Landmark Advisory Services is piggybacking on a move by a long-time client to jump-start its expansion into facility and project management services.
The Montreal-based real estate advisory firm specializing in commercial tenant representation will consolidate, standardize and bundle facility and project management activities for its clients across its national facilities networks.
“For the last several years, we have entertained the idea of expanding into facility and project management, as it is a natural extension of our existing platform,” Landmark president and managing partner Robert Cressaty told RENX.
“A recent restructuring by one of our clients presented an opportunity for us to fast-track our entry into this service line. We jumped on it and are very excited with the potential growth it will bring to the organization and the value we will provide to our stable of clients.”
Landmark hiring to provide new services
Landmark will now be responsible for the management and execution of all facility- and construction-related activities across UAP Inc.’s distribution network of more than 250 locations nationwide. UAP distributes and sells automotive replacement parts and accessories for vehicles and has used Landmark as its exclusive real estate partner in Canada since 2004.
Cressaty said many other existing national and multinational clients are also interested in outsourcing these non-core activities to make sure they’re done on time and on budget.
“The level of accountability and expertise we bring can’t be matched internally,” said Cressaty. “The modus operandi is to hire people from within the company that you’re taking over the services for. Eventually if they don’t meet the level of expectation that we have, we replace them.”
Landmark has hired four full-time employees and two contract employees, and will add another two full-time positions within the next month or two, according to Cressaty.
Services provided and expected growth
Landmark will oversee and coordinate the planning, design, permitting and construction of projects on behalf of its clients.
This will include: coordinating tenant improvements; major repairs; building inspections; capital replacements; ground-up development; preventative maintenance programs; due diligence; and financial and budgeting support.
Facility management services will include: site maintenance; health and safety reviews and remediation; emergency response; building condition inspections; code compliance reviews and remediation; and the implementation of national preventative maintenance programs.
“As government-imposed restrictions begin to ease, we are already seeing an immediate jump in activity and are actively working on approximately 45 projects across Canada,” said Cressaty.
“In the short term, we will be executing facility management services across roughly 300 sites across Canada, totalling over four million square feet — and we expect this to double within the next year.”
Landmark intends to heavily leverage technology for these new services and, while its existing software platforms can accommodate this, Cressaty said it’s evaluating several other options to ensure it’s using applications best matched to its needs.
“Not only do we expect to reduce our clients’ direct costs associated with facility and project services, we are also very confident that we will significantly improve performance and output,” said Cressaty.
Landmark had already served as an external real estate department for multinational organizations with broad and dispersed footprints by providing services that include: market intelligence; transaction management; real estate legal services; audit and lease administration; and general consulting.
Landmark’s Emergency Rent Relief Program
One service Landmark began offering clients in 2009 in response to previous financial crises was its Emergency Rent Relief Program (ERRP).
“The focus during that period was more on sustained cost-reduction realized through rent restructuring and it was very successful,” said Cressaty.
“COVID was obviously a different animal, given the speed at which it arrived, the government-forced shutdown of the economy and the level of disruption that was experienced by all organizations in such a short period of time.”
Landmark redesigned the ERRP to include immediate rent relief measures such as abatement and deferral.
It temporarily repositioned employees from various departments throughout the company and reached out to almost 1,000 landlords across the country within a week.
“It was a challenging initiative as we needed to quickly preserve liquidity for our clients while also being very sensitive to the fact that landlords were also in compromised situations and we didn’t want to put undue pressure on anyone,” said Cressaty.
“We have tracked and recorded every landlord response, the type of landlord and type of relief obtained. We are in the process of organizing all that data and are excited to see what it tells us once we complete the post-mortem.”
Landmark has secured more than $4.5 million in rent relief for clients in less than two months.
While the move into facility and project management and the implementation of the ERRP have taken up much of Landmark’s attention this year, Cressaty said the company is working on other initiatives that he can’t elaborate on yet, but that he expects will be impactful for clients.
Slow recovery expected for commercial real estate
Cressaty doesn’t expect the Canadian commercial real estate market to recover from the COVID-19 crisis until Q1 2021.
What was a landlord-friendly market until February is becoming a more tenant-friendly market as some previously unavailable space is being freed up due to financial hardships.
Landmark has clients in Quebec and Ontario that were looking for space and may have been forced to construct new buildings because there was so little suitable space available.
“As we look at more existing buildings coming to the market, we’ll have more options,” said Cressaty. “That will be good for Landmark and good for our clients.”