<p>The quality and scope of all property management companies have grown exponentially over the past decade across the shopping centres industry.</p><p>Technical Area, ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance), HSSEQ (Health, Safety, Security, Environment and Quality), Legal-Contractual, Budgeting, Shopping Experience, Leasing, Rent Collection, GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), Marketing are today "key performance indicators" of fundamental importance and followed by professionals with specific skills. Today's management companies are highly structured and have outstanding professionalism, just as all the companies that provide specialist services to the world of shopping centres have become highly specialised.</p><p>If I take a step back in time, to when I was a mall manager in a market that was still in its infancy, it feels like I've lived in another geological era!</p><p>The feeling was that of being a soldier in the front line on the war front, and I'm not exaggerating! The important thing was to survive the "daily war" with the thousands of problems (often impromptu and unplanned) of management without counting on significant help except that of the Country Head, who often played the mentor role. However, being in turn "men or women alone in charge", they could not preside over all the problems of a network of shopping centres.</p><p>In some ways, the figure of the mall manager still has so much in common with my own experience.</p><p>The purpose of this article is to give merit and celebrate a role that, while representing the foundations of shopping centre management, still constitutes a very (too) heterogeneous professional figure. Its depth is linked more to individual qualities than to a professional standard commonly found on the market.</p><p>Finding a manager who has all the necessary qualities is not easy.</p><p>You wonder why?</p><p>Below is a faithful list of the characteristics required by a leading management company in its advertisement for the search for a Shopping Centre Manager:</p><p><em>"The manager will be responsible for all operational and strategic management activities, with the support of the Shopping Centre's management team and following the company's quality standards. In addition, the manager will be responsible for all aspects of the Shopping Centre's life, such as administrative and contractual management, the development of the marketing plan and the planning of events, the management of relations with Consortiums and Landlords, tenants and local authorities. </em></p><p><em>The Shopping Centre Manager will be responsible for:</em></p><ul><li><strong><em> </em></strong><strong><em>Public Relations</em></strong></li></ul><ol><ul><li><em>Managing relationships with client and mall ownership</em></li><li><em>Managing relationships with centre operators</em></li><li><em>Managing relationships with public stakeholders, associations, local authorities, external consultants.</em></li></ul></ol><ul><li><strong><em> </em></strong><strong><em>Service Charges & Shopping Centre Management</em></strong></li></ul><ol><ul><li><em>Processing, controlling and monitoring of ordinary and extraordinary budgets</em></li><li><em>Management and monitoring of contracts with suppliers</em></li><li><em>Tracking mall marketing and services expenses and budget</em></li><li><em>Reporting activities in all relevant areas</em></li><li><em>Shopping Centre's management staff coordination.</em></li></ul></ol><p><strong><em> </em></strong><strong><em>Technical Area</em></strong></p><ol><ul><li><em>Monitoring of maintenance and primary service aspects. Full cooperation with the central technical department and Shopping Centre's suppliers.</em></li></ul></ol><p><strong><em> </em></strong><strong><em>Temporary Lettings</em></strong></p><ul><li><em>Verification of compliance with the required quality standards, processing, control and monitoring of the budget for temporary leases and advertising space</em></li></ul><p><strong><em> </em></strong><strong><em>Marketing Area</em></strong></p><ul><li><em>Marketing plan elaboration and implementation in collaboration with the central marketing department</em></li><li><em>Activities and events planning, involving territory stakeholders</em></li><li><em>Communication planning involving all available media</em></li></ul><p><strong><em> </em></strong><strong><em>Legal - </em></strong><strong><em>Contractual</em></strong><strong><em> Area</em></strong></p><ol><ul><li><em>Operational support in the management of suppliers' contracts such as communications agencies, event agencies, media concessionaires and monitoring of activities and promo-advertising content of the centre."</em></li></ul></ol><p><em> </em></p><p>Long list, isn't it?</p><p>That's why even today, the shopping centre manager is one of the most challenging professionals to find as requested skills, stand across vast and complex areas.</p><p>This figure must interface with professionals specialised in each area and must always be up to the task. Easier said than done!</p><p>While management companies today provide constant training support, the "bug" remains that the manager learns in the field. Talking to many Shopping Centre Managers, they often feel like "soldiers at the front".</p><p>Maybe it's because I was one of them too, so I understand their concerns and moods very well. A the end of the story, I have immense admiration for them.</p><p>These professionals give themself "body and soul" to their work. They work about sixty days more than their colleagues located at the Headquarters; in fact, the more people are on holiday ..., the more shopping managers work, since this is the most critical period for shopping centres.</p><p>How many times have I had to justify the need for a "higher than average" salary... however, if you read up on what characteristics companies seek after in an experienced shopping centre manager, you shouldn't have to do so much explaining...</p><p>Apart from a few initiatives lost in the mists of time; at present, at least in our market, there are no "ad hoc" specialisation courses for shopping centres managers.</p><p>Yet, to get to the required level of experience requires a strenuous apprenticeship of years and years. </p><p>RICS (Royal International Chartered Surveyors) itself (at international level), national industry associations (at country level) could take steps to recognise various levels of professional certifications for shopping centre managers during their extended learning period.</p><p>It would result in greater appreciation and recognition by all stakeholders in the shopping centre market.</p><p>Last but not least, the difficulty in finding high-level figures on the market is also due to the precarious nature of this role. Regulations protect this figure in some European countries. For example, if a property management company takes over, it must hire the shopping centre manager and team.</p><p>Which I think is very fair because it gives job stability to a professional figure of fundamental importance. Who would want to work so much and risk "stay on foot" because their company loses the management mandate?</p><p>It is in everyone's interest to pursue the maximum protection and enhancement of this professional figure.</p><p>Today there is a lot of talk about ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) criteria, and that's a good thing! In fact, by pursuing their application (especially in the field of Governance), we can only improve this market, making it more solid and stable in each of its components.</p><p>Therefore, thank you very much to all shopping centres managers who, with professionalism, commitment and dedication, allow the "heart" of the shopping centres to beat every day to the satisfaction of billions of customers.</p><p> </p><p> </p>
KR Expert - Francesco Della Cioppa
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