Stay Connected to Your Tenants: Effective Communication Through the Use of Web 2.0 Tools & Technology
Facebook. Web 2.0. Twitter. Buzz. Text. Blog. IM. Social Bookmark. Tag. Youtube. Consider this list of words for a second and ask yourself, “are these nouns, verbs, adjectives, or a combination of all three? Do you know what more than half of these words mean?” If your answers to any of these questions are a little fuzzy or unsure, your next move should be to find out what these terms mean, what role they play in the lives of your tenants, current and potential, and how they can help you as a landlord.
The 21st Century is upon us, as are the technological changes that are currently shaping a generation of students, families, and workers, as well as the education and business worlds. Many places we go these days provide some form of technological support, such as internet cafes, coffee shops that provide wireless networks, and businesses, schools, and college campuses which are bubbles of wireless signals and internet ready workstations. As you head to work or walk through a busy city street, students and adults alike are ‘wired’ into texting on their phones, instant messaging through their iPhones, checking email on their Blackberries, or social networking on their laptops (or any of these devices for that matter). The bottom line is this, technology has helped us to evolve our manner of communicating, socializing, and doing business.
What does any of this have to do with being a landlord and running a real estate business? It has everything to do with being able to communicate and connect to your audience, whether that be current or potential renters. My partners and I have been managing rental properties for close to six years, now, and the difference in how we advertise and work with our tenants has changed dramatically, especially my role as a landlord. When we first started, almost all of my communication with our tenants was through phone calls, an occasional email, or face to face encounters. At the time, this seemed to work. As our properties multiplied (as did our tenants), efficiently and effectively communicating became tough. Playing phone tag became a common occurrence, and trying to find common times when both the tenants and landlord were free to meet on a regular basis was next to impossible. After some time discussing, with both my partners and the tenants, the purposes of all these contacts, we began to has out plans for more efficient and more effective communication. I found out some tenants hate email and rarely check it (this was a huge eye-opener for me and something I took for granted), yet they text message all the time, so like to get their information that way. Other tenants were constantly on email and had their instant message box or Skype account up on their computers at all times and preferred to hear from me through ‘IM’ or video chat. While there were still a few who always preferred a phone call and occasional face to face meeting. As I began to figure this out, I realized that what was important in all of this was finding a method that worked, and what I may not have considered effective (ie- my assumption was texting was too impersonal a method to deliver spectacular service), actually worked best for some.
While the options out there seem endless and overwhelming, the key is to not try to use all of them all of the time or just one of them all of the time. What has worked for me is to find a few that fit certain purposed for contacting the tenants, and matching these up with the tenant preferences. For example, I would use a text message to remind one set of tenants about the monthly walk through coming up, yet I would meet face to face with the same group to discuss something as important as them possibly re-renting. At the end of the day, what is important to realize is that technology is not changing so much of ‘what’ we do (we still need to communicate with our tenants), but ‘how’ we do these things.

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