Publisher’s note: Many tenants just don’t feel the love from their landlord. They are sometimes treated as if the landlord is doing a favor by allowing them in their building. You hope the property manager’s primary concern should be all about customer service, tenant satisfaction and retention. But often that isn’t always the case. Here’s what every tenant wishes to tell their landlord. Enjoy, Richard Neuman
If you think being a Property Manager is about maintenance, utilities, contracting, technology advances or troubleshooting, you are sadly mistaken. Property Management is about “Customer Service” first. The entire purpose and being of a Property Manager is about tenant satisfaction and tenant retention. There is nothing else it is about.
With each maintenance item, utility bill, new technology and contract signed, it is about the end result: Customer Satisfaction and Service. It is probably the last thing you hear folks talk about or plan for or think of, and it should be the first! Each day you are on the job you need to start your day with: What have I done for the tenants today? If you ask that question and honestly address it, you will be an excellent Property Manager. Remember, if the tenants are happy, the building owner should be happy.
Now, I know there are some building owners who are never happy and will never care if the tenants are happy. There are always a few bad apples in every batch, but for the most part, savvy building owners who really care about the bottom line do get it. It is really the naive building owner who does not get it. Quite simply, tenant retention is everything about Property Management.
With times being so tough it forces many to realize that their treatment of their tenants will surely rear its ugly head if the tenants have not been considered first. When you think about it, this just makes good business sense. Why would any business operate against the customer? Why would any business plan its operations around annoying customers? It makes you wonder sometimes when tenants are treated badly or ignored. That is absolutely insane. Why would you not answer the phone with each ring or respond like a lightning bolt with each work order request? I say it is pure training and education. Most folks who are trained or mentored are not always taught the importance of being nice and the simple rule that the customers come first.
Today it is paramount. It is not optional. The tenants must be considered and respected or they will move. It is that simple. When you look at the massive effort it takes to find a NEW tenant! OMG, you are lame if you do not treasure the tenants you have. If a tenant moves, that should be like a knife in your heart and it should hurt really bad. Nobody wants to lose a tenant today.
Now I realize that there are tenants who go out of business; but I am talking about a tenant who moves to another location. You must avoid that at all costs! You should never let a tenant leave your building. All of the staff must have that drilled into their heads. It must be the #1 thing they eat, drink and sleep, literally. It should be like propaganda on everything they use or work with. Make it your tag line and make it stick. Put it at the bottom of every timesheet, email or on every work order ticket. No matter what you do, every single member of the operations, housekeeping, security, contracting, suppliers and so on, must know this is your entire reason for being.
Once you are sure each member of your team is committed, the next thing is to create your program each year. Literally walk through each month of the year and create a theme or program or whatever you can do. It must involve everyone. That means, contracting services, staff members, and any other groups who touch your tenants must be on board with the plan. Include your contracting service vendors in the events and in sponsoring the events. The motto must be – We are in business because of the tenants and we appreciate the business very much!! That can be said in a ton of different ways, but you get the drift. Create a code word that equals your message.
If you come to the building every day with that message in your head, it will make a difference. Just think about being in the tenants’ shoes. How do they see the building, the staff, the contract service vendors? Do they see a group of folks they are proud to work with or do they see sloppy and messy or rude folks? All of that makes a difference and can make a tenant move as a result.
There is no room for error here. The Property Manager is the leader of the team and the leader must think of the tenants in every project, every thought, every maintenance plan, etc. How you ask? Well first of all communication is the #1 thing. Today there is so much technology you can use for free, especially email. Be sure all of the occupants of your property know what is going on. That is the most effortless and basic thing you can do. For instance, if you are doing anything to improve the building, tell them about it. Also let the tenants know what to expect. That is the most basic rule of customer service. Hang signs, hand out flyers, whatever you can do. Plaster it in the restrooms, whatever works for your configuration or building traffic flow. Nobody wants to walk in to the office and ask, what is going on. They should already know. Give all tenants advance notice!! Do not wait until the last minute. Why? Because that tenant may be planning a big event themselves, or they may have VIP visitors coming to town. Encourage them to tell you about their significant visitors or meetings. Why? Because you can help to welcome those visitors as well. You can spread the word to the staff to be on the lookout or to help people get into the building with boxes or whatever. It is jumping through hoops and making them feel special.
There are so many ideas on tenant retention and most of them are truly common sense and not rocket scientist level stuff. They are old fashioned and traditional courtesies or ideas that show people you care. Your goal is to have the nicest and friendliest staff in the world! If you can create a powerful team, you have it cinched. If you have cranky or ornery folks among you, they will have to go if they fail to follow your leadership. I am sorry to say, but you will have to hire nice people who can deliver the best customer service possible. Do not compromise that point. You can always give folks a chance to change, but if they do not change, they must be asked to leave.
Just remember to ask yourself – What have I done for the tenants today? – and if you do that simple thing each day, you will be on the road to excellent Property Management and superior Customer Service which all lead to high levels of tenant retention that you can count on at your property.
Written by Linda Day Harrison, CPM, CCIM. Linda founded theBrokerList.com in an effort to create efficiency and streamlined operations for the commercial real estate industry, including, property and facility management, leasing and brokerage.