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.

How Technology Can Drive Tenant Engagement

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.

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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.

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.

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.

Buyer Personas Help Target Marketing Efforts

A few years ago I read a book called The New Rules of Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott. (If you haven’t read it, it’s a great book and I highly recommend it.) One of my favourite sections of the book talked about buyer personas. According to the author, a buyer persona is “a representative of a type of buyer that you have identified as having a specific interest in your organization or product or having a market problem that your product or service solves.” Companies can create a variety of buyer personas to help them craft their marketing messages to address the unique needs of each persona.

Meerman Scott points out that marketers for the major U.S. political parties have been using buyer personas for years. For example, one buyer persona might be called “NASCAR Dads” (rural, working-class males, many of whom are NASCAR fans) or Security Moms (mothers who are worried about terrorism and concerned about security). Says Meerman Scott, “by segmenting millions of voters into distinct buyer personas, candidates build marketing campaigns and PR programs that appealed specifically to each.”

That made a lot of sense to me, so I set out to create a set of buyer personas for my company, Eservus, which provides online concierge services to tenants in office buildings. By brainstorming and strategizing with my team, and after carefully analyzing our member survey and purchase data, we came up with five distinct buyer personas:

sports_fan_samSports Fan Sam: Does a clear image of Sam pop into your head? Of course! Sam is, obviously, into a variety of sports, so when we target Sam, we make sure that he knows about all the great Raptors, Blue Jays, Stampeders and Red Sox tickets we have available … at a discount.

 

soccer_mom

Soccer Mom Sally: You can tell if your buyer persona is effective if it creates a strong image in your mind of a particular personality type, and Soccer Mom Sally certainly does that. Sally lives in the suburbs, is married and has young children at home. We think Sally is looking for savings and convenience, so when we target her in our e-mail promotions, we make sure that we highlight these attributes in our communications.

footloose_fiona

Footloose Fiona: Fiona is young, single and enjoys going out with her friends. For Fiona, we promote a variety of lifestyle products that better meet her needs, including restaurants, fitness and social engagement.

cultured_chrisCultured Chris: Chris is a little older, can me male or female, whose kids are no longer living at home. Chris enjoys the finer things in life, and loves going to the ballet, the symphony or perhaps the opera. We target Chris with messaging that appeals to their more “sophisticated” sensibilities.

corporate_chris_1Corporate Casey: Casey makes purchases on behalf of his or her company, and so is not necessarily looking for the best deal, but definitely needs to find the right product quickly and easily … Casey doesn’t have any time to waste! For Casey, we focus our messaging on the ease of use of the Eservus online platform and timely response to questions and requests.

Does anyone else use buyer personas to segment their customers? If so, I’d love to hear about them!

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.