Across the country, office occupancy rates are the worst they’ve been in years. According to Cushman & Wakefield, national vacancy rates rose to 18.6% during the first quarter of 2023 — similar to what was seen during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
And that trend is having a real impact on property managers, who find themselves faced with tighter budgets and more pressure to make cuts in spending. But where can you cut without making the tenant experience worse and, thus, encouraging your occupants to move to a different property?
This is actually an area where your security contractor may be able to help.
More and more security companies are reimagining the service they provide to offer value-adds that attract clients but that don’t actually cost that much more. Security, instead of being viewed as just another line item in the budget, can actually become a selling point and an amenity to your tenants.
The current market is challenging, but office properties don’t have to doom-spiral their way to lower and lower tenancy, income and budgets. As JLL noted in its U.S. Real Estate Outlook 2023, the office sector faces serious challenges, but best-in-class assets still have the ability to create tenant demand and command higher rents.
Here’s how your security team can help you create an unmatched client experience.
Introducing the Guest Services Agent
It starts by rethinking the security team’s role. Instead of viewing the attendant at the front desk solely as a security guard, they could serve as a guest services agent. This person is responsible for checking tenants and visitors into the building, along with other standard security functions.
But as a guest services agent, they could also offer a range of other services, such as:
- Locating nearby services and shops for tenants who aren’t familiar with the area
- Helping tenants secure tickets to upcoming games, concerts and other events
- Acting as a substitute attendant in the property office or recreation facility
- Organizing free events at the property, such as a Tenants Appreciation Day with free doughnuts and coffee
Guest services agents still check IDs, monitor security cameras and perform other vital security functions, in addition to the new concierge aspects of their job. They still have the training that a traditional security agent receives.
Providing guest services can actually make it easier for your contractor to provide high-quality security. For starters, it will improve the relationship that your tenants have with the security team, making it less adversarial. Tenants might still be annoyed when they’re asked to present their ID, but it’s hard to get too irritated with the people who gave you a free doughnut last week.
Plus, these service-related interactions give the security contractor more opportunities to meet and know your tenants, allowing them to be more effective at spotting potential intruders and troublemakers. It also makes your security more visible to tenants who might not have appreciated their presence before.
Increase Efficiency With Technology
Rethinking security’s function is important, but it’s more likely to be successful if your security contractor combines technology and boots on the ground to boost efficiency. Upgrades in monitoring tools can be used to reduce the staffing needed at any particular property.
For example, one of our clients was required to have constant patrols in its security garages by local law. We worked with them to implement a network of security cameras that still provide the necessary coverage but free up team members to do other work.
Or consider investing in an access control system, where tenants use an ID card or key fob to gain access to the building or amenities like the client lounge or building gym. In addition to freeing security from checking in anyone other than guests, it can build a record of who is in the building at any given time.
Provide Higher-Value Security Offerings
As your security team becomes more efficient, it can deliver other types of services upon request, such as auditing individual tenants’ security and offering recommendations for things they could do differently.
Some contractors also offer basic training on an array of workplace and personal security concerns, as special events open only to tenants.
Managing office properties may be extremely challenging right now, but approaching longstanding functions like security with fresh eyes and adopting new innovations can help you get the most bang from your budget. You’ll be able to create a superior experience for tenants that not only allow you to retain business but compete for new clients.
If you need a security contractor with experience in this area, one that’s willing to create a plan tailored to your unique needs, let’s talk.
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