Why can’t apartments be more like hotels?

Founder and CEO , SVN Rock Advisors Inc.
  • Jun. 3, 2015

Derek LoboI travel a lot for my work and I’ve seen more than my share of hotel beds. I know few things can ruin a hotel experience more than poor customer service.

Problems with faulty equipment or getting a poor room are one thing, but if a manager fails to address my concerns promptly and well, the mood quickly sours.

On the other hand, if a manager and his or her employees treat you with respect, address your needs and follow up with your concerns, little glitches can be smoothed over and the hotel stay becomes a much happier experience.

Why can’t apartments be more like hotels?

If you think about it, purpose-built rental apartments and hotels share many of the same characteristics. In apartments, as with hotels, customers rent space in a building. Customers gain access to common facilities, including laundromats and lobby space.

And in apartments, as in hotels, the ultimate responsibility for the customers’ experience rests with people hired to work in the building, all led by a manager who responds to customer complaints and ensures customer needs are met.

Hospitality training

The hospitality industry in North America is huge — in the billions of dollars. People entering into this industry spend months learning the ropes.

George Brown College in Ontario offers a bachelor’s degree in applied business specializing in hospitality operations management. The full-time program lasts five semesters. Other programs last even longer.

If you own an apartment building, ask yourself: “How many of my staff has received training in hospitality management?” If they haven’t, maybe it’s time to train them.

There are programs out there for property management. Humber College runs one that can accredit property managers. Hiring those with good credentials and good references is a no-brainer.

To ensure your customers — or, rather, tenants — get the best service possible, you yourself need to be clear about what’s expected of your building’s employees. Tenants should also be clear on what they can expect from living in your building.

Mystery shoppers can help

To make sure any training pays off, it’s worthwhile to employ mystery shoppers who can contact staff in your building’s office, pose as potential tenants, and test each employee to see how well he or she engaged with the customer, sold the idea of living in the building and anticipated the customers’ needs. There are firms you can contact that can perform these services at very reasonable rates.

Demand for purpose-built rental apartment housing is rising throughout Canada. This means more new apartment construction is taking place and thousands of new units are entering the market. The owners of older buildings need to take steps to upgrade them in order to stay relevant in the marketplace.

Ensuring your tenants receive top-notch customer service is just as important as making sure the building’s services are up to date and the rooms have modern fixtures. Services such as easy online rent payments, or seeing that staff are trained in helpfully dealing with tenant issues, are no small frill. They’re an amenity prospective tenants will pay a premium for, which will improve your bottom line.

With the apartment industry changing and growing as it pushes into the 21st century, apartment owners need to let go of their old ways of doing business and embrace new technologies and techniques to ensure their apartments are rented out.

The hotel industry has long known this, and it’s high time the purpose-built rental apartment industry catches up.


Derek Lobo is the founder and CEO of SVN Rock Advisors Inc., a real estate brokerage with over 30 years of experience in helping investors make the most out of buying, selling, and renovating purpose-built apartment buildings. Learn more about SVN Rock Advisors Inc., Brokerage on their website at www.SVNRock.ca.

Derek Lobo is the CEO of SVN Rock Advisors Inc., a unique full-service brokerage firm. He has focused his entire career on the North American apartment building business. He’s recognized…

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Derek Lobo is the CEO of SVN Rock Advisors Inc., a unique full-service brokerage firm. He has focused his entire career on the North American apartment building business. He’s recognized…

Read more

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