With technology quickly outpacing traditional modes of communication, property managers and ownership groups all across North America are jumping on the opportunity to drive innovation in the commercial and residential real estate industry.
Having the right digital communication solutions can directly affect how you manage risk and relationships, and consequently, your success at recruiting new tenants and retaining current ones.
So regardless of whether you manage an office building or multi-unit residential property, you need to have streamlined processes in place to collect, store, and deliver necessary information to keep your tenants and property staff aware of your building’s activities and prioritize their safety.
Keeping up with today’s best practices will determine whether property managers stay ahead of the curve or fall behind.
Here are five proven industry tips to help you build positive client experiences in your building, translating into a more profitable business, more signed leases, and higher renewal rates.
But first, why is tenant communication worth investing in?
Finding new tenants is hard and can cost a pretty penny. So that’s why it’s in every property manager’s best interest to keep the tenants they already have happy. Studies show that tenants who are satisfied with their property management are three times more likely to renew their leases.
And among the factors that lead to tenant turnover, over 60 percent is entirely preventable. The simplest place to reduce turnover is cultivating and nurturing strong relationships between property managers and tenants.
That’s where a robust mass notification system can help.
Leave paper behind and go digital
For better or worse, the internet has changed the way we live. So today, tenants need to feel connected to the decision-makers that impact their home and everyday lives. It’s not enough to post a written notice on a bulletin board that tenants may or may not see on their way out of their building.
Instead, tenants demand transparency in real-time, and a modern mass notification system can help property managers deliver swift communications and accountability via their tenants’ preferred channels.
Imagine getting ahead of tenant issues and making good lasting impressions.
Instead of tallying complaints about a busted pipe, a digital communications solution can immediately inform tenants about situations that impact them and escalate the issue to the right maintenance team, so tenants don’t have to test their patience with a drawn-out guessing game. Tenants can be notified about the issue’s progress, including when it’s expected to be resolved.
Additionally, having one place to digitally store all notices, maintenance expenses, and requests makes it easier for property managers to meet compliance requirements and refer back to time-stamped events should conflicts ever arise.
With the proper digital solutions at their disposal, property managers can keep a better pulse on tenant needs while giving tenants the visibility they value from living in a shared space.
1. Define your target audience
Once you recognize the importance of regular and effective tenant communications, you can begin preparing your new and improved digital communications plan. First, to make matters easy, identify the right points of contact for tenants to connect with whenever an event or incident arises. Knowing who’s responsible for what can eliminate unnecessary confusion and frustration.
Since property management groups comprise several stakeholders, from administrative staff to maintenance and repair crews and more, communications between these groups can sometimes become complex, depending on who you need to loop in and if the incident is applicable to them.
With a mass notification system, you can target your messaging to relevant audiences. Whether an incident impacts specific units, floors, property managers, select employees or lone workers, you can ensure that your message gets to the right people. It’s as simple as creating a custom group, utilizing pre-loaded recipients and templates, and hitting send so you can reach who you want, when you want.
2. Segment your communications
Beyond sending messages to impacted audiences, a mass notification system can help divvy up your communications by context. These three main categories can help you streamline the way you get your messages out to the proper recipients:
The more refined and precise your messaging is for your target audience, the higher likelihood of them receiving your message and cultivating trust. By selecting your audience with intent, you can reduce the risk of message fatigue, where recipients grow apathetic towards your communications, eventually tuning you out.
Daily communications are non-emergency events meant to notify specific departments, single units, an entire floor, or a whole building about activities that affect tenants and property staff. These events can include fire drills, building notices like inspections, elevator maintenance, parkade closures, and even community event announcements, highlighting amenities in common areas.
Everyday communications are easy to load, come with customizable templates, and you can even incorporate your own branding on these messages.
Scheduled messages include payment notices like rent reminders, expirations, and seasonal updates. These automated notifications can be targeted towards specific tenants or units in advance to make keeping track of data more accessible. If any conflicts arise from missing or incorrect information, a mass notification system can provide proof of communication and receipt, including time and date stamps.
Emergency & crisis communications help property managers both before, during, and after a serious incident. By leveraging a mass notification system, you can host emergency training sessions and prepare notification templates (including text, email, and voice) in advance or immediately during an incident to get people to safety. Having these communications in place ensures tenants and property management staff know the procedures on their floor or building when they encounter a threatening situation.
Team & group communications can be leveraged when your work requires collaboration between employees. Create custom groups between maintenance crews and administrative staff, and monitor the status of lone workers to see if they need assistance or support during day-to-day activities and emergencies.
While many activities within your building may be predictable, others may not be. So for managers looking to improve their tenant communications, it’s always better to err on the side of caution by over-preparing and over-communicating than getting lost in the confusion when it matters most.
3. Determine what you need to communicate holistically
After splitting up your communications strategy into three streams, you’ll need to get more specific about the kind of information you need to share. These items can range from:
Outline the information you require and begin building templates and training to ensure your staff understand what to do and when.
However, plain text messages and emails are not always enough to depict the context or severity of a situation.
Instead, by leveraging media-rich content in your alerts, such as personalized maps to muster points with turn-by-turn directions, colour-coded documents with linked sources, and photos of an incident, your staff and tenants can better understand what’s at stake and encourage them to make better-informed decisions.
Proactive communications combined with holistic context can lead to greater tenant satisfaction.
4. Diversify communication channels
Not everyone uses the same channels, so the best strategy is to tailor your message to people based on where you’re most likely to reach them and make an impact. Whether that’s email, direct mail, text, or calls, having a constant digital touchpoint keeps all lines of communication open.
Mass notification systems offer multi-channel delivery to extend the reach of your message to any and all places where your staff, tenants, and prospective tenants receive their information.
By integrating social media as a supplementary tool with a mass notification system, property management groups can play a more active part in the conversation. Nearly half the US population is on Facebook, which means a high likelihood of making an impact on social media.
However, it’s important to note that while the influence of social media can be powerful, it is an interactive, consumption-based tool by design. On the other hand, mass notification systems are information-based services, so they should be utilized first and foremost to gain an accurate and complete understanding of whatever situation is at hand.
Mass notification technology that can relay messages through social media serves as a centralized place where tenants can access day-to-day notifications on-demand through a web-based portal. While some channels may tend to be more effective than others, it’s essential to harness various digital and traditional solutions into your communications plan to make the most impactful reach.
Property managers need to look beyond traditional delivery channels and integrate modern digital modes such as social media into their communications plan to be part of the conversation.
5. Encourage feedback to inform a better future
The tenant experience dictates how successful your business can be. That’s why it’s vital to keep the conversations going, but not just in the context of when something bad happens, like a noise complaint or missed payment, but also covering all the day-to-day activities that affect them, including neutral and positive news such as road closures nearby.
Setting up expectations of regular communication lets your tenants know that you care about their well-being and safety. By using polls and surveys, you can efficiently gain real-time insights on what their needs are and how you can address any gaps in your communications.