When the news of COVID19 spreading across the globe reached the point of no return, a lot of commercial property owners and managers faced a skyrocketing number of requests to suspend or delay rental payments. Whereas a lot of other businesses were able to cut costs by forced holidays, layoffs or other expense savings, properties have running costs from water, energy and services that are difficult to delay.
For this reason, the property owners were more or less divided into two groups: those that gave free or credit rental months for tenants and those that didn’t. What’s not been discussed by facility managers is how this problematic discussion and bad media reputation of property owners could have been avoided altogether.
The need for information updates is increasing
Who are the customers that most often get angry in difficult times? They are the ones who feel that they weren’t looked after or cared about. When Corona hit hard, it was the best property managers who were busy immediately contacting tenants how they handle hygiene with cleaning, proactively suggesting small extensions to payment terms and frequently keeping tenants engaged with property updates.
In comparison, some property managers just sat down like nothing had happened, went silent for weeks when first questions from tenants started pouring in and later on fought back with the same message to everyone: “lease is lease, regardless of the situation.”
One thing is clear: in times like these, all of us want to feel cared for and be informed about what’s going on. Be it coronavirus or a large renovation in the building, any kind of change increases the need for information. Stepping into the shoes of a tenant contact person, consider the following: after sending multiple questions, you haven’t heard a thing from your landlord and your coworkers keep asking you for more information as well. Would you recommend your lessor to other tenants or would you do everything you can to fight for the rental payment delays and suspensions? When the time of office relocation is at hand, would you consider to continue with the same lessor?
What’s wrong with email for communicating with tenants
Considering how tenant communication is typically handled via email, we can dig a bit deeper on what are the pros and cons with each of them:
Email is the go to channel for communication
- Email is a familiar tool for everyone
- Two way channel for communication
- Answering same questions over and over is very inefficient and a costly practice
- Not many landlords want to share their emails anymore in websites which makes it hard to find who to contact
- No way to monitor on a larger scale how fast or slow replies tenants receive when sending emails
- When a property manager is being substituted by colleague, there’s no record of what’s been discussed
- When a property manager changes, the entire communication history is wiped out which is especially problematic
Announcements and updates are sent as email attachments
- Easy enough for anyone (property manager, facility manager, receptionist) to send announcements
- Emails can contain images, attachments and formatting to make them look good enough for receiver
- Emails are easy to miss because nearly everybody receives 100+ emails today
- The list of receivers (tenant contacts) is often long and the same person can even have multiple versions of those excels not even taking account that multiple people might be sending announcements
- Everybody has their own way, look, feel and frequency for sending updates to tenants which is not good for building a consistent tenant experience
- Substituting or replacing a property manager that has used solely email for property announcements is like starting out from scratch with communication
Tenant contacts are kept in excel sheets
- Excel is familiar for everyone
- Even with dropboxes, onedrives and other document management systems, multiple versions of Excel sheets tend to exist for managing tenant contacts
- The problem is the bigger the more people manage the property and communicate with tenants
Better way to manage tenant communication
It’s becoming pretty clear that property managers and landlords need to start being more proactive with communication to tenants. We highly recommend to start investigating solutions for each of the separate problems listed above. Just like modern sales and marketing organisations have moved from just digitising customer information in CRM systems to get help from marketing automation tools with customer communication, it’s time for property managers to transform their tenant communication to 2020’s with proper tools. When looking for solutions, the key is to consider the tenant experience as main criteria. It’s the tenants who pay your bills and who walk away if communication is not optimal.
If you're looking for a tenant communication platform that is easy-to-use, boosts two-way communication, has customisable workflows, vast integration possibilities and more, have a look at our incy.io product and contact us for more information.
We are also offering a 30-day trial of incy.io so you can take your time testing it out for FREE. If you are interested, click the button below and fill in the required information to get started:
We're a tech company with a passion for helping our customers adapt to the fast changing VUCA world. We're doing that by developing easy-to-use SaaS products that make gathering, managing and analysing field information as easy as possible for the end users. Remove gatekeepers, go horizontal and learn from your mistakes before they actually happen. More info at planbrothers.io