In any highly competitive commercial real estate market, where location and price are relatively equal, building owners and managers need to differentiate from other options on the basis of amenities and service in order to retain tenants, attract new ones, and drive profitability. As the economy continues to improve and development picks up, the battle for business will only get tougher, and the same old approach to service doesn’t provide the leverage property owners and managers need to stand out.
So, how can a property management organization deliver stand out service? By building a “Service Delivery Excellence” program and developing a brand around it.
A company’s brand is their promise to their tenants – it lets them know what they can expect from them. Consistent branding and messaging builds the value of an organization and a property. Everyone in the property management environment needs to align themselves with the brand – including maintenance workers, janitorial staff and other vendors, and administrative employees.
Equity Office was the first major real estate organization to really grasp the concept of being their brand. When you walked into an Equity-managed building, you knew it. From the exquisite cleanliness to the building security to the crisp, uniformed employees, their attention to every small service detail has made them a leader in the CRE industry. Other notable branding efforts centered around superior customer service were executed by Nordstrom’s, which routinely ranks in the top three on Luxury Institute’s customer satisfaction surveys, and Four Seasons Hotels, which has been named one of the “100 Best Companies to Work For” by Fortune every year since the survey’s inception in 1998.
Now, in order to begin building a brand, you first have to define it. Some integral questions a property owner needs to ask themselves are:
What is my company’s mission?
What are the benefits and features of my building?
What qualities do I want prospective tenants to associate with my company?
John Williams of Entrepreneur wrote, “Are you the innovative maverick in your industry? Or the experienced, reliable one? Is your product the high-cost, high-quality option, or the low-cost, high-value option? You can’t be both.” You have to know who you are, who your customers are, and, more importantly, what they want.
In many organizations, Millennials are now the leading force in driving change and making decisions. They are tech-savvy and enthusiastic, but also demand and expect a premium experience. They’re also not shy about publically letting you know how they feel. When it comes to evaluating space options, they are looking for responsiveness, transparency, and access to property management tools – both online and on mobile devices. It’s all about instant gratification and insight in real time. Fortunately, the latest technology trends give property managers and owners more (and better!) options to create and extend their brand to attract this younger “tech” generation.
The mobile revolution offers the opportunity to truly create a superior Service Delivery Program. Tenants require complete visibility, so they can be confident in the service being provided. With the ability to access data from anywhere at any time, tenants can (and should) view the progress of requests, provide instant feedback, view building management’s response times, and access all historical data about requests. In addition, property managers can generate reports from field data across staff, buildings, and regions to assess the relative health of properties and strength of staff, discover the root cause of service or maintenance issues, and use this information to inform discussions with tenants and ensure continued satisfaction.
But no amount of data or discussions means anything if the process isn’t simple. Tenants shouldn’t have to log into different websites, enter various logins, or remember which password they last used. Instead, they need to be given access to a central location where they can access all building services and easily communicate with management.
For example, Building Engines provides an online tenant portal called BuildingConnect that simplifies the service request process, provides an open line of communication with property management, and allows tenants to access all building services from a central location. With just a few clicks, tenants can submit service requests, access important building information, reserve conference rooms and other resources, pre-authorize visitors, provide feedback on service, and more. As a result, our clients have achieved an average 70% improvement in documented service delivery – with no staff increases.
Ultimately, building owners and managers need to enforce, deliver, and prove the level of service they promise tenants. This IS the company’s brand – service IS the differentiator. Make sure the message you’re sending is the right one.