Driving Tenant Satisfaction Through Communication, Culture, and Efficiency
Stable and growing NOI relies upon happy tenants.
Tenant satisfaction is crucial to building a portfolio that minimizes turnover and continually attracts tenants at optimal lease rates. Three fundamental components of building and maintaining goodwill with your occupants, both residential and commercial, are good communication, a conscientious culture, and spaces that offer operational efficiency.
Fortunately, delivering a positive experience and efficiency for tenants is simple when you build the principles we’ll talk about into your operational strategies at the outset.
1. Communication and listening to tenant needs
Ultimately, tenants and their organizations are just people — individuals and groups that want to be heard and understood by the parties they choose to associate with. Each of our tenants is not only buying into a leasing relationship but also our organization and vision. Once they sign the line, our decisions and actions will impact them, directly and indirectly.
Open, two-way communication is a big part of building the rapport needed to maintain a positive long-term relationship with tenants. We must listen, consider, and respond to let tenants know we understand their position, expectations, and needs.
In essence, listening is another form of data gathering and analysis. But it’s not just data points and logic (essential though they are); we’re looking at the qualitative aspects of building a relationship that requires emotional intelligence and a corporate culture that values and respects the human side of conducting business.
With the data we collect through listening, we can create spaces, amenities, processes, and a culture that supports a positive personal experience for our tenants. Current digital communication technologies and property management platforms simplify this initiative; however, don’t overlook the value of one-on-one, in-person communication throughout the relationship with tenants. Holiday cards and feedback requests, though mundane, still go a long way.
2. A culture and brand that cares
The preceding considerations are most true today, as tenants, and consumers in general, emphasize the experiential, social, and environmental implications of who they partner with. Tenants, like investors, are just as concerned with who we are as with the values we represent and project in our messaging.
We must live and operate in a way consistent with our values (i.e., with integrity) and those of our occupants. The rising influence of ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) principles supports this shift in consumer behavior. In addition to acting in the best interests of our tenants through listening and operating accordingly, it’s also important to minimize our impact on the natural environment.
Few today would be willing to lease a space that displaced native wildlife or vegetation during construction or creates an excessive carbon footprint. On the human side of the sustainability equation, living and working spaces that support health and productivity are also vital to the retention — and success — of our tenants.
When planning your operations, or taking stock of your current brand and culture, pay attention to the prevailing winds of tenant sentiment. Consciously build a brand that embodies and clearly expresses your values, using language consistent with that of your tenant base (current and prospective). And don’t forget about diversity, equity, and inclusivity (DEI) as essential social elements of our brands and operations — it’s top of mind for consumers, investors, and talent.
3. Staying competitive through efficiency
Conscientious as we may be, the bottom-line impact of running lean from an energy and water efficiency perspective is equally significant and influential in tenants’ decisions.
With new development and vast vacancy in particular asset classes, tenants have plenty of options. Given a choice, none would opt for spaces that will incur excessive operational expense (or thermal discomfort and poor indoor environmental/air quality).
Whether planning new construction, adapting a current build to a new use, or renovating an existing structure, prioritize green building strategies to maximize appeal and align with tenants’ values. When implemented upfront, the additional cost of efficient design is marginal, and the long-term payoff in optimal rents, occupancy, and retention is substantial.
Additionally, implementing building information modeling, property management, and data management tech throughout the development and operations lifecycle helps us design for efficiency and maintain lean operations.
The cornerstone of CRE success
Content tenants are the cornerstone of a successful commercial real estate operation. Consequently, we need to meet their needs and expectations personally, socially, and economically.
Communicating openly, listening intently, aligning with tenants’ values, and delivering efficiency builds rapport, lasting relationships, and bottom-line benefits that position our brands to generate long-term loyalty.