The growth and development of high rise properties and active adult communities is at unprecedented levels in New Jersey. Developers are keeping busy with the boom of new construction throughout the state and rolling out new high-quality developments practically every day. The residents of these new developments are seeking the most luxurious amenities available in the marketplace, including fitness clubs, media and conference rooms, and social offerings. However, the most seemingly basic services, such as building maintenance, doorman/ concierge and security services, truly set the stage for the ambiance being created.
Bringing in the best of these services early helps to ensure a positive and lasting impression for new residents and homebuyers. For those who call these properties home, the people who help serve them are a critical component of the lifestyle they are seeking out. Ownership groups, management companies and resident boards are turning to firms, such as ours, to provide professionally screened, trained and supervised building personnel (janitorial and maintenance), highly-skilled doormen, concierge and security guards.
The right maintenance personnel can make a significant, positive difference by producing quality service on a consistent basis. It is a fact that individuals spend approximately 90 percent of their lives indoors.This is why the cleaning services offered should be inconspicuous and consistent. No resident should walk into a lobby, clubhouse, fitness area, media center and/or other common area and be able to say, "Well, you can tell the cleaning people came today." These areas should look newly cleaned consistently. This is one of the most basic and little acknowledged services, but when not performed by properly trained and responsible personnel, the feeling of luxury suffers.
The most recognizable signs of luxury are the concierge and doorman waiting to serve residents returning home. Truly the face of luxury day-to-day living, these men and women help to establish the highest benchmark of service in a community. Not only quick to help, but also sporting an unswervingly pleasant manner, they create an atmosphere of easy living.
The concierge concept is definitely coming into play in a lot of the high-end buildings. It depends, though, on how you define it. Many of the planned multi-family developments in New Jersey do not have restaurants directly on the premises or even nearby. They're not bringing food up into these active adult communities or high-rises. But what concierges are doing, at least the ones that I'm putting into buildings – they need to be able to have at their fingertips what restaurants are in the area, they need to be able to make a reservation for the homeowner, to know the hotspots for new people moving in, to have the train schedules, the bus schedules, information as to where the sports stadiums are. Just like a concierge knows the restaurants and the events and the travel and transportation options, the airports – they need to have that same type of information.
Some of the most commonly-asked for amenities these days are high-end fitness centers and exercise rooms, and social gathering places, like a media room or children's playroom. In a media room, you can do more than just watch a movie but you can socialize with your neighbors.
Another key service is security. Security is one of the most important topics of discussion and planning for building owners and residents. It is critical to everyone's safety and well-being that owners of residential properties have the right security team and measures in place. Security is a big issue – not only in terms of announcing the guests and the visitors, but also allowing contractors into the high-rises or individual communities. It's not only recording the information of who went in but putting the appropriate badge on or something visible as a safety net for residents to ensure that they've gone through the proper procedures and the right process to be in that community. They need to have the right training, it's not just about being a guard or security-conscious. Fortunately, an incident occurs very infrequently. It's about customer service as well and making people feel warm and comfortable about going into that environment. With security personnel, you need customer service, but they also need to know how to respond in the event of an emergency. They need to know how to spot any suspicious behavior and how to report it and communicate it.
Managers, at our company and others, are on the forefront of these issues every day and we must ensure that our professionals are well trained and prepared for any emergency situation that may unexpectedly arise. However, all owners should be aware of the security operations within their buildings. This is helpful not only in monitoring the effectiveness of their security team, but is also useful in educating residents. Security is at its most effective when it does not come as a burden to residents. When handled by the right professionals, basic security measures can become less of an inconvenience. In these times of heightened security awareness, it is important that building owners and managers hire the right security company to proactively and professionally service their residents.
With the many moving pieces that need to come into place for a newly developed property, as well as those looking for better service throughout their portfolios, securing properly trained professionals that are held to a high standard of accountability and responsibility is crucial for success. As managers of multi-family developments, we exist to make buildings safer and secure, enhancing the quality of life for the residents and communities that we serve.
Robert Francis is the president of The Planned Companies, a Fairfield, New Jersey-based provider of residential building, security and janitorial services.