Property Management Best Practice 2: Landlords must have a tenant first approach
I made 10 profound observations that are important property management best practices for landlords during my summer 2018 European vacation. The second best practice is Landlords must have a tenant first approach.
This article is the second of ten property management best practices for landlords based on my observations from my summer 2018 European vacation.Last week I mentioned that I would be sharing a series of 10 important property management best practices for landlords over the coming weeks. Today, I will be sharing the 2nd best practice: Landlords must deliver on their promise to their tenants.
In case you missed the previous postsIf you missed the previous posts, you can catch up by accessing the following links:
- Learn about my European vacation
- Property Management Best Practice 1: Landlords need to pay attention to the simple little things
The driver should get you to the agreed upon destination safelyWe took care of arranging most of our transfers in advance. This gave us the piece of mind knowing we wouldn’t have to hail down a taxi or haggle with a driver on price or pull out cash on a busy street to pay the driver. Now during our trip, we had several drivers. Most were good, but some not so good. After observing and experiencing both the good and the bad, I noticed that I walked away with a certain feeling, attitude and judgement regarding the driver and the experience that they provided. On a very basic level, a driver is supposed to get you from point A to point B. Take it one step higher, the ride should be comfortable. They may provide you with other bells and whistles like; point out interesting things and maybe some history along the way, or maybe provide you with a bottle of water. But ultimately, the driver should get you to the agreed upon destination safely. On our trip, that didn’t always happen. One incident that really stood out for me was in Santorini.
The stunning sunsets of SantoriniSantorini (Greece) is a volcanic island. It is known for its stunning sunsets from the town of Oia (pronounced “eea”). Naturally, we wanted to experience the dramatic sunsets. When we checked into our hotel, Santorini Crystal Blue Suites, Salima spoke to the hotel manager about arranging transportation to experience the amazing Santorini sunsets. They took care of everything. They made a reservation for a sunset dinner at the Ammoudi Fish Tavern and they booked the driver. The driver was to pick us up at 5:45pm, but he didn’t show up until after 6:30pm. It was about a 35-minute drive from the hotel on Kamari Beach to the town of Oia. Sunset was at 7:15. The village of Oia sits on top of a hill. The restaurant, Ammoudi Fish Tavern was located in Ammoudi Bay below Oia. The drive took us up to Oia and then down a very steep and narrow road to Ammoudi Bay. The instructions provided to the driver were that he was to drop us at the bottom of the road, close to the restaurant. As the time drew closer to sunset, busloads of tourists were brought down this same road. The buses would actually back down the steep road as there was very little room for them to turn around at the bottom of the road. This caused huge traffic jams. Seeing this traffic, our driver said that he would not be able to take us down to the bottom of the hill and insisted that it was a very short walk to the restaurant.
We caught the sunset, but the experience was ruinedNow, Salima suffers from Rheumatoid Arthritis, an autoimmune disorder that affects the lining of your joints that results in painful swelling and eventual bone erosion and joint deformity. This disease has left her with a permanent mobility impairment; which makes walking long distances difficult and painful for her. The driver was aware of this. Up until now, the drivers throughout our trip had been good. They had recognized Salima’s condition and understood the special attention that was required. Unfortunately, we made the mistake of trusting this driver. From our vantage point, in the car, we could not see beyond the curve in the road. We trusted the driver. In hindsight, I should have gotten out first to scope out the distance – lesson learned. As soon as we got out of the car, the driver was gone. Now, had the driver been patient and waited about 10 minutes, he would have been able to get us closer to the bottom of the road. I realized very quickly that the distance to the restaurant was too far for Salima to walk, but it was too late. The driver was already gone and neither of us had cell service where we were. While Salima waited where she was, I ran down the hill and asked a bus driver to call the car service. He got a hold of them, but it took about 30 minutes for the driver to come back. While we caught the sunset, the experience was ruined.
He didn’t put his customer firstI was pretty shaken up by this incident. My responsibility was to protect my wife and I felt that I had failed. I was angry at the driver and I was angry at myself for letting us get into this situation. Everything worked out in the end and we were able to salvage that evening, but that story is for another day. The driver knew that Salima had a disability. On the drive over, he asked about her condition. He reiterated his understanding for the condition. And he recognized that walking was difficult for her. Yet he still did not deliver on his promise of getting us to the agreed upon destination safely. He didn’t put his customer first. He was only thinking of himself. He didn’t want to wait in the traffic and he didn’t want to deal with the effort of trying to turn around at the bottom of the road. What I realized after reflecting on the experience, was that I was left with a disappointing feeling, and a negative attitude towards the driver. When he came back to pick us up, the way I spoke to him was different. I no longer had respect for him. I had convinced myself based on that experience that he didn’t care about his customer. He didn’t put his customer first.
Landlords must have a tenant first approachNow think about this from a landlord – tenant relationship perspective. As landlords (this includes property managers), when we rent out a property, we take on the responsibility of delivering a property that meets a certain safety standard. The tenant perceives that the property they are renting from us will be “home” for them. They are looking forward to making new memories there. They are expecting that they will be comfortable, that they will safe and that they will be happy there. The tenants are also expecting that we, as the landlord, will be accessible and responsive should any issues arise. If we as landlords don’t take a tenant first approach in our rental property business, then we are putting our relationship with our tenants in jeopardy. When we don’t take a tenant first approach, it could lead to an expectation gap. The expectation gap is the difference between what the tenant expects to experience and what they actually experience. This could impact the perception that the tenant has of us. This could impact the tenant’s happiness, and this could impact the tenant’s respect for us.
Uphill battle to salvage that relationshipWhen your tenant loses respect for you, it becomes an uphill battle to salvage that relationship. This is where we start to see fly-by-night tenants, tenants not caring about property and you start to see tenants withholding rent. This leads to tenant turnover, property damage and then you as a landlord needing to evict your tenant. When you take a tenant first approach, this drives your actions, your behaviour and your attitude towards the tenant. It demonstrates to the tenant that your care about the tenant. It demonstrates to the tenant that you care about the property. And it goes a long way to building trust and credibility with your tenants. The tenant first approach has a positive impact on tenant turnover, reduces property damage and reduces the risk of evictions. It makes you a better landlord. To learn some of the key strategies involved with the tenant first approach, check out the Secret to Happy and Long-Term Tenants. In the next article, I will share the observations that I made during my mediterranean cruise on the Azamara Pursuit. This next article focuses on customer service and how showing care and concern for your tenants can go a long way in lowering your turnover rate.
Ali AlidinaAli founded LandlordSimplified.com where he shares his learnings, experiences and his best practices to help rental property owners to overcome the learning curve in their rental property business.