During the pandemic, we've witnessed the growing age of video conferencing, experienced an entire global workplace shift toward home-working, all while truly uncovering the significance of great wifi.
This period has been the catalyst for commercial real estate to make a change, adapting the everyday mindset of selling space, to one that sells experience.
More than ever, it becomes clear that customer experience is vital; with remote workers needing both a way to feel included and updated as the workplace environment adapts, as well as supported and understood as they transform their lives to these new ways of working.
With customer experience at the core of what we do at Equiem, we are excited to announce the launch of our latest blog series, highlighting the experience experts from our client partnerships, out in the field delivering customer experience during this time. Over the coming weeks, we will be shining the spotlight on some of these experience specialists, with our blog series Equiem Experience Experts.
We will be featuring a number of skilled Managers, Marketers, Directors and Receptionists, carrying out exceptional occupier engagement through communication, virtual experiences, content campaigns and community initiatives, with the support of their Equiem platform.
To begin our series, we are thrilled to highlight Sophie Weinmann. Sophie works as the Director at Ashdown Phillips and Partners heading up their Northern Team, and our Marketing & Partnerships Manager, Sarah Hudson, took the time to chat with her about the importance of creating experience and nurturing a tenant community, and where Equiem comes into the mix.
Read the full interview below.
Sarah Hudson (SH): Can you tell us a little bit about your professional journey, from where you started in your career to where you are today.
Sophie Weinmann (SW): In 2006 I started my career in Property Management after qualifying with my Masters in Real Estate Management from Liverpool John Moores. After progressing from Graduate to Associate Director over my 11 years at CBRE, I took the leap and joined Ashdown Phillips in 2017 to head up the growing Manchester Team, which has gone from strength to strength and grown from 9 staff to 18 today. In 2018 I was promoted to a Director on the Board and very much enjoy my varied role at this niche property management company.
SH: We love seeing a great female role model pave her way through Corporate Real Estate! What does a typical workday look like for you, Sophie?
SW: In property management, there is no such thing as a typical day! My role covers everything from Rent Collection and Service Charge Management, Occupier Liaison and Property Maintenance through to organising the Occupier Events, Social Media and overall review of the Occupier Portals, as well as my people management and general business responsibilities. No two days are the same!
SH: It's safe to say that there doesn't sound like a moment to spare within your position. What do you love most about your role?
SW: See answer 2 — honestly, I love that no two days are the same and working in an industry that's constantly evolving; you have to be innovative and always ready to adapt.
SH: We definitely agree with you there, especially during this current period that is seeing real estate take leaps and bounds forward, in a matter of months. Traditionally, however, property management has spent less time focusing on the wants and needs of individual occupants, and more largely on the physical offering of the office workspace. Why do you believe that occupier engagement is important?
SW: Occupier engagement is one of the key areas where the evolutionary nature of our industry can be seen very clearly. When I started my career nearly 15 years ago, the occupier engagement side, for the most part, was undertaking inspections and speaking to occupiers around payments. The concept of buildings being a community was only just starting to be understood — over the last decade, this has shifted dramatically and is now a key area that all Property Managers and Facilities Managers need to embrace.
Buildings are no longer just spaces to come to work; to be successful, buildings need to offer a sense of community.
A key area assisting with this is regular and effective engagement between Landlords, Occupiers and Service Partners — Property Managers have to be the bridge between all these customer groups. If the people who work in the building are happy and feel part of that building's community, they will enjoy occupying the space more; occupiers will find it easier to recruit top talent into their business, and occupiers will be less likely to look to relocate their businesses when their agreements come up for renewal.
SH: And that is where Equiem can directly assist Landlords; providing the platform to connect with occupiers and nurture that building community. How have you built a community at the Tootal Buildings, in Manchester?
SW: We have been working on building a community at Tootal for a number of years, using a range of tools including regular Newsletters; pop up events over the year for key events including a larger Christmas Party for all occupiers; providing a reward scheme (Helical Rewards) for being an occupier in the building and numerous others.
Our biggest issue historically was around how these events were communicated and tying all of the strands together into a comprehensive engagement strategy.
In 2019 we partnered with Equiem to provide our community app and this addition has been instrumental in creating the amazing community we now have on-site.
Over 1,000 people are registered to use the My Tootal Buildings platform which gives us the ability to directly talk to over 50% of the buildings occupiers!
SH: Being able to not only communicate with your occupiers but also better understand their wants and needs is vital for shaping your engagement strategy to ensure you're achieving the best return on investment with your initiatives. What difference has working with Equiem made to your occupier engagement?
One of the biggest benefits of Equiem for me (other than the obvious provision of the Web & App platform) has been the influx of new and different ideas to use for engagement with occupiers.
The Spin the Wheel competition they suggested at our launch event and Christmas parties with amazing prizes to be won, was extremely popular - everyone loved it!
During the pandemic, they've supplied regular competitions to win vouchers, hampers and bubbles even, which have been a fantastic way for us to stay connected and engaged with our occupiers whilst the buildings have been quiet.
Having that support with examples of events and activations which have worked elsewhere, or coming up with new ideas which could work on our sites is fantastic, and makes my role (and that of my team) much more efficient.
The polls on the Equiem platform also enable us to gauge interest in different engagement ideas and tailor our strategy accordingly — the difference in feedback between our buildings is really interesting and really does show the importance of the bespoke approach.
Written by Sarah Hudson and Sophie Weinmann.
Special thank you to Sophie Weinmann for your contribution to our Equiem Experience Experts blog series. If you are interested in featuring in our series, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay tuned for our next instalment in the Equiem Experience Experts series, and stay up to date with our latest news and information on our Linkedin and Twitter.