Property Manager as Small-Town Mayor: Strengthening Community at Your Building

Mayor job title on nameplateBefore starting Eservus, I worked in property management, helping to oversee operations at a four-building complex in downtown Toronto. In addition to running the buildings efficiently, my goal as a property manager was to try to create a strong sense of community, to connect with the tenants on an individual level and build something similar to what townspeople would call “civic pride.”  To help put me in the right frame of mind, I actually imagined that I was the mayor of a small town. I think the small-town-mayor analogy works well as a model to help connect with tenants (the town folk!) and create a strong sense of community. Here are a few examples:

Key Account Meetings as Town Halls

In a previous blog post, I talked about how Key Account Management Meetings are an effective way to create a dialogue with tenants and to ensure that the voice of the tenant is heard loud and clear. These key account meetings serve a similar purpose as town hall meetings in a small town … as a way for stakeholders and management to create an open, honest and ongoing dialogue, voice grievances and discuss plans for the future. In fact, “town hall” is a pretty good name for key account meetings, so if you’re not already doing so, consider setting up town halls with your key tenants and try following some of the guidelines I presented in my key account meeting post.

Tenant Newsletters as Small-Town Newspapers

For those of you who have a tenant newsletter, I’m sure you’re always looking for fun, engaging or informative content. If you take a page out of a small-town paper, you’ll see all sorts of human-interest stories, funny photos, recipe submissions by the town folk and lots of other tidbits that you might not see in a typical building newsletter. Why not try something different and ask your tenants to contribute content for your newsletter? You can have a “Community Corner” section that includes more light-hearted content that helps contribute to the sense of community that you’re trying to build.

Tenant Events as Re-election Rallies

When you or your team organizes a building event, do you show up early, leave late and try to meet as many tenants as possible? Tenant events are a great way for property managers to connect with tenants on a personal level and help create that small-town feel. Sure, you’re not trying to get re-elected like a mayor has to, but that makes the experience so much more genuine and sincere … you’re connecting with the tenants because you want to connect, not because you need their votes. What’s more, establishing and strengthening relationships in such a feel-good environment will pay dividends the next time you have to deal with a tenant crisis!

I’m interested in hearing other examples of what property managers are doing to create a strong sense of community at their buildings, so if you have an example, please leave a reply below.

Kirk Layton is the president of Eservus, an online corporate concierge company servicing over 30 property management companies in Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver and Boston.

Do You Have a Service Recovery Strategy?

Recovery Just Ahead sign with sky backgroundWe all know how important it is to have a clearly defined tenant service strategy … everyone’s heard that the happier your tenants are, the more likely they’ll renew their leases. One way to turbo-charge your tenant service strategy – and help create lifelong tenant loyalty – is to implement a service recovery strategy. The trick to an effective service recovery strategy is to proactively identify tenants with service issues and address those issues to the tenant’s satisfaction. Sounds easy, right? The truth is that an effective service recovery strategy is a detailed process that must be planned, organized and implemented with the support of the management team and communicated throughout the organization.

It’s inevitable that something’s going to go wrong at your property and tenants are going to get upset, so that’s why a recovery strategy is so important. Companies with a service recovery strategy certainly don’t welcome mistakes at their buildings, but they are likely inspired by that fact that customers who’ve had a negative service experience that is resolved quickly are significantly more loyal than customers who have never had a negative experience. The key, of course, is that the issue is resolved quickly. Not only will you create more loyal tenants, but you’ll likely generate positive word of mouth as a result of the quick resolution.

A specific example of service recovery in action is how a property manager at Marathon Realty, a company I used to work for, handled elevator entrapments. The property manager used to have stacks of gift certificates to local restaurants at the ready. Upon hearing that there was an elevator entrapment – an unnerving experience for tenants at the best of times – he would wait in the lobby with a fistful of gift certificates, which he would then offer (along with a personal apology, of course) to the recently unentrapped occupants of the elevator. What do you think those tenants were talking about afterwards? Not the entrapment but the gift certificate! (I often wondered if that property manager scheduled elevator entrapments just so that he could recover from them!)

A great way to proactively identify tenants with service issues is to conduct regular tenant satisfaction surveys (you can check out my blog post on tenant surveys here) but the lag time between the issue and the identification of the issue can be significant, so consider using real-time feedback collection tools like Net Promoter Score or even social media to create more immediate communication channels with your tenants. No matter how you connect with your tenants, know that effective service recovery can result in lifelong loyalty to an extent that “mere” good customer service can never match.

Do you have a service recovery tactic that you’ve used to WOW your tenants and build loyalty? If so, please click on the “Leave a Reply” link at the bottom of the page and post a comment.

Kirk Layton is the president of Eservus, an online corporate concierge company servicing over 30 property management companies in Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver and Boston.