Keeping tenants informed

Geoff Roberts
Geoff Roberts | 5 min. read

Published on October 12, 2009

The good news is that in this day and age, there are a number of options for keeping tenants updated about property events and updates on a real-time basis. Now it’s up to you to identify the mode of communication that works best for all of your tenants … and for you. Following are a few of your best communication bets and some tips for determining which ones will work best for you and your tenants.

Electronic communication
If you opt to communicate with tenants electronically, you have a few options: posting news and events on your company’s website, sending notification emails to tenants on an as-needed basis, or sending out a regular e-newsletter. When determining which sort of electronic communication works best for you, make sure that you carefully analyze its pros and cons. For example, updating tenant news on your company’s website requires minimal effort on your part—simply dash off a few sentences, post it on the website, and you’re done! But remember that websites offer a passive means of communication. In other words, if your tenants aren’t taking the initiative to surf on over to your site and seek out news, your updates may very well never actually make it to their intended audience.

Emails and e-newsletters offer landlords a more active way of distributing information; in other words, when you send out an email or a newsletter and you know that your tenant will see it in their inbox. But, remember, newsletters and emails tend to require a bit more maintenance than website news updates. You will have to update mailing lists, deal with distribution and bounce-back emails, and (if your property management portfolio is big enough) may even have to invest in a specialized mass mailing system.

Again, both websites and emails/newsletters offer today’s landlords a great, relatively low-maintenance way of keeping tenants informed in real-time. Just remember to carefully consider the pros and cons of both when you are determining the most efficient and effective way to communicate with your tenants.

Hard copy communication
Although sending letters and memos was the standard mode for landlord-tenant communication not so long ago, today it is one of the least efficient and cost-effective routes to take. Sending out notices via snail mail involves putting a mailing together, spending money on postage, and accounting for the lag time it takes between when communication is sent and when it is received. This is compounded by the fact that because many of your tenants (particularly those in younger demographics) communicate primarily electronically, they may not even check their mail boxes that often anymore. In other words, all of this effort could potentially be for naught in the end.

If you do want to utilize hard copy communication methods, your best bet is to post bulletins in highly visible areas of your property. For example, on the front door or near elevators and stairwells. If you do need to distribute hard copy communication to tenants on an individual basis, save time and money by distributing communication directly to their door. Despite all of these caveats, do remember that we are not yet living in a completely electronic world. Some of your tenants may still rely on hard copy mailings. Depending on your tenant demographic, even if you are on a primarily electronic system, posting bulletins may still be a necessary step.

Determining which will work best for you
Not sure which communication method is best for you? Go straight to the source for input—your tenants. Ask them what their preferred method of receiving information is (you can even do this at the time of move-in by having them check their preferred option off of a list at the same time they fill out the rest of their paperwork). Once you’ve received this feedback you can either go with the majority or, if your bandwidth allows, set up electronic and hardcopy mailing lists, placing tenants on their preferred option as specified. Particularly if you opt to use both a hardcopy and electronic system, remember that while it’s important to make sure your tenants have a mode of receiving information efficiently, you also need to make sure the process is as simple as possible for yourself. After all, you don’t want to spend all your time distributing information to tenants through every communication channel possible.

Having a selection of communication options is great, but remember to use them wisely. Whether you’re using an electronic or paper system, any type of communication will simply become white noise if you’re constantly deluging tenants with information. Post all the information you want on your website (where tenants can actively go to seek out information), but send only important, must-know information out actively. This way, tenants will know that when they receive an email or a hard copy bulletin from you, it’s something they should pay attention to, taking any appropriate action as quickly as possible.

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Geoff Roberts

Geoff is a marketer, surfer, musician, and writer. He lives in San Diego, CA.

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