Blog: How Proptech for Commercial Real Estate Helps CRE Leaders Create a Great Tenant Experience

The way the world approaches the workplace has forever changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As companies continue with their return to office plans, they are looking to commercial real estate (CRE) owners and operators as partners. And commercial building owners are focusing on attracting high-quality tenants. 

But the status quo is not going to drive building occupancy in today’s world. CRE owners and operators need to adapt. They are turning to proptech for commercial real estate to do just that. 

In advance of the 2022 BOMA International Conference, we connected with Jacqui Finn, Solutions Consultant, Sales Team, to answer some questions about proptech for commercial real estate. Jacqui has been with the Building Engines team for over six years, starting her career with the Client Success department. She is experienced as a Support Specialist, Customer Success Manager, and Senior Implementation Project Manager.  

Read on for Jacqui’s insights on how tech is helping CRE owners and operators to:  

  • establish successful tenant relationships; 
  • address evolving occupant and workplace needs; 
  • create value; and  
  • bolster tenant acquisition and retention strategies.

First, what is proptech for commercial real estate? Why is it so important? 

Jacqui Finn: Proptech is short for property technology. It’s technology that commercial real estate owners and operators use to streamline and automate processes. This tech can help you to make data-driven decisions, increase net operating income, help in your sustainability initiatives, and improve the employee and tenant experience. It’s really a competitive differentiator today for CRE owners and operators as they work to create intelligent buildings that help them meet all their goals. Technology is essential to the CRE industry as it looks to increase post-COVID occupancy. The world has changed, and CRE owners and operators need to adapt. But you need data to make the best business decisions. That’s where proptech for commercial real estate comes in. 

How have you seen tenant and workplace needs evolve since the pandemic? How is tech helping owners and operators adapt? 

JF: It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on the CRE industry. Buildings sat empty or nearly empty as people shifted to working from home. But now, over two years later, we’re seeing an appetite for people returning to the office. Employee safety has become a top priority. Things like improving indoor air quality and giving people enough space to work are at the top of the list regarding tenant needs. Also, the way in which people work is changing. For example, people are returning to the office but maybe not full time. The hybrid-work model is one that’s here to stay. 

Technology can help in all areas. In fact, commercial buildings now need a modern building operations platform that digitizes all operations so owners and operators can make the best decisions about their buildings – ones that will save them time and money. Add to that platform a module that addresses energy efficiency, indoor air quality, and sustainability. Then, round it out with tenant experience software that delivers high-quality experiences today’s commercial tenants expect. That not only leads to more satisfied tenants, but it can drive more revenue at your buildings and help you retain occupancy.

That’s interesting! How is that tech helping to create better tenant relationships? 

JF: At the end of the day, tenants want to be valued. They want to feel heard if they have a complaint. They want to provide a workplace their employees want to come to every day. That means they’re looking to owners and operators as partners to meet those goals.  

Think about how you are as a customer at any business. You expect to be able to communicate with customer service quickly – whether it’s picking up the phone, chatting online, emailing, or some other method. That same logic applies for tenant experience software. It allows you to communicate with tenants easily and at scale. You can engage with primary tenant contacts and deliver important building communications on the channels that your tenants prefer. And you can communicate with them from anywhere, so it’s timely. You can also offer up an AI-powered virtual assistant to reply quickly to tenants. This boosts satisfaction because now your tenants know any issue they have has been heard and will be taken care of quickly – and you can also get real-time feedback on how tenant satisfaction is trending. 

Beyond communication, tenant experience software allows you to simplify visitor management and streamline and automate scheduling of key amenities. Additionally, you can enable tenants to easily submit and track work orders. All of this allows your team to reduce its administrative duties, saving your employees time.

How can proptech for commercial real estate help attract and retain tenants? 

JF: Great question! As the CRE industry continues with its COVID re-occupancy plans, attracting and retaining quality tenants is more important than ever. As a result, the industry is turning to sustainability as a selling point in its buildings – focusing on things like improving indoor air quality and employee safety. Some groups are touting certifications like Fitwel and LEED to attract tenants. Others are focusing on providing the best amenities that get people excited. 

Technology can help streamline and manage all the key things that attract and retain these high-quality tenants. You can respond to tenant requests quickly, home in on improving indoor air quality, and provide spaces that improve collaboration and the overall onsite experience. For instance, HVAC requests, mostly around temperature levels, are often cited as a common tenant issue. An HVAC management software solution can give you full visibility into your HVAC inventory and help you streamline workflows.

What do you see as the biggest value of investing in proptech for commercial real estate?

JF: The value is huge! Simply, proptech will help owners and operators save time and money. Platforms like Prism give you the flexibility to choose the solutions that align with your priorities – so you’re only paying for what you actually need to meet your goals. You can also scale the platform as your portfolio grows. So, for instance, if a year down the line you decide you need to add another module to your platform, it’s easy to plug in what you need. CRE leaders who use this technology have increased their net operating income and improved tenant satisfaction. Technology is the competitive differentiator today – and it’s going to be what helps the CRE industry stay ahead of what’s to come tomorrow. 

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