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Andre Harris (RTS #31) 5 Tips For Landlords To Improve The Customer Experience For Their Tenants

Andre Harris Headshot
Episode #: 104
Andre Harris (RTS #31) 5 Tips For Landlords To Improve The Customer Experience For Their Tenants

Guest: Andre Harris
Topics: Consulting, customer experience


Chris Ressa 0:01
This is retail retold the story of how that store ended up in your neighborhood. I’m your host, Chris ReSSA. And I invite you to join my conversation with some of the retail industry’s biggest influencers. This podcast is brought to you by DLC management.

Welcome to retail retold everyone. Today I am joined by Andre Harris. Andre is the president and founder of culture transformation resources. I am excited to be joined by Andre. She has been in the client service industry for over 30 years. She has immense experience and we are lucky to have her today. Welcome to the show. Andre.

Andre Harris 0:44
Thanks so much, Chris ReSSA. Great to be here. And thanks so much for the kind invitation. And excited.

Ressa 0:49
So Andre, for those who don’t know you tell the world a little bit more about who you are and what you do.

Harris 0:55
Awesome. Thank you so much, Chris, the who I am most important. First and foremost. I’m a mom. I’m white. I’m a daughter of a sister. I have put family first. Second is I am passionate passionate about all things culture and customer experience. So a little background I grew up in the airline industry. The teen years at Continental Airlines when travel was fun and rewarding. And airlines were a cool place to be the grew up in airlines 15 years, they’re all within the training arena learning development started on the phones as a reservation agent in 1990. Making 577 an hour, six weeks of unpaid training, best job in the world went there started there because I had a cute boyfriend in New Zealand and I needed free flight benefits get me back and forth. Lucky for me that turned out to be a great company. In fact, US company culture ever. So I spent 15 years there eight years, I was head of Global training for the airline specific to the contact center arena, and grew up learning all about culture and training, learning and development in the airline industry which expanded to hospitality. So after 15 years, great years there got recruited by Westfield Shopping malls back in 2005. And seven great years learning all about real estate retail, great experience, I was out of the corporate office in Los Angeles, Head of Customer experience and training. And about eight years ago, I stepped away from the corporate world and decided to pursue my lifelong dream. And that was to have my own business to be an entrepreneur. And I started this boutique consulting firm. So now I get to do all my favorite things, and work with amazing companies including DLC a lot of other companies in this segment that I’m really thrilled, honored, proud to work with.

Ressa 2:55
Incredible the customer experience is something we hear about in many industries. I think there’s probably less people in the commercial real estate focused on customer experience than some of the other business to consumer industries. So I think this is going to be a real thought provoking show. excited to have you. Before we get started. I want to go to this part of the show we call clear the air. And I’ve got three questions for you. Are you ready, Andre?

Harris 3:27
I am ready. All right. Question one.

Ressa 3:31
What is one skill you don’t possess but you wish you did?

Harris 3:35
And that’s a good one. Okay, so this is going to be a bit off the beaten path here. I would say I am working on it’s more of a discipline than a skill. I’m working on becoming a phenomenal professional tick talker to improve my Instagram posts and and put out some inspiring art and words wisdom out on Tiktok and Instagram. Can you believe it? That’s my current skill I am working to enhance

Ressa 4:05
Are you a consumer of Tik Tok? Are you on Tik Tok? Often as a consumer and looking at content

Harris 4:13
you know I’m not in good light, Chris. Yes I am. If I’m standing in a line or waiting somewhere, I’ll pop on and you know, sir, like 1530 seconds. So I consume it, you know, 1530 seconds turns into 30 minutes very quickly. But my current passion is art painting. So I’m constantly looking at different techniques on tick tock so that fun,

Ressa 4:36
I can see all the beautiful art behind you to do paint that

Harris 4:39
I did. It’s been my COVID Passion. The last gosh, the entire year of COVID I’ve been home instead of traveling on the road. Normally a normal year for me 2019 For example, I was on the road 48 weeks working at least on an airplane at least twice, twice a week. 48 weeks so to be home Wondering COVID had a little bit of extra time on my hands. I decided to pick up painting all over. How

Ressa 5:05
many miles were you doing?

Harris 5:06
You know, I don’t even keep track. I’ll tell you this January through March last year, I traveled enough before COVID to hit my Platinum status. That would give you a little idea.

Ressa 5:19
That is a significant amount of miles. Do you do any international travel?

Harris 5:24
I do. Well, we go to New Zealand, my husband’s from New Zealand. So by the way, that cute guy that I mentioned, I went Kondal Airlines for the cute guy in New Zealand. I proposed and married him 30 years ago. So we go back and forth to New Zealand at least twice a year. I’m in Hawaii six times a year.

Ressa 5:40
Wait a sec. You propose to him? You bet.

Harris 5:43
Come on. Now. We gotta get things done, Chris. So little too long. And we had to cut to the chase. So

Ressa 5:51
yeah, that is incredible. Did that throw him off? A little bit? Yeah, I think that would have thrown me off a bit. usually does.

Harris 6:01
30 years later, three kids, grand babies living

Ressa 6:05
when you propose it? Did you ever ring ready?

Harris 6:08
No, no, I did. You’re gonna I’m gonna propose that you are going to invest in the ring.

Ressa 6:15
That is great. Okay, get back on track to clear their question to what is one thing most people agree with, but you do not.

Harris 6:24
Okay, got to want to give them really quick. The first one is, most people I think believe that giving a good tip. A good tip is or an average tip is 15%. A great tip is 20 25%. I believe in rewarding exceptional service. And growing up in the service industry. This is near and dear to my heart. So for me, if it’s exceptional, then it’s 50 to 100% tip, especially if it’s my local haircut, nails and a local diner. And they’re gonna get 100% tip every time. And that’s just something I firmly believe in. I just got back from Cancun, Mexico, and stayed at the JW. Marriott. They’re, by the way, phenomenal customer experience, highly engaged employees, best customer experience. So after week long, they’re spending every single day in their executive Club Lounge, getting spoiled by ask the concierge, you know, what’s a great tip after a week. And he said, You know what, great tip, we would be so grateful for $100 Thrills the staff. So it was with their with some girlfriends, we left over $1,000 tip and said, If it’s 100, then we’re going all in.

Ressa 7:39
You know, one of the best tips someone can lead for exceptional service in today’s day and or age is a great review on a website. And it doesn’t matter the business. And if they do a really great job, please people leave a positive review. And we don’t do it enough. Most people want to leave a review when something goes wrong. But especially local businesses, they need a great review when something goes right. So if you can leave a great review, that’s a great tip in my opinion.

Harris 8:16
Awesome. Chris, I totally agree. In fact, along with that, great tip it for the JW Marriott I of course, I my girlfriend’s made a commitment to get online leave them a great review and specifically called out the amazing service by Yosef fat, Andreas and Marcelo. And so for us, we get it that the the power of you know the tip is to the individual and they feel great, and it’s an acknowledgement of them. But it’s to the business as well. And I know JW is a big is a big company. But in you know on a local level, everybody is in you think about tourism, and how much the taken a hit over last year. So reviews totally agree, leave a great tip, generous tip. And an even more generous review is top notch. On the flip side of that, if it is poor service, I’m a big believer of still leaving a tip. But that is appropriate for the service. You can always bet that I’m going to leave some tips, little tips on the receipt of ways to improve or increase your tip. Again, that’s That’s my philosophy. Second thing out a follow up to your question about what most people agree agree with but I don’t most people in business agree that a contract is necessary and won’t lift a finger until they have a signed contract and get started on the work. For me my philosophy has always been in good faith and on a handshake and relationships. So I will always start to do that. work before I even get the client sign. I’m a big believer in manifesting and the power of positive thinking and acting. And that means if I’m going, if I’m going to do business with someone, and I am very interested in pursuing the partnership, I’ll do the work before the meeting. I’ll show up with the work already done.

Ressa 10:21
I have an interesting one with this right now, we have a potential tenant who is trying to get open by Labor Day. And we don’t have a signed contract yet the lease is not signed. In order for me to deliver and get them open, I’d have to start construction in the next week and a half, which would leave me pretty exposed because they could not do it the deal, and I would be spending this money on their build out. We’re going through this now and figuring out what to do. There is risk management in that, but I would agree that most people think a contract is necessary. Really interesting. Thought provoking information there. Question three. Okay, when is the last time you did something for the first time

Harris 11:10
and to get one. So I mentioned that I love painting. And I’ve always had an interest in painting, watercolors. acrylics, mostly Impressionism, that’s my thing. Have never liked abstract didn’t get it didn’t understand it. And in COVID, this time, last year, I decided to explore all different types of arts. So it started for the first time into the abstract world. And Chris, I love it. It’s falling in love. It’s my passion. In fact, the wall over here, the wall over here on my in my art studio slash office is all covered with with abstract, so it’s now my jam.

Ressa 11:50
When you say abstract, what does that mean?

Harris 11:53
Hidden means it doesn’t look like a picture. It looks like splattered paint. That is, what it means is it’s really the art. And the beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I can see, I see a fish you see a city, and they see nothing it’s joining. Yes,

Ressa 12:13
I use a many sports references in business. And sometimes some of the team members are like, What are you talking about? And I’m like, You don’t know this. They’re like, No, I’m not a sports junkie, I don’t know this reference or in what you’re talking about Christian, I assume. That’s what some people might have felt like when you were talking about art because I and I know literally zero about art. Anyway. That was great. Pleasure to learn a little bit more about you than fascinated that you propose to your husband, that is great. One day, I’ll meet him and I can’t wait to ask him about that experience. Let’s move into the heart of the show. Today, you’re gonna give us five tips for landlords to improve the customer experience for their tenants.

Harris 13:03
Awesome and excited. Well, let’s go.

Ressa 13:06
Let’s go. What is tip one?

Harris 13:09
All right, well, you know what, Chris, I’m going to give a quick overview of the five things and then I’ll circle back. So five things. Number one, take a stand to be client focus, to treat your tenants like customers. To create a culture of customer focus from the inside out, that’s actually two and three, because the first part of that is invest in training your people. That’s two, three is lead by example. That’s what I mean from the inside out. Four is look outside of your industry. Don’t just benchmark against the real estate or development world, look outside your industry. Number five, is empower your tenants to be successful. So with that, I’ll circle back to number one, which is take a stand to be client focused. Chris, one of my favorite quotes is by Maya Angelou, it’s I’ve learned that people will forget what you said. They’ll forget what you did, but they’ll never forget how you made them feel. And when I think about taking a stand to be client focused, really, that resonates for me. And when I think about the typical relationship between landlords and their tenants, most of it is built around, leases, contracts, collecting rent. And taking a stand to be client focused is really a shift in looking at your tenants as true clients and customers. In other words, treat them as we would hope that they would treat the consumer, whether it’s a shopper consumer, it’s coming to their business, and putting the customer at the heart of everything we do, meaning the tenants and mean it make it happen, live and breathe it. So when I think about this, my second favorite quote is all things being equal. People will do business with and refer business to people They know like and trust. Thank you, Bob Berg. And so when you think about what we would hope our retailers or tenants are doing for the consumer, which is everything from providing a warm welcome positive first impressions closing the sale and, and leaving a lasting impression. We should be doing that we the landlords, property management teams, we should be doing that for our tenants, you think about providing warm welcome. When your tenants are opening up their store? Are we greeting them with a warm welcome? Are we calling them by name? We would hope that we’re creating connections with our shoppers or consumers. Are we doing the same with our tenants? Do we call them by name? Do we know the store managers names? Do we know every employee’s name? Do we know more important than that? Their family names their kids names, their dog’s names? Do we know their favorite cup of coffee? And are we stopping by Starbucks on the way in and picking up attendance favorite cup of coffee and acknowledging and thanking them for their business for choosing us, of all the places in the oil that they could do business to do business with us. So it’s really truly a taking us down to be client focused, but living and breathing it and meaning it. So that’s number one. Number one.

Ressa 16:27
I love the name thing remembering the name and people’s names. My three year old daughter is absolutely incredible with names. She I love names. A lot of people in the office I know their middle names. I’m obsessed with names. My daughter is huge on names. She remembers everyone’s name everywhere we go, what’s your name? What’s your name? What’s your name? She wants to know, what’s that person’s they might I don’t know that person. Jules, I don’t know what their name is pointing to people, what’s their names? Well, anyway, the She’s three. And on Saturdays, typically, I go to the recycling center, where young family so we produce more garbage than I’d like to admit. So I go to the recycling center, dropping off at the recycling center. And as I’m leaving, my daughter says, make sure you say hi to dawn for me, which is the recycling center attendant who she knows by name because she loves people’s names. So I

Harris 17:23
love that I love it, even at Three Jewels gets it. And you know, Chris, this is it’s your gift, the power of names and creating connections. And again, going back to this is what all great businesses stores, they train their people to treat shoppers and consumers that way to create connections, the power of the name creates connections. And when people feel connected, they do crazy things like buy stuff from us and spend more than they are thinking or willing to do and spend. Well, it’s the same principle with a landlord tenant relationship, we think about the power of connections, name being a powerful, powerful tool, it creates connections with our tenants. And when it’s time to renew a lease, when they are referring and recommending to their to other entrepreneurs, or they’re expanding their businesses, they think of DLC, they think of other again, as a landlord, they think of your business, your company. And it’s the power of treating clients treating your tenants just like clients and customers. So that’s number one. Number two, creating a culture of customer focus from the inside out. And top down, we’ll start with investing in training your people. And the investment is is significant. And it takes time, time effort, and quite frankly, dollars to take people out of the business out of the operation away from the cash register, if you will, and to train them to deliver exceptional client experiences that from again, a landlord perspective. Is your property management team, for example, and leasing team, are they focused on signing the deal? Or are they focused on the long term partnership and relationships and the renewal and the satisfied client relationships. So investing in training, and again, everything that we would hope our retailers train their employees with, we should be training our staff, hire great people train them well to take care of the clients. In other words, our tenants. So that’s number two, invest in training your people to deliver exceptional client relationships. That’s great. Number three is top down, inside out, top down and that is lead by example. I’m going to give a shout out to you guys, Chris DLC, because you’re my most recent and favorite example. Because as you know, but our Our listeners do not know, we recently rolled out focus on client relations, you guys have always been that way. But we did another round of training. And what I love about the training on client relations is that we did it over an eight week period, two hours, every two weeks. And every single person in the company was there, including you, Chris. Adam, your CEO, every member of the senior leadership team was in one of the sessions, along with everybody from the corporate function, meeting, everybody was there, legal, it marketing, everybody was there. And of course, property management leasing, as well. And it was mixed, and it was great. And everyone was on the same page, going through what does exceptional client experiences client relations look like for DL C. And so shout out to you guys. One of my best experiences, and I mean that sincerely. Most companies will have leadership kickoff, the training, they’re endorsing the training, and that’s always meaningful. But to have you guys in there engaging and leading by example, just takes it to a whole new level. Another shout out to one of my other clients is Camden Property Trust. So other than DLC within the real estate segment, I also have Camden Property Trust, they own 155 properties, apartment communities across the US. And about four years ago, when they were rolling out a customer focused initiative. Same thing, leadership, top down, it started with the CEO, Rick Campbell and President Keith Oden took 50 of their top leaders off site for a full day. And they went through the same customer focus training that every one of their employees across the US ended up going through it started with them, and then it rolled out over a five month period. And so there’s a big difference. And I’m sure Chris, you guys have a great culture and DLC, hashtag success. You know, the power and the value of getting everybody on board. Eating, sleeping, drinking this. It is when it’s part of your culture, your clients, your tenants, they know it, they feel it. And it’s not just a poster or plaque on the wall. client focus really means something. So that’s number three. Love that. Thank

Ressa 22:31
you for the shout out.

Harris 22:32
Course. Four is look outside your industry. So a lot of times we look within real estate and we compare ourselves to each other right? I’m actually a professional mystery shopper. I have clients who hire me to go mystery shopping the competition. And I get

Ressa 22:47
to keep the items you bet.

Harris 22:51
You know, that is part of the deal. That you know mystery shop retail and mystery shop.

Ressa 22:57
This Chanel higher you get a mystery shopper. No comment.

Harris 23:01
I also, you know a mystery shop, hotels, airlines, apartment homes. So I’m a professional mystery shopper as part of small part of what I do. But it’s important. And I often will share across the insights from cross industries. Don’t just benchmark yourself against what your direct competition is, in your industry in your segment. Look at the companies, the businesses, the establishments that are really delivering exceptional client experiences and do that. So for example, my one of my clients, is BMW been blessed. They were my launch customer eight years ago, they continue to be one of my favorite customers as well. You look at BMW in the great things that they do to BMW in North America is my client. Based out of woodcliff, New Jersey, you think about a lot of you might be thinking, Okay, well wait a minute, we’re talking about landlord tenant relations. Think about BMW, corporate, and their clients are 340 franchise dealerships across the US. So looking outside of your industry, look at BMW, they have very much what they do in their client relations, is interacting and supporting and ensuring that their 340 dealerships are successful. And so you think about the level of luxury and that level of client relations. Why wouldn’t we bring that into the real estate segment? When we look at that. So benchmark, we should be benchmarking.

Ressa 24:36
I do this all the time. I try to connect with or and I used to even more I would connect with sales professionals in other industries to try to see best practices, what were they running into? Oftentimes, what was interesting is we don’t even realize this. Let’s say you mentioned Starbucks, we’re doing business with Starbucks, but there are many other different types of organizations that are selling and who we’re doing business with Starbucks to, and they might have some interesting perspective that we aren’t seeing in the enterprise sale process. So do this all the time. I think it’s a great point. And I love that.

Harris 25:12
Cool. So thank you for that Chris, I’ll transition to fifth and final is empowering your tenants to be successful. I love the quote, We rise by lifting others, that applies to us on the landlord side, we rise by lifting our tenants and helping them to be successful. And, you know, I know most landlord relationships have their tenants pay into cam and marketing. And so there’s already a built in responsibility. So landlords help and market their tenants to be successful in certain ways. I’m talking about going above and beyond. Let me give you a couple of specific examples. One of my clients, Howard Hughes court, in this segment, many of our listeners will know that they own manage, develop design, real estate, shopping centers, office buildings, hotels, apartments. And so I’ve been blessed to have them as a client for over five years and help them launch and rollout a customer first initiative, and went to every one of their retail properties from seaport district in New York, all the way to Ward Village in Honolulu, Hawaii. So here’s a specific shout out to the Ward Village team in Honolulu, Hawaii. We were rolling out training, we’re getting everybody in the huddle of going through customer first training. So as with the entire company, all the other locations, everybody came to a full day training to find out what does this customer first mean, and how should we behave? Word village team went above and beyond so in addition to everybody from the property management, office leasing, everybody, as Howard Hughes employee, including their third party vendors, security housekeeping attended this customer first training, the above and beyond, is that they actually Chris, they extended the training to include their retailers, meaning they invited they reserved seats in our training class to sit side by side with their team members, the Howard Hughes team to invite their retailers to join. And it was a phenomenal experience that’s beyond

Ressa 27:27
that is going above and beyond kudos to them. That is really going above and beyond. Thank you for sharing that you that.

Harris 27:32
So empowering your tenants to be successful. So those are again, there’s so much more to that, Chris. But

Ressa 27:38
let’s recap those five, go through one more time. Real quick, what are the five, the five

Harris 27:42
number one, take a stand to be client focused. Treat your tenants like customers. To create a culture of customer focus from the inside out the two and three, top and from the top down as well. For look outside of the industry, benchmark yourself cells against others outside the industry who are doing it well. And do that. Five, empower your tenants to be successful. Invest in marketing and training, do whatever you can to rise by lifting others including your tenants.

Ressa 28:12
Terrific. Well, this was great. You know, we love you were looking forward to the continued work and hopefully elevating our customer experience at DLC. Let’s bring it home to the last part of the show. I call this retail wisdom. Right on we’ve got three fun questions for you. Are you ready, Andre?

Harris 28:34
Ready, Chris? Let’s go.

Ressa 28:35
Alright, question one. What is the last item over $20 that you bought in the store?

Harris 28:41
Easy. So Michaels, and Hobby Lobby are weekly weekly visits. And I go there because I’ve been painting I go to pick up usually like 20 bucks worth of paint something either missing a paint or a paintbrush. So I’ll go with the intent to spend $20 and Chris and not getting a walk out every single week with over 200 and I stop it Michaels first. Because I love the girls know my name. And I know their name. They’re awesome. And then I head over to Hobby Lobby. So those are my two visits.

Ressa 29:14
Every DLC tenants. Yes.

Harris 29:17
And I’m a big fan. Big fan.

Ressa 29:20
Well, I love that one. Question two. What extinct retailer Do you wish would come back from the dead?

Harris 29:26
So Chris, I grew up in Hawaii, North Shore of Oahu. I would catch the bus every day to town to Waikiki to the auto mall on a shopping center, which is still there, but one of the retailers that is not still there was Liberty House. And it was such a great, great experience for me brings back a lot of great memories. I call them the Nordstrom of Hawaii at the time. They were familiar with Metis they were awesome awesome. Sadly, no longer they’re there they are extinct but any special occasion whether was going to shop or a dress for wedding or prom dress. I would take the bus head into town and go shop at Liberty House truly like the Nordstrom of their time.

Ressa 30:11
What a great answer. No one said that and I don’t know them and I like when people name some retailers that I’ve never heard of. Okay, last question, Andre, if you and I were shopping together at Target, and I lost you what I would I find you

Harris 30:27
okay, that one’s easy. So not only precisely I’ll a 999 baby in target my local Target here in Houston, Texas, shout out to test Casita, the toddler clothes is in aisle nine. And so I have two grandbabies, two and seven. So my two year old Ella, I’m always shopping for her. So again, target weekly visit, I’m always shopping for toddler clothes for Ella. And then the other aisle is going to be the toy aisle because I have a seven year old grandson, and 11 year old son are always sending me to the toy aisle. So either of those places just have to shout out my name. That’s where I’ll be.

Ressa 31:10
Fantastic. Well, Andre, this was great. Thank you so much. I think everyone got a different perspective of real estate today, improving the customer experience. Thank you. And I think everyone’s gonna love this.

Harris 31:24
It’s my pleasure. My pleasure. And Chris, by the way, just as properly sign off, favorite quote, be the change you want to see in the world. So my wish to you and to all of our viewers and listeners. Let’s make it a great a great world.

Ressa 31:38
Do your part. Before I forget where can people find you?

Harris 31:41
CTR consulting?

Ressa 31:44
Terrific. You’re on tick tock as well. Clearly. What is your tick tock handle?

Harris 31:48
You vet Oh, well, you know, I actually I’ve got to improve it. So find find me on CTR consulting first and then I’m going to improve it once I become a professional tick talker. I’ll blast it out. Okay, thank you so much, Chris.

Ressa 32:02
Thank you.

Harris 32:03
Wishing you and the the DLC team. Incredible continued success. Thank you.

Ressa 32:15
Thank you for listening to retail retold. If you want to share a story about a retail real estate deal that you were a part of on our show. Please reach out to us at retail retold at DLC This show highlights the stories behind the deals from all perspectives. So it doesn’t matter if you are a retailer, broker, entrepreneur, architect or an attorney. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to retail retold so you don’t miss out on next Thursday’s episode

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