As a property manager, you know that good communication is the backbone of what you do. It’s an indispensable skill when it comes to winning new business and retaining valuable clients. And this year, the continued spread of COVID-19 makes accurate, timely and consistent communication more valuable than ever. Your role is vital to helping slow the spread of the virus and to protect people from potential exposure. So what are the most effective ways to keep tenants, owners and other parties informed about what you’re doing in response to COVID-19? Here are a few expert guidelines on how to manage communications during the pandemic:
Share information on the latest COVID-related updates and changes
To avoid confusion, make sure both tenants and owners are well informed of any changes that you make due to COVID-19. Your COVID-related communications should not only cover prevention practices but also changes to office and residential policies, such as emergency-only maintenance. Clearly outline the steps you and your team are taking to limit the spread of the virus. Provide details on how you’ll be conducting property tours and routine inspections to stay COVID-safe. You can also share social distancing and hygiene guidelines provided by the government. Notify them on any updates to leasing office hours, maintenance availability and contact information. To maximise visibility, you can add this information on your website, listings and social media pages as well as send out email announcements.
Follow a contingency plan for COVID-cases
If any tenants or team members get tested positive for COVID-19, it helps to have a plan for notifying other tenants, owners and relevant third parties. Bear in mind that your obligation to notify others will vary according to lease terms, public health mandates, state regulations and industry standards. It’s wise to consider privacy laws and consult your legal team before you disclose any identifying information about the positive COVID case.
Provide multiple channels of communication
With all the uncertainty caused by the pandemic, you don’t want to leave tenants and owners in the dark or risk any misunderstandings. Ensure you or your team are easily contactable within office hours by providing up-to-date contact information and alternative communication methods (e.g. website or in-app chats and SMS) in case the usual methods get disrupted.
Your tenants and owners may have additional needs and concerns during COVID-19. To address these and ease their anxiety, you can create a survey to understand their needs and how to better manage your response.
Since many people will also be working from home, it will be a good time to remind tenants of community guidelines around parking, smoking and trash pickup etc… Keep tenants informed if there have been any changes to these community guidelines due to COVID-19.
Educate tenants on changes to rent payment
Your tenant communications plan should give direction for tenants who are facing financial hardship due to the pandemic. Ask them to contact you to discuss rent payment options and provide them with relevant information and links to useful resources.
To limit exposure to COVID-19, property managers should request for tenants to make their rent payments electronically via web-based services, apps and portals. Provide your tenants with clear instructions and assistance for making online payments.
It’s important to be proactive in your communication around rent payment so any issues won’t be left up in the air.
Prepare for tenant questions across all platforms
Chances are you’ve already received many questions from tenants and will continue to throughout this time. You can create a FAQs and COVID-19 resources webpage to help tenants get the information they need without needing to contact you. Make the webpage easily accessible from within your agency website and link it to rental listings, marketing communications, social media pages. By doing this, you avoid having to answer the same questions repeatedly and ensure that the information each tenant receives is consistent. You can also use pre-written email templates to address common tenant concerns in a more efficient way.
Create and share educational videos
You want to be the property manager that will give owners a peace of mind during this pandemic. By educating yourself and others on COVID-related best practices, you can gain more trust from both current and prospective clients. To support your COVID-19 communication strategy, you can record videos that provide accurate updates on legislation changes and address common concerns relating to COVID-19. To get more ideas on what you could speak about in the videos, consider these questions: What questions might owners and tenants be calling about? What are their challenges and pain points?
Make phone calls to owners
The best way to keep owners informed during these uncertain times is to call them and let them know what actions you’re taking in response to COVID-19. This will help relieve the stress and anxiety they feel from all the negative news spread through the media. If they perceive that you’re not doing enough to allay their fears, then they might start looking for another agency to provide them with confidence and leadership.
Despite all the challenges that come with the pandemic, this is also the opportune time to prove your value as a property manager and strengthen your clients’ loyalty to you and your agency. By practising effective communication, you can do your part to provide protection and reassurance during this time.
*Please note that the information in this article are general guidelines only, always ensure that you refer to office policies and state legislation relating to COVID-19 communications.