Tenant communication is a vital part of a successful property management business. Everyone wants to be heard and kept informed. Having communication channels open leads to happier tenants that are more likely to renew their lease.
A solid communication strategy can help build a more rewarding relationship with tenants and foster a community they can feel a part of. It can allow landlords to be more proactive with problem solving and fix issues before they become unmanageable. Good tenant communication can keep people aware of what’s going on around them as well as prepared for emergencies.
The best tenant communication strategies have good bones and a solid understanding of effective communication principles. These basics can go far to building a rewarding tenant-landlord relationship. Read on for 5 steps every property management company should employ for an effective tenant communication strategy.
1. Have A Solid Communication Strategy Framework
If you don’t already have a structured communication strategy, then it’s time to design one. A general blueprint of your tenant communication strategy should consist of four areas. Decide what kind of communications you will have in each section, who will receive these communications, and what medium you will use to deliver them.
These frequent tenant communications should include building notices and announcements but for the most part they are a tool to build a culture or community. Share tenant welcome messages, amenity highlights, and local or even building events. When deciding on a delivery method, choose something that won’t feel like spam. Building websites, signs, and social media are a good choice for most daily communications.
This type of tenant communications includes payment reminders, lease expiration notices, and seasonal updates. They are recurring messages and often lend themselves very well to automation. It’s best to use multiple direct mediums for most of these types of communications to ensure that your messages were received. Email, text, phone calls, and mail are good options.
The Feedback Loop
There are two aspects to this type of tenant communications. The first part consists of messages sent to tenants for the purpose of obtaining feedback. Popular formats for these are questionnaires, general surveys, or open ended questions.
The second part of these communications involve providing opportunities for unsolicited tenant feedback. A good way to encourage this type of communication is by developing a strong online presence. Social media as well as building websites and tenant portals are good options.
Every communication strategy should involve some sort of system for communication in case of emergencies. Make sure every tenant understands the procedures you have in place and how information will be disseminated in case of a crisis situation. Emergency training might be a good idea in situations where large numbers of people might need to evacuate a building in a timely manner.
2. Set Clear Expectations Early
Tenants need to know what is expected of them right from the start. This is a cornerstone of tenant communication and sets the tone for the entire relationship. Without this foundation there are sure to be issues and problems that will require some awkward conversations.
The rules need to be clearly specified in the lease and they should be explained at the time of signing. Be clear, honest, and encourage questions and feedback. Laying this foundation is a critical part of a positive experience for both sides.
3. Decide Who Needs To Know
Before you can begin communicating with tenants, you’ll have to establish who you’re communicating with. Who signs the lease? Who pays the bills? Who opens maintenance tickets and communicates issues?
For residential properties all of these roles may be handled by one person. However in many commercial properties different people are likely to be responsible for separate aspects of the tenant-landlord relationship. Identify each relevant party and establish who needs to receive what information. Sort each person into the appropriate category in your communication strategy.
4. Offer Numerous Communication Channels
Some tenants will prefer certain communications channels over others. Not everyone follows social media. There are people who like to communicate through text or email over verbal communications. Some people prefer to check a website and others like a piece of paper they can hold.
Diversify your communication channels and give tenants choices on how they receive optional information. At the same time, send important information through multiple channels to ensure that your messages are getting through. Don’t forget to pay the same attention to inbound communications. Give tenants multiple ways to contact you and stay in touch.
5. Listen More than You Talk
It’s a good idea to adopt an open door policy when it comes to tenant communication. Make it clear that you are always available and willing to listen. When a tenant reaches out to you, give them the time to express themselves before you formulate a reply. You will be better prepared to respond appropriately if you fully understand what your tenant is saying.
When it’s your turn to talk, keep it brief. Communicate in a concise and specific way to avoid unnecessary ideas from obscuring your point. Focusing on the specifics will also help you keep emotions out of the conversation.
A structured tenant communication strategy will yield the best results towards building good relationships and creating a positive tenant experience. Use the four core communication areas to build a comprehensive system of information dissemination and feedback. Consider what you will be communicating, how you will be doing it, and who will be receiving that information.
Once you have developed the bones, employ effective strategies to put your plan into place and get the most out of your tenant interactions. It may seem like a daunting task at first but after initial setup it becomes easy to operate. Additionally there are many tools available to help you streamline the process and keep it neat and simple. It’s well worth investing in your tenant communication strategy.