The art of understanding each other has long been a source of human interest. Stephen R. Covey once noted that “most people do not listen with the intent to understand,” and Ernest Hemingway instructed that “when people talk, listen completely.” When it comes to marketing your building to prospective tenants or improving tenant engagement amongst current members, this advice rings true.
Although perhaps incongruous to draw parallels between these quotes and the modern property management sector, learning the art of truly listening to our building communities is an integral part of the future of this industry.
Take employee engagement as an example: before we go about asking how to improve staff satisfaction, we need to know exactly who our employees are and what they want. In the same way, if we want to attract, retain and cater to the needs of our tenants, we should be constantly seeking their feedback and truly listening to what they like, don’t like and best respond to.
Here are 4 reasons why your building’s demographics and opinions are an integral part of keeping the community intact (and how to go about it):
Demographics are defined as “the characteristics of human populations and population segments, especially when used to identify consumer markets.” With this in mind, our cultural backgrounds, global experiences, age, familial circumstances and lifestyles play a major role in what we expect from a workplace.
Finding out where your tenants come from, what their current life situation is and what their experiences may have been in previous industries, cultures or countries may help to paint a better picture of who they are and how you can tailor your communications and offerings to their needs.
For example, if your data capture efforts tell you that the building’s population is concerned with health and wellbeing, then tailoring your events and activations to meet their interests will better engage them in the community and see the value in long-term leases. One of Equiem’s largest clients recognised this need early and introduced weekly free group classes, yoga events and step count competitions. Their content also supports better physical and mental health amongst their community with partnerships designed to provide easier access to care.
Entrepreneurship expert Michael E. Gerber notes that “your target market and their demographics realistically need to be in alignment with your own beliefs and morals, or you may have trouble reaching out to them - or keeping them once others have entered the market.” Exploring your building’s demographics not only helps you understand your community and how to please them, but also whether or not their needs and ideas align with your community’s vision.
Used in this way, demographics provide a great tool for finding new tenants that best fit the types of companies you want to lease to, supporting you agents in this search.
You can then choose to re-align your own set-up and evolve your offerings to appeal to a broader or more specific community. For example, features such as retail and food offerings will affect the type of tenants attracted to your building: lawyers need posh restaurants, companies with younger workforces might be drawn to more affordable offerings.
Simply making assumptions based on this demographic data is, although useful, not always quite enough. We need to be actively seeking insight directly from our communities. Why?
Although the level of granular detail available to marketers and building managers has improved tenfold, demographics are still at some level inherently reductive and rely on generalisations to garner insight. So, seeking answers straight from the horse’s mouth leaves no room for misinterpretation and also allows intricate layers of insight and complexity to come through.
For example, we gathered over 900 survey results at one of Equiem’s largest sites, allowing us to draw some striking conclusions and shape the next year’s content and activation plan - perfectly suiting both the tenants’ responses as well as the demographics of the community.
The times will always be a’changing. Just because a tenant arrived in the building with a set of circumstances does not mean that their data will stay intact. People change, they grow up, their families shift, they integrate into new communities and careers. The same is true for companies: as they expand, downsize, get bought out and add new technology, their needs for space and amenities shift with them.
Curating spaces where discussions can continue allows you to keep up with changing demands and tailor your employee engagement initiatives to align with the ideals of both your tenants and their own employees. Up-to-date feedback and data is crucial when making accurate decisions and budgeting for new facilities: by taking the guesswork out of your projects, you can efficiently allocate resources to priority areas, as dictated by your tenants.
Property technologies like Equiem are introducing innovative ways to communicate with employees and tenants, helping to enable better connection with your community through an integrated, custom-built micro-intranet for the building. Through the social media-like interface, building managers can interact with the community through competitions, shared news and engaging content, and all parties can reach out, feedback and connect with ease.
Through both the demographic data and feedback captured from these conversations, commercial properties can finally become hubs of innovation where everyone’s needs are met.
Author Amit Kalantri states that the “right to speak comes with a duty to listen.” If you’ve got something to share with the world, start by listening to what your prospective audiences have to say – and never stop listening if want to retain them as tenants.
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