28 Sep

If I Get Hit By A Bus…..

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Peoria Charter Service Bus

If I said it one time,  I said it a thousand times a day to my staff while in my days of onsite property management.

If I get hit by a bus…..

Everyday in my training to those on my team, I would repeat certain sayings that I felt were important to ingrain and teach those that I cared about or those that I felt had what it would take to become a good property manager or overall employee. One of my classics was …If I get his by a bus, the next guy will be able to…….

Well the other day I did get hit by a bus (sic) and it did not hurt, it was actually pleasant! The bus that hit me was not moving but parked in a rest area taking a break. I noticed a huge mural painted on the side that stated ‘surf and ride’, but I knew there were no “waves or surf” around there, so I was my normal, curious self and I interviewed the bus driver to find out what this message was about. What I learned was so very interesting. The twist is that the bus has free wifi for its passengers. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words so please view the bus photo in this article, which is a Peoria Charter Bus that travels between Champaign and Chicago, Illinois.

What a fabulous idea! A bus moving down the highway with wifi. How cool is that? I loved it. Of course it got me thinking about how neat it is when a business owner makes a decision to do something unexpected and innovative. The owner of this bus company believes that by providing wifi on his bus he betters his chances of getting you to ride his bus. This is not profound, it is simply good business.

Based on that concept, then why do we as property and facility managers not realize that by providing services, like wifi, or customer service online 24/7 or automated messages, or client document portals, that can really help grow our business? Why are we not running to get the services or subscriptions for our buildings and facilities? Is it us or is it the building owner? Who is really, driving the bus, to embracing technology in our world?

I find it amazing not to find automation or connectivity in every building or facility I visit. When I travel, I look for places with wifi. Why? Because quite frankly, I cannot work or play without it. Yes, I can use my smartphone as a hotspot now for my laptop, but there are times I need to have wifi. Where I work can change in a moment. I need to work where wifi exists, yet I trudge around looking for the service. IMHO nobody has grabbed this space yet (besides Starbucks, Panera, McDonalds) other than fast food, bookstores, airports, libraries, hotels, and (what is left?)….. No office buildings, retail stores, apartment communities, condominium buildings, medical buildings, and industrial complexes, have really embraced this yet. They are just not feeling the love for these services.

In our industry we have to realize that if a bus can roll down the highway at 65 miles per hour and offer FREE wifi service, should we as building managers embrace this for our clients and visitors too? It seems like a basic utility today, yet there are common areas throughout buildings all over America with no wifi, no online customer service, no 24/7 portals of information! It is the same old thing. Call the office between 9am – 5pm, or we will snail mail it to you or if you are lucky we can send it to you via email.

That spells o-p-p-o-r-t-u-n-i-t-y in my book! Maybe your property can make a statement or get exposure by offering FREE wifi or online everything, 24/7. Maybe your company can make a statement and offer automated services of the basic paper you are pushing now. These efforts can be turned into exposure or marketing events for your property in the marketplace. They say being 1st is so very important. Why not make your property or company step up and take that step?

Alright, so you do not want to be first. That is totally understood. But guess what? You are NOT first in the world, just first in one small aspect of one single industry. Banking has totally embraced ATM, digital reports, cell phone apps, paperless checks, debit cards, and a host of other customer service tools. The airlines are online for everything. You can see your loved one’s flight online and watch the plane in the air, 24/7/365. Almost every single retailer or product you purchase has online services. You are not 1st in the world, just in our small part of one industry.

Try it by taking a baby step. Take one horribly painful task that is repetitive and paper intensive and think of how you can do it without paper or online or via a software as a service application (SaaS). Think of a communication step that you can use with automation. Once you start the conversation in your building or at your company, it will start to gain momentum. I can promise you that once you and your staff get a taste of efficiency or streamline a process, they will never look back. The only complaint you will get is, ‘Why did we not start this sooner?’

If you want to discuss solutions and ideas or a vision to take for your property or company, email or call me and I will be happy to listen and then may be able to make suggestions for solutions that are at your fingertips NOW! Call 312.725.0060 or email Linda@ManagerLabs.com.

09 Sep

10 Property/Facility Management Basics

1. Do what you say you will do and exceed customer (tenant and building owner) expectations. Procrastination and letting people down, causes more work in the long run.

2. If you are out of the office, say so on your voicemail or instruct those that answer your calls to let callers know when you will return. Create a list of key VIP building owners, tenants and leasing brokers so those calls and messages are directed to you as soon as possible.

3. Give an alternate human to contact if you are busy or away. People want the answer now! Do not make anyone wait. Use an online VoIP forwarding system to have the “follow me” service to your other offices, cell and mobile lines. Many voice mail systems have great features such as voice mail notification. Each time a voice mail is received, the system calls you on your cell phone.

4. Create an online permanent and on-going, F.A.Q. (Frequently Asked Questions) so the simple and most common questions can be answered immediately, with or without you! (Touch It Once)

5. Stay in front of your tenants. Host mini events as often as possible. For instance invite other businesses, community groups/organizations in your area or service vendors, to your location to educate and inform you, your tenants and your staff. This will keep you in the know and addresses a multitude of outreach goals you must keep up with.

6. Do a one page newsletter or blog on a regular schedule that keeps all clients, customers, staff and key vendors up to date on projects at your properties. Include a copy of this page in your monthly owner report so your Asset Manager or Building Owner see the day to day happenings as well.

7. Proofread. Double check. Do the math twice. Check your work, inspect the final product. It saves tons of time by eliminating the time it takes to unravel silly or careless mistakes.

8. Allow enough time to do projects well and defend your deadline or due date. Do not allow people to push you into accepting a deadline you cannot meet. Explain why you need more time upfront rather than agreeing to a date you cannot achieve. Quality is more important than bad quantity.

9. Think about the next guy to follow you. Document, document, document. Leave an excellent audit trail for the “next guy” to follow. Post-it notes work just fine as the most basic bread crumbs. Just leave something to point the way. We are an industry of change, and we need to embrace that eventual sale or transition.

10. Use your website to set up as many online intake forms and documents as possible. In other words, if you wish tenants to keep you informed when key contact information changes, set up an online form or a downloadable form so those important, but easy to execute tasks can be done with a free and simple form.

This list of basics came to mind because there is so much focus on doing things faster and more efficiently and with less people; but you cannot lose sight of the basics. No matter what the economy or the trends, the above 10 basics can make a difference in your time (property) management efforts. Best of all these 10 basics are FREE or very low cost solutions!