Creative Building Events a Hit with Property Managers

beach_selfie_stationEservus has had a very busy summer organizing building events and barbecues for our property manager clients. With more and more property managers looking for ways to engage their tenants, many have turned to building events to create a stronger relationship with their community and generate tenant goodwill. One of the challenges that property managers face is coming up with events that are fresh and original – events that will grab the tenants’ attention – and that’s where Eservus has been focusing our attention. Here are a few examples of how Eservus put a new spin on our PM clients’ events over the past year.

THE GREENEST OF PENCILS

One of the more innovative products we sourced for a PM client’s Earth Day event was a pencil that you could plant in soil and would actually take root and sprout! The pencils come in a number of varieties, including basil, forget me not and thyme. We also arranged for one of our clients a “living wall,” an actual plant wall that we set up in the building lobby. Talk about going green!

COOKIN’ ON THE BEACH

Tenant barbecues are one of the most popular events that property managers organize, and when Eservus was asked by one of our PM clients to take care of their annual BBQ, we tried to bring a unique spin to the event by organizing a beach-party theme. Our Tenant Engagement Manager, Kristin Mackey-Bernatt, went all out on the beach theme and even went to The Home Depot to pick up giant bags of sand for the tropical selfie station!

WHAT WOULD YOU DO FOR A COOKIE?

How do you motivate your tenants to participate in evacuation drills? One of our PM clients decided to use bribery and offered delicious cookies customized with their logo to everyone who made the trek down the stairs and outside the building during the drill. Not only did the tenants welcome the tasty treat, but the property manager built both their brand and tenant goodwill.

As more property managers look for innovative ways to engage their tenants, building occupants can expect to see events that have a fresh and unique spin on the tried and true. What’s the most creative idea for a tenant event that you’ve seen in the past year? Leave a reply below … I’d love to hear about it!

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

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.

What’s Your New-Tenant Welcome Strategy?

welcome_matOne of the ways that my company, Eservus, introduces ourselves to new tenants in the office buildings we serve is to hold a prize draw for the company’s employees. We ask the employees to create a free member account with Eservus and their name goes into a draw to win, say, one of ten pairs of admit-one movie passes. It’s a fun way to engage the new employees and welcome them to the building. So that got me thinking … how can property managers welcome new tenants to the building?

Let’s face it … often the key to starting a strong relationship is making a strong first impression. This holds true in personal as well as professional relationships. The new-tenant move-in is a great time for property managers to kick off the landlord/tenant relationship on the right foot. So here are a few ideas that can help you make a strong first impression on that all-important move-in day:

The Basics: 

  • Send a bouquet of flowers, a gift basket or other goodie with a card welcoming the tenant to the building. Better yet, hand-deliver it during the first few days of move-in so you can introduce yourself (if you haven’t already of course!)
  • If you’re not able to make it in person, leave the flowers or gift basket along with the card in front of the suite’s door on a residential-style welcome mat. It’s a little kitschy for sure but it will definitely be remembered!
  • Put together a tenant welcome kit with information on the building, coupons from retailers and gift cards from nearby restaurants. Sometimes retailers and restaurants give away free gift cards or coupons in exchange for promoting them to your tenants. To add some pizazz, have the folder designed to look like a little welcome mat. (Love those welcome mats!)

Upping the Ante:

  • Show up on moving day with enough pizza and soft drinks to feed the entire team. If you can’t make it in person, have the pizzas delivered.
  • Deliver a few dozen cookies or cupcakes customized with a welcome message and the company’s logo. (It’s not as hard as it sounds … Eservus works with companies who do a great job on custom confections!)
  • Buy a large tool kit and fill it with move-in must-haves (paper towels, window cleaner, tape, small tools, etc.). Wrap it with a large bow and include a nice card welcoming the tenant to the building.

A well-executed welcome strategy doesn’t have to break the bank, and can set the stage for a great landlord/tenant relationship!

Have you done something especially creative or unique to welcome your new tenants to the building? If so, I’d love to hear about it, 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.

Effective Tenant Newsletters Help Engage Tenants

Before starting Eservus back in 1999, I worked in property management with Cadillac Fairview; one of my responsibilities was putting together a newsletter for the office tenants at the Toronto Eaton Centre. I learned first-hand the value of a newsletter as a great way to engage the tenants. Now that Eservus offers tenant newsletters as part of our Tenant Engagement Services, I’m reminded that a well-written, well-designed newsletter, either in digital format or hard copy, is still an effective tool to inform, educate and – most importantly – engage your tenants. But not all newsletters are created equal … so here are some tips to help make your tenants actually want to read your newsletter!

Based on my experience – past and present – there are three elements to an effective tenant newsletter:

  1. Provide tenants with content they can actually use
  2. Remind tenants of what you’re doing for them at the building every day
  3. Engage tenants with newsletter content in a fun way 

 

1. Provide tenants with content they can actually use

box_saladThis can be as simple as a tip of the month to relieve neck stress, or a quick and easy way to pack a salad for the office. You can even remind them of some of the retailers that are in the concourse (your retailers will thank you for that as well!). What you don’t want to do is include information that nobody can use … a prime example is the office tenant profile. (“In this month’s newsletter, we’re profiling XYZ Company in suite 1013.”) In my experience, nobody cares about the office tenant profile … except the tenant in the profile!

2. Remind tenants of what you’re doing for them at the building every day

umbrellaDo you provide complimentary bicycle racks in the parking garage? What about umbrellas at security? Or an after-hours escort to the tenant’s car? Whatever great tenant amenities you offer, use your newsletter to communicate their availability. At the same time you’ll show that you care for your tenants’ well-being, which is always a good thing!

 

3. Engage tenants with newsletter content in a fun way

jelly_beans.2jpgIt’s easy to do a contest for a couple of movie tickets where you ask tenants to e-mail the management office with their one-line review of the latest hot movie, or have a picture of a jar of jellybeans, with an invitation to guess the number of jellybeans (closest one wins the jellybeans!), or a scavenger hunt through the newsletter to find answers to silly clues. What you actually do is less important than giving your tenants a chance to connect with you in a fun and engaging way.

So keep your newsletter relevant, informative and fun, and you’re bound to reap the rewards of an effective tenant newsletter strategy: increased tenant engagement.

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

Five Features of Effective Tenant Surveys

tenant_survey

As part of our suite of Tenant Engagement Services, Eservus coordinates tenant satisfaction surveys on behalf of our property manager clients. If you’re already doing tenant satisfaction surveys then you know how important they are to your overall tenant service strategy. A well-designed tenant survey can help you identify issues that you and your property management team never knew about; they can also provide confirmation that your tenant service strategy is actually working!

While at Marathon and Cadillac Fairview – and now at Eservus – I’ve done a ton of tenant surveys, and I’ve learned a lot about what makes for an effective survey process. Based on my experience, here are five features of effective tenant surveys:

1. Start with a well-designed survey: This might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many poorly designed surveys are out there. Make sure your survey includes questions that cover all aspects of building operations (security, life safety, elevators, lighting, cleaning, HVAC, parking, outdoor maintenance, environmental, building staff, building services). Make sure you use an unbiased scale; for example, if your survey offers as four possible answers “Poor,” “ Fair,” “Good” and “Excellent,” that’s biased to the positive, since three of the four options can be interpreted as positive. A better scale would be “Very unsatisfied,” “Unsatisfied,” “Neutral,” “Satisfied” and “Very Satisfied.”

2. Be sure to measure the importance of building features. If you include a set of questions about how important HVAC, cleaning, security etc. are, you’ll be able to compare importance scores with satisfaction scores. The bigger the gap (i.e. low satisfaction, high importance), the more resources you should focus on addressing those areas. Bonus points if you can guess which building feature usually has the biggest gap between importance and satisfaction. (Hint:  it’s HVAC!)

3. Communicate the results of the survey back to the tenants: More often than not, tenant surveys are one-way communication, where the tenants answer the questions but they don’t find out what the results are … they’re left to wonder if you’re going to do anything with their feedback. Plan to deploy a communication strategy via your building newsletter or website that summarizes the highlights of the survey. Your tenants will thank you!

4. Commit to responding to issues raised by the survey: Like it or not, once you ask the tenants for their opinions, you’re going to raise their expectations that something is going to be done in response to their feedback. So make sure you prepare an action plan that responds to the concerns expressed by the tenants … and communicate it! A lot of issues that the tenants raise can be addressed simply with effective communication.

5. Conduct regular surveys and compare results: The only way you’ll know if your tenants’ satisfaction is improving is if you ask the same questions with the same scale 12 to 18 months later and compare the results. If you have an effective survey tool, communication plan and follow-up strategy, chances are you’ll see consistent improvement year after year.

So if you don’t have a tenant survey process in place, strongly consider launching one. Speaking from experience, I know that it’s one of the cornerstones of a successful tenant service strategy.

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

Four Benefits of Digital Lobby Displays

digital_lobby_display

Back in the good ol’ days when I worked in property management, digital lobby displays didn’t exist … I think we chiseled tenant updates onto stone tablets back then! It’s amazing to think of the advancements in digital communications over the past decade or so, and how those advancements have enabled property managers to be more engaging and creative with their lobby displays. Eservus has recently partnered with a leading Canadian manufacturer of digital directory boards to explore the possibilities of digital lobby displays as yet another way for property managers to engage their tenants, and we’re looking forward to working with our clients to get the most out of the technology.

Here now are four benefits of using digital displays in your buildings lobbies:

1. Long-Term Cost Savings: Sure, digital displays have an up-front cost … a decent unit can easily cost a few thousand dollars. But how much are you currently spending on traditional print signage in your lobbies, not to mention those (sometimes) expensive sign holders? Do the math and you’ll likely find that digital displays are a cost-effective option over the long term.

2. Tenant Engagement Opportunities: Property managers have only scratched the sleek glossy surface of the potential of digital displays in their lobbies. Imagine using digital displays to get tenants to “check in” during an evacuation drill for a chance to win a prize. Or what about sharing discount codes on your display to promote and drive traffic to your retailers? If any of you are using your digital lobby displays in unique and creative ways, leave a reply below … I’d love to hear about it!

3. Integration with Social Media: More and more property managers are taking advantage of social media, especially Twitter and LinkedIn, to communicate the details of new projects, community involvement, job postings … you name it! So why not feature your Twitter feed or LinkedIn posts on your digital lobby displays? Using integration tools like Sprinklr, TINT and Screenfeed, your displays can be seamlessly integrated with your social media content, allowing both to serve double-duty and further engage your tenants.

4. Additional Revenue Generation: As most property managers know, there are a ton of companies that are willing to pay to get in front of tenants in office buildings … a 30-second ride in an elevator equipped with a Captivate screen will give you a ready-made list! Digital lobby displays represent another channel for advertisers to target office tenants, which represents a potential income stream for property managers. Done right, display ads can be fun, engaging and will actually reinforce a property manager’s tenant engagement strategy.

As mentioned, Eservus is exploring the possibilities of offering our property manager clients’ digital lobby display services, from sourcing the hardware to managing the software, messaging and advertising. Stay tuned for further updates in the Tenant Service in Action blog.

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