When considering the long-term viability of a property, the focus is usually on how to make it as profitable as possible. Our answer to that one is to make happy tenants – in other words, to increase tenant satisfaction.
Okay, let's admit that many real estate operators are still focused on either increasing revenues or reducing costs, but today the focus should at least be on achieving profitability by increasing the lifetime value of the tenant. We cover this topic in depth in the blog post just linked in the previous sentence, as well as in our guide to the ROI of tenant satisfaction published earlier this year.
In this article, we take another perspective on the topic: Namely, how, in focusing on getting happy tenants, the satisfaction of your own staff can be forgotten and their workload can grow out of control. And so in the pursuit of happy tenants, the result is frustrated and overburdened property managers and administrators... which in the end often does not lead to good tenant satisfaction.
But that doesn't have to be the case. And the happier the admins, the happier the tenants – and the other way around!
It’s easy to forget, but in fact, the very same principles apply to successful relationships with both the tenants and your property administration. Let's look at this through some typical ways to improve tenant satisfaction:
Clear, 2-way communication is key to any successful relationship, including the one between property owners, tenants – and administrators & managers. As a property owner, make sure that:
As much as tenants value transparency to changes, updates and their reported issues, so do the administrators. For them, it is actually hard to do their job if they do not have transparency over what’s coming up. Keep them informed about any upcoming important changes as well as policies that may impact their work.
We always prompt you to ask for feedback from tenants to measure their satisfaction and to find out about their pain points and possible needs. This is also very crucial for property administrators. They are in the frontline with the client itself and can provide very good information on the property and the tenants – what is working and what is not. What are the areas that need improvement, and what concerns and ideas they may have.
While tenants are more likely to engage with a strong, cohesive and customer-centric brand, you make the work easier for your property administrators by building a strong brand – and brand guidelines. This eases up their work and also builds morale and encourages them to work to support these guidelines and brand.
We cannot ignore this, as ESG targets are a reality today. Customers and employees alike are interested in the environment and ethics and prefer to support companies and work for companies that honestly work on these issues. So think about which ESG goals are important to you and realistic to achieve. Commit to them and communicate them clearly to staff and tenants alike.
To keep the tenants happy, responding and reacting quickly can become a daunting task for the property administrators if most of it is done manually and without any digital tools. And it becomes a daunting task for the property owner or manager to keep the staff informed, fresh and equipped to keep the tenants happy.
So, while the actions listed above certainly make sense, they also take too much time and resources, unless they are facilitated by technology.
Automating tasks is a must – it helps free up time for property administrators, allowing them to focus on more important tasks. For example, maintenance requests and issue reports can be received as a smooth ticket flow with pre-determined categories, priorities and assignees. This makes handling them so much smoother than receiving tasks from different channels and having them scattered on different people's desks. And this is just one part of the operations that can be automated.
Upgrade your communications to digital tools that allow you to send 1:1 messages as well as broadcasts to everyone, and handle all communications in one place so that all administrators have access to all interactions and events with each tenant.
Ensure that your property administrators have access to the resources they need to do their job effectively. A tenant experience and operations software brings everything together on the same platform. Communication with and between tenants, service requests, additional service management, a queuing system for new tenants, and much more. This greatly facilitates the work of staff, as everyone can find everything related to operations and tenants on one platform.
Not everyone is born digital. We're living in an age of disruption where your tenant base may have been born with a mobile phone in hand, but your staff really weren't – and it’s alright! If you're acquiring technology to make work easier, provide training on how to use it too, to make sure it's used to its full potential.
Regularly review your property management processes to identify any areas that could be streamlined or improved. When you use a digital platform for your tenant relationship management, you can pull data from the platform to understand the state of different operations, compare different properties, identify patterns and make more informed decisions.
Solicit also feedback from your property administrators and tenants to identify areas of concern and make necessary changes.
Focusing on tenant satisfaction and introducing new technologies may cause extra work in the beginning - but proactively communicating this with staff can avoid potential frustrations. When everyone understands why things are being done and that the end result will make everyone's job easier, there is less resistance to adopting new ways of doing things.
Also, tenants can find it difficult to adopt new tools and platforms to communicate with. So, the better you familiarise both tenants and staff with the use of new technologies, the more successfully your tenants and staff will use them.
We understand that it can be an investment, a big change, and a big project to push through – and things are working "just fine" even now.
However, technology has become an essential tool in the property management industry. By embracing technology, property owners can:
This also applies to both – your tenants and your staff. Recognize and reward your administrators for good performance, such as meeting maintenance targets or providing excellent customer service to tenants. This will help to build morale and encourage continued good work.
You can also recognize and reward your tenants – for the months or years of having been your tenants, for example. Or if you are using a tenant experience and operations platform, you can reward them for instance for being active in the community, or for being conscious consumers of water and electricity (if you have a setup to measure and visualize the consumption of water and electricity per apartment – this is by the way also possible with Hococo!).
Like we said in the beginning – the happier the admins, the happier the tenants – and the other way around. That’s one very good reason to take care of them both equally! You are always welcome to contact us to learn more on how to do it with the help of technology.