In this article of the series I focus on a critical component of property management best practices, our tenants, the people who pay the bills and the salaries. Tenants are hard to find and can be harder to keep, so it is essential to pay close attention to their demands and ensure they have the proper environment and infrastructure to carry out their business with minimum interruption.
The most important things one can offer a tenant is service, and a quick response to their request or complaint. Tenants do not complain unless there is something to complain about, and are usually content if they know their issue is being resolved. They have a business to run, and the less they have to do with the operations of their premises the more they can focus on their business.
Here are some great strategies to implement to keep tenants happy and even an early warning system for you:
1. Don’t take complaining personally
If you get emotionally involved you will get distracted and will not be able to deliver. It’s better to keep calm and carry on. Remember, tenants are trying to get their work done and will vent on who they think controls the situation. Usually that is the property manager. Tenants are running a business, so they are not complaining because they hate you, but because faults distract them from running their business.
2. Strategize your service
Triage your complaints, from most to least urgent. Plan out how you are going to tackle the issues, budget for them, and take care of them all. Leave the bigger problems to the experts. Select a handful of good trades people with whom you have developed loyalty and trust, and can help you deliver on your promises.
3. Fix it fast and fix it good
Tenants don’t remember a problem as much as they remember how much trouble it was to get it fixed. Get the job done right the first time. Don’t leave things too long, don’t cheap out and don’t do band-aid jobs. Cheap is expensive in the long run. Take care of your trades people and they will take care of you. Pay promptly and be fair, don’t nickel and dime them. In return you should expect quick and reliable response to your requests.
4. Stay in touch
Good communication with your tenants will reassure them that you are taking care of their concerns. Have a system in place, like the following example, that keeps dialogue and cooperation running smoothly to everyone’s benefit:
5. Encourage complaints
Make it as easy as possible for tenants to complain. You can’t know everything, so let people complain and you get the information you need to stay on top of everything. It’s your early warning system. Eyes and ears everywhere lets you run a smart and efficient operation that catches problems as soon as possible.
Manage the building by managing the people. Tenants will always want things that are impossible, but they are the customers and it is their dollars that pay the bills and the salaries. Weigh up the comfort of the tenants with available funds to service them. Last but not least, pick your battles wisely; sometimes being right is not always right. Try to always exceed your tenants’ expectations, which really means that tenant satisfaction is not your goal; it is tenant DELIGHT that you should aim for.
Our next article in this series will cover working with the trades, the best ways of working with them and how to build up a team of experts that can accomplish what you need and give you the best value for your budget.