Before 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.