Keep A Channel Open for Bad News or Your Business can slide into Bankruptcy!
Written by David Lowrey, Owner of Stress Free Property Management
I used to have a receptionist at my office who never stood up when clients walked in the door. Just a simple decision made without any negative intent, but it sent a message subconsciously to every tenant: “You’re Not Welcome.” This message seemed to escalate the emotion of a tenants if they are coming into our office upset for some reason. In their mind, we at fault because their refrigerator broken on a Saturday night. The receptionist wasn’t thinking about the perception of her remaining seated behind the desk. Fortunately, I eventually noticed and got it corrected.
The point is as an owner of a Tampa Property Management Company, I discovered it was critical to keep some line of instant communication open between my clients and myself. Currently, I do this by putting on my website that they can contact us immediately by Facebook posting. The only person who monitors the Facebook page is me. Do I get bombarded with emails at all hours of the day and night? No, typically I get less than one message a day.
The importance of having a direct feedback loop to you (as the owner) is to prevent little decisions by you or your staff from causing catastrophic results in your property management company overtime. Here’s a common phrase, people will occasionally say to clients: “It’s not our policy… (fill in the blank).” This innocent comment is not meant to make people mad, but holy crap it does! Customer don’t care what your policy is, when they are pissed off about something. They want to be heard and understood. They want you to care, even if you can’t solve the problem to their satisfaction.
By having an email address on your website or a Facebook page available to your tenants or owners to escalate or ask questions, you get invaluable information. Just this morning, I got two Facebook posts about the status of applications. However, one of the applicants had applied to a property that was just rented. Curiously, I checked my website and found the ad still active. This is not good since the property is no longer available, and I’m now investigating how to prevent this in the future with a system change and training.
The point is getting “bad news” is one of the most priceless opportunities you get in business. For example, you can spot patterns that might indicate poor customer service, like not removing ads of properties that are rented. As I investigate this later this morning, I’m likely to find a couple of explanations. One, someone just forgot or got busy. Two, the person applied a few days ago and was told the status of their application. She didn’t see our email or text. Or three, there is something wrong in our systems that is not prompting us to do this quickly.
The same feedback is just as valuable for property owners who hire us. I always give out my cell and email address to my property owners. Do they abuse it? Rarely. Often, I get my best ideas for improving my service from being available.
I must warn you not to give your personal phone number out to tenants, because a sizable percentage of them will abuse it. Emotions run higher around maintenance issues.
If you have even one staff member on your team, this best practice of keeping at least one line of communication open between your tenants and property owners (who hire you) is critical. I would rank this idea in the top three my profitable I’ve ever used. It helps me correct the ship, when we unintentionally veer off course, and reexamine my assumptions of why we do certain things. It will help your business grow and put more money in your pocket and lead to happier tenants and property owners. Hell, what else are we here for? 😊