YOU CAN APPRECIATE A SQUIRREL
For me, late nights at home are all about chilling out. You can usually find me on my sofa, dressed in sweats and watching some old 1990s sitcom. Seinfeld, Everybody Loves Raymond, King of Queens…you know the drill. Did you ever notice it is around this time, past the 9:00pm hour, that all of the random commercials suddenly start to get air time? A favorite is Mike Lindell of My Pillow fame. He usually pops up around now with his blue shirt and mustache. He’s pretty convincing actually. I’ve got a couple of his pillows! Or there’s the drugs that warn “don’t take Xercalto if you are allergic to Xercalto”, to which I always wonder, “well how do I know I’m allergic to Xercalto if I’ve never taken Xercalto?” Can someone please explain?
But the most interesting of my night time commercial ponderings came after seeing what the folks at AARP had to share. It is, in all honesty, not a very good commercial because I had to see it about six times before I could even remember who it was for. And frankly, I’m still not sure WHAT it is for. In this ad they promote the ever endearing “Squirrel Appreciation Day.” How this applies to anything AARP might be doing is not entirely clear to me. But one thing that came shining through was how plainly this illustrates the difference between “appreciation” and “engagement”.
There has been a lot of discussion in the CRE industry around the evolution of tenant engagement. But the emphasis needs to be on “engagement”. The old adage for property managers used to be “tenant appreciation”. Yes, Mr. Tenant, it’s true. We appreciate you. But appreciation alone does not a relationship make. I mean, I appreciate lots of things. I appreciate amazing wine, someone opening a door for me, and a sunny day. And, according to AARP, I can appreciate a squirrel too. But none of those things (aside from the squirrel) are living breathing things. I can’t create a relationship with wine (although sometimes I do enjoy trying!) , and the door opening is certainly a lovely gesture, but none of these things are engaging. And while they say you can apparently appreciate a squirrel, do you really want to engage with one? Let’s just say, if you aren’t Jack Hanna, I wouldn’t recommend it.
The fact is appreciating is something you do TO someone and it is actually something you can do from afar. Thankfully so, or would we even consider the squirrel here? In fact, no one even has to necessarily know you are appreciating them. I appreciate you reading this blog and I would appreciate you whether your knew about it or not. Engagement is a totally different animal (no pun to our squirrel friend intended). Engagement is something you do WITH someone. It is something that fosters a relationship. It is a “two to tango” situation, making it something both parties must be doing together. In the most literal of senses, you couldn’t get engaged to someone without them agreeing to it and saying that definitive “yes, I will”!
Our relationships with our tenants in today’s marketplace must be handled in the same way. If we want to cement loyalty, which is the only way to truly drive behavior that results in renewed leases, then we have to engage. While handing a tenant a cello-wrapped treat is certainly an appreciative act, it does little to build the bonds that only true interaction can create. Relationships are built on trust and customer relationships are no different. Ask yourself what your relationship with your spouse or best friend would look like if you only interacted with them every six months, even if you sent them a birthday gift or anniversary gift in between? The fact is there is no substitution for an event where you share time with someone who matters to you. This is how today’s tenant is looking to feel. They want to feel like they matter. And it is when those feelings are consistently fostered that the relationship between you will flourish and they’ll remain loyal to you and your property.
Engage with your tenants on a regular and consistent basis and you can save the treats for Mr. Squirrel. I’m sure he would appreciate it.