Designing a Tenant Experience that Aligns to Values and Priorities

Residential facility managers know that in today’s competitive rental market, tenant experience has become a key factor in attracting and retaining tenants.

Property owners and their managers are taking steps to enhance tenant experience, from offering amenities like fitness centers and dog parks to improving communication and responsiveness. They know regular communication and responsiveness to tenant concerns help build trust and foster positive relationships between them and their tenants.

Tenants of residential property homes are looking for amenities and values that align with their lifestyles such as dog parks and sustainability.

Additionally, property owners and facility managers know that by providing clear and transparent communication around lease agreements, policies, and other important information, tenants will feel informed and empowered.

Through tenant retention, property owners and their managers can also address several risks the National Apartment Association identified in its annual survey of property owners and management agencies.

Identifying the Largest Risks

 The leading rental housing organization recently conducted its annual survey of property owners and management agencies with 1) 50 to 499 units under management, 2) 500 to 5,000 units under management, and 3) more than 5,000 units under management.

One survey question asked, “What are the biggest risks your business faces in the next 12 months?” Following delinquencies and inflation as their first and second choice for leading risks, respondents ranked employee retention, maintaining high occupancy rates, and fulfilling planned maintenance as fourth, fifth, and sixth, respectively.

By attracting and retaining residents, property managers have more time and resources to maintain high occupancy rates, retain employees, and complete planned maintenance. Higher tenant retention allows property managers to manage their residential properties more effectively and gain better results.

In their article entitled “The Truth About Customer Experience,” published in the Harvard Business Review, Alex Rawson, Ewan Duncan, and Conor Jones reported when organizations skillfully manage the customers’ end-to-end journeys over maximizing their satisfaction at individual touchpoints, they can reap greater rewards.  

Those greater rewards include enhanced customer satisfaction, reduced churn, increased revenue, and greater employee satisfaction, the three McKinsey partners wrote.

“Property managers also discover more effective ways to collaborate across functions and levels, a process that delivers gains throughout the company,” according to Rawson, Duncan, and Jones. “Defining the journeys that matter and deciding where to begin the transformation requires both top-down, judgment-driven evaluations and bottom-up, data-driven analysis, to varying degrees. We recommend pursuing these efforts in parallel whenever possible.

“The solution to broken service delivery chains isn’t to replace touchpoint management,” they wrote. “Functional groups have important expertise, and touchpoints will continue to be invaluable sources of insight, particularly in the fast-changing digital arena….Instead, companies need to embed customer journeys into their operating models in four ways: They must identify the journeys in which they need to excel, understand how they are currently performing in each, build cross-functional processes to redesign and support those journeys, and institute cultural change and continuous improvement to sustain the initiatives at scale.

“Defining the journeys that matter and deciding where to begin the transformation requires both top-down, judgment-driven evaluations and bottom-up, data-driven analysis, to varying degrees. We recommend pursuing these efforts in parallel whenever possible.”

 

The collaboration between many departments especially in residential property management has revolutionized the tenant experience.

One such way facility managers can accomplish that transformation is by working with other key departments or individuals within their company. Following the COVID-19pandemic, HR managers and facility managers worked together and refocused their efforts to retain current employees and attract new ones.

Collaboration and Psychology Are The New Need to Haves

Before the pandemic, property managers and facility managers had many responsibilities, but almost overnight, those same professionals were expected to become experts in all things clean.

Now, in the new pandemic world, facility managers are finding themselves working more closely with HR professionals than ever before.

The psychology of clean has changed, and that psychology is at the focal point of any workplace experience. Because health and wellness has become a more important factor for company executives following the pandemic, workplace cleanliness has gained more attention.

In a CNBC survey of executives at major U.S. companies, 84% said employee health and wellness was very important to work plans in a post-pandemic work model, exceeding employee productivity (72%). Furthermore, another survey found 82% of American consumers are more aware of cleanliness when it comes to public spaces. Taking it one important step further, 86% of Americans said they want proof that workplaces and businesses are following a regular cleaning and sanitation process.

Enter ESG

In recent years, real estate investors, landlords, and property managers have become increasingly aware of the concept of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG).

For many investors in the real estate industry, the three key factors that measure sustainability and the ethical impact of a property have become a vital consideration.

“By prioritizing sustainable cleaning practices, real estate companies can align their operations with broader ESG goals, enhance their reputation, and create positive environmental and social impacts,” according to iRestify, a digital platform to handle facility management services.

Additionally, green cleaning practices can yield economic benefits, making them a win-win solution for both the industry and its stakeholders.

As the real estate industry continues to embrace sustainability, recognizing the essential role of green cleaning within the ESG framework becomes more of a priority. Making ESG part of the role will help deter from “greenwashing” that occurred in the early 2000’s.

Real estate and property management companies can align their operations with broader ESG goals, enhance their reputation, and create positive environmental and social impacts.

Meeting ESG Goals Can Result in a Positive Tenant Experience, Enhanced Reputation

Facilities Management editor-in-chief Dan Weltin recently wrote about the importance of talking with a cleaning contractor regarding the sustainability efforts they can offer.

Weltin said green cleaning efforts to meet environmental, social and corporate governance goals have become a larger concern for facility managers and property owners. After all the social aspect of ESG, which includes tenant experience, is crucial for ensuring long-term sustainability and profitability of a property. A good tenant experience can enhance the value of a property since high tenant satisfaction and retention rates lead to lower vacancy rates and a better market reputation.

“Our sister publication Contracting Profits, along with the Building Service Contractor Association International (BSCAI),conducted a survey of facility executives and a separate survey of building service contractors to see how well this client/service provider relationship matched up when it came to ESG goals,” Weltin wrote. “According to the survey, facility executives ranked cleaning third in importance after obvious targets like energy and water. After all, if facility managers can reduce their energy and water usage, it’ll pay huge dividends.”

Weltin observed that cleaning can be an easy and relatively inexpensive way to meet ESG goals, particularly considering the costs of implementing energy or water-saving efforts.

“According to the survey, 71% of building service contractors implement sustainable practices regardless of whether the client asks for it,” Weltin wrote.

Facility Managers Find Green Cleaning Can Help Meet ESG Goals

Green cleaning focuses on the use of non-toxic and low-impact cleaning products to safeguard the health of occupants and cleaning staff. It promotes the efficient use of resources waste management and recycling efforts and prioritizes techniques to enhance indoor air quality, reducing pollutants and allergens.

Reducing pollutants and allergies can go a long way towards making residential properties healthier for employees and residents since according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, the very solutions that can clean facilities can also cause or exacerbate asthma symptoms. Many cleaning products contain strong scents, chemicals, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can trigger an asthma attack.

One way for facility managers to establish a green cleaning program would be to meet the requirements established under LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), the world's most widely used green building rating system in the world. Available for virtually all building types, LEED certification provides a framework for healthy, highly efficient, and cost-saving green buildings, which offer ESG benefits.

This voluntary green building rating system was first established by USGBC, an organization founded by 60 firms and several nonprofits in 1993. Under LEED, there are two options for establishing a green cleaning program:

Option 1 for Establishing a Green Cleaning Program

Have in place a green cleaning policy for the building and site addressing the green cleaning credits, goals and strategies, and personnel listed below. At a minimum, the policy must cover green cleaning procedures, materials, and services that are within the building and site management’s control, and include the organization responsible for cleaning the building and building site. Address the requirements of the following credits:

  • EQ  Credit: Green Cleaning—Purchase of Cleaning Products and Materials
  • EQ  Credit: Green Cleaning—Cleaning Equipment

The policy must establish standard operating procedures for addressing cleaning effectiveness and how a carpet maintenance system will be used, managed, and audited consistently. The policy must also:

·        Address protection of occupants during cleaning;

·        Address selection and use of disinfectants and sanitizers;

·        Develop guidelines for safe handling and storage of cleaning chemicals used, including a plan to manage spills and mishandling incidents;

·        Develop goals and strategies for reducing toxicity of chemicals used for laundry, ware washing and other cleaning activities;

·        Establish guidelines for promoting conservation of energy, water and chemicals used for cleaning;

·        Develop strategies for promoting and improving hand hygiene;

·        Set requirements for maintenance personnel, specifically contingency planning to manage staffing shortages under a variety of conditions to ensure basic cleaning service needs are met and critical cleaning needs are addressed. Include a process to obtain input from staff and occupants after contingency plans are implemented;

·        Determine the timing and frequency of training for maintenance personnel in the hazards of use, disposal, and recycling of cleaning chemicals, dispensing equipment, and packaging;

·        Set and track performance for each of the previously mentioned goals.

Sure, it sounds simple, but good hand hygiene goes a long way in health and ESG.

Option 2 for Establishing Green Cleaning Program

Clean the building with a cleaning service provider, either in-house custodial staff or a service contractor, certified under one of the following:

  • Green Seal’s Environmental Standard for Commercial Cleaning Services (GS-42); or 
  • International  Sanitary Supply Association (ISSA) Cleaning Industry Management Standard  for Green Buildings (CIMS-GB

Property managers should confirm that the building or contractor was audited by a third party within 12 months of the end of the performance period. In addition, the cleaning contractor must develop goals and strategies for promoting the conservation of energy, water, and chemicals used for cleaning the building.

Investors Are Legally Required to Consider Impact of Environmental and Social Issues

When landlords and property managers can demonstrate their commitment to sustainability, that can attract investors and help them secure financing for their properties.

There’s a growing expectation from the public. Roughly 70 to 90% of respondents in an investment survey responded that they “expect CEOs to take a public stand on (various) issues (such as ESG investing).”

Because of that growing public expectation, more and more executives are recognizing ESG as a critical measurement when it comes to strategic decision-making. According to the 2022 EY US CEO Survey, 82% of respondents see ESG as extremely important or more important than other factors, up from 43% in 2019.

 Consumer products and food companies benefit from marketing to and creating products for diverse customer segments that want sustainable options. In fact, major stakeholders, particularly young customers, and employees, expect it.

It comes down to the fact that those who have money to spend want to make sure it’s going to places and companies that have ethical standards in place and are trying to do good in the world and for the world.

If you're a property manager and are looking for a commercial cleaning company that follows green practices, is consistent, and can help you with ESG, reach out to us! 

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