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Can We Really Expect Tenant Loyalty? – By Bruce Kahn, CCIM, CPM

Posted on 01. Dec, 2014 by in all, Magazine Articles

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I don’t know about you and perhaps it is my age, but I have noticed a definite decline in workplace attitudes and loyalty.  In the past, workers were extremely loyal to the companies they worked for.

Today, more often than not, that is a thing of the past.  The employees of today, for the most part, will not even bother calling to let you know they quit.  They just do not show up.  I know many are now shaking their heads in agreement, however, when viewed from the other side of the coin, can employers really expect more?  Employers today, in most instances, are not loyal to their employees! 

Last week, I was told about a person that worked with a major bank in Seattle for over 30 years.  His job description did not require new high tech skills.  The bank decided the job could be better performed with some of the newer computer programs now available.  Rather than training this thirty-year loyal employee, the bank elected to fire him and replace him with someone already knowledgeable with the required skill set.  Nice payback for 30 years of service.

Unfortunately, this is not an unusual occurrence and more and more companies show little or no loyalty to their employees.  Looked at in this light, it is very easy to understand why generation “x” and “y” have developed attitudes and behavior that does not include loyalty. 

How Does This Affect Landlords And Property Managers?

We all know that turnover is expensive, even in the best of circumstances.  The obvious thing we all talk about to increase income and reduce expenses is tenant retention.  Many articles are written each year on how to do this, however, I believe creating tenant loyalty goes a long way towards accomplishing this goal.  How can we accomplish this in a world where loyalty is quickly becoming a thing of the past?

The answer, I believe, is in promoting loyalty and making sure that the tenant knows we care and are doing so.  All of us are raising rents.  Typically, I see rent increase letters going out describing the landlord’s need to do so to cover added costs of operations.  Seldom or never do I see, “We appreciate your loyalty; as a thank you, we are only going to increase your rent by $____.”   Perception is everything. 

Show Your Appreciation

Today, you can buy various items such as small flashlights for very little money.  How about gifting your tenants a flashlight or other useful items along with a thank you note for being a loyal tenant?  Even a five dollar gift card for Amazon or Starbucks will bring smile to a tenant’s face and trust me – they will feel great and appreciated when they receive it. 

Try developing your own “reward” program for loyal tenants.  I think you will find it keeps some good tenants in place that you may have otherwise lost to another property.  Foster communication and good will and you will be richly rewarded.

There is an old saying that states thank and you will become.  I like to say, “Be, Do, Have.”  If you become a loyal landlord, you will do what a loyal landlord does and will have and reap the benefits of what a landlord that has loyal tenants has.  Give it a shot.  I think you will be pleasantly surprised. 

Bruce Kahn, CCIM is the Managing Director of The Foundation Group Real Estate Services, a full service management and brokerage company.  Reprinted with permission of the Rental Housing Association UPDATE.