UNDERSTANDING YOUR TENANTS WILL HELP YOU RETAIN THEM
At first glance, the touch-button feedback terminal looks no different than a toddler’s educational toy. But HappyOrNot is far from child's play. Instead, it’s a tool used by big brands like Lego and UPS to gauge customer satisfaction. By pressing one of four large faces of varying expressions, from happy to disappointed, people can quickly share their impressions of a service, company or building.
The diagnostic tool is one of several ways building managers and owners can keep tabs on whether or not their bathrooms are up to tenants’ standards. Given the negative consequences associated with a bad bathroom rating, from rising vacancy rates to declining revenue, it’s critical that building managers keep their tenants’ feedback top of mind.
Satisfied tenants are 3.5 times more likely to renew their leases than dissatisfied tenants, according to the Building Owners and Managers Association International (BOMA) and Kingsley Research. And the average cost of a lost tenant for a Class A building is steep—running as high as $1.5 million.
“Every restroom is a ‘reference point’ for tenants’ expectations of a building and an opportunity for building managers. If the restroom experience wows tenants, the impact on satisfaction can be surprisingly positive,” says Cerita Bethea, global marketing excellence strategy leader at Kimberly-Clark*. “If people dread the restroom, however, it can cast a powerful negative cloud over the entire building’s reputation, potentially even driving tenants out.”
Indeed, 60 percent of respondents to a 2016 Kimberly-Clark Professional* survey think an unhygienic restroom means management doesn’t care much for their well-being.
Knowledge Is Power
Once they’re armed with the right information, however, building managers can take several steps to improve the tenant experience. Take the UPS supply chain headquarters in Alpharetta, Georgia, for example. The building houses 1,500 occupants across the 320,000-square-foot Class A building. Building management wanted to better refine the way they improved upon restroom complaints received from their tenants, and so they turned to Kimberly-Clark Professional* and its C.H.E.S.S. program.
Designed to help building managers create an exceptional experience for tenants, C.H.E.S.S. is a consultative program that aims to benchmark and assess restrooms in commercial properties and offer solutions to improve in five key areas: cleanliness, hygiene, efficiency, sustainability and tenant satisfaction.
In the case of UPS, building management placed door counters and HappyOrNot stands by the highest-trafficked male and female restrooms for two weeks. Building management and employees were also asked to complete surveys intended to identify which parts of the building they liked the most—and which ones they liked the least.
Ultimately, the lobby ranked the best, while the bathrooms ranked dead last. The results tracked with the building's own information. In fact, 64 percent of the building’s complaints per year were bathroom-related. Tenant feedback made one thing clear: It was time for urgent action.
C.H.E.S.S. played a key role with its “Driving Tenants Acquisition and Renewal with a Winning Restroom Strategy” webinar in providing an action plan. Steps included installing hands-free sensors to improve toilets, additional pop-up paper towel dispensers on the sink and even humorous signs reminding employees not to flush paper towels down the toilet.
“You’re disrupting what tenants have come to expect in a restroom, and you’re raising the bar for the building itself,” Bethea says. “The result is surprise and delight.”
Additional features like scent deodorizers and facial tissues by the sink will collectively work to make the restrooms in other buildings look paltry in comparison. Based on Kimberly-Clark Professional’s* research findings about the importance of the bathroom as a reference point, the result should be happier tenants and higher retention.
“Making these simple improvements to the washroom shows tenants you care, and in the end they are more likely to feel they’re at a company and a building that they want to belong to and stay with,” Bethea says.