Under operating conditions in real estate and between real estate managers, communication is considered to be one-way and a bit rigid. The tenant will be informed by e-mail, notice boards in the lobbies and user guides in Word or PDF format. Newsec’s Business Park unit tags have channel problems when he wanted to further enhance the property tenant experience.
"Everything starts with improving the tenant experience," says Anna-Maija Ruohonen, Team Leader of Newsec Business Park unit in Finland, who went with her team to look for a better tool to manage tenant communications. The unit's technical manager, Aappo Niikko, defined the need for a system that allows different types of notifications to be sent and viewed, and brings all notifications to a single platform. The tool also had to be as user-friendly as possible, so that its implementation would be efficient regardless of the location, and the utilisation rate would remain high in the future as well. Other required features were e.g. better support for two-way communication, easy customisability of content and visual appearance, and a user-friendly interface for mobile devices.
Newsec offers a wide range of real estate expert services to investors, owners and tenants of business premises and apartments. The company manages a total of approximately €60 billion worth of properties in the Nordic and Baltic countries. Newsec employs more than 2,000 real estate professionals, of whom more than 500 work in Finland.
Plan Brothers' digital audit platform audits.io has been used by Newsec since 2017. The first properties managed by Newsec began using incy.io for tenant communications in early 2020.
Most of Newsec’s tenant communications used to take place via email. "This had its own challenges, as different properties had their own ways of operating," Niikko says and continues: "the data update process was tough because the communication took place mainly through mailing lists. The tenants did not see the messaging and possible questions related to the bulletins, so we sometimes had to answer the same questions for different tenants."
Archiving and systematic documentation of tenant bulletins was also found to be a bit challenging by property managers in the past. Tenants did not have a centralised way to find relevant information about the property unless they had organised a separate folder for bulletins in their emails themselves. “For example, facade renovations are often long projects where it is essential that the communication works proactively and reaches all companies and their employees in the location. In projects like this, we often have to refer to previous messages, which is not that convenient in e-mail communication." Niikko explains.
The tenant communications solution developed for Newsec was built around two integrated products. Incy.io's newsletters, forms and two-way communication with tenants was combined with digital user guides, rescue plans and other rescue plan instructions found in Pelsu (a Caverion product). "At first, we were just looking for an easier way to share information with tenants. The usage expanded when we saw the platform's versatile capabilities in two-way communication and key acknowledgments, as well as the opportunity to link other content such as lunch lists to it." Ruohonen says.
To test the platform in action, a recently built Tripla Workery was selected as the pilot site. Business Park Manager Catarina Forsblom was able to conduct the pilot in an ideal environment, as the tenants of this new site had not yet been rooted in the old procedures. "From the perspective of the business park manager, it is very important to communicate the benefits of the tool effectively. This will get the tenants involved in using the system right from the start," Forsblom explains.
There was also no resistance to change in properties that had become accustomed to previous channels, as tenants quickly realised how easy the new system was to use. The use has since expanded and today incy.io supports Newsec's tenant communications in, for example, Metsätapiola office building, Hills Business Park and Life Science Center Keilaniemi, as well as in other business units outside the Business Park team.
Newsec saw the benefits of the system soon after its introduction. Individual tenants no longer need to be sent multiple emails related to the same topic. It is enough to give tenants a link to incy.io where all the bulletins, information and related conversations are available in real time. If a tenant has questions about, for example, moving in or out of the premise, renovation or a water outage, they can leave feedback or comment on a bulletin. The people in charge of the property will then immediately receive this information in their email and can act on it accordingly. This has improved communications significantly: "Properties that take advantage of incy.io receive significantly fewer recurring questions than properties that use only email. The benefits are easy and quick to see," Niikko says and continues: "It's great that tenant representatives can also comment on newsletters, making dialogue easy and convenient.”
The internal coordination has also decreased, as property managers, property assistants and lobby service representatives are now able to independently manage communications, make changes to forms and update contact information: “Communication is now faster and more up-to-date. We have received really good feedback from tenants,” Forsblom says. At the same time, the new platform saves time and improves the transparency of the whole process: “Once all tenant communications are gathered in one platform and all notifications are sent from there, it is easy for us to keep track of what has been asked and answered and when. This is a very effective solution,” Ruohonen praises.
Based on the positive experience, Newsec has also invented other uses for the new system. For example, service key orders were previously done with pen and paper, but with incy.io, this process has also been brought into the digital age. Contractors and other third parties who need keys log in to the building via a phone or tablet and add their information to the system with a signature. When the key is returned, the lobby service closes the observation and the key is registered as returned. And if the key is not returned within a certain time limit, an automatic notification will be sent to the responsible people.
Safety is at the heart of Newsec's operations and related issues have been further emphasised during the COVID-19 pandemic. The topics have been actively communicated through the new tools: “We are now able to provide safety-related information and guidance more effectively,” says Ruohonen. Future plans include a wider use of incy.io beyond business parks, as Plan Brothers’ tools have been seen as a valuable part of improving the tenant experience: “We have a broad and diverse real estate portfolio under our control. The need for instructions and information varies depending on the properties and tenants,” Niikko concludes.
Plan Brothers’ incy.io platform has been developed to lower the threshold of reporting and enhance two-way communication between different stakeholders. It can be used to collect and further process different types of observations, for example in relation to safety and quality, to share bulletins and best practices to desired target groups, and to improve the transparency of communication as a whole. The browser-based interface works seamlessly with different sized devices without the need of installing a separate application. The system's contents, visual appearance, and user roles can be customised to meet customers' specific needs.
Caverion's Pelsu system, which is the second part of Newsec's tenant communications platform, typically combines building and operational rescue plans, user guides and other instructions into a single view. The system helps companies respond to the up-to-dateness of rescue plans required by the Finnish Rescue Act and, like incy.io, work in the browser on all devices without a separate application.
Are you interested to learn more about tenant communications? You can test incy.io for 30 days for free. You can find more information on this topic here: Great tenant experience begins with effortless communication.
“All tenant communications are gathered in one platform, and notifications are sent from there by email. It is easy for us to keep track of what has been asked and answered, and when this has been done. This is a truly great solution."