MPM Properties, Providence RI

Written with John Macliver and Michael Casey

MPM Properties continues to achieve the greatest occupancy rates around thanks to a resident feedback process that fuels continued improvement.

The Challenge

Since 1988, MPM has been providing property management, construction development, and parking facilities management to over 2.5 million square feet of property across southern New England, including One Citizen’s Plaza, the premiere, Class A property in downtown Providence, Rhode Island.

The company consistently achieves over 90% occupancy rates for Class A and B commercial properties, but over the past decade, has faced increasing competition from large property management firms with national, multi-property operations. The “bigger is better” perception has cost MPM opportunities, even though MPM offers better service at lower costs.

In July 2011, MPM identified their top challenges to maintaining their high occupancy rates:

  • The threat of losing customers to large national property management firms
  • No objective statistics to prove their service is better
  • MPM’s need for a continuous, anonymous process to drive candid tenant feedback and help property owners prioritize investments

MPM knew the key to overcoming these issues was to design a process to capture constructive feedback from residents. That way, they’d get objective input on their performance about how they could best focus their efforts at each of MPM’s twenty-one properties.

The Goals

MPM wanted to first understand how tenants and property owners perceived the operation’s performance, then monitor feedback going forward to drive improvement. The company determined it needed a short survey to collect candid responses that would help them:

  • Create benchmarks for quality of service in key areas
  • Quantify performance
  • Set goals for improvement

In the survey, MPM wanted to ask a number of questions on issues such as the appearance and condition of the buildings, where the owner should invest, the property’s amenities and services, recommended changes, the performance of the property management team, maintenance, tenant satisfaction level and the likelihood the residents would renew their leases.

The Solution

MPM selected Survey Advantage, a full-service service customer feedback provider, to guide the company on goal setting, designing questions, driving response rates, and setting up a process that could be repeated every six months – all in 30 days.

Survey Advantage then analyzed the data and created custom reports so the company could create a follow-up action plan for each property.

The Results

The Survey Advantage program offered residents an anonymous forum to share their feedback – both positive and negative – in an unintimidating, safe way. The results?

  • 42% of residents and owners responded to the first survey
  • 52% shared their name openly to discuss the survey with MPM
  • 96% (497 of 511 ratings) of respondents were satisfied with the performance of MPM’s management team
  • Dozens of tenant comments helped uncover certain amenities needing attention

A strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats analysis (SWOT) of the results revealed the following:

Top strengths

  • MPM’s management team
  • Maintenance service
  • Security services

“MPM’s personnel and service are truly outstanding. I have had to deal with other property managers. They are so far behind MPM in all areas.”

Top Challenges

  • Obtaining owner approved property upgrades to address tenant needs
  • Obtaining updated contact information from residents and building owners
  • Coordinating various accounting and bookkeeping systems with certain clients

Top Opportunities

  • Overall favorable ratings that MPM can share when pursuing future business opportunities
  • 78% of the customers were likely or very likely to recommend MPM Properties, the basis for a strong referral program
  • Added resident amenities at certain properties

Top Threats

  • The possibility that some owners would not be willing to invest in areas important to the tenant, whereby leaving some building owners at risk of losing up to 37% of their residents who stated they were unsure or unlikely to renew their leases.

Next Steps

MPM utilized the survey feedback to share action items with property owners that would improve their tenant satisfaction and occupancy ratings. In addition, each tenant and owner met to review the suggestions and make changes where necessary.

For example, one customer shared: “Ventilation in the ladies rest room is very poor.” The property’s male maintenance staff would never have known about this issue, but with the feedback from the resident, MPM was able to make the changes. Another resident shared their dissatisfaction with their rent compared to other residents in the building who pay less. While MPM doesn’t manage the leasing contract at that property, the complaint was forwarded to the owner for follow-up.

By having an ongoing feedback process that’s safe, objective, and timely, each property can keep its services and facilities in line with the tenants’ expectations. And the only way to find those out is to ask. MPM’s CEO John Macliver summarizes by saying, “Survey Advantage’s process and reporting helps our owners and tenants in two ways. First, we are able to share objectively how we are doing with the continuous feedback from residents. It is our scorecard. Second, it helps owners invest in the right places to maintain occupancy. Many of the investments are small, but show residents we care.”