- Communications with Tenants is a hallmark of satisfaction, renewal intention.(Kingsley & Associates)
- 81% of respondents perceived amenities as integral to the employee experience. (CBRE Americas Occupier Survey)
- Failing to provide an amenity-rich workplace experience leaves a landlord at a considerable disadvantage in the marketplace.
- ETS offers a cost-effective, rapidly deployable solution for property owners to communicate better and meet demands for an amenity-centric workplace.
- Deploying professional communications builds brand strength and tenant satisfaction.
Akridge recently ranks in the 99th percentile in client satisfaction. In 2017, Akridge Clients ranked their Communication with Management at 4.75 an increase of 1.7% over 2016 and 5.09% above the Kingsley Index.
Electronic Tenant® Solutions (ETS) integrated communications platform facilitates comprehensive relationship management, notifications (desktop, email, text and mobile app), as well as a robust calendar feature that promotes tenant engagement. When incorporated across a property or portfolio it can have a substantial impact for both the manager and tenant, greatly improving satisfaction.
ETS client, Akridge, deployed the ETS Communications platform in 2013 with the goal of boosting timing, consistency, and content in their communications for their tenant clients within its entire portfolio. Akridge utilized the ETS platform to manage contacts, messages, and scheduling communications using pre-loaded content. It set up a system for emails and administrative protocols for who and when messages can be sent within the system. The ETS system has allowed Akridge to customize messages per property for a strong brand message, and improve tracking of communications sent. More recently Akridge has utilized the ETS communications app to launch a customized tenant reward and retail promotion campaign called Niche™ by Akridge. The result? Proven tenant satisfaction.
Akridge is a boutique company with an impactful presence in Washington, DC metro area with a portfolio of 3.1 million square feet consisting of trophy-class properties. Its tenant clients are a discerning group and Akridge prides itself on not only meeting their expectations but exceeding them – most of this relies on communications.
Mary Claire Bouchér, the Marketing Coordinator at Akridge, has long made it a priority of communicating widely and frequently to tenant clients utilizing email as her main touchpoint system. The rise in tenant expectations for real-time communications put pressure on an already antiquated email system; together, this made Mary Claire’s communications an increasingly cumbersome task. ETS was able to solve Akridge’s communications challenges.
Dealing with an Inefficient Email System
Prior to 2013, the majority of all communications had been created and disseminated by one person, one email, through an antiquated system. The Marketing Coordinator had to set up email footers for each building in a Word document and each time an email was created, the footer was copied and pasted below the message. This meant that every time an email was sent to its entire portfolio, a separate email had to be created for each Akridge building; communicating something as simple as the building operations for a holiday weekend took hours of customization.
Communications With One Click
Akridge worked with the ETS team to create their own custom stationery template for each building. Now Akridge can write one message and simply check the box next to the buildings the message should go to. “Our messages looked good before, now they look great!” says Mary Claire Bouchér.
No Advance Scheduling
Another result of using the Outlook email system was its inability to schedule future emails. Although a “delayed delivery” is available, it is not ideal as the sender needs to be logged in to a computer with the email program open in order for scheduled messages to send. This became a pain point for Akridge when communications for the weekend, generally posted on Fridays, relied solely on the Marketing Coordinator to send them on that day. What if she took time off? Client expectations were that they would receive weekend updates, no matter what!
Email + Calendar for Anytime Communications
ETS’ integrated communications platform with a versatile calendar tool makes scheduling emails easy. It can also be deployed remotely, freeing up time and location for the Marketing Coordinator.“ If I know I’m going on vacation, I can schedule those weekend highlights ahead of time and keep all of my tenants happy!” says Mary Claire. Additionally, there is a calendar record of when each message was sent. This allows Akridge to report to its owners and investors what type of information is going out to their tenant clients and when.
Pre-loaded Content + Cloud-Based System Helps Share the Burden
With ETS web-based communications platform any of the Akridge management team can now have access to deploy emails to the entire portfolio from anywhere. Mary Claire says, “This has been a game changer – I have empowered my team to send their own communications. The ability for us to save previous messages has created a reference library that anyone can access and recycle for their own purposes. It has aided us in keeping our messaging voice consistent regardless of who is sending it.”
Uncontrolled Emergency Communications
Mary Claire found herself having to send emergency communications fairly frequently. Often times, on-site Property Managers are busy assessing how the situation will affect their tenant clients. The possibility of these types of emergency communications meant that straying too far from her desk or computer would inhibit Mary Claire’s ability to assist them in sending out urgent messages to tenant clients. Statistically speaking, these calls are 1,000 times more likely to happen as soon as she has stepped away from her desk.
A Reliable Emergency System
In the case of urgent messages, Akridge now has the ability to send out real-time email and mobile alerts, giving them the ability to reach their tenant clients when time is of the essence. According to Mary Claire, “In the event of a true emergency, this is of tremendous value and has given our communications added reach well beyond what we could accomplish previously.”
AKRIDGE and It’s Drive for Amenities
Akridge prides itself as an industry leader for hosting events and providing valued amenities for its tenants. However, the marketplace is shifting toward richer amenities. Where fitness facilities and rooftop lounges used to be a differentiator, now they are just expected. It is what is offered at those fitness facilities and rooftop lounges that needs consideration. In CRE, the ways in which properties activate those spaces to engage their tenant populations will be a key area of consideration for leases and renewals.
Recognizing the need for a guiding framework, Akridge introduced its “Niche™ by Akridge” program in 2017. Niche™ by Akridge is a comprehensive engagement program offering information and enhanced services exclusively to tenants in Akridge-managed buildings; it is essentially broken out into three areas of engagement; Balance, Community, and Connection.
According to Mary Claire, “ETS has been instrumental in the promotion of this program.”
We worked with a graphic designer to hone the vision for the logo and then develop templates. All elements are direct from the Akridge corporate brand standards so it compliments all corporate branding we already have in place.
Professionals Designers on Hand, On Demand
Mary Claire says, “With the assistance of ETS, we were able to update those templates on a “per instance” basis and send them out via e-mail communication. Occasionally we also provide a printable version of the email and encourage the tenant clients to disseminate via hard copy. Although I have a decent knowledge of graphic design and am often able to update flyers as needed, ETS also has a design staff available to assist when I need it – this is reassuring!”
Anytime a new program is launched, communication truly is key. The aim is to avoid unnecessary inconvenience to client tenants. This involves preparation on many levels both internally and externally. Internally, ETS provided a toolkit that thoroughly reviews the launch of the Communications app implementation which has allowed the Akridge Property Management team to seamlessly roll-out the change in communications to tenant clients.
Content and Organization Key to a Successful Transition
Akridge engaged ETS to help with the transition. “ETS was instrumental in providing to us the necessary content for our message to tenant clients for the roll-out of the Communications app and, in turn, the Niche™ by Akridge program. Additionally, ETS provided us with the ability to batch upload our tenant client contacts into the
maintenance platform, saving us time and allowing us to start our messaging right away.”
Agility and Adaptability
Akridge’s pool of tenant clients are quite varied from one another. They range from high-visibility law practices, government affairs offices, and lobbying firms, to single tenant owner-operator associations. Akridge prides itself on the level of hospitality that it can provide to each of them. That requires Akridge to be adaptable and agile in working to customize its communication to the way in which they would like to receive it.
In the past, Akridge had the only option of funneling information through the Office or Human Resources manager for the tenant and had to rely on them to disseminate the information to their organization.
Empowered Communications and the Building of Trust
Within the ETS communications apps, management can designate the priority of a message – high, medium, and low – to ensure that tenants choose how they wish to interact with the property. There are tenants that are not interested in an ice cream social but want to be kept informed of things like street closures or police activity in and around the property. For Akridge, it was a big selling point for many tenant Office Managers – allowing them to expand their reach and harnessing their trust in us to communicate directly with their staff.
Since the successful transition and integration of ETS Communications Apps, Akridge continues to frame all of its tenant client engagement through Niche™ by Akridge. “While we have had excellent feedback from our tenant clients and our property management staff, it is great to know that ETS has tools that will allow us to expand even further. I look forward to working with ETS to add more value through the use of targeted “opt-in” information groups in each of our areas of engagement – Balance, Community, and Connection – and consistently promote our property web portals as the “go to” place for our tenant clients to learn everything they need to know about life in our buildings.” Mary Claire Bouchér.
ETS has allowed Akridge to communicate in a timelier, consistent, and thorough manner with its clients since its introduction into Akridge-managed buildings. Since the platform can be accessed from anywhere, Akridge is no longer limited by one person sitting at a desk with access to client email addresses in Excel spreadsheets or Outlook groups. This has allowed it to have more bench depth in who can send messaging as it is needed. In an emergency situation, other property managers can step in to assist with communications as the manager on-site is working through the other crucial details of the response.
Since the ETS platform enables Akridge to have a library of saved messages, no matter who is sending the communication, the voice remains consistent across all messages. The ability to send messages under another manager’s name also allows them to maintain consistency with the messaging “always” coming from the manager of that building and the client always being able to reply directly to their manager regardless of who actually sent the message. They have customized templates for each of their building communications so that their clients are regularly reminded with each touch point of basic information such as how to reach their property manager, how to contact a customer service representative, and how to submit service requests.
This helps maintain a strong brand for Akridge – key to maintaining and improving satisfaction for the tenant clients.
“Because of partnerships with companies like ETS, and meaningful engagement with our tenant clients through programs such as Niche by Akridge™ we see a positive reflection of our work annually through the Kingsley Index where Akridge recently ranked in the 99th percentile in client satisfaction. In 2017, Akridge Clients ranked their Communication with Management at 4.75 an increase of 1.7% over 2016 and 5.09% above the Kingsley Index.”
– Mary Claire Bouchér