It’s no surprise to a block manager that many leaseholders might not understand what their service charge is actually paying for. Complaints about the quality of service they receive are relatively commonplace, and it’s rare that leaseholders’ gripes actually relate at all to the service they are being provided.
Leaseholders complaints, for instance, often include finding it difficult to contact their management companies, who can be over-burdened by repeat calls for the same issues from various leaseholders. While leaseholders may just want an open ear to air their grievances, their difficulty in making contact can leave them feeling a bit in the dark.
In fact, many leaseholders largely believe their service charge is unfounded primarily because they find it difficult to contact their block management company. As leaseholders are expecting an increasingly consumer-driven service level, it is difficult for them to realise that a block manager’s job is best done behind the scenes.
However, if leaseholders feel they are being kept in the dark by what they perceive as radio silence, their trust in their managing agent may falter. While service charge expenditure should always be broken down for leaseholders in the annual budget, ensuring leaseholders feel that they have a direct line of communication could strengthen trust and ensure a higher level of client satisfaction all around, and even boost client retention.
So how can block managers improve their communication?
There’s a myriad of ways to be contacted; publish an email address that you can be contacted on and be sure to provide your mobile number, or even consider setting up office hours where leaseholders can come and address concerns in person. Little steps like this will increase leaseholder comfort levels and, while they might not actually choose to contact you, they’ll appreciate knowing that they can.
Make a schedule of planned works available to leaseholders so they know what’s coming up. Everyone appreciates a little advance warning.
Invest in software that allows you to contact multiple people at the same time. Developing the ability to impart mass information to large groups of people ensures that all leaseholders are equally informed.
Tailor your approach
Invite your leaseholders to advise you as to how they’d prefer to be contacted when getting in touch about informal matters; some people will prefer snail mail, others mobile or email updates. By treating all your leaseholders like individuals and respecting their wishes is the best way to make them feel respected and valued, which should increase their appreciation of you, and the service charge.
Alongside your annual general meetings, consider holding more informal events to track budgets and forecast, take input on pending redecorations, and generally build community spirit and a feeling of involvement. A little in-person contact goes a long way to building trust with leaseholders and ensuring their satisfaction with your level of service.