When I started Eservus way back in 1999, my vision was always to help property managers retain their tenants by providing high-value online concierge services. The equation I pictured from Day One was concierge services = happy tenants = renewed leases = increased profit for property managers. (See my blog post on this very subject: The Concierge Equation Quantifies the Benefits of Concierge Services.) Of course, tenant retention is still important to property managers, but I’ve noticed that the focus has shifted from tenant retention to tenant engagement. I think that’s because retaining tenants is seen as a longer-term strategy, whereas engaging tenants is more immediate and tangible, and therefore more impactful.
The big question, of course, is how do you engage your tenants on an ongoing basis without breaking the bank on tenant events, newsletters, contests and giveaways? The answer is technology. Some property managers use their building websites and digital newsletters to engage tenants with interesting, fun and informative content. Other property managers use apps, like Brookfield’s myBrookfield app, to engage their tenants in unique and compelling ways. For example, members of myBrookfield receive invitations to exclusive events put on by retailers in the building concourse. The key to effective tenant engagement tools like myBrookfield is that it offers tenants things that they value, on their terms.
Eservus has been offering our online concierge services to our property manager clients for over 15 years, and we’ve been engaging tenants in a number of meaningful ways, but we recognize that our ability to engage tenants is limited to the services we offer. That’s why we’re in the process of developing technology that takes tenant engagement to an entirely new level. We’re building a tenant engagement portal that, among other things, provides a number of tools for property managers to engage with their tenants, and even tools for tenants to engage with each other.
For example, say you’re a tenant that’s having a bake sale in your suite to raise money for your favourite charity. (As a former property manager, I used to get a lot of requests from tenants to help them promote their fundraiser to the other tenants in the building, something that is not really feasible or practical.) Imagine a portal that allows you to post your event on a digital bulletin board for all of your fellow tenants to see. Or say you’re looking to set up a car-pooling group to make your daily commute a little easier. Like a lot of technology these days, we envision the portal helping to connect people of similar interests in order to enrich their lives.
We did a survey with some of our 30-plus property manager clients to find out what tenant engagement tools were of most interest to them, and the top five were:
- Building-specific announcements (e.g. ice-cream days, fire drills)
- Hyper-local community news
- An interactive building-events calendar
- Social media integration
- Food ordering and delivery
(That last one surprised me!) You can be sure that when we launch our tenant engagement portal in early 2018, these and many more services will be at the tenants’ fingertips … on their terms.
Kirk Layton is the president and founder of Eservus, an online corporate concierge company servicing over 30 property management clients in Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver, Boston and Houston.