Tenants are the heartbeat of any successful commercial real estate (CRE) operation. Their satisfaction not only influences renewals but also shapes a property’s reputation. But, as any seasoned operator knows, managing a myriad of tenant requests can be a daunting challenge. Prioritizing them effectively ensures smooth operations to keep tenants happy. 

Read on for eight tips for effectively and efficiently prioritizing tenant requests.

1. Understand your tenants’ needs

Before you can effectively prioritize, you must understand what your tenants need from your property team and your building. By segmenting tenants based on factors like their business type, size, and duration of lease, you can anticipate specific needs.  

Additionally, regular tenant surveys — such as pulse surveys sent out through a tenant app — can offer valuable insights into tenants’ immediate and long-term requirements. Remember, communication is key. Whether it’s through monthly newsletters or quarterly meetings, creating avenues to hear your tenants’ concerns can make all the difference.

2. Classify tenant requests

Every tenant request or work order is important, but not all carry the same weight. Here’s a simple classification to help: 

  • Emergency: These are the fire alarms of tenant requests. Whether it’s a severe leak or a power outage, these threaten safety or the property and need immediate attention. 
  • High priority: Ever had an office too hot to work in? HVAC problems or anything that severely impacts a tenant’s ability to conduct business falls here. 
  • Medium priority: These aren’t critical requests, but they are still important. Cleaning or minor repairs, while not emergencies, can’t be kept waiting for too long. 
  • Low priority: Fresh paint, decor changes, or other cosmetic requests can be scheduled based on availability and resources. 

Also, keep an eye on recurring issues. If a request keeps coming up, it might indicate a bigger problem that needs addressing. 

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How to track work orders and billbacks for better lease renewal rates and NOI

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3. Implement a ticketing system

Just as a busy airport manages flights, a ticketing system can be a game-changer for managing tenant requests. It offers a clear picture of all active requests, timestamps them, and allows tenants to track their status. More importantly, it can provide invaluable data, highlighting potential areas that need improvement. 

A work order management system can help. With a work order management system, tenants can easily create work orders to give property teams all the information they need to complete the request. A robust work order management system will also auto-prioritize work orders based on set parameters in the system, making it easy for engineers to tackle the most important requests first.

4. Maintain transparency

While you’re juggling requests, tenants are waiting. And waiting without updates can be frustrating. By keeping tenants informed about their request status and potential delays, you’re showing respect for their needs. If certain requests are prioritized over others, offering explanations can help avoid misunderstandings. 

Again, a good work order management system can help. Property teams and tenants can update tickets and read those updates in real time, so there’s never any question as to the status of a work order. 

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5. Evaluate vendor and maintenance contracts

A strong support system is crucial. Reliable vendors who can jump into action during emergencies can be the difference between a minor hiccup and a major catastrophe. Ensure your contracts remain relevant to your property’s needs. Also, establish Service Level Agreements (SLAs) to clarify expectations on response times.

6. Regularly review prioritization strategies

Just as the commercial landscape evolves, so do tenant needs. By taking stock of your strategies quarterly or biannually, you ensure your approach remains fresh and effective.  

Feedback isn’t just for tenants – your team can offer invaluable insights too. So just as it’s important to gather feedback from your tenants, it’s equally important to collect it from your property team members as well. If you haven’t already, consider implementing a way to garner insights from your team members – and then act on that feedback to improve building operations.  

7. Invest in preventive maintenance

Benjamin Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” And he was right. Regular property checks and maintenance can drastically reduce emergency requests.  

By addressing potential problems early, you demonstrate a commitment to excellence. Not only that, but preventive maintenance boosts efficiency across the entire team – and the building. A well-tuned preventive maintenance program can extend the lifespan of your building equipment, reduce capital expenditures, and maximize asset value. So not only does preventive maintenance help to cut down on tenant requests, it saves money in the long run. 

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8. Consider tech solutions

In today’s digital age, technology is your ally. A work order management system within a building operations platform can help when prioritizing tenant requests. With such a system, you can streamline the work order process and: 

  • Make it easy for tenants to submit requests 
  • Know at-a-glance which items require immediate attention or have been on hold too long 
  • Create and approve purchase orders 
  • Quickly track work order status 
  • Manage team workloads 
  • Auto-flag duplicate work orders 

You can also get valuable data from a building operations platform. And data analytics can help you discern patterns and proactively address tenant needs. 

Prioritizing tenant requests in commercial real estate 

While understanding your tenants forms the foundation for success, utilizing tools and maintaining transparency can streamline operations. Remember, every request, whether big or small, is a chance to demonstrate your commitment to your tenants. 

As the dynamics of commercial real estate continue to evolve, so should our methods. Take a moment to evaluate your current system, make improvements, and always aim for excellence. For more resources or tools on effective property management, take the self-guided tour of the industry’s best-in-class building operations platform.