The Evolution of Concierge Services

Prior to starting Eservus, I worked with a property management company that offered portfolio-wide in-lobby concierge services. The tenants LOVED the service – I knew that because part of my job was doing tenant satisfaction surveys! – and what they loved most was discounted ticket services. So when I launched Eservus in 1999, that’s what I wanted to focus on … offering discounted tickets online without the cost of an in-lobby concierge. Even though it was a disruptive idea, fortunately the property managers liked it, they replaced their in-lobby concierges with Eservus, and we were off and running!

Disrupt Improve Evolve Cycle Process Change Innovate 3d Illustra

I find it interesting that over the years, some property managers have come full circle and are offering in-lobby concierge services again. Well, not exactly concierge services … now it’s less about offering traditional concierge services (including discounted tickets) and more about engaging tenants in meaningful ways in order to build a sense of community. With discounted tickets being made available through a number of channels, some property managers have the perception (and I emphasize perception, because I don’t necessarily agree 100%) that discounted tickets are becoming a commodity. So that means that Eservus needs to stay ahead of the curve, offering more than discounted tickets to meet the needs of our clients.

That’s the main reason behind our focus on providing a broader range of services to property managers, such as Tenant Engagement Services and our soon-to-launch Tenant Engagement Portal. That’s why we offer in-lobby concierge service to CBRE in Toronto, and Hines in Calgary … a service that we can only expect to grow. It’s all about understanding what the property managers value and giving them what they want.

Speaking of what property managers value, we’ve heard from a number of clients that they’re very interested in providing a mobile app to their tenants, and I’m pleased to announce that we’ve started working on one. We’re in the process of getting proposals from four different tech companies, and we’ll be in a position very soon to make a decision on our tech partner and begin development on an app. Our app will be another tool in our tenant engagement – and property manager retention – toolkit.

So as the needs of property managers has evolved, so has Eservus and the services we provide. I’m interested in hearing your observations on the evolution of concierge services, so please post them in the comments section.

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.

Using Sports to Engage Your Tenants

Now that the winter Olympics are in full swing (or should I say full schuss?) and everybody is caught up in supporting their country’s athletes, it’s a good time to look at how property managers can use sports to engage their tenants. Piggy-backing on the Olympics is a no-no for most companies unless they’re sponsors (like Cadillac Fairview, which is an official partner of the Canadian Olympic Committee). But there are tons of ways to leverage sports outside of the Olympics to engage your tenants and show some team spirit.

team_spiritSpeaking of team spirit, that was the theme of the promotion that Eservus’s Toronto office brought to life in the fall of 2016 (check out my blog post on the promo here).  We asked tenants in our member buildings to put together a video showing their company’s team spirit, with the team submitting the best video winning a luxury suite for 16 to watch the Toronto Blue Jays take on the New York Yankees.  Of the two dozen videos submitted, the winner was the team from DHX Media, with honourable mention going to Anderson DDB. This was a truly engaging promotion that really showed a lot of spirit!

lake louiseOf course, a luxury suite is expensive, so how can you bring to life a sports-themed promotion without breaking the bank? Eservus’s Calgary office created a fun contest that engaged tenants by asking them to guess how many lift-pass zip ties were in a Lake Louise-branded glass. The winner received a one-night stay at the Lake Louise Inn plus two lift passes. The contest was a huge success, with 256 entries and over 4,400 people reached on Facebook. The passes and accommodation were donated by our supplier partners in exchange for promoting them to our members, making this a very cost-effective promotion.

living_trophyNot to be outdone, the Eservus team in Boston is gearing up for the 2018 baseball season by organizing a Red Sox opening day event in April that’s sure to wow the tenants in Beantown. We expect to have a lot of fun at this event, which will include popcorn, ice cream, a “living trophy” and a virtual reality pitcher’s mound. We all know that Bostonians love their baseball, so what better way to engage the tenants than with a fun event featuring their beloved Sox!

We’d love to hear about any other sports-themed tenant events, so if you’ve attended or organized one, be sure to leave a comment.

 

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.

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.

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.

Five Features of Effective Tenant Surveys

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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.