Maintaining tenant relationships in the time of COVID-19
Updated: Sep 25, 2020
It has been a trying time across all industries and all kinds of interpersonal relationships. Community managers and tenants are considered in-person communities, and as such, are particularly affected by the onslaught of this uncertainty. COVID-19 has urged community managers to think on their feet when it comes to solutions for pressing concerns among their tenants. Clear communication is the cornerstone of maintaining tenant relationships – despite it looking differently from what it once was.
Establishing proper protocol
A simple handshake has long been considered as a symbol of camaraderie and trust. This social practice has signified cooperation, almost becoming a reflex during interactions. While this is an important aspect of communication, due to the virus handshakes are no longer recommended. Dr. Dustin York from Maryville University expressed in an interview with USA Today that there will be a dramatic shift in attitudes towards something as simple as handshaking, with less people doing so in the future. The importance of nonverbal communication in society is part of the communications degree course Dr. York teaches at Maryville University. In line with Dr. York, employers and even community managers should establish a different attitude and have protocol for ‘handshake-free zones.’
Monitoring and disseminating information
Establishing new protocols need not to be limited to handshake-free zones. Community managers must be on top of their game in monitoring the latest information, updates, and recommendations by governing bodies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At a time when new information surfaces every day, it is imperative that community managers absorb the latest news and be able to disseminate it to their tenants. While notices must be posted throughout the properties, you should also make it a point to carve out a digital space for sending out updates in real-time for the most accurate and updated information. This can also serve as a forum for tenants to be looped into one another’s questions and concerns that you can address yourself. It offers a reasonable solution to maintaining the very sense of community, albeit confining interactions to the digital sphere for now.
Assuring that you are doing what you can
Despite ever-changing circumstances, your position as a community manager or leader remains the same. You need to guarantee your tenants that you are doing everything in your power to safeguard everyone’s health: contact tracing, temperature checks, and stringent measures to disinfect public spaces. As a manager, you also have to listen to the advice of your tenants. They may have recommendations or concerns of their own and you must listen and evaluate how to best address these needs. Right now, concerns may not be limited to just safety and security, but also encompass rent and evictions. At the end of the day, as CEO and Founder of LA Property Management Group and Crown Commercial Property Management David Crown says that the ‘us versus them’ mentality must be dispelled as this only furthers the divide between the two parties. While community managers must do what they can to look after best interests and be understanding of tenants’ queries, tenants must also abide by new protocol and guidelines as well as they can. When you are able to communicate effectively and understand that communication is a two-way street between you and your tenants, you will not only maintain your relationships but also ultimately earn their trust. As an additional tool that can supplement this goal, Spaceflow can help manage your ecosystem as well as improve relationships and experiences.
Written by J. Bluebell