Although the titles might sound similar, there are important differences between a property manager and a facility manager, including scopes of duties, professional qualifications, and career paths. By understanding the roles and responsibilities, you can better keep the workplace and facilities running smoothly. 

Step one is looking at the fundamental difference between property management and facility management. The first has a focus on the building, while the second is all about the people and processes inside. 

Property manager job description 

Property managers work for the property owner or group of investors, and they are responsible for the building. Common duties can include: 

  • Finding and qualifying tenants 
  • Arranging leases 
  • Collecting rents 
  • Overseeing renovations and expansions 

A skilled professional excels at managing projects, acting as a liaison, and keeping the peace. For example, if the building owner decides to renovate, remodel, or expand, the property manager oversees the project. Often, that involves coordinating with tenants and trades, so everyone can work without getting in one another’s way. 

A property manager oversees projects as well as many ongoing, day-to-day operations, including: 

  • Maintenance 
  • Janitorial 
  • Landscaping 

Each likely has its own separate team and managers, but the property manager is above all of them in the organizational chart. They’re the ones who need to make sure all the other teams are on top of their tasks. 

Facility manager job description 

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. Unlike a property manager, a facility manager doesn’t work for a building owner. They work for a business owner, helping them get the most from their investments in people and processes. It can be as large and involved as moving into or out of a new office space to as small and easy as deciding to switch from plastic to paper straws in the breakroom. 

Here again, facility managers are an intermediary with a clearly defined role. They help oversee the needs of workers, while coordinating operations for upper management. For example, if management wants to hire more workers without expanding square footage, facility managers explore desk booking and desk neighborhood options to maximize space. 

Facility managers are the backbone of office operations. Their goal is to create an office space that’s comfortable, organized, and optimized for productivity. With the rise of the hybrid office, facility managers now focus on finding ways to encourage collaboration, support employees’ different ways of working, and help everyone maximize their time in the office. 

Property and facility manager responsibilities 

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. They might also reach out to the affected tenants to try and coordinate the best time for the trades to come in and replace the window, which isn’t always ASAP. 
  • 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 properly situated. But remember, this only covers the move itself. Earlier, when your business is looking at different spaces and leasing options, you’re dealing with property managers.  
  • Scenario 3: Someone needs a place to work for the day. This is a job for the facility manager, who is in charge of hotel desks and unoccupied spaces as part of the day-to-day operations of the business. But if it turns out the nearby AC or the electrical socket under the booked desk isn’t working, those are issues for the property manager. If the employee forgot to bring their laptop cable, it’s back to being the jb of the facility manager to find a spare.   
  • Scenario 4: There aren’t enough parking spaces. This one is for 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. As part of the project, the property manager will act as a liaison between the building owner, investors, or landlord and the companies in the building. It could be as simple as explaining the project to as involved as gaining buy-in.  
  • Scenario 5: New employees are starting Monday. Here again, this one is for the facility manager. Even with a hybrid office, more employees can mean a need for everything from additional chairs in the boardrooms to extra coffee mugs in the breakrooms, which are all the responsibilities of the facility manager. Because they’re also in charge of office supplies, for example printer ink and paperclips, they might want to top up the in-office stock.   

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 breakroom, a facility manager can have maintenance take care of it. However, if that light keeps going out because of a short circuit, they’ll refer the issue to the property manager. 

The line often comes down to a question of oversight. Facility 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. 

Where the confusion comes in 

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 “facility” 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 positions. 

So, now that you know the differences between the two, how do you decide which one to contact? 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.  

The easiest way to keep things clear? For building issues, it’s the property manager, and for issues in the workplace, it’s the facility manager. 

 

Learn more about facility management software on our pricing page.