Magazine article Journal of Property Management

Retaining Tenants with the Personal Touch

Magazine article Journal of Property Management

Retaining Tenants with the Personal Touch

Article excerpt

Retaining Tenants with the Personal Touch

A building's most valuable asset is its tenants. Yet, when managers develop an aggressive marketing and leasing program for an office building, existing tenants are frequently overlooked. However, the competition never overlooks your tenants. Aggressive brokers are canvassing your building regularly. The property manager can counter this action by developing a tenant retention program.

A tenant retention program has several components: improving the building, enhancing the building's tenant mix, adding amenities to the building, and developing tenants' employees' loyalty through the personal touch. This article will focus on developing the "personal touch" component of the tenant retention program.

Tenants' employees spend from eight to eighteen hours a day in the office, building. The workplace is their second home, and they should be made comfortable in this environment. This can be accomplished by de-institutionalizing the workplace.

The Frontier Building in Anchorage has developed a "personal touch" program that incorporates employee recognition, emergency procedures, community involvement, social activities, and quick response to tenants' requests.

Making personal contact

The first step in the "personal touch" program is obvious, but frequently overlooked: the manner in which the building tenants and their employees. Contacts with the employees are an opportunity to create a friendly environment and give personal recognition. Contacts occur during normal building operations: the daily building walk-through or weekly janitorial inspections.

The building's staff should know as many tenants by name as possible. Personal recognition makes the tenant feel important and part of the "inner circle." Building managers and staff are similar to the mayor's office of a small city. People feel special when they receive recognition from that office.

Visiting the break area at break times or greeting tenants in the lobby in the morning or evening provides excellent opportunities for employee contact. Locating the management office next to a break area or mail room allows the staff to recognize and get to know tenants as they pass by management's office door.

Janitorial and security personnel are key elements in tenant retention programs. All staff members must be friendly and helpul to tenants. Service personnel must be thoroughly briefed on how their work influences occupancy levels.

Security personnel are usually the last building contact of the day for tenants. if the experience is unpleasant, it is remembered and passed on. Similarly results of the night janitor's work are the first impression the tenant has of the building each morning. If those results are displeasing, the tenant begins the day with a negative impression.

Planning for tenant safety

Emergency procedures are the second element in a tenant retention program. Tenants' employees are familiar with their office and the common areas on their floor and the main lobby; the rest of the building is probably foreign, and even frightening to some. Confidence in management comes from the staff's ability to assure the tenant's safety. The unknown can erode comfort levels if tenants do not fully understand the building's safety and design features.

Tours of the building's mechanical system can expand the tenants' understanding of how air systems relate to sick building syndrome and to overall tenant comfort. Tenant knowledge of the building construction, fire/earthquake suppression systems, and fire and elevator safety systems can greatly reduce apprehension and discomfort.

Another means of familiarizing employees with the building is through practice evacuations. Surprisingly, evacuation and safety drills done properly can provide entertainment as well as safety value. Mini-seminars with the police and fire departments also educate employees on emergency procedures and make them more familiar with the building. …

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