Residential experience is key in winning over and retaining multifamily residents. Property managers are now taking charge of building connections among the property, their residents and the neighbourhood. Led by a group of young women sharing the same vision of reprogramming residential relations, Canada’s real estate company Bentall Kennedy understands the importance of this property management transformation for being a powerful engine for revenue. 

Having the residents’ concerns responded and needs anticipated is the kind of customer service they’re focused on. As reported by Bethany Meisinger-Reiff, Shannon Tullio, regional residential property manager for Bentall Kennedy said, “We are definitely focused on customer service and how our role as property managers affects the lives of residents from the moment they walk through the door”. 

Fostering bonds within the property is also essential to resident engagement. At Hull Estates in Calgary, Leasing and Residential Experience Manager Elisha Crawford takes pride in helping residents nurture their talents and interests. She has given the term “resident artist” new meaning by showcasing tenant artwork on the property. She also helps residents set up and promote their own businesses.

“It’s about creating a community within a community,” Crawford explained.

At Two St. Thomas in Toronto’s upscale Yorkville neighbourhood, a resident experience team has brought in fitness experts to offer yoga classes. Local fine dining restaurants have catered building events. And during Fashion Week, the property hosted a designer and several models to show their pieces.

Hull Estates residents have access to a VIP club that offers discounts on local amenities, such as massage therapists, fine dining and spas. The residents value the personalized exclusivity, while the local businesses appreciate the patronage. Crawford has also organized events for area businesses to come in and highlight their services.

To be meaningful for residents, programming is not necessarily interchangeable between properties, stressed Kellie Speakman, vice president, national residential operations for Bentall Kennedy.

Relevance to the residents makes a successful effort, as well as sustainability, as added by Speakman, “It also needs to be ongoing—it can’t be something you do four times a year. It’s about creating small and large touch points with residents at the first interaction and throughout their tenancy. “

This high-touch, highly experiential approach is a natural fit for new luxury developments; however, it can also revitalize older and repositioning assets.

When Two St. Thomas was under construction, Tullio and her team visited local residential towers and businesses with extra-gooey chocolate chip cookies to raise awareness about the project. That homegrown, word-of-mouth marketing created a buzz before the building even opened.

The property management teams are assembled based on and relevant to the tenant demographic because every interaction will set the tone for the lifetime of their residency. Equipping staff with the resources, budget and freedom to make programming decisions is also key to forging genuine links between residents, the property and the community.

“We really empower our site teams to be entrepreneurial,” Speakman said. “We want our teams to think outside the box and put their personality on the brand—that’s why we selected them. And we have a group of young female leaders who are taking this concept and running with it in a way that is resonating with their residents and the communities in which they operate.”

Far beyond resident retention, the company is finding another benefit that includes strengthening bonds among the staff which in the end, improves its employee retention rate. Bentall Kennedy is investing in its next generation of leaders by providing a young, visionary cohort of women with a sense of ownership in their properties and careers. 

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