“I wake up every morning in a bed that's too small, drive my daughter to a school that's too expensive, and then I go to work to a job for which I get paid too little, but on Pretzel Day? Well, I like Pretzel Day.”
Stanley Hudson says this in the “Pretzel Day” episode in the series, “The Office.” If you are unfamiliar with the show, Stanley explains why Pretzel Day is his favorite day of the year because their office property manager hands out complimentary pretzels. While pretzels bring a touch of excitement to Stanley’s life, it is also a great example of how a small gesture can make an impact on someone’s life.
It is easy for property managers to get lost in day-to-day tasks. Many property managers only see tenants as financial assets or annoying customers. While it is true that property managers do manage a financial asset and annoying issues do arise, this mindset misses the mark. Successful property management places an emphasis on the relationship and treats tenants as valued guests. In order to achieve both of these objectives, it is essential to have a mindset of hospitality.
There are eight basic principles to offering great service to tenants:
If you consider your last hotel experience, most, if not all of these measurables will come to mind. An excellent experience will be dictated by how well the staff performs in all of these categories. And even one missing piece can ruin what would otherwise be a 5 star experience.
Further, it’s not enough just to acknowledge these principles: you must be able to deliver on this experience consistently over time. As Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-a, liked to say: “Repetition yields constants. Constants create cultures.”
Given the standard level of service, we believe that any real estate company who masters these principles in their operations will quickly stand apart from the competition. When you think of your last landlord or property manager, few think of a welcoming, friendly, knowledgeable, communicative individual who instills trust and exceeds expectations. A company that offers this level of service is going to have stronger renewals, less headaches, and better relationships that can lead to future business opportunities.
So what are some actual, practical ways we can be hospitable in our field? Communicate quickly and concisely with your tenants. Always be on time. Work hard to make move-ins as smooth as possible. Find opportunities for nice surprises, like coordinating a food truck to stop by over lunch, or organizing thoughtful Christmas gifts. Put in extra trash cans or park benches. Spot issues and solve them before tenants bring them up. In general, always be thinking of ways that you can make your tenants happier.
At the end of the day, our goal is to provide a level of service where tenants never want to leave, and if they do need to move on to a bigger and better space, they reach out to us first to ask if we have any vacancies available for them. You can’t be the best real estate operator in the business if you only take care of yourself.
I’ll end with another quote from Truett Cathy, a true master of hospitality: “There’s nothing wrong with being kind to your customers.”