Property Manager vs. Facility Manager: What’s the Difference?
By Tamara Sheehan
Director of Business Management
There’s a big difference between property manager and facility manager, despite perceived similarities in the names. Knowing who’s in charge of what and where to delegate tasks is important for keeping your business’ operations running on the right track.
To understand how these two differ, we need to look at the difference between property management and facility management. One deals with the building; the other deals with the people and processes in it.
Duties of a property manager
Property managers focus on the building itself. Some common duties include collecting rent, coordinating maintenance, overseeing reinvestments in the building and, ultimately, answering to the building’s owner or landlord.
It’s important to note that a property manager is as much a liaison as they are a manager. They manage the building, but also ensure the tenant (business) and the building owner/landlord are on the same page. For example, if the building owner decides to remodel, the property manager will oversee this reinvestment and be responsible for coordinating with tenants and the renovation team.
A good property manager keeps the peace between the tenant and the landlord, while seeing that the needs of the building at large are met.
Responsibilities of a facilities manager
A facility manager puts the people and processes of the business first. Facilities managers are concerned with maximizing space and coordinating operations to make the most efficient use of office space. This includes arranging desks, coordinating moves, and overseeing office programs. They answer to the business owner.
Here again, facilities managers are an intermediary with a clearly defined role. They help oversee the needs of workers, while coordinating operations at the behest of upper management. For example, if management wants to hire more workers without expanding square footage, facilities managers would explore hot desk or desk neighborhood options to maximize space.
Facilities managers are the backbone of office operations. Their ultimate goal is to shape a workplace that’s comfortable, organized, and optimized for productivity.
To paint a clearer picture of the difference between property management and facility management, here are a few simple scenarios and who would deal with them:
- Scenario 1: A window on the second floor is cracked. This is a building issue, which means a property manager is responsible for ensuring the window is replaced. They’ll take bids from contractors and handle the replacement timeline.
- Scenario 2: Your business is moving to a new floor. This situation deals with people and assets, making it a facility manager’s job. They’ll coordinate and oversee the move, ensure everyone's situated.
- Scenario 3: Someone needs a place to work for the day. This is a job for the facilities manager. Hotel desks and unoccupied spaces are managed as part of the day-to-day operations of the business, which falls under the facility manager’s header.
- Scenario 4: There aren’t enough parking spaces. This one is on the property manager. They dictate where people can park and secure additional space—whether that means enlarging the lot or coordinating a new parking system.
There are few areas where overlap occurs, but where it does, there’s usually a clear understanding of roles. For example, if a light is burnt out in the break room, a facilities manager can field the request and have maintenance take care of it. However, if that light keeps going out because of a short circuit, they’ll refer the issue to a property manager.
The line is drawn based on oversight. Facilities managers handle problems affecting workers and operations (read more on how to select the right facility management software). Property managers are there to ensure the building is safe, accommodating and functional.
Cutting through the confusion
One of the biggest issues with property managers vs. facility managers is how people refer to them. Not everyone realizes there’s a distinction between the two, so they use the terms “property” and “facilities” interchangeably. Technically, the facilities are part of the property, but for the sake of how they’re managed, it’s two different objectives that require two different people.
When there’s a problem, it’s best to escalate it to someone capable of handling it. Just like an accountant will bring the issue to the finance manager, office workers need to bring their issues to the attention of the person equipped to address them. For building issues, it’s the property manager; for issues of the workplace, it’s the facilities manager.