Kaya Laterman in Building Operations on December 4, 2018
As New York continues to boom, a new wave of shareholders and unit-owners is washing into the city’s co-ops and condos. Many of the new arrivals are young and affluent, and besides expecting certain amenities, this new generation is demanding a higher level of service from building staffs. Many boards and their management companies are responding by enrolling staffers in classes to up their customer-service game.
Boards that are mulling over whether such classes are worth the money don’t need to worry about breaking the bank, says Les Newlands, founder of Newlands Customer Care & Sales Consulting. Most property management companies will ask for about $3,000 to be allocated in a building’s annual operating budget for one training session, which covers about a dozen people. “It’s a modest cost that can really boost your building’s value,” Newlands says. In the past, many property management companies approached Newlands after the board had gotten complaints from residents about building staff’s lack of interpersonal and resident-care skills. “I have seen boards lulled into complacency,” he says. “Now you’re seeing property management firms proactively offering training to their staffs to avoid confrontation before it happens.”
Howard Slavin, president of RoseTerra Management, estimates the company spent under $10,000 for all of the corporate office staff to take four hospitality training sessions. RoseTerra is in the process of hiring an outside company to train the buildings’ staffs. “It’s a way to differentiate ourselves from the other firms,” says Slavin.
Many high-end hotels and restaurants develop files on their regular customers – including family member names, hobbies, and personality traits – and Slavin believes residential front-desk personnel in co-ops and condos should, at the very least, know which residents like chatting about sports and which simply need to be greeted with a polite “Hello,” then left alone.
Slavin notes that many of the city’s older residential buildings have yet to ask their property management companies to inaugurate even the most rudimentary training for staff. But he deems such training a necessity for all kinds of buildings, not just those on the high end. “Staff training of all types should be ongoing,” says Slavin. “Why should you settle for mediocre service?”
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