April 17, 2020
CALGARY TEAMS EMBRACE NEW PROCESSES AS A STEP TOWARDS THE FUTURE
When we meet Ali Soloman, a residential portfolio manager for Avenue Living Communities (ALC), it is in a virtual meeting space. We're practicing the company-wide social distancing guidelines. And doing our part where we can to "flatten the curve" through the coronavirus pandemic.
For Ali, his role is an essential service. As he sees it, it's "crucial to facilitating the day-to-day support" of his team. He lives by his duty of care to communicate with his residents, and with the organization's evolving business protocols, including differing communication methods, he sees the changes as just another step towards the future.
"Knowing in the future we're going to go a little more paperless. This is just a way for us to transition into that," said Soloman, speaking to ALC's adjustments to services, specifically, digital lease agreements and other digital paperwork.
"This will be an easy transition for us because we have already started the paperless trail. We moved to electronic leasing in early 2019. And we recently implemented an electronic renewal process, which coincided with COVID-19. We're not having to go back and forth with head office now we have this electronic communication."
In mid-March ALC announced several process changes as a result of COVID-19 and social distancing.
ALC have implemented new standards to conduct move-ins, complete maintenance, and enhance cleaning in their buildings. Including weekly payment options and additional methods of payment, such as Interac e-Transfer, Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT), and pre-authorized credit or debit card.
To look after the well-being of their residents and teams, virtual viewings have also become the new norm, supporting electronic applications and digital lease signings as well as changes in communication methods.
Soloman believes these are working in both his residents and his teams' favour.
"It's a two-way street," said Soloman. "We have a wonderfully diverse group of residents, and they appreciate the different communication methods. People are getting back to us, because we're working with them the best way we can… We want to make the process of selecting a home as seamless as possible."
While, Soloman and his team highlight the positives with the "new normal" of business operations, there are new challenges to solve.
Soloman says with new prospects, he and his team are often building a "completely virtual relationship." And while sometimes it can feel "not as personal," his team are taking the time to get to know the prospects the same way as they would face-to-face.
"More often than not, it's a completely virtual relationship. But we take the steps to make sure they feel as welcome as they would in a face-to-face interaction," says Soloman.
These virtual interactions are becoming increasingly common, but Soloman and his team are still working to the customer's requests should they want an in-person viewing, while taking the extra steps to ensure the safety and well-being of those individuals.
"We're still taking the time if people do want to look at it [a unit] in person," said Soloman. "Our team is taking extra precautions and wearing the necessary protective equipment. Prior to the showing, we open up the unit and give them access that they need without having to be in there with them. They do the whole tour on their own."
Avenue Living's core values are at the forefront of how the business operates. For Soloman, he and his team live by them. Specifically, "Duty of Care" and "In It Together" solidify key components to his leadership style and how his team works for the residents residing in his properties.
"Duty of Care is number one with our residents," said Soloman.
"Providing them with a safe, clean environment is a top priority… We're in it together. In times like this, yes, it is hard. We're a little bit frantic. We let our minds get the best of us. Finding ways to work throughout the day without those fears or hesitations or letting the misinformation get to you."