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.

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.

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!

Team Spirit Contest Engages Tenants

One of the things that Eservus tries to do as much as possible is engage the tenants in the buildings we serve. We think of ourselves as our property manager clients’ partner in tenant engagement; we have opportunities every day to connect with tenants and provide them with an engaging experience. And one of the most effective techniques to engage tenants is with contests.

Tenants LOVE contests, and they can be a very cost-effective way to interact with tenants and create a bit of fun and excitement in the building. Eservus recently organized a very successful contest called the Eservus Team Spirit Luxury Suite Giveaway. The Toronto Blue Jays were finishing off their regular season and we took advantage of the excitement surrounding the Jays with a contest that asked tenants to submit a video showing their team spirit. We received two dozen videos, many of which were of impressively high production value. The company whose video was deemed to show the most creativity, originality and team spirit was awarded a luxury suite for 16 to watch the Blue Jays take on the Yankees at the end of the regular season.

The contest was a success for several reasons. First, we capitalized on the excitement and enthusiasm already surrounding the Jays. Second, it was a really cool prize! (That said, you don’t have to pony up an expensive prize to engage tenants … when I worked at Cadillac Fairview, we had a contest where the prize was a jar of jelly beans, and we had hundreds of entries.) Third, we posted the videos on our YouTube channel while the contest was still running to create even more engagement (at last count, there were 4,300 views). Finally, after the contest was over, we shared each tenant’s videos with the property manager of the tenant’s building. The property managers were impressed to see how involved their tenants were in the contest. I also think they were impressed by how Eservus created such a high level of tenant engagement!

Check out the winning video by clicking here. And think of ways you can engage tenants through contests. If you’re an Eservus client, we’d love to help you with that!

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

BOMA Recognition is Good for Business

By Kirk Layton

Property managers are always on the lookout for new ways to distinguish their buildings, make a connection with existing tenants and attract future customers. Earning awards and certification from the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) is a cost-effective way to achieve all three goals.

Completing the submission requirements calls for some time and commitment, but the short- and long-term payoffs make it worth the effort. Here’s how BOMA recognition can benefit your building and operations:

A competitive advantage
Achieving BOMA awards and certification is like getting a stamp of approval for your properties. With BOMA’s Certificate of Excellence, for example, property managers can prove to tenants, and perhaps more importantly, to prospective tenants, that they have met BOMA’s rigorous standards in the key areas that are most important to them, such as energy management and community impact. As a result, BOMA certification puts property managers in a better position to compete with other BOMA-certified buildings, and gain a competitive advantage on PMs that are not certified.

Quality control… and improvement
While preparing the written submission for BOMA’s Certificate of Excellence, Earth Award or Pinnacle Award, property managers must assess whether they make the grade in terms of their building features, programs and services. If you have not been documenting your procedures, the application process is an opportunity to develop a permanent record of key programs and policies, which is valuable for training and communication purposes. Furthermore, as you review the requirements, you may be discover that you’re excelling in one area, such as tenant relations, but have deficiencies in another, such as emergency preparedness. Being aware of BOMA’s requirements can help clarify where improvements need to be made.

An opportunity for regional (and international) exposure
The highest-scoring Certificate of Excellence recipients receive BOMA’s prestigious Outstanding Building of the Year (TOBY) award and qualify for regional and potentially international competition. That’s great recognition and exposure for your property, not to mention an excellent opportunity to instill a sense of pride among your management team and staff … and even your tenants.

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

Taking Tenant Retention Strategies to the Next Level

Tenant engagement is a top priority for today’s property managers who realize it’s no longer enough to simply provide good office space. The most innovative property managers also offer exclusive services and amenities that allow their tenants to be more productive and efficient – both at work and in their personal lives – and create an environment that fosters social connections and collaboration.

One company that’s getting it right is Investa, a leading office owner and manager in Australia. Investa recently kicked off a tenant engagement program called INSITE, which is being piloted in 11 of its buildings. It features an online tenant portal designed to save occupants time and make work-life easier, more fun and engaging.

Time-saving services for tenants

Through INSITE, building tenants access a variety of convenient services, such as dry cleaning, airport transfers, meeting rooms and catering services. Concierge services are at the core of INSITE; at each building a virtual or on-site concierge service helps deliver all services.

A hub for social connections

INSITE has a social networking component, which enables occupants to join active groups or coordinate their own groups for everything from running to yoga plus networking events. INSITE also makes it easy to give feedback to Investa’s property management team.

Easy access to building news and events

Through INSITE, Investa tenants can get the latest local and building news and learn about promotional offers, upcoming events and the latest environmental performance information for their buildings.

With the INSITE program, Investa’s goal is to forge stronger connections between building tenants and its property management teams. And I have no doubt that they’ll achieve it. As property managers consider their own development plans, this type of program shows there’s a real opportunity to create a more collaborative building experience that better engages tenants and helps them thrive.