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.

Four Benefits of Digital Lobby Displays

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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.

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!

Three Tips for Creating Engaging Lobby Events

At the end of January, Eservus will be announcing a promotional partnership with a well-known Toronto company (hint: they’re in the transportation business). We’ll be promoting our partnership with this company through a number of channels, including special events in the lobbies of some of our property manager clients’ buildings. Lobby events create a unique opportunity to interact with tenants in a much more personal way than, say, a building newsletter or tweet, and it’s that face-to-face aspect of lobby events that makes them an indispensable part of a property manager’s tenant engagement strategy.

Eservus has been doing lobby events in cooperation with our property manager clients ever since we launched in November 1999. Over the years, we’ve learned a lot about what makes for successful events … and by successful, of course I mean engaging. You only have a few seconds to grab people’s attention in the building lobby … after all, tenants in the lobby are always on their way to somewhere else – to work, to lunch or to a meeting – which makes it difficult to capture their attention. So how do you increase your chances of engaging your tenants as they stride through the lobby to somewhere else? Here are a few lessons that we’ve learned over the 17-plus years of doing lobby events:

Create a Visual Focal Point

Make sure you have a lobby display that’s big enough to grab people’s attention. There’s little use in simply positioning someone at the building entrance to hand out postcards – people will just walk by. Eservus uses a professionally designed 10’x10’ display and ancillary signage with two or three people to create a presence in the lobby that’s hard to miss. We work with our property manager clients to set up in a high-visibility, high-traffic location to maximize opportunities to interact with the tenants.

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Attract and Maintain a Crowd

We’ve all done it … you see a crowd of people and you want to know what’s attracting their attention, so you wander over. If you attract even a small crowd to your lobby event, you’ll observe first-hand the behavioural-economics principle known as social proof: People will be drawn to do what they see their peers doing. One way to attract visitors is to feed them: Eservus usually has cookies on hand to entice tenants to visit us in the lobby. But cookies are a short-term draw … people can just grab a cookie and walk away. What you want to do at this point is engage the tenants with something that’s fun and interactive, like a game, that gives you a chance to talk to them about why you’re there. Eservus has used iPad apps where the tenants have to enter a code to crack a virtual safe, or find the Eservus logo behind one of three doors à la Let’s Make a Deal. People don’t mind waiting a minute or two to play a game that they see as fun, helping to build the crowd and attract even more attention to your event.

lobby5

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

It doesn’t matter how big or small they are … tenants love prizes. Make sure your engaging game has some sort of prize attached to it, be it a random draw that tenants are entered into or an instant-win prize that they get on the spot. This adds to the element of fun and engagement that you’re trying to create, and the excitement shown by some of the prize winners draws an even bigger crowd!

lobby3

Eservus plans to use even bigger and better engagement tools in future lobby events, including interactive games on large touch-screen monitors to make playing the game more of a group experience. So if you see a crowd in a Toronto building lobby later this year, wander over (you know you’ll want to) … it might be Eservus’s new promo partner!

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

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!

team_spirit

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

Importance of Tenant Engagement Increasing for PMs

I was at a BOMA International conference at the beginning of February in Washington DC and I participated in a round-table discussion with a number of senior property managers about the latest trends in commercial real estate. As you can imagine, there was a lengthy discussion on a wide variety of topics, including security issues (this was the U.S. after all!), technology, maintenance and other more mundane topics that all PMs need to think about. But by far the most spirited – and for me, most interesting – part of the conversation centred on the PMs’ attempts to engage their tenants in meaningful ways. While some of the PMs seemed to have elements of what could be called tenant engagement strategies, most didn’t really know what to do to engage their tenants (especially the millennials) and were asking for ideas. I see that as a huge opportunity for corporate concierge companies like Eservus.

BOMA Washington meeting

Corporate concierge services do a great job engaging tenants. Whenever tenants interact with Eservus, whether it’s a member reading an e-mail, browsing through our website or talking to a concierge on the phone, we are engaging the tenants on behalf of the property managers. And as more and more property managers look for meaningful ways to engage their tenants, concierge services can make an even more valuable contribution, especially if we leverage technology.

Website designers talk about creating websites that are “sticky” – that engage browsers, maintain their interest, keep them on the site and increase the chances of making a sale. I think a trend for property managers in the near future is going to be to do whatever they can to make their buildings “sticky” – to engage their tenants in meaningful ways so that they renew their leases. A lot of what tenants will be engaged with will be driven by technology, and I think concierge services like Eservus can have a hand in that. For example, the property manager can put in a running track around a suburban property as a tenant service, but to engage the tenants, wouldn’t it be cool to have an app that allows tenants to sign up for a running group? That’s something that concierge services can are poised to have a hand in, because we’re engaging with the tenants already.

So concierge services should be thought of as an integral part of property managers’ tenant engagement strategy … whether they have one or not! And proactive concierge service providers should work on developing strategies to provide property managers with tools to help them engage their tenants. Here’s to sticky buildings!

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