NOVEMBER 23, 2016 – AZ CENTRAL – BY GEORGANN YARA –A hand-packed mug of candy may seem like a small gesture, but it has created big results for Patty Hartley and her property management firm, Mode Real Estate Management Services.
And eight years after launching her Scottsdale business on the precipice of a recession, Hartley’s reliance on old-fashioned hospitality not only pulled her young company through a downturn that hit her industry hard, but also helped it thrive.
Hartley spent her career in commercial real estate. She was with a health-care real-estate investment trust but grew tired of the traveling and politics of a large institution. She decided to strike out on her own and start Mode in 2008. At the time, the recession’s impact hadn’t quite hit, she recalled.
When it did and Hartley saw competitors crumble, she took a cue from her years in commercial property management in her hometown of Los Angeles. She developed a tenant-retention plan designed to keep current businesses and attract new ones. It didn’t involve reducing rent or offering incentives for advance lease renewals. Instead, it pivoted around creating a more-than-just-business connection between property owner and tenant, with Mode as the vital link.
Organizing a meet-and-greet with tenants soon after new ownership and a social event during the year were part of Hartley’s plan. It also included gifts for tenants on special days — such as giant heart-shaped cookies on Valentine’s Day, and red, white and blue cookies for Independence Day — and on other days for no reason at all, like the Mode mugs that Hartley and her staff fill with candy by hand.
“I went back to the basics. I was trying to take the things I loved (about the industry) and make a boutique management company,” Hartley said.
The formula wasn’t complicated but wasn’t common, either.
“It’s what property managers used to do years ago. I don’t think it’s as prevalent as much as it used to be. I remember (in Los Angeles), tenants loved us. I thought, ‘Let’s put it together and see what it does,’ ” said Hartley, the president and designated broker at Mode.
What it’s done is create a 93 percent success rate on tenant-lease renewal for Mode’s clients, Hartley said. Renewal typically happens about three months before their leases are about to expire.
In Mode’s first year of operation, it managed 27 buildings. Today, it manages 75 Valley properties that house 700 tenants, a number that allows Hartley to keep costs for the events and goodies down for the property-owner clients.
This component is just one of Hartley’s strategies to keep tenants happy and therefore more likely to renew their leases. Monthly executive summaries give property owners key information on their building, tenant feedback and any other vital details. Hartley’s managers remain in close contact with tenants to address any issues or concerns. An in-house team of engineers and clean-cut maintenance workers provide services and repairs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This means faster responses for tenants and less expensive fix-ups for Mode’s property owners. – read more at azcentral.com