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

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.

Eservus Introduces Tenant Engagement Services

slot_machine_1Back when I was a property manager, I used to love organizing events and activities that involved my tenants. Things like contests, lobby events, tenant giveaways, and even tenant surveys are great ways for property managers to engage their tenants and create a fun distraction from the day-to-day routine at the office. But there’s more than just fun and games behind what I call tenant engagement services … building relationships with your tenants year-round pays dividends when it comes time to renew the lease: Rather than it being a pure financial decision, tenants will also take into consideration the social element of their relationship with the property manager. From a behavioural economics perspective, it’s about shifting the tenants’ perspective of the renewal from market norms to social norms, which can be much more persuasive. (For more detail on social vs. market norms, check out this blog post.)

I know what the property managers out there are thinking: Who has time to organize tenant events? Today’s property managers have so much more on their plates – from environmental initiatives to regulatory issues – that it’s tougher than ever to find time to engage your tenants. That’s why Eservus recently launched Tenant Engagement Services (TES). In addition to offering our core concierge services, we can now serve as the property managers’ partner in tenant engagement, helping them to organize events, source suppliers and engage face-to-face with their tenants. Eservus even offers assistance with tenant surveys and BOMA Award applications, which many property managers agree are important but they just don’t have the time to make them happen.

Eservus’s new Manager of Tenant Engagement, Kristin Mackey-Bernatt, is responsible for overseeing our Tenant Engagement Services; the role was specifically created with an eye to helping property managers engage their tenants and strengthen the landlord/tenant relationship year-round.  Eservus wants to continue to add value to our core online concierge service offering, and through Tenant Engagement Services we feel that we have a winning formula to help property managers build stronger relationships with their tenants.

What are you doing to engage your tenants? Please leave a reply!

Lowering Customer Defections Increases Profits

In the early nineties, a classic article was published in the Harvard Business Review, called “Zero Defections: Quality Comes to Services,” that quantified the value of increased customer retention (or, as they referred to it in the article, “decreased customer defection”). It was a pretty impressive article, with all sorts of cool charts and graphs and fancy statistical analyses (like you’d expect in an HBR article!). I’m not going to say that I understood every word of it, but the upshot of the article was pretty straightforward: By decreasing customer defection by a mere five percent, companies can boost their profit by up to 90%! I don’t need a Harvard degree to understand that!

The article looked at a variety of industries, from automotive dealerships to credit cards and – you guessed it – commercial property management. The authors arrived at their profit numbers by calculating the present value of future profits that resulted from a 5% reduction in customer defection. Now 5% doesn’t seem that much … it’s like going from losing 20 out of 100 tenants a year to losing 15. But, according to the article, for commercial property managers, that simple 5% reduction can increase profits by a whopping 40%.

There are lots of studies out there that show that it costs a lot more to attract new customers than it does to hang on to the ones you’ve got. And other studies show that happy tenants are more likely to renew their leases than unhappy ones. But the HBR article is the best study I’ve seen in terms of quantifying the actual bottom-line dollar value of improving customer retention.

The article reinforces the idea that money spent on keeping your tenants happy is money well spent. Happy tenants renew their leases, resulting in lower defection rates. Lower your defection rates by 5% and you can count on increasing profits by 40%. I guess you can say that money spent on tenant services is money in the bank.

“Always/Never List” Helps Codify Service Standards

Two of the most important components of any service quality strategy are:

  1. Having a well-defined and consistent set of service standards in place
  2. Effectively communicating those standards throughout the organization

Even if your company doesn’t have a formalized service quality strategy, you probably have a number of service standards that at least some of your employees practice some of the time. So how do you formalize something that may be ad hoc, but probably has a ton of potential value for your business?

One thing you can do right now to formalize and communicate your company’s existing, yet undocumented, service standards is to create an “Always/Never List.” Putting an “Always/Never List” together is pretty easy: Just meet with your team and brainstorm eight to ten service actions your employees already do that complete the phrase “At our company we always ______” (e.g. you always return client phone calls within one hour, or you always take responsibility for a customer’s complaint, even if it’s not your fault). Then come up with eight to ten actions that complete the phrase “At our company we never ______” (e.g. you never bad-mouth a co-worker, or you never leave a customer on hold on the telephone for more than 30 seconds). You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how quickly you’ll come up with a list of “always” and “never” actions that will help crystallize your company’s service quality standards and make it easier to communicate them throughout the company. Once you have your list, you can print them up on 3”x5” cards, get them laminated and hand them out to the front-liners.

An example of something that’s on the Eservus Always/Never List is that we always say “you’re welcome” or “my pleasure” when thanked by a customer or co-worker. We never say “No problem.” Just that one little thing sets us apart from almost every service company out there, and it shows that we have a well-trained, service-focused team.