Over the years I have seen so many commercial and retail property managers create problems for themselves simply by not talking to their tenants on a regular and frequent basis.
You see some property managers get so wound up in the events of the day and the landlord that they tend to overlook their tenants and the fact of keeping in touch. This is what will happen then:
- Tenants get to talk to other agents when lease end or termination is near
- The tenants will not tell you of building issues or maintenance problems.
- When you do talk to the tenants they are not as trusting and open on issues
- The tenants talk to each other and undermine the property managers authority
The fact is that tenants only have one person to talk to in most cases, and that is the property manager. Without this connection or link the whole property management process gets that much harder.
One important fact should be added to this observation. Retail tenants need much more connection and communication than those in office or industrial property. Given that retail tenants are operating their business from the tenancy, any communication is good from their point of view.
Set up a System
So how can you communicate with all your tenants? Today we have email and other technology tools to help us, but nothing replaces the face to face approach and the direct telephone call. Meeting with all your tenants regularly is just so important in the management of the property.
As the property manager, you are the front line of the landlord and the property performance; everything should go through you and be controlled in that way. If anything goes around you or bypasses you, then the whole game is lost; soon you have a property that is out of control.
Here are some ways of keeping in touch with your tenants in all your buildings:
- Create a property update or newsletter to be sent by email to all your tenants around the middle of the month (that is when they are less busy). In this despatch you can send information about the property or the local area. You can also update the tenants in bulk of general building matters.
- At least every 3 months send the tenant a questionnaire relating to their needs of occupancy, expansion, contraction, or relocation. Give the tenants 7 days to complete the questionnaire and then arrange to meet with them to discuss things of concern.
- Any maintenance concerns should come to you via a standard form from the tenant. It can be faxed or emailed, however the tenant should receive an acknowledgement of the form being lodged and then given feedback of the maintenance updates.
- Watch the tenant's leases to make sure that the critical dates are enacted well before the due dates. Wise process says that you should be working 12 months out from the critical date and then communicating with the tenant as all dates get nearer.
- Every letter or email from the tenants on any matter should be responded to in a timely way. If the matter is ongoing, they should be kept up to date.
- Any verbal comment of a critical nature between the tenant, the landlord, the property manager, or others, should be supported with written acknowledgement. It is surprising just how important this becomes in the future when disagreements happen.
Here is one important fact that will evolve with uncontrolled tenants; the tenants will talk to each other if they cannot talk to the property manager. This internal gossip becomes a cancer on the performance of the property. Many a property manager has been destroyed by tenants that have been overlooked or not communicated to.