01 May

Turn Those Qs into FAQs

Ever call or visit a business, ask a basic question, and receive an answer of “I do not know?” To make matters worse, there is not even an offer of “I will find out”, or “Let me ask a supervisor.” It is rather scary and it is also profound. In business we work so hard to build our companies, market our properties, or create features and services, all to find out nobody in our own company has a clue!

While visiting a business recently, I asked a simple question pertaining to a geographic location. Of course, the woman on duty had no clue. She did not know what highway exit she was located at, nor could she tell me east, west, north, or south! That is a huge pet peeve to me. How can you permit your employees to be that completely oblivious of their surroundings? It is unconscionable, but so very common.

Well there is a solution! The solution is so basic that it is hard to believe it is not done more often. Create an on-going FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) for your team. Every single company, and property you manage, should have a FAQ. Employees should have this at their desk or on their desktop. Digital or paper, laminated or in a plastic sleeve, does not matter! No matter what, there needs to be an at-a-glance tool so the most basic of customer questions can be answered. Let me be perfectly clear here, it is not the employee’s job to know this! It is your job as the property manager, leasing director, management company owner, or brokerage company owner to make sure they know!

For instance, if the FAQ is for a building, the top question should be directions (from the north, south, east, and west). The directions should include the address of the property, an easy to explain set of instructions on how to enter your property, and where to park! And for goodness sake, do not ignore public transportation. If someone calls your property and asks what bus to take, you had better know. Think about how insane it would be for someone to call your company, to ask about renting your property, but then not be able to tell them how to get there! Believe me it happens to the best of us, but with an FAQ as a standard across all desks and desktops it does not matter because everyone will be equipped with the knowledge and power to assist a customer!

Consider the most basic questions like:

  • How do I get to the property?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • When was this building built?
  • How tall is the building? (feet and stories)
  • How big is the property? (acres and square feet)
  • Is there a post office nearby?
  • Where is the nearest hospital?

If your staff does not have this information at the ready, at the worst it could be the difference between a life or death situation! Everyone should know how to get to the nearest hospital or storm shelter, etc. Sometimes we are so busy with the stuff that comes up day after day and is asked over and over that we forget to learn other important information about our company and properties.

Capturing this knowledge and turning it into an FAQ can make a tremendous tool for marketing as well as day to day assistance when your customers or clients call!

“More content available at All Things Property Management by Buildium, industry leaders in Online Property Management Software.”

Originally Published at Buildium Blog here.

01 Jan

Have Property and Facility Managers Hit the Change Wall?

Image courtesy of  suphakit73 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

http://managerlabs.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/ID-10060668.jpg 400w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" /> Image courtesy of suphakit73 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Change seems to be a dirty word in so many industries and organizations. It seems that the Property Management industry leads the charge on this front.  In this day and age of do more with less, the Property Management industry needs to start making some big changes in how it provides infrastructure to its staff.  As leaders in this movement we want to probe this powerful human condition and find out how we can motivate people to understand that change is their friend.  Remind the folks you work with that in order to have progress there must be change.

For instance, customer service. Yes, that is what I said, customer service, you know tenants, or lessees or occupants or residents or whatever your customer type, they are the customers. The other customer is the building owner, often referred to as the client. It becomes crystal clear, however, pleasing the customer, may not please the client. If you hear from your customers that they have various needs to be fulfilled or cannot understand why certain things are the way they are, it is usually attributed to a mandate or philosophy of ownership.

How do you explain a property not having a website and a domain name registered in the name of the property? Is it the PM or FM not having a website or is the building owner not wanting to pay for a website? Is the PM or FM just afraid of the additional burden of more work to do with less time? It can be a variety of reasons, but no property should be without a website. It is not a website for the sake of having a website, it is a customer service portal, for goodness sake. It can save the PM or FM time and money, which in turn can make the client happy. Will it cost something, yes, but it will remain with the property and should in fact, make the property more valuable. The customers that occupy the building can communicate or make contact with the building via the website.  It can serve as the social hub of the property and the central source of information.  By making the website the one-stop place for all things, you are freeing up your staff and yourself from the mundane and routine tasks that just take up the most valuable commodity, time.

Look at the fact that time can be put towards a well written owner report, contribution to the property’s leasing effort, attention paid to the maintenance department and their efficiency. How about time to shop prices and get bids to make further building improvements?  To me, the website can free you up. Will it take time and effort to set it up. Yes. Is it worth it, absolutely.

There are a multitude of features that the website can have, but below we have listed the key areas that can help your operation and provide the most bang for the buck.

Important Telephone Numbers – Fire, police, paramedics, management office, security desk, maintenance, etc.

Building Profile – basic information that you would consider  putting in your Customer Handbook/Tenant Manual. Hours of Operation, Neighborhood Information, Elevator Procedures, Oversize Trash, Recycling, Security, Emergency Procedures, History of the property, in other words FAQ or frequently asked questions, etc.

Location – directions to the property, maps, site plan, legal address, etc.

Announcements – calendar of events, holidays, planned building project schedules, etc.

Leasing Information – contact information

Why is change so difficult? Do companies shoot themselves in the foot when they prevent change or innovation? What frustrates those who attempt to bring new ideas or technologies to the property and facility management industry? We want to hear from you. Please share your comments about what you find yourself up against when you think there is a better or faster or more efficient way to do things, but no one wants to listen to you.