By Stephen Lewis
Vacant offices offer little value. As such, 100% occupancy continues to be the ultimate goal of corporate real estate professionals. Yet modern tenants no longer just want secure places to do business; they expect a heightened tenant-landlord relationship focused on providing exceptional experiences.
With this in mind, facility managers must stretch their innovative muscles to not only woo commercial tenants, but also win their lasting loyalty. Leverage these three evolving trends to tighten tenant bonds and boost retention rates.
1. Shift attention from space management to tenant experience. While appealing design and intuitive layout will always be essential, today’s tenants expect elevated levels of treatment. To achieve a heightened connection with building occupants, property and facility managers must envision themselves as advocates rather than transactional partners.
For example, communal spaces may include elements like built-in fireplaces surrounded by high-quality seating or patio gardens landscaped with bubbling fountains. These additions add comfort and visual appeal to classically communal areas. At the same time, they serve to differentiate buildings and attract tenants looking for well-maintained premium spaces.
Offering opportunities for tenants in co-working spaces to mingle can also showcase a commitment to providing a welcoming atmosphere. Of course, top-notch responsive maintenance must accompany these experiences.
2. Target renovations and upgrades toward sustainability. Many corporate real estate tenants fall into the Millennial and Generation Z buckets. For those professionals, sustainability is a way of life — and they expect to do business with like-minded entities.
Case in point: Many tenants won’t consider setting up shop in buildings that aren’t Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified. These socially responsible occupants respond to open spaces with healthy levels of natural light.
Renovations offer ideal chances to reduce waste and scale sustainable efforts. Best of all, no one needs to reinvent the wheel to make sustainable magic happen. Decades of environmentally friendly practices have made way for designs that improve energy use and waste management.
Taking a holistic approach to indoor environmental hygiene and air quality is another option. Many corporate real estate developers have added “living” walls and plants to improve the overall ambiance of their spaces. Certainly, this nod to biophilic design produces a calming effect that boosts mood and productivity. And similar to regularly maintained carpeted flooring, which limits the release of volatile organic compounds, greenery naturally filters airborne pollutants.
3. Enhance existing sites with meaningful design. According to a 2018 report, the country’s available corporate real estate space should expand by 37 million square feet by the end of 2019, thanks to a strong economy. This presents a unique opportunity for facility managers to improve their spaces amid a market rife with tenant choices.
Many facility managers are initiating this process by proactively tackling tenants’ most common complaints. Accordingly, HVAC redesigns that ensure proper air quality have yielded positive returns. This ultimately cuts down on tenant complaints while upping environmental hygiene and occupant satisfaction.
Reimagining flooring maintenance practices is another way to enhance space. Many organizations budget a line item for new carpeting every seven years. It can cost anywhere from $350,000 to $500,000 to outfit a 75,000- to 90,000-square-foot area with textile surfaces. Simple adjustments in the routine (and specialized care of those carpets) can pay off by extending the carpet life by as much as 100%.
In terms of hard flooring, the returns can be equally attractive. Even deeply stained, unpleasant-smelling tile and grout can be taken back to showroom quality if properly deep-cleaned and color-sealed.
Commercial tenants are savvier than ever, and they’re looking for more in their facilities. Yet they still want locations to operate effectively. Property and facility managers who meet occupants’ wide-ranging needs — and anticipate their objections — will find their initial investment pays off handsomely as tenants renew their leases year after year.
Lewis is the technical director at milliCare, where he manages all equipment, methods, and products for the floor and textile cleaning company. Stephen, a certified senior carpet inspector and an IICRC master textile cleaner, has proudly served milliCare for almost 30 years.