When renters search for a rental home, they are first drawn to the signage, curb appeal, and well-maintained, updated property. Important face-value factors get tenants to put their names on the dotted lines of a lease document, but that’s only half the battle. Having a quality property gets a tenant in your door over the competition, but customer service is critical for retention. A quality home and best-in-class customer service both mean shorter vacancies and longer tenant stays.
These two aspects are of equal value—and items we focus on as a provider of turnkey homes and property management. In this two-part blog series, we are covering why both pieces of investment home management are equally important for your return.
Our first blog in this series discussed how to attract quality tenants. We highlighted how the property, renovations, and maintenance necessary to keep your property in tip-top shape are the first key to attracting the right tenants. But signing a lease with ideal tenants is just the first step—the next step is keeping them satisfied in your property, year after year, to make your investment truly profitable. That’s where white-glove customer service is essential.
Your tenants are the most important part of your investment
When investing in real estate, you can’t control every curveball that will be thrown your way. But customer service is the one aspect you can control. The tenant ultimately makes the investment profitable, making their satisfaction the single most important factor in a cash-flowing investment.
If tenants are unsatisfied with the level of quality with either the property or the customer service, they can pay a fee and break their lease or not renew the lease upon expiration. You can vastly decrease the chances of this by offering genuine customer care.
It’s no secret that first impressions are important, and a positive customer experience starts with the first interaction with the property. This is our opportunity to put our best foot forward to show the tenant we are professional property managers. When tenants come to our office to sign documents, our building and employees set an environment of professionalism. How is this done?
1) Our employees are professionally dressed. It sounds simple, but makes a big impression and adds to the level of professionalism that is expected.
2) Our tenants are not walking into a store, they are walking into an office that manages over $50,000,000 in assets. We own our building, thus have control over all the grounds and interior. Our office, like our homes, is well maintained. Again, it is all about showing the tenant they are about to work with real professionals, which is often lacking within the property management industry.
3) Everything we hand the tenant is branded, from the pen they sign with, to the folder their documents & lease is printed and all documents are printed in color with our professional logo. Lease signings are done in a separate room around a large glass table with comfortable chairs and nice furnishings.
Provide quality customer service in 4 easy ways
If the real estate mandate is location, location, location, then the customer service mantra is communication, communication, communication! Tenants may have had bad experiences with a past property managers and have a mindset of tenant vs. property manager, but we want to combat that mentality and make the rental experience positive for everyone involved.
In any relationship, communication is key. Nearly any problem can be traced back to a miscommunication or lack of communication. That is why we value transparency at the center of customer service. And communication doesn’t just go one way—a tenant’s perspective may not be the same as ours, so it is important to listen. Listening leads to problem solving.
There are three simple ways to communicate more clearly with tenants, thus providing better customer service and a better experience for tenants and investors. You’ll see positive outcomes as you put these tips into practice:
1. Respond quickly to maintenance requests.
Give accurate time windows. Make sure vendors working in the home are professional, clean up after themselves—and most importantly—fix the problem. If a maintenance issue could take longer to repair than expected, keep tenants updated.
We do this through conversations on our Property Management software, as well as emails and text messages. Notice we do not say through phone calls. Because we can be tied up on a call or a tenant may be at work or likewise tied up on a call, text messaging and emails through our portal is by far the most effective way to communicate. A message through the portal, a text message, or email is picked up on by several individuals within our office not only on their desktop, but their cell phones too.
2. Provide convenient ways to pay.
It’s simple, but the more ways to pay, the more convenient it is for the tenant. Everyone is busy and hours vary. Online is by far the most convenient way to pay, but we also accept payments, in our office, by mail, at an after-hours drop off, ad soon there will be payment options around the city at convenience store portals.
3. Be courteous and respectful at all times.
Kindness isn’t always easy when it’s not being shown in return, but showing respect to tenants sets a standard that pays off in reputation and lease renewals. Be respectful and professional at all times with tenants.
4. Create a single point-of-contact.
Do you shop or dine at places where you feel more at home or referred to by name? Human nature is return to places you feel most comfortable. Our account manager model creates that since of security as they are the single point-of-contact for the tenants (and investors too).
This person is “the person” for everything the tenant needs. Having a single point-of-contact eliminates key details lost in communication between staff members, and it lets the tenant know who their “go-to” person is. Most importantly, it allows for a relationship to be formed between tenant and property manager. We want our tenants to be comfortable with us and want to stay with us—the account manager model makes this possible.
We value excellent services because we value tenants as an important piece to the overall success of our investor clients and our property management company. Happy tenants stay in houses, and that means happy investors.
Although you can’t control a tenant’s life situation, you can control the level of customer service you provide. As you make care of tenants your flagship value, along with providing a quality rental property, you will see quality tenants sign leases and renew year after year, which will make your investment profitable and allow you the freedom to invest in more exciting opportunities.