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Tenant satisfaction is key to retention.

Even without any incentives for replying, over 47 percent of EastRidge Properties tenants responded to the most recent tenant satisfaction survey. According to marketing director Lori Baden, measuring tenant satisfaction is crucial in today's market.

"Although there are signs of an improving commercial market in Westchester, it remains highly competitive. Providing a top-quality tenant experience makes all the difference in attracting and keeping long-term tenants," Baden said.

Albert B. Ashforth, Inc. mails confidential tenant satisfaction surveys to its 180 tenant companies with a personal cover letter. In the most recent survey, administered in January 1994, tenants reported high levels of satisfaction with the EastRidge Properties management. Specifically:

* Between 65 and 75 percent of respondents gave Albert B. Ashforth's property management team an "exceeds expectations" rating on issues of responsiveness, professionalism, timeliness in solving problems and communication.

* Between 52 and 70 percent of respondents gave Albert B. Ashforth an "exceeds expectations" rating on the exterior maintenance of EastRidge.

* Forty to sixty percent of respondents gave Albert B. Ashfoth an "exceeds expectations" rating on issues of interior maintenance of the properties.

* Forty to sixty percent of respondents gave Albert B. Ashforth an "exceeds expectations" rating on issues of exterior maintenance of the properties.

The survey also pointed out areas that EastRidge would like to make improvements in. For example, some respondents weren't aware of new amenities at EastRidge, while others suggested ideas for additional services. Because EastRidge Properties has made major investments in amenities such as sundry shops, a conference center, graphics center, car maintenance, dry cleaning and shoe repair, and commuter transport, improving tenant awareness of the amenities available will be an important objective for 1994.

The surveys are just one means for gathering data on customer satisfaction and identifying areas for improvement. Executives of Albert B. Ashforth, Inc., the property management firm that manages all of the EastRidge office parks, meet once a year with managers of each tenant business to discuss their needs.

Another important source of tenant feedback comes through monthly tenant lunches. These gatherings give tenants opportunities to meet with Ashforth personnel in a relaxed, social setting, where they are free to ask questions or raise issues. At one recent lunch, for example, a tenant raised concerns about after-hours security. Ashforth responded promptly by instituting an on-demand security escort service for all of the office parks.

According to Michael J. Ziatyk, managing director for EastRidge Properties, the latest survey confirms the validity of EastRidge Properties' aggressive Total Quality Management (TQM) strategy. "We have begun a series of tenant forums to give tenants a chance to tell us what they like and what they don't," he says. "We are gratified by the tenant response to these forums and to our satisfaction surveys. Both help us to build community spirit within the parks and to determine where to invest our efforts."

Ziatyk notes that the quality steps come on top of a multi-million investment in landscaping, building enhancements, and services and amenities that have added to the desirability of the EastRidge properties as locations for growing businesses.

The management discipline known as total quality management strives to improve all of an organization's internal processes to improve customer satisfaction. Embraced by large manufacturing corporations in recent years, these concepts are also useful for small and mid-sized service businesses.

Donald Swanerbury ofPort Jarvis, New York is chairman of the mid-Hudson chapter of the American Society for Quality Control, a professional society of individuals who work for quality-oriented companies in the region. He noted that total quality efforts are appropriate for small or large companies, in service or manufacturing businesses. Efforts such as that at EastRidge are really what the quality movement is all about," he says. "It's not really that complex. It's simply about doing the right thing to satisfy your customers."
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Title Annotation:Building Management & Maintenance
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Oct 5, 1994
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