Building a Relationship with Residents: Why Does Your Company Exist?


Is Your company headed in the right direction?

Why does your company exist? If you don’t know who you are and why you exist as a company it can be difficult to consistently deliver a great customer experience.

Does your company exist only to build apartments, lease them, and deliver the best possible service to the customer? If so, you might be heading in the gnorw direction.

Have you ever wondered what your customers really need and want? Is it an apartment? Not necessarily. Maybe they want to live near the beach, need to enroll their children in a great school district, want to be close to work, want to live a few feet from the pool, need to get out of mom and dad’s house, want to make friends, or even watch someone else cut the lawn. Do you get my drift?

It’s the Drill and Hole Philosophy. A customer doesn’t buy a ¼ inch drill because they need a ¼ inch drill. What they really need is a ¼ inch hole. When you understand what your customers’ need and want, your purpose should become very clear.

Here are three things to consider:

Inside Out Mission

Successful companies like Starbucks and Walt Disney have laid out their reason for doing business—for existing—in a clear and simple mission statement. More often than not, mission statements tend to be an ornament in an office rather than a guide to doing business.

This couldn’t be further from the truth for Starbucks and Walt Disney. Instead of setting out to create the best cup of coffee in the world or the best amusement park in the world, Starbucks and Walt Disney looked inside the customer’s “problem zone” and built their entire business around giving them what they need and want.

Starbucks…170,000 employees on a mission to Inspire and nurture the human spirit-one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.

Walt Disney…156,000 employees on a mission to Make People Happy!

What? No mention of great coffee or Mickey Mouse?

These two companies know why they exist—to fill the hole—and so do their employees. It comes down to their core DNA. They are mission-driven organizations that just happen to deliver remarkable service along with a remarkable product. Starbucks and Walt Disney offer more than a good cup of coffee and Mickey Mouse—they offer an experience that keeps customers coming back for more. Their customers are fiercely loyal!

Listen to the Voice of the Customer

When you deliver on a mission you’ll know it and when you don’t you’ll know it too. Today’s customer tells us that we have no choice but to listen to their voice, not talk about what we “think” they need. It’s not difficult to hear their voice because social media has amplified it.

One way companies tune into the voice is by implementing Voice of Customer (VOC) programs to positively impact the customer experience. They do this by collecting feedback in a variety of ways to help make improvements across their organization. Innovation is a result of listening and responding to customer’s needs, wants and desires.

Starbucks has a reputation for listening carefully to their customers. A year ago a customer requested the ability to purchase replacement lids for their cups. Here is what transpired via, a channel that allows customers to share, vote, discuss and see new ideas come to life.

Listening to the customer’s voice can sometimes be a painful experience. It is often unfiltered and raw, however, if you can take the pain and put aside your personal feelings the payoff is very high. Top-performing companies create processes that seek direct, immediate customer feedback—not simply to ensure that things are going well but also to build in methods of systematic innovation and improvement. No one wants to remain static.

Do it Again and Again

Top performing companies in the customer experience realm deliver it through systems, infrastructure, policies, and on the front line with customers every day. They understand that each customer touch point must send a consistent message again and again. It takes well hired, well trained and well treated employees to consistently deliver a great customer experience. The power of communication and collaboration in a company cannot be underestimated. At the end of the day, a poor experience is not excused because Department A, B and C misinterpreted the mission or chose to make up their own. Everyone must know why the company exists and every move they make should branch off from that mission.

When you get it right you’ll know it and when you don’t you’ll know it too.

Want to dig deeper? Check out this Starbucks Customer Experience video:

Are you more than an apartment community? Do you know what your customers want and need? How are you filling the hole? We would love to hear your thoughts!



President and Owner, Ellis Partners in Mystery Shopping

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Joanna Ellis is CEO and Owner of Ellis Partners in Management Solutions (EPMS) and Co-owner of Renter’s Voice. Under her direction, Ellis has established itself as the premier apartment mystery shopping company in the nation, as well as a respected provider of multi-touch point resident surveys, as part of their retention-focused customer experience program. Current clients include most major apartment developers, management companies, and REITs. Through Renter’s Voice, Ellis helps clients promote and respond to authentic and objective apartment reviews. Having earned a Bachelor of Arts in Business from Texas A&M, Ms. Ellis has spent more than 25 years in the multifamily industry, and she now holds both the Certified Apartment Manager (CAM) and Certified Apartment Property Supervisor (CAPS). She is also a licensed Texas Real Estate Agent. In honor of EPMS’ reputation for integrity, the Dallas Chapter of the Society of Financial Service Professionals awarded Joanna, on behalf of the company, the 2008 Greater Dallas Business Ethics Award for mid-size companies.

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