We’ve all heard the adage “you only get one chance to make a good first impression.” While most of us agree with it, there are times when buildings acquire a negative stigma or simply fail to distinguish themselves from amongst a high volume of competitors. Those landlords or managers struggling with these issues take note:

Refresh Your Signage                       

Building signs typically represent a third of your annual traffic yet are rarely updated more than once a decade, if that. Adding a new A-Frame is an economical way to attract attention to your building. Planting below your building sign gives your property a soft, manicured look, but choose plants carefully so as not to obstruct your message.

You can reasonably expect a 25-40% increase in sign calls and traffic when you change your signs, as these two landlords did.

McArthur - Don Mills Bldg Sign

McArthur - Don Mills New Backlit

Curb Appeal Matters

Think about the “Golden Path” from the parking lot to your rental or Super’s office. Is it landscaped? Is there adequate direction signage along the way? At the Enterphone? In the corridor? At the office door? Finding the person in charge of renting should not be a scavenger hunt for prospects. Empty planters at your entrance or ashtrays at your entrance are not welcoming.

Over plant in the summer so that flower beds appear full early in the season. WJ Properties recently added unique custom artwork to their landscaping at two Toronto buildings: 125 Neptune Avenue [pictured above] and 10 St. Dennis Drive. These memorable features have become focal points in the neighborhood and can be easily recalled by prospects.

Consider Offering On-Site Programming

At its former Ottawa property, Greenwin Inc. allocated two ground floor apartments and  contracted with a local non-profit social service agency to deliver educational, recreational and social programming to its tenants, who are largely new immigrants. The programs also offered ESL, children’s summer camp, parenting classes, assistance with settlement and other programs designed to acclimatize new immigrants.

Donald - St Laurent Program Schedule 2013.jpg

Greenwin cloned the program from its San Romanoway community in Toronto’s Jane-Finch neighborhood, once known for having three times the national crime rate. The San Romanoway Revitalization Association was established with tenants in 1999 and funded originally by the property’s landlords, Greenwin, Glen Group and later ResReit. Today, the Association is a charitable, non-profit agency that operates a Breakfast Program, After-School Program, Seniors Program, Youth Programs [including a recording studio] and various social programs. With the help of tenant volunteers and many community partners, these programs are delivered economically to low income families.

Raise the Bar in Customer Service

There are many cost-free ways to make day-to-day living more convenient for your tenants:

Implement On-Line Work Orders – Major landlords have been offering this option on their web sites for years as a convenience to tenants and a time management tool for on-site staff. After four years of offering this option its 88 Erskine Avenue building, staff report that on-line work orders quickly outnumbered paper ones.

Offer More Payment Options – Credit Card and On-Line payments are decreasing the time required to chase late payers. In Toronto’s east end, H&R Property Management offers lobby kiosks that accept rent payments [and other functions such as work orders, parking permits and legal notices].

Look for Opportunities to Communicate – This also builds community and reduces turn-over. Building Newsletters, follow up calls on work orders, renewal calls or appointments, regular surveys are all opportunities to say to tenants “We hope that you will stay”.