Communication Guidance for Landlords during COVID 19 Pandemic
Communication during the coronavirus pandemic: guidance for commercial landlords
As we adjust to a new normal, what can commercial landlords do to communicate with occupiers in a positive way during this pandemic? And what are the benefits of doing so?
While we are dealing with an unprecedented situation, objectives such as retaining tenants, reducing voids and continuing to build a strong brand will remain broadly the same, albeit with a changing emphasis on priorities and plans.
Meeting the needs of occupiers is key for your commercial success and this applies as much now as ever. Our research consistently shows that business tenants want a sense of community, value for money and an environment that reflects their ethos. How you continue to meet these demands during these uncertain times should form a core part of your strategy for the coming months.
Communication is king
Maintain the community you have been carefully cultivating by keeping the lines of communication open. Fostering a feeling of belonging and support is paramount right now – this is how you can build on existing relationships and demonstrate your value.
When staying in touch with occupiers, take the time to have extended conversations around the impacts and effects of the pandemic on their businesses and working practises. Landlords who are proactive and willing to listen will have a greater insight into the bigger picture for their tenant. The overall health of a business will be linked to decisions around leases and strategy, understanding these future challenges and opportunities will place you in a stronger position to act when restrictions are lifted.
Consider your broader communications strategy. This is not the time to stop activity altogether, particularly when others may be ramping up their efforts. Social media, email newsletters and video provide a cost-effective means to stay visible and nurture your community. However, as the online world becomes noisier, it is also important to keep sight of what differentiates your brand. Celebrate successes, create a sense of togetherness and concentrate on what you are able to offer to stay relevant and enhance the business community.
We are dealing with many unknowns, not least the details of when restrictions will be relaxed. However, it is unlikely that we will be operating as normal for a significant period of time, with elements of social distancing possibly required for many months. Keeping your strategy agile will be necessary to respond quickly to this ever-changing situation.
Now is the time to think about how you can help your occupiers as they return to site. What marketing initiatives can be put in place to welcome them back? Create excitement around this and advise on the practicalities of this transition period. It may be necessary to alter on-site facilities, provide information on the usage of these or think innovatively about alternatives.
The conversations you have had with your occupiers will give you the tools to help them make necessary adjustments. Will the workplace need to be used differently? For example, headcounts could be affected if working practices are altered or new work streams may have evolved. Does everyone need their own desk? Is desk sharing encouraged or resisted? Flexible working initiatives? The ability to social distance in the workplace? Will there be a greater investment in technology? You may discover benefits within your business community that were previously undervalued.
Event programmes will need to be reviewed. In the short-term at least, there may be limits placed on numbers attending events and on how these are structured. Creative solutions can work around this and physical events can be supplemented with online opportunities.
There are undoubtedly many question marks during this uncertain time. The outcome for both your tenants and your commercial space will be determined by a number of different factors. But ensuring you have a strong brand to lean on, a clear set of values to assist with decision-making and an agile strategy will give you the best chance to adapt to this unfolding situation.
Heather Smith Commercial offers a fresh perspective for clients wanting to stay ahead and continue to maximise their property asset and business community. Please contact us to find out how we can help you.