust commercial real estate market.
The ‘wild-card’ for 2015 will be how the new Governor proceeds and how the business communities reaction to his plans and policies, along with how the new Governor and Montgomery County Executive interact with each other and each other’s policies, both past and proposed. Collaboration and cooperation will be key to that success.
What’s Next for the State
The governor-elect takes office on Jan. 21 and his budget bill is due to the General Assembly two days later. And that is when the economic pace for the state will be drafted.
Governor-Elect Hogan has criticized the prior administration’s special deals in the form of $544 million in tax credits under Gov. Martin O’Malley and he has signaled strongly that he will not spend money on new rail-transit projects such as the Purple Line, which would link Bethesda and New Carrollton. These are two areas that we will closely monitor as they are important to the clients we serve.
Scheer Partners has and will continue to advise our clients on possible state-support for their new projects and opportunities. We are rooting for the new administration’s success and for continued entrepreneurial thinking to catapult state and local economic growth. We have seasoned staff on hand, such as former State Secretary of Economic Development David Edgerely, to advise clients on leveraging state resources and incentives.
What’s Next for Montgomery County
During his inauguration speech, County Executive Ike Leggett revealed his six-point economic plan. In that plan, he recommended accelerating the MOVE program to fill vacant office space by creating a $30 million tax-abatement program aimed at locating businesses in existing office space and supporting shovel-ready commercial projects. The MOVE program is part of the Montgomery County Economic Development Fund and is designed to attract cybersecurity, green technology, IT and life science businesses to Montgomery County. We anticipate additional details on possible expansion of qualifying businesses to the MOVE Program as the County Executive travels through the county in January to discuss his budget.
Our own Henry Bernstein, former Chief Operating Officer for Montgomery County Economic Development, is closely monitoring the possible addition of new businesses qualifying for the MOVE Program. We will keep you informed.
Scheer Bliss: 2014 Recap and Our Wishes for 2015
It’s hard to believe another year has come and gone. 2014 has been an exciting year. The team here worked tirelessly on transactions, nurturing client relationships, forging new ones, and we had a great time doing it. We not only achieved our target goals and objectives for 2014, but surpassed them!
Scheer Partners held their annual company holiday party on Friday, December 19th. Employees gathered at the Bethesda Country Club to celebrate the holiday season and share in the spirit of camaraderie of what it means to be part of the Scheer Partners team.
In addition, we had a great 2014 with fun happenings. Here are just a few of them:
- Scheer Partners gave back to the community. We hosted our first annual Scheer Partners Food Drive and raised over $1,500 for the Manna Food Center .
- Scheer Partners hosted its First Annual Chili Cookoff – Sheila Allentuck walked away with 1st place, bragging rights, and some cash in her pocket. Congrats Sheila!
- Scheer Partners participated in its 2nd Annual No Shave November in the office. The guys in the office raised over $2,200 for The American Cancer Society and the funds will help with research, education, advocacy and patient services. Way to go guys!
As we look forward to an amazing 2015, we want to thank you for allowing us to be your friend and resource. We wish you every happiness this holiday season and a Happy New Year.
Preparing for Old Man Winter
Is your facility prepared to weather the Winter? Power loss, cold temperatures, snow, wind, ice, and a host of other potential problems need to be considered and addressed now to ensure your facility will run safe and smooth through the winter season.
Here are a few tips from Scheer Partners Management:
1. Prevent slips and falls: One of the biggest concerns in winter for building occupants is falling on icy walkways. Deicers keep snow from sticking to the ground and increase the surface temperature enough to prevent ice from forming. Apply these in anticipation of each store to keep people safe from injury, again during the storm (as needed) and then treat walkways after the storm has ended.
2. Protect surface areas – inside and out: Consider the impact deicing agents may have on walkways, carpeting, floors and even the plants around the building. Careful use of ice melt products can minimize damage to these surfaces. Also, consider installing quality, absorbent floor mats to help keep ice melt residue from being tracked into the building. This will also help reduce the chance of slips and falls due to wet shoes.
3. Evaluate winter maintenance costs: The salt and urea-based ice melt products available range in effectiveness and cost. Take for example rock salt, which is the most common and the least expensive. However, it can be slow to melt and harmful to vegetation alongside walkways. Since labor is the biggest cost of winter maintenance, make product effectiveness your primary consideration. Factor in product availability and disposal costs and order winter maintenance products well in advance to ensure best selection and price.
4. Guard your technology and data: Winter weather can result in costly power outages due to ice and wind. It is critical to back-up all company and client data daily, either onsite or through a hosted, off-site cloud service. Cloud services include benefits such as speedier recovery times, resulting in improved business continuity and revenue. They also offer decreased energy consumption while reducing the amount of space that is required to house storage servers. In addition, always check to make sure your back-up system is working properly before a storm hits. If possible, consider connecting your server to an emergency backup generator.
5. Avoid electrical shutdowns: If you are at the office when an outage occurs, turn off all computers and other equipment as a precaution against the sudden increase in voltage when power is restored. In those instances when no one is present, it is key to ensure all computers and electrical equipment are connected to surge protectors, which act as more than just a power strip, but absorb excess electrical energy and prevent it from reaching connected equipment. Determine if your office requires individual surge protectors or a large building surge protector with battery back-up. For data centers, it is recommended to use an uninterruptible power supply (UPS). UPS units prevent a power shut-down that could cause business disruption or data loss, and also help to maintain the proper temperature and moisture control that is critical for data centers to operate efficiently.
6. Review your telecommuting protocol: In case employees are unable to safely get to work during or after a storm, make sure they are able to connect with the office remotely. Arm people with log in instructions and protocol and suggest they test it out before the storm hits. Consider implementing a telecommuting program with technology and furniture solutions for employees in advance of the winter season.
Winter brings problems and pitfalls to facilities that can be prevented with diligent preparation – don’t neglect weatherization procedures for your building.
We at Scheer Partners take great pride in being a friend and a resource to our clients. Let us know how we can help you.
Save Money on Your Lease
In his inauguration address this week, Montgomery County Executive Leggett pitched a six-point economic plan that frames the county’s proposed business initiatives. The first point in his six-point plan was the county’s MOVE program where he asked for $30 million more in program funding. The exciting program offers financial assistance for those businesses operating primarily in the information-technology, life science, cyber-security or green technology industries. The assistance available is $4 per square foot for a company’s first lease of Class A or Class B office space in Montgomery County.
To find new office space in the Montgomery County, call Scheer Partners at 301.337.4700
For more information about the MOVE program, click here
The team here at Scheer Partners would like to wish everyone a very happy Thanksgiving. Here’s some of the things we’re thankful for this year:
“I am thankful for the loyalty and camaraderie of the great team at Scheer Partners.” Robert Scheer, President & Founder
“I am thankful for everything!” Henry Bernstein, Senior Vice President
“I am thankful for a year of unbelievable weather.” Matt Brady, Senior Vice President
“I am thankful for the health of my loving family, the support and friendship of my coworkers, and that I now know I can grow a full beard.” Nate Crowe, Senior Vice President
“I am thankful for good health and happiness for myself, those I love… friends and family… as there are no better gifts in life.” Sandra Hunt, Senior Vice President, Investment Sales
“I am thankful for family, friends, and good golf weather.” Marek Rich, Vice President
“I am thankful for health, enjoyable work, deals that close, 9 grandkids, and a great wife.” Perry Berman, Vice President of Land Use and Planning
“I am thankful for a strong and supportive family, a network of amazing friends, colleagues I like and respect, and another year of health and happiness….. and thankful that No Shave November in the office will soon be over…” Yvonne Mirowski, Director of Marketing and Operations
“I’m thankful for family and friends. And, that I can grow a better beard than Marek Rich.” Aaron Gambini, Associate
“I am thankful for all of the people who have helped me along the way: Parents, Family, Friends, Teachers, Mentors, Employers, Clergy, Physicians.” Brian Bouey, Controller
“I’m thankful that I can wake up with a smile every day!” Charlotte Cassell, Director of Property Management
“I’m thankful for my family and their unconditional love and support. And, a “Cube with a View” at work.” Sara Martinez, Assistant Property Manager
“I am thankful for Jesus and the hope of glory.” Claudia Yates, Marketing Coordinator
“I am thankful for my family & friends, and a great boss that appreciates my work.” Sheila Allentuck, Director of Lease Administration
Just as companies had to wire their buildings to meet internet demand, planning for adequate wireless coverage is critical to a smart commercial real estate plan today.
So when it comes to wireless, the most important feature, naturally, is availability. It’s no use trying to get Verizon FiOS (or, better yet – 100-times-faster-than-other-broadband Google Fiber) if the company doesn’t service your area. To find out what’s available to you, head to http://dslreports.com/search and enter your zip code.
If you’d like a quicker comparison of the most popular (major) services, WhiteFence offers an easy-to-scan chart and the ability to compare individual packages. And if you’re looking for satellite providers, ISPProvidersinMyArea is one of the few comparison sites to include satellite as well as DSL, cable, and wireless providers.
A couple of things to pay attention to:
- Download and Upload Speeds: We all want fastest internet at a price we’re willing to pay. Make sure when you’re comparing services, you do so on an apples-to-apples basis. Compare the most similar plans based on both download and upload speeds. To find the ISPs with the fastest upload and download speeds actually tested by users worldwide, visit Speedtest.net’s Net Index. Click on the map to drill down to your area and scroll down to the ranking of ISPs by speed index (available for download and upload speeds, as well as network quality).
- Cost and Contract: Some services require you to rent the modem or buy it yourself; others provide it for you. Some offer free installation while others charge you for that service call. Most discount your internet service if you bundle it with television and/or phone service (but often only for a few months, so be sure to compare costs including after the bundle expires as well). And, you may be able to avoid a multi-year contract with some—for a higher price, of course. These are the details you’ll need to consider when comparing services by price.
- Terms of Service: Similarly, make sure you know what the service’s limitations are. There may be data caps, for example, limiting the amount of data you can use per month, or restrictions on the kinds of activities you’re allowed to do, such as running a web or file server.
- Add-ons and special features: Many ISPs throw in extras just to make it seem like you’re getting a great value. Things like anti-virus program subscriptions, an ISP-branded email address, and personal webpages are just that—extras that you likely don’t need. One pretty cool add-on you might find, though, is free Wi-Fi hotspot access. For example, if you’re a Cablevision customer anywhere near one of its public Wi-Fi towers (whether you’re in a building like a coffeeshop or outside in the park), you can hop on to it. That might sway you if you frequently use your laptop on the go.
- Reliability: Of course, none of these features matter if you can’t use the service when you need to. As mentioned above, you can also use the Net Index from Speedtest.net to get a ranking of real-world ISP quality tests.
- Customer support: If you experience outages or other problems with the internet (as will happen), how easy is it to get support? Does the provider offer phone, email, or chat customer support? How painful or painless is the installation process?
Those are many considerations, but, again, this is an important decision.
We here at Scheer Partners like to be a resource for our clients. Please call on us if we can be of assistance.
The politicians talk about a “jobless recovery”. But, what is the real effect on the local commercial real estate market?
In the last 5 years, Montgomery County has economically rebounded. Unemployment has dropped from 5.6% to 4.4% and the annual Maryland GDP has increased by over 11.58%. Yet, the commercial real estate market is not benefitting from the overall improvement in the economy.
There are a number of key economic and cultural factors at work. Companies learned during the last steep recession that they could “make due” with less employees, and general concern about the business environment (sequestration, government shut down, lower NIH funding) have resulted in fewer permanent office hires.
Technology and productivity enhancements allow companies to get more done with less staff. And, companies are increasingly catering to employees desire for flexible hours and telecommuting. Young people want mixed-use developments near public transportation i.e. “work, live, play environments”. Montgomery County does not have vibrant urban centers to cater to this community.
As a result of these factors, historical metrics, whereby you could predict net absorption based on job / economic growth, no longer apply.
So, since the official “end of the recession” in June 2009, the commercial office market in suburban Maryland has worsened. Vacancy rates have increased 200 basis points with negative absorption of over 700,000 SF in the last 12 months.
Top 5 Reasons to Hire a Commercial Real Estate Professional
1 SAVE TIME: This reason is especially true for the business owner who invariably wears too many hats already. You have enough to do in your day-to-day to take the time to compile and review listings, call listing agents, schedule and arrange property tours, write LOI’s (offers), review city zoning, and stay on top of a lengthy negotiation, among other things. We will save you time.
2 SAVE MONEY: Commercial real estate agents who represent a buyer or a tenant are paid a commission. Generally speaking we do not charge our buyers/tenants a fee; instead we are paid a commission from the landlord/owner. More importantly, though, commercial real estate agents save you money because we have the skills to negotiate the best deal on all parts of the transaction. For instance, Scheer Partners recently negotiated an office relocation / expansion. Our client was ecstatic with these terms and confided in us that they probably wouldn’t have thought to negotiate those terms on their own.
3 LISTING ACCESS: Most people are not aware commercial real estate listings are not as centralized as they are in residential real estate. Because there are so many different property and transactions types, commercial real estate has several different listing platforms, and only a couple of them are open to the public. If you don’t hire a commercial real estate agent you will not have access to a majority of the market’s available properties that fit your requirement – We do.
4 MARKET KNOWLEDGE & SPECIALIZATION: We have an in-depth market knowledge that you most likely do not have. After all – it’s our job and like any profession, we stay on top of the trends in our field. We perform thorough market analysis both on paper and in the field. It is this information which allows us to keep up with supply and demand cycles in our region. Because of this market knowledge we are able to quickly and inherently know if a listing is priced fairly. We are well read and versed on the latest market trends which will give you the peace of mind to know we are pricing them as intelligently and as up to date as possible. What was fair market 6 months ago has the potentiality of not being fair market today. Regarding specialization, when you’re shopping for a commercial real estate agent, it’s important to look for an agent who is experienced in the nuances of the specific geographic market and property type you are looking for. Most commercial agents specialize in a certain sector of commercial real estate, i.e. retail, industrial, or office.
5 CONTACTS: We are extremely well connected individuals. We are constantly in touch with our market’s movers and shakers: business owners, investors, property owners, our colleagues, politicians, etc. We are always networking and this wealth of contacts is a huge benefit to you.