It may not seem like commercial real estate has a lot to be thankful for this year. Growing vacancies, tenants seeking rent reductions, dropping asset values and a tight lending market have all contributed to the unsavory situation that the real estate market is now facing heading into 2010.
According to Bloomberg: U.S. office vacancies reached a 5-year high of 16.5% in the third quarter as job losses climbed to 9.8%, the highest number since 1983. In previous years, a typical commerical real estate firm could reach the year end and boast about new property acquisitions, high occupancy rates and money left over to buff up their lobbies. Now, it seems, firms are increasingly grateful for the cornerstone of their income: the tenants that still remain.
So, in a market that has seen huge drops in occupancy rates, it makes sense to dedicate a large portion of your marketing resources to your current tenants.
Here are a few ideas to show your corporate tenants that you appreciate their loyalty:
1. Build a Sense of Community
Tenant Appreciation Days do matter. No one wants to feel like just another ID Badge in a 30-story building. By offering regular recreational events and complimentary services to those in your building, you are fostering a sense of community. A happy employee reports back to a happy company, who is happy to remain your tenant.
In fact, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to show your tenants that you appreciate them. For Thanksgiving, it might be as simple as serving apple pie in one of the conference rooms; minimal cost, with exceptional impact. Is everyone stressed out from the recession? Offer tenants free on site massages. Is it flu season? How about providing free flu shots?
The last building I worked in was excellent at finding commonalities between its tenants and instilling a sense of community (despite being a huge, downtown Boston property). They hosted an annual Boston Red Sox Day where tenants could gather in the lobby, watch a red sox game and eat “stadium snacks” served by building employees in baseball uniforms. This not only made us feel appreciated, it became something that we looked forward to every year!
2. Get Creative
Times are tough, and even loyalty may not be enough to keep tenants if they are laying off employees and on the brink of going out of business. Maybe Tenant Appreciation no longer means free ice-cream in the lobby. Perhaps now, you need to be a little more creative and get to the root of what they need. One idea might be to offer them a free financial analysis. Get those creative juices flowing!
3. Get Feedback
One of the most important things that you can do is survey tenants for unfulfilled expectations, wish-lists and general feedback. Many times, tenants will harbor things that are bothering them because they have never had an outlet to express their issues. Not only is it up to building management to give them that opportunity, it is up to building management to then act on it!
In my own company, we have made it a point to make monthly changes to our product based on customer needs, comments and reviews. We have found that allowing ourselves to be flexible to our customers’ needs is in a direct relationship with their satisfaction.