Companies tune in to tenants' complaints.

Posted On Monday, 25 November 2002 02:00 Published by
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Technology is helping owners and managers to respond more effectively to clients' needs.
Survey: Property Management

Technology is helping owners and managers to respond more effectively to clients' needs

Property management firms are turning to technology in a drive to push up the level of satisfaction among customers.

Jay Junkoon, property management director for Africa at JHI Real Estate, says customer relationship management technology is a way to sell more of the right services more efficiently to the right customers via the right channels at the right time.

'Customer relationship management goes further than just communicating more effectively with tenants. It requires property managers to measure customer satisfaction through soliciting feedback, which also provides opportunities to uncover holes in management services and go about filling them,' he says.

'In the property management context, the customer is the tenant and, regrettably, in the past property managers have shown little concern for tenants' needs and satisfaction.

'In some cases tenants will tell you that they have been treated in an abrupt and rude manner by junior staff,' says Junkoon.

He says property management companies do themselves a lot of good by implementing programmes to manage the relationship between the property owner or manager and the tenant.

Customer relationship management systems marry IT and telecommunications systems in order to store information about an organisation's customers.

By having accurate records of all transactions by and interactions with tenants, and by keeping in regular contact with them, property managers can build up a clear picture of the relationship.

'The importance of and reason for a customer relationship management programme is that much of the property management business activity involves the leasing of space as the prime income generator for the property owner and the property management company,' says Junkoon.

Given the considerable costs associated with leasing transactions - broker commission, tenant installations and rent-free periods, for example - it is often more pragmatic in terms of income and cash flow to renew an existing lease than to try to find a new tenant.

As a result, tenant retention is a big part of the business and a key to the long-term success of a property management company.

Says Junkoon: 'In almost all cases property owners have little knowledge and information on what the tenants think of the lease conditions, the buildings they occupy and of the property managers.

'In many instances, tenants' needs and dissatisfactions are discovered too late, such as when they announce that they will not be renewing the lease.

'This gives the property owner and manager little or no opportunity to address the problem, as the tenant would have already committed to a lease at alternative premises.

'Added to this is the fact that property owners and managers may have the wrong impression of the tenant's needs, business conditions and financial position. This is caused by the failure to remain in regular contact with the tenant and to understand all aspects of the tenant's business.

'Having a better understanding of what really matters to tenants will certainly aid property managers to provide better management services and, consequently, better tenant retention levels,' Junkoon says.

'One way of getting a better understanding of what really matters to tenants is to conduct tenant surveys, focusing on the functionality and aesthetics of the building and the overall quality of the services provided by the property management company. This assesses the property manager's receptiveness to tenant concerns and ability to deal with them in an expedient, courteous and efficient manner. Are tenant demands being met and are their problems being solved? Was the tenant happy with the lease negotiation process?

'Tenant surveys of this sort will give property owners and managers the ability to gauge the likelihood of a tenant's intention to renew a lease, and could eventually progress towards establishing a recognised industry standard for tenant satisfaction - allowing property managers to compare their tenants' satisfaction rating with those of the competition,' says Junkoon.

Publisher: Sunday Times
Source: Sunday Times

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