Corporate social responsibility . . . there’s been a great deal of buzz about this in our industry lately. What does it mean, how do companies go about achieving it, and to what degree? Definitions vary, but Multifamily’s own ManagInc describes it this way: “Corporate Social Responsibility, or CSR (also known as the Triple Bottom Line of People, Planet, and Profit), is simply to focus on the needs of stakeholders who make your success possible: employees, suppliers, residents, and the communities in which you do business.”
The leadership team at CF Real Estate Services has fully embraced the concept of CSR both externally and internally. For example, the company has made significant changes over the last 18 months to support philanthropic efforts both nationally and in the local communities they serve.
“Last fall, we kicked off our National Week of Service campaign which allows our associates to serve, donate to, and volunteer with nonprofits that feed the hungry, help children, rescue pets, provide quality housing and more,” says Ryan Perez, VP of Marketing. “Our associates love this and we’re blown away by the participation! CF received such an overwhelming response to the announcement of the National Week of Service that we’ve expanded it and are offering this opportunity twice a year, in the spring and fall. The spring Week of Service will reach at least 40 nonprofits in 25 cities and 10 states. To help enable this effort, CF provides all associates 4 hours of paid service per month to volunteer at a charity of their choice.”
There are so many opportunities to give back; how does CF determine where to participate? “As we’re based in Atlanta,” says Perez, “We have huge involvement in the Atlanta Food Bank. Our SVP of HR, Alan Walsh, leads the charge on this and he diligently vets and researches where CF can be the most impactful nationally and locally. We are able to leverage the help of our organization in multiple ways. The corporate office as well as the communities all put together a competitive drive to raise both funding as well as donations of canned and dry foods. We have barrels located in every leasing office and our residents get excited to help as well. When you can get the help of the community on board, you know you’re touching lives and impacting the greater good!”
It’s not just philanthropy that CF supports. Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, CF had a unique opportunity to welcome visitors heading into town for the recent NAA Education Conference and Expo. CF partnered with Lyft to provide $5 off two rides for conference attendees. “Not only did we want to welcome industry visitors to our home town,” explains Perez, “but with the various parties and entertainment that are part of the conference and spread out at multiple venues, we wanted to be part of the effort to provide safe transportation.” You can read more about CF’s Lyft initiative on their Facebook page here.
Perez also feels that there’s a strong customer service aspect of CSR, especially as it impacts residents and the larger community; and she’s been gratified that employees have embraced this elevated service ethic. “There really was no learning curve, and I have to say that I wasn’t surprised by that. Our associates truly work as teams and they’re happy and proud to serve in their communities. We certainly want our communities to thrive and we can help impact the happiness and satisfaction of our residents by providing them unparalleled customer service at every touch point. Not only do we retain customers when we make them happy; we truly make a difference in their lives” says Perez. She emphasizes that, “we are not retail, we don’t sell items to customers that have one touch point. We provide homes to people; our interactions touch people’s lives for at least a year at a time, longer, if we do it right. An American Express survey conducted cites that 3 in 5 Americans, or 59% of people, are willing to try a new company just to get a better service experience. Imagine if you could provide that and 59% of your residents were so happy they weren’t looking for something better?”
And how does CF try to understand and impact that service experience? According to Perez, “We are dedicated to hearing our customers voices. We promote ORM (Online Reputation Management) and encourage all prospects and residents to tell us how we’ve done every step of the way. By asking for transparent feedback at every customer touch point, we have committed ourselves to do the best we can even when no one’s looking.” Clearly it’s more than better service for CF, which elevates the initiative into the corporate social responsibility realm; Perez adds that, “It’s the true measure of success. We do what’s right because it’s the right thing to do, not because someone’s looking or paying attention. Also, we’ve taken these efforts internally and we consistently ask for employee reviews. We take the time to listen to our associates and what they have to say. If it’s broken, let’s fix it. If it works, let’s celebrate it. Listening is key, with your customers and your associates.”
This ethic extends to CF’s suppliers as well. According to Perez, not only are CF’s supplier-partners a stakeholder in their CSR effort, they are also instrumental in helping CF elevate their level of service. “Our supplier partners are always ready with helping hands. All of our partnerships are built on a mutual trust and respect. Just as we are in pursuit of great customer service, our partners are as well. This makes for a perfect pairing. Being able to marry corporate social responsibility and customer service responsibility with the help of great backing, makes it more rewarding,” says Perez. “A great example of this is with new technology; we’ve been able to utilize Mobile Doorman to create custom apps for our new developments in both Atlanta and Nashville. This technology has helped us to leverage increased communication with our residents and ultimately provide them with increased customer service. We’re able to give them up-to-the-minute updates with announcements, events, and constant happenings at the community. We’ve seen engagement levels on the rise and expect that we’ll continue to see this app as a source of service for our customers, further differentiating our offering from that of our competitors.”
When talking about CSR, “it’s not rocket science,” says Perez. “It is simply trying to do the right thing in every aspect of our business and with all the people who touch our business. We feel we’ve only just gotten started.”
Headquartered in Atlanta, GA, CF Real Estate Services (CF) is a vertically integrated multifamily real estate firm. With decades of multifamily industry experience, the team has evolved into a leading provider of multifamily services including property management, asset management, and consulting. CF serves clients in 14 states. With expertise in affordable, conventional and student housing, the firm successfully manages various holdings in multiple arenas of real estate.
Wow! We here at Mobile Doorman are really excited to be a part of CF’s journey to provide elevated service to their residents. Thanks for the shout out, Ryan!