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The Service Differentiator

By Liz Sheff, COO

Property management service delivery isn’t all the same.

Companies often view property management (PM) as a commodity, where the service is homogenous and interchangeable between providers. When services compete on price, as a commodity must, the standard of that service, plus the time and effort dedicated to the client must be minimized in order to give the lowest quote and win business. The problem with a bidding philosophy is that while the client maintains an expectation of attentive and professional service, that isn’t always what they will receive.   

We think about property management differently. We understand that professional property management is about employing and retaining the top knowledgeable, professional and educated talent in our teams. It’s all about service and client experience—at all times. And it’s about providing the best possible experience in every situation, a white glove service philosophy. The value Stream provides for clients is not solely pricing, but what will provide and retain the highest value for client’s assets and experience for their tenants.

At Stream, we are passionate about our customers and our work, and strive to continually create wins for our clients. This mindset is reflected in our PM service delivery and the professionals who provide this service. For our clients, quite simply our differentiator is Stream’s transformational service philosophy.

Taking a Cue from Hospitality

How do the most successful and long-standing luxury brand hotels resonate with their guests amidst fierce competition? It’s simple, they focus on delivering customer care and great experiences. They focus on authentically engaging their customers, not simply servicing them. 

Joseph A. Mitchelli’s book The New Gold Standard examines The Ritz Carlton Hotel Company’s service as an art form, and the leadership behaviors that produce The Ritz’s corporate culture, staff empowerment and commitment to its customers. Mitchelli delves into the importance of attracting, hiring and retaining the “right” employees who are interested in transformational customer experiences and how leadership’s approach to training, empowering and communicating the right message can generate staff loyalty and world class customer engagement. It’s about people and messaging. 

Simon F. Cooper, President of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company said of The Ritz staff: “They truly understand that the amenity that matters most to our guests is not a fancy chocolate on the pillow, but a dedication to service that never wavers.”

And as Richard Casimiro, Director of Operations at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company’s Penha Longa Resort says in his Forbes 2016 interview, “I’m not asking my employees ‘did you put the doily under the glass?’ but ‘did you find out how your guest was feeling and work on making a connection with them?”

At Stream, we take our service philosophy cues from the hospitality industry. We hire, empower, coach, promote and retain the very best professionals, who provide a transformational, white glove service experience to Stream’s clients. How clients feel after working with us, is important. We understand the significance of responding quickly and courteously, of investigating and solving problems, the benefits of innovation and timely communication, of reporting and budgeting, of identifying cost savings and developing innovative preventative maintenance plans. We understand because we are experts in this field. 

Real estate assets retain their derived value through the capitalization of their net income streams; increased or maintained through attracting and retaining tenants, plus the provision of maintenance and quality improvements. In short—perfect property management.  

Successful hotels who have raised the bar for service benefit from customer loyalty, stellar reputations and often have great books written about their charismatic leadership styles. Property managers tend to be the unsung heroes. But let’s remember, they are the ones who keep things running smoothly and who fix items before anyone notices they are broken. Over this past year, our property managers at Stream have been tasked with creating the right response and protocols to the global pandemic. By being prepared and continuing to provide a high level of service, we have delivered a level of certainty to our clients and their managed assets, certainty which has been tough to find in 2020. 

From our front-line staff to our building technicians, accountants and administrators; every individual in our team is educated, empathetic, dedicated and committed to providing not only the best service, but also an engaging and deliberate experience. Though, we can also provide doilies and fancy chocolates, if that is our client’s preference.

A Difficult Time to Shine

Back in March 2020, when many were scrambling, Stream leadership and our PM teams seamlessly evolved our emergency response and communication protocols for the buildings and clients we service; taking measures to protect the health and well-being of tenants, visitors and staff. 

And further, we put ourselves in our client’s shoes as a reminder to practice empathy, we use it as a guiding principle.  We established Business Continuity Plans and Emergency Response Plans to provide continuous staffing and operational coverage and timely support at all managed and leased properties. We provided early and critical information to allow our clients to make informed decisions. We ensured frequent and thorough building inspections and kept our clients current on all aspect of their property; the status of its tenants and the delivering daily or weekly reports to mitigate exposure and provide a head start on solution development as situations arise.  

Our committed front-line teams provide much needed continuity and security—answering tenant inquiries, managing mitigation plans when there was an exposure, accommodating maintenance or cleaning requests and communicating openly and honestly to everyone involved at a managed property. Their ability to create a sense of order and normalcy have helped to ease the anxiety for owners of our managed assets.

Insightful, Friendly and Memorable Service

The ever-changing environment during the pandemic has required leadership and property management teams in every market to be operationally in sync—equally prepared with clear contingency plans in place, to provide seamless service delivery for owners and tenants.

Whether shifting staffing or responsibilities, we have emphasized focus on defined critical priorities, which may differ from those in a normal workday. Anticipating needs, continuously refining protocols for cleaning, distancing and providing tenant notifications tailored to the specific needs or requirements of the client and asset. Despite the chaos that may surround our teams, they have maintained a calm demeanor and focus on what can be done to improve the service and experience received by our clients and tenants. 

Expectations Raised 

Providing uninterrupted high-level service and delivering a quality experience throughout a pandemic is certainly a challenge, but in creating an environment that is purposeful and deliberately calm we can manage anything that comes our way, yes even COVID-19. Our property management teams have raised expectations this year, they have professionally and intelligently delivered true value to both physical asset and user. A value that we believe cannot and should not be commoditized. Our differentiator? Stream’s transformational service philosophy.     

About the Author

Liz Sheff, Chief Operating Officer

Liz Sheff is a Partner and Chief Operating Officer for Stream Realty Partners. Liz joined the firm in 2010 with over 20+ years of property management experience and is currently responsible for providing oversight, management and direction to the firm’s property management, accounting, corporate operations, engineering and construction management services nationally.

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