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.

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

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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.

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.

lobby4

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.

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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.

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.

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.