How PMs Deal With High Expectations From Building Tenants

One of the most challenging aspects of property management is handling the high expectations of the various stakeholders within a commercial building.

With multiple tenants in a building, there are a lot of people to please – everyone from your tenant and their employees to your tenant’s customers. Plus, as a property manager, you must balance all of these requests with what’s best for the building.

So, how do you manage tenant expectations and keep everyone happy?

To help us with the answer to this question, we turned to our friend and client, Crystal Waller, Senior Property Manager at Highwoods Properties in Nashville. Below she offers some tips for managing expectations with commercial property tenants.

3 Tips for Dealing with Commercial Tenant Requests

As property managers know, there’s a lot more to the job than performing the contract. Here are a few tips to help property managers navigate the various personalities and priorities within your commercial building:

1. Consider who is asking.

When dealing with high expectations of people in your building, first consider who is making the request. How you respond will depend largely on who is making the ask.

Building requests usually come from people in three categories — tenant employees (not facility personnel), tenant facility personnel and “the boss.”

Here’s how Crystal recommends dealing with each of these groups:

  • Tenant employees (not facility personnel) – The bulk of building requests usually come from employees. Most of the time, these requests can be resolved by referring the employee back to their facilities personnel who are familiar with the lease, building rules, and operations in general.
  • Tenant’s facility personnel – Sometimes, facility personnel will make requests that can benefit their business, but not necessarily be beneficial for the building or other occupants. Regardless of whether the idea seems plausible or not, the tenant needs to be heard and respected. This requires a conversation to explore the idea, and then consideration of how it impacts the overall building and occupants. From there, the conversation can transition toward solutions that are permissible within the lease parameters and building rules.
  • The boss – A small fraction of the time, the request comes from “the boss.” In these cases, facility personnel are making requests on behalf of their boss or manager. The facility personnel likely knows the logical answer to the request is “no”, but they still have to ask to satisfy their manager. In these cases, Crystal recommends being sympathetic to their needs before giving them a rational answer. It also helps to send this information in an email so the facility personnel can easily forward it to their boss.

2. Understand motivations and expectations.

Whether tenants have maintenance concerns or billing issues, it can be helpful to remember that most people simply want their concerns to be heard.

As Crystal shared with us, “tenant expectations are often based on emotion, not facts.”

With that in mind, Crystal recommends asking some simple questions to gather information while also showing genuine interest in tenant concerns. Here are some sample questions you can ask:

  • Are there any hot-button issues you have that are not being addressed?
  • What are your expectations? Are they being met? If not, how can we help you meet them?
  • Can we help you with any issues or projects?

3. Build relationships.

Crystal Waller - Highwoods Properties

Perhaps the best way to solve any issues with your tenants is to build better relationships with them.

“As professionals, we know how to operate buildings and satisfy the requirements of leases,” Crystal said. “But successful management of expectations is found in the relationship.”

The challenge for property managers is navigating residual issues from relationships with previous property managers or management companies. To overcome these challenges, it helps to establish a personal relationship.

Crystal recommends scheduling time with tenants to get to know them. Ask about their experiences with the building and property management. And share your experiences with them too. Doing this can help establish a positive, trusting relationship.


Thank you, Crystal, for your expert insight on this hot-button issue for commercial property managers. We hope this helps other property managers serve their tenants better!