Making customer service a priority in landlord and tenant relationships is something you should consider if you want to become a better landlord.
In an effort to keep up with the latest in CRM (customer relations management), I often find myself reading the magazine of the very same name as its subject. In a recent edition, CRM Magazine published an interesting and insightful article on customer service. The author, Donna Fluss of DMG Consulting, outlines the “9 Characteristics of Outstanding Service Providers”—with easy to translate tips.
Many non-industry friends and colleagues wonder why I refer to landlords as ‘home providers’ and they often times argue about the cheese factor and the virtually non-existent use of the term (seeing as most home providers refer to themselves as landlords) to which I always say don’t you want to go “home” rather than to your “rental” or worse “landlord’s place”?
Doubtful, residents want a place to call home. So be a home provider not a landlord.
So here they are—
The 9 Characteristics of an Outstanding Home Provider:
1. Make customer service (landlord-tenant relations) a priority
—answer your phone, respond to the email and check in with your resident regularly.
2. Have customer service goals you can adhere to
—the goal is to find quality long-term residents; make them feel welcome and maintain the property by devising a quarterly or bi-annual check list.
3. Make sure you view yourself as a resident advocate—
I don’t mean let them walk all over you but provide them with fair and honest feedback to their problems’ don’t skirt around them for a year and then hope to get your lease renewed.
4. Interact and solicit feedback—
When a tenant chooses not to renew their lease or expresses the need to terminate early make sure to gather all the information on their decision to leave; is/was their anything you could have done to keep those residents? If not, move forwards and let it go.
5. Empower your staff or property manager—
if you employ an organization or small group of people to help you manage your property(s) it is imperative you give them power to make decisions on your behalf. Micromanaging won’t get you anywhere.
6. Issues will escalate—
heck has no fury like a resident scorned, right? Deal with the problem quickly and fairly. If your resident is in the wrong take the appropriate action steps to deal with the issues, even if it means processing an eviction.
7. Keep track of reoccurring issues—
does the dishwasher consistently break down, has there been a considerable amount of theft in the neighborhood? Take the time and $$$ and fix the problem, long-term it might be worth it.
8. Listen and respond like a “big company”—
we all know the customer isn’t always right but making an effort to make them feel like they are can pay off. Find a way to protect your investment and your resident.
9. Treat others with respect—
it is so easy to view residents as paychecks and our interns/employees/ property managers as errand boys but these people deserve respect just like you.
The reality is landlords do provide homes. And the more they market and target their services to the idyllic image of the white picket fence or maybe the swank condo downtown the faster the property will rent.
Income property owners are service providers. Just like me, the phone company, the bakery down the street, your hair stylist and the tech guy you reach on the phone. We all provide a service to people who need it.