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Happy tenants will stay 'at home.' (emphasis on service and basic maintenance proves effective means of retaining commercial building tenants) (Commercial Sales & Leasing)

It is extremely costly to replace a relocating tenant. And, in today's real estate market, most difficult.

Our best estimate, when all expenses are added in, is that it costs $145 a square foot to replace a tenant. That could represent as much as three to six years of rent.

Therefore it makes a lot more sense to design a building management program that has as its first priority doing everything possible to retain existing tenants. And, that means managing and maintaining the office building as if it were a First Class hotel. To achieve this, we place an enormous emphasis on service and basic maintenance.

Our goal is to keep tenants satisfied. So satisfied that they will stay ... and stay ... and stay.

There are a number of key points that we emphasize to achieve this goal: *High on the list is communicating with tenants -- on a frequent basis. Maintaining a two-way communication with tenants enables the building management to know what they need and if they are happy?

No one can come in and move a happy tenant, but what if he or she needs to expand and becomes uneasy or unhappy with the thought that there is apparently no additional space in the building? Talk to him about a solution before he becomes unhappy. *As important, is an unwavering policy of keeping the building impeccably clean... everywhere.

Of course, management is always concerned with the lobby, but don't forget the garage or restrooms. Restrooms require special attention. Set up a schedule of inspections not only for tidiness, but also to check supplies 'soap, tissues, towels, all of which should be of high quality.

* Monitor service requests, all of which should have separate work orders. An increase in certain service requests may be a sign of trouble with equipment or personnel. In the event of a serious complaint or repetition of complaints, have a member of the management team talk directly with the tenant.

* Make sure that all employees present a neat, clean appearance that reflects the building's high standards.

* Encourage everyone on the team to be familiar with the whole project, not just his or her particular job or piece of the program. A multi-discipline approach can reduce problems and improve service.

* Let tenants know they are appreciated. Consider giving flowers, or holding a reception to "say thanks."

* Stay competitive. Your customers are your best references. Every time you handle a tenant's expansion or contraction requirement, it helps you keep him in the building, saving down-time and money.

* Look for opportunities to improve or increase amenities - which based on the size or location of the building can include newsstands, dining facilities, childcare facilities and other services.

* Keep all promises and deliver what is promised before the due date. Never promise what the owners won't deliver.

* Special events may be helpful in leasing a building as they tend to call attention to the property, but, get the current tenants involved. Design the event to provide some benefit to tenants and make sure it does not interfere with their day-to-day business activity. Keep tenants in the information loop regarding all events.

* When renovations are needed, keep the tenants informed ... before, during and after. Give them a schedule for the "facelift" and stick to it. Be responsive to reasonable requests and accommodate tenants whenever possible..

Reviewing these points, it becomes clear that the main job of building management is to satisfy the customers --the tenants.

In well managed buildings -- buildings that generally have strong tenant retention histories -- you will find front line people who are motivated and know that their job is very important to the organization. They pay attention to details and respond quickly to tenant requests.

This also means that management and the entire building staff are educated to the importance of doing each job right the first time.

This can be achieved by adopting a "zero-defects" approach to service and maintenance as well as in all other activities. There should be no need for a second complaint about a darkened hallway or office, or sending a man back to fix a still dripping faucet, or ordering the wrong size paper towels. Everyone should embrace an absolute, no excuse, never miss, daily zero-defect approach to each job and each activity.

Not having a common understanding and commitment to "zero-defects" puts more pain into operating a building than anything else I have ever known. It ends up costing more to run the building with less quality.

Every year our firm does extensive research into the performance of our building staff in reaching the goal of "zero-defects" property management. We use this research as a basis for redefining our quality mission and training, checking our managerial integrity and most importantly, insuring tenant satisfaction, first, last and always.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Hagedorn Publication
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Rogers, Philip B.
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Mar 24, 1993
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