You’ve probably noticed that nowadays everyone blogs and posts about everything,—and everyone, including the latest gadgets like the quadcopter transmitter. Word spreads like wildfire across the Internet and social media which can help make or break a company’s online reputation and business. You can thank or blame Google and other search engines depending on which side of the star rating system your company or personal name happens to fall on. In the case of commercial real estate, your reputation is based on satisfying your tenants and others you deal with. And while pleasing them is one thing, wowing them is what is going to set you apart, give you the competitive edge and reward you in the long run.
Here are a few ideas to exceed expectations, create grateful long-term tenants (and attract more of the same) and earn you that glowing reputation that will follow you wherever you go in commercial real estate investment. Such efforts will also likely give you more satisfaction than you thought possible in this business. And for those who hire a commercial property management company, push them to go above and beyond the call of duty on your behalf.
- Learn from the leaders. Apple has figured out a way to earn a phenomenal $6,000 per foot in their retail stores – more than 13 times higher than other top ranked retailers, including Tiffany & Co., Coach and Whole Foods (source: RetailSails.com). Facebook and Google have designed and customized their offices for the pure delight, needs and productivity of their occupants. These industry leaders know that pleasing others—the end user, the employee, the visitor—is good business. The truth is, most landlords and commercial property owners are too busy tackling the many varied demands of day to fully consider the tenants’ needs. But what if you stepped into your tenant’s shoes for a while and considered what you can do to help them succeed? What can you do to help them attract more customers and do better business? The industry leaders know how to serve at the highest levels and studying them can inspire you to do the same.
- Elicit feedback. Have you ever conducted a tenant interview or survey? Most owners only bother to do so when they are considering making a commercial property investment. The very act of asking a current tenant for their input—and then listening will set you apart from most other commercial real estate investors and landlords. The feedback you receive may include some simple and inexpensive steps you can take to make a world of difference for their success. At the very least, they will appreciate that you reached out and forged a relationship with their needs in mind. Even if their needs are too big for you to address at this time, be responsive, honest and attentive.
- Think like a marketer. Develop a consistent look, feel and “branding” to the way you manage your properties. Consider sending a monthly e-newsletter and host a Facebook page and post about relevant topics of interest for your commercial real estate tenants including new local businesses, developments, events and goings on. You may want to offer tips and advice for helping them increase their business success – or host an event or holiday party for all of your tenants.
- Create a “yes” culture. Whether it’s the security staff, the maintenance people or your front office, make sure your staff is solution-minded and yes-oriented. Too often in commercial real estate, a tenant will call with a problem, only to be met with “We’re sorry, that’s not our responsibility.” Perhaps instead the staff can be trained to direct and advise tenants to the right resources to address their problems. Going from “no” to “let me see how I can help you” is meaningful in any business. Zappos, a major online shoe retailer, created a legendary reputation with their fiercely loyal customers by investing in that kind of customer service. It can work magic in any business, including commercial real estate.
- Raise the bar. Take the utmost pride in your commercial property and the service you provide your tenants. Make sure every storefront is sparkling clean, welcoming and in excellent repair. Hire a staff that loves to smile, make sure the security staff has impeccable uniforms, signage is prominent and the parking area is well lit and safe. Pay attention to the smallest details and it will pay off in more ways than you’ll ever realize.
Reduced rent and “move in” specials will only take you so far in commercial real estate. You want happy, successful tenants who like doing business with you. In the end, it’s your focus on excellence and helping your tenants succeed that will give you a five star reputation. When you go above and beyond in your service, the financial rewards will most surely follow. Wouldn’t it also be deeply fulfilling to create that kind of positive culture—even surprising your tenants with the lengths you will go for them?