Colliers International | Wisconsin
Colliers Wisconsin, part of Colliers International, is the largest full-service commercial and residential real estate firm in Wisconsin. With over 10 million square feet, thousands of tenants and hundreds of owners to manage, Smartsheet is the hub they use to centralize all information: property details, client communication, vendor resources and more. With the information consolidated and easily accessible in Smartsheet, Colliers has won more business, improved communication, and created a culture of transparency.
600 Properties + Questionable Spreadsheets = A Big Problem
When Kristin Komassa joined the Colliers team in 2012 as portfolio services team coordinator, one of the company’s newest clients, a bank, was floundering in its attempt to manage hundreds of properties. “Banks were never meant to own large portfolios of real estate,” explained Komassa, “and with over 600 properties spread throughout the state, this particular client was finding it increasingly difficult to effectively manage their owned real estate portfolio and the day-to-day banking activities.”
With the properties tracked in multiple outdated Excel spreadsheets, it took Komassa more than five months to grasp exactly what was in her client’s possession. “Once I had accurate records, I knew that putting everything back into an Excel spreadsheet was the last thing our client needed. I had 15 other colleagues working with me on this account, and stakeholders in two different states. We needed a resource that could stay updated as we worked with our client to manage and sell the properties in their possession.”
Smartsheet’s intuitive spreadsheet interface and online collaboration capabilities made it the obvious choice for Komassa and her team. “The first step was exporting all of our client’s property information out of Excel and into Smartsheet. With all the property information organized and easily accessible, we set up and automated the communications processes whenever action was taken on a property. Soon everything was streamlined in Smartsheet,” explained Komassa.
“In the year that we worked with this client, we were able to use Smartsheet to help them stay organized and properly manage the properties in their portfolio. Through revamping their approach to organization, thanks in huge part to Smartsheet, this bank was able to focus on their core business of servicing new loans,” said Komassa.
More Than Portfolio Management
With the huge portfolio management success, Smartsheet began to spread throughout Colliers:
The property management team – who primarily work remotely– uses Smartsheet to manage their individual portfolio of properties from wherever they are. “We bought tablets for our property managers because of Smartsheet,” said Komassa. Now, when property managers head out on a site visit, they use a web form on their tablet, or smartphone, to instantly update the status of their site.
Colliers’ property managers also use the mobile app to snap photos of their sites for accurate record keeping. Flood damage, leaks, broken floorboards, anything that is out of place is easy for property managers to document with photos and keep organized in that property’s specific row on a sheet.
Additionally, with alerts and reminders automated in their sheets, property managers never have to worry that they may be dropping the ball or missing a site visit – reminders are scheduled well in advance. Now, site visits run like clockwork.
“Before Smartsheet, when we needed something fixed at a property, we emailed our work crew. It was pretty haphazard, and the potential for error or confusion was extremely high,” said Komassa.
Now, when a property manager is on site and something needs repair, filing the work order is as simple as submitting a Smartsheet web form detailing the problem with the exact information that is needed. The maintenance team gets an email notification that a new request has been added to their queue and they can track it through completion from one centralized sheet.
With so many contributors on the Colliers team and so many properties to manage, vendor contacts have built up over the years. Komassa and her staff have put together a list of vendors for the entire team to access – contact information, ratings, pricing information, and specialty are now centralized and at the fingertips of the entire team.
“When we meet with new clients for the first time, Smartsheet is a selling feature for our services,” said Komassa. “We show them how to use web forms, what happens to the information on the back-end of the system, and how it all connects into a streamlined process. Clients are so impressed with the system we’ve put together with Smartsheet. To win business because of an online collaboration tool – well that’s pretty incredible.”
Transparency... and Vacations - At Last!
“On top of new business, our internal activities, properties and responsibilities are finally shared across teams and departments,” explained Komassa. “Managers have true visibility into the workload of their staff. We’re able to compare portfolios side-by-side and also run reports across sheets and portfolios, diving into the weeds in seconds. Smartsheet has made our lives easier.”
Beyond the office, it’s also improving the teams’ personal lives. “I’ve seen my colleagues take their first 'relaxing' vacations in years, thanks to Smartsheet. A few years ago, it was just too hard to leave – if a crisis emerged with a client and a property, we didn’t have the information on hand to deal with emergencies. Now, when a team member goes on vacation and something happens – as it always does, our team knows where to turn to quickly and professionally address whatever may arise.”