Get Quality Feedback From Your Tenants
For many commercial building owners and managers, keeping track of performance means taking quantitative measurements of occupancy rates and lease renewal rates.
But there are other ways to monitor how effectively you maintain your buildings that go beyond such quantitative definitions, such as seeking your tenants’ opinions. Their feedback will help you determine what you should address: cleanliness, quality of lighting or safety concerns. Occupants are rarely shy when giving feedback about apartment conditions and the overall appeal of a building.
“Most tenants take personal ownership of their buildings,” says Don Roberts, a Round Rock, Texas-based portfolio manager for Opus West, a commercial property management company. “Tenants want their employees and visitors to be proud of the facility they occupy.”
Roberts and Linda Kliarsky, commercial property manager at Endeavor Real Estate in Austin, Texas, provide the following tips for getting tenant feedback.
Be proactive and engage your tenants on a personal level. If your intent is sincere, tenants will be comfortable giving feedback in a variety of ways. Consider using face-to-face conversations, phone calls, paper surveys and even interactive online tools to hear what your residents have to say. The optimal way to get this information is through personal interaction between the tenants and management, maintenance, administrative, leasing and other staff members, as well as independent survey tools, Roberts says.
Kliarsky’s company does a monthly phone interview with all tenants and asks them if they have had any maintenance or janitorial issues. These regular conversations help Kliarsky know her tenants well and signal red flags on any immediate issues. Endeavor Real Estate also conducts an in-depth yearly written survey to give tenants an additional opportunity to voice any grievances, Kliarsky says.
Know your job. Many routine tasks required for managing a building will go unnoticed by your tenants. By spotting a potential problem before it happens or finding a plumber to fix a crisis on Sunday night before your tenant arrives on Monday, you are doing your job. Although tenants might not comment on something, it does not mean it’s not affecting them. “A myriad of the services you provide are to ensure a seamless order for your building occupants,” Roberts says. “But when you get feedback from them, tenants will typically only comment on items that they feel directly affect them.”
Because you are doing your job and performing routine maintenance, any feedback—positive or negative—from tenants will help you do your job better.
Actively listen. By taking tenants’ concerns and suggestions seriously, without any defensive reaction, you are providing a valuable service. Tenants want to know that you are actively listening to their requests and concerns. If you respond by telling them you will look into the problem or comment and get back to them promptly, they will feel acknowledged.
Responding feedback in an effective way can make your building more valuable for leasing. “This feedback is the most critical component to assuring high levels of tenant satisfaction,” Roberts says. “Happy tenants are more likely to renew their leases.”