Accommodating Existing Tenants During Commercial Remodeling

Commercial Remodeling can have a very real impact on tenants’ usual business routine. Parking areas may be taken up by materials and equipment. Foot traffic can be impeded by barriers.  The sounds of power tools drown out phones dust related allergies act up, providing more inconveniences to the workday.

Renovating a property with active tenants is challenging. The work needs to get done, but the tenants often feel like the sanctity of their apartment home or office space is being violated by the presence of strangers, noise, and detritus. There are a few things you, as a property owner, can do to minimize friction with current tenants during a renovation.

  1. Communicate – This is the most important item on the list. Print it out, circle it, underline it, and put it on the cork board. Communicate early and often. Make sure forewarning and all major status updates are in writing, posted conspicuously in common areas, and, if possible, emailed or texted to tenants. No one likes surprises. Noisy surprises are loved even less. Giving them a heads-up beforehand (including a rough schedule of progress), regular updates throughout, and plenty of notices for excessive noise or disruption are key actions to make sure your current tenants stay future tenants.
  2. Schedule for the least disruption – This will be dependent on your tenants’ particular needs. In an apartment building, this may mean doing the loudest work between the hours of nine and four so the majority day’s work is completed by the time of your tenants come home.  In an office building, rather than a full teardown, then a full remodel, you may be forced to work area by area. This limits the total number of days any single area is under direct work, though this can lead to a longer overall timeframe.
  3. Do your best to mitigate – If there are empty units available, one solution that can be offered is a temporary move while work is in progress. This will allow business as usual to continue in a separate location. Provide for additional area parking, or offer a shuttle to and from a different parking area at peak hours. The majority of tenants want to be reasonable, but they also want to follow their routine. Anything you can do to bridge that gap will help improve morale.
  4. De-escalate through engagement – We’ve found ways to lessen the effect renovations will have on tenants of a commercial property, but it will still be felt. While they will benefit from updated facilities, it may be hard for employees or even supervisors to see how it benefits them directly. Companies listen to their workers, so it can be beneficial to address them directly. Catered lunches, pizza parties, or even vouchers to local attractions are popular lagniappes to help those affected most.This is the “little extra” that will help tenants forgive and forget the disruption.
  5. Offer empathetic resolution when complaints arise – Understand that everything until now has been proactive. This is where we didn’t want to be. But, here we are, a complaint has been made. As with any business, complaints will happen and should be addressed on a case by case basis. Empathy is important. Listen to the grievance. Identify the root cause. Apologize and offer a resolution that will best benefit both parties. It bears repeating: The final goal of most tenants is to return to the stable routine they’ve formed.

Rutledge Construction Company is Minnesota’s commercial remodeling partner and has been for nearly 70 years. We have experience working with the unique needs of properties with existing tenants. We are proud of our A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, and you’ll be proud of your building. Contact us today so we can show you the power a professional building contractor can bring to your renovation vision.