05/01/2001 |

How Cushman & Wakefield Is Turning Information into innovation

The headquarters of Cushman & Wakefield in New York City sits on 52nd Street in a sea of tourists streaming to familiar landmarks, such as Rockefeller Center and Radio City Music Hall, and new retail spaces. In its own way, the company is a part of this excitement – wedding the old and the new. Cushman & Wakefield embraces emerging technology and the power of the Internet without losing its focus on traditional real estate services.

Behind a small storefront, Cushman & Wakefield began its real estate tenure in 1917 in the property management field. Although the tools have changed, the company’s philosophy remains strong. “Our aim really is to help our clients succeed in their business by efficiently and effectively handling their real estate. Our clients come first,” explains John Santora, executive vice president, Asset Services, Cushman & Wakefield, New York City. To meet such goals modern-day, Cushman & Wakefield is using Internet-based technology to better serve building owners and building tenants.

The Asset Services group of Cushman & Wakefield encompasses facilities management, property management, project management, and leasing. However, the organization has grown beyond the traditional expectations of property management into handling clients’ outsourcing functions, moving and changes within a facility, and landlord representation during the leasing process. Because of its technical expertise, Cushman & Wakefield is often asked to perform due diligence on behalf of a seller or buyer. “We will examine the operational aspects of a property to see if it fits into our clients’ plans, strategies, and goals,” says Frank Freda, senior managing director, Asset Services, Cushman & Wakefield, New York City.

Because of its renowned attention to detail and long history in the field, the company offers a specialty in highly demanding spaces, such as data centers and trading floors. “[Such spaces comprise] a very specialized, technical field because of the use of emergency generators, UPS, and data centers and trading floors. [They have] to be secure and able to operate under all conditions, power outages, storms, and floods,” says Freda. Because of such experience with high-tech facilitie that operate 24/7, Cushman & Wakefield manages the facilities of most of the major financial institutions in the New York City area.

The Start of Something Big

While searching for a call center in 1999, Cushman & Wakefield came across a small group of techies who offered call center services and something extra – a web-based project management package. “We had an opportunity before us, and we saw a company that could separate us from our competition,” notes Santora. With support from Cushman & Wakefield, this once tiny company has grown into the Business Integration Group (BIG), Tempe, AZ, a large-scale operation providing lease administration, space management, and preventive maintenance – all augmented by its fully integrated database.

A facility’s engineers are linked to the call center via beepers. During an emergency, the call center can relay an urgent message directly to a qualified engineer anywhere within the facility, minimizing equipment downtime. Each client can have a personalized website for its real estate needs. The software also tracks service requests and completions of projects, so that facilities managers can generate reports about staff productivity.

To support preventive maintenance, BIG’s call center keeps a detailed inventory of facility equipment, as well as maintenance schedules. “All the information that was once handwritten on notes or in an engineer’s head now is right there for [building owners] in the schedule,” says Freda. Staff work schedules and skill sets are also analyzed so that facilities professionals can utilize personnel and manage workloads more effectively. Adds Freda, “If you are the head of real estate for a major corporation and you are responsible for administering 300 leases and 16,000 employees in 14 locations, you can have all of that information in one place … wherever you are.”

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