No, you don't need a tenant engagement app for your office building
A mobile app is a great tool for using a building’s utilities, but if you want to build a community around it, first you have to answer four fundamental questions for yourself.
Do you need a tenant engagement app? Well, probably not...
Back in 2016, my colleagues and I founded Sharry and then introduced the first mobile app for office buildings on several Central European markets. We were among the first in Europe, and to this day we’re among the leaders in supplying PropTech software, of which mobile apps are an important part.
And yet—paradoxically—I believe that your investment into launching a mobile app for your building might be wasted money.
Sharry’s mobile apps have many functions today. Definitely the most important one is Mobile access. It lets a user use their phone to unlock the office door or the turnstiles in the lobby and call the elevator or open the parking-garage exit straight from their mobile. Put simply, we’re digitalizing the plastic employee badge and developing an ecosystem of other services on top of it. For example you can send your guest a guest pass straight from your phone, giving them easier entry into the building and letting them go straight from the street to your company with no barriers.
I believe this decade is the last one in which people will need a plastic card to go to work.
THE FOUR KEY QUESTIONS
Besides “utilities” in the broad sense like mobile access, standard mobile applications have come to offer a stable package of other functions. As a group they tend to get called a “tenant engagement app.” But I personally prefer the term “community app.” Why? Because when you want to kickstart tenant engagement in your building, you have more than a million tools available—from installing an aquarium on the ground floor to setting up a heliport on the roof.
Somewhere among these are also mobile apps that let users communicate, share important content, interconnect individual tenants, and last but not least effectively share and reserve amenities—services.
Unfortunately many clients have come to the conclusion that if you want to improve occupants’ relationship with your building, the #1 thing you need is a mobile app. It’s as if a theater director had decided that the best way to ensure a better audience experience is to repaint the wooden stage. And somehow forgot to think about having a good director, interesting actors, or a good script.
That’s why I ask all our clients these questions:
- Do you know what you’ll be regularly communicating to your tenants and why? And have you hired someone to do that?
- Are at least some of your tenants offering services that they could—and above all would like to—offer to the other tenants in the building?
- Do you organize events in the building at least once a month that could give people a chance to meet up informally?
- Do you have any shared spaces or services in the building that people will truly be interested in?
If you’ve answered “no” to all four of these questions, then this article’s title was written for you—your building probably doesn’t need a tenant engagement app. Or rather it doesn’t need one yet. I expect you’ll want to improve people’s relationship with your building and you’ll also want to innovate and avoid falling behind the competition.
In that case we believe in the following strategy: first fine-tune the things your clients will enjoy every day: parking, clean hallways, professional reception services... or replacing tenants’ plastic cards with their phones like we mentioned. And then start working on finding “yeses” for the questions above.
A TOOL, NOT A CURE-ALL
In short: I’m convinced tenant engagement apps are a useful tool that you definitely do need—but only if you’ve answered “yes” to at least one of the questions above.
For example if you have attractive content about events in your building, but you don’t want to stick up posters in the elevators. You don’t want to have to hand out fliers about the summer outdoor cinema in the garden. You have a great terrace on the roof, but you don’t want to force interested people to call your reception to reserve it; you want to let them do it directly from their phones instead. Or if you have an awesome cafe on your ground floor and you want to help it promote its happy hours.
But always keep in mind that mobile tenant engagement apps are “just” a tool, and they won’t create a community in your building for you on their own.
P.S. In our next article we’ll be going into more detail on the Top 4 biggest myths that are most often hiding behind the words “tenant engagement app.” You’ll also find our recommendations on how to miss the myths.
Are you still interested in creating a vibrant building community through the mobile app? Let's have a call and discuss all opportunities that we bring in our solution and why is it important to be underscored by the mobile access.
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