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Concierge – It’s More Than Just a Word

The word concierge has long been synonymous with white glove service. However, I’d like to argue that many condo associations are putting too much emphasis on the word itself and not on the actions of its staff.  Over the last decade the profession has expanded beyond the domain of hotels and you can now find a concierge in airports, senior care facilities, residences, corporations, insurance agencies, sports arenas and the list goes on.  Outside of an upscale hotel, where the job description and level of service has remained untouched, the service being provided by most non-hotel concierges is inconsistent and mostly reactive.

Having served as both a hotel lobby concierge and a residential concierge for a decade, I know what’s possible behind “the desk” and most residents are not receiving proactive and personalized service.  This happens because management, whose background is usually in something other than hospitality, over-emphasizes the security or secretarial aspect of the job and doesn’t properly develop the position.  Having a body staffed at the desk (or available by phone) 24/7 becomes more important than the actual service being provided.  However, just think how much more you could be getting out of your hourly staff!   Nothing can add more value, at no cost, than offering a “Five Diamond” concierge service and it isn’t difficult to achieve.  It begins with hiring inspired people and giving them the right resources.

Proactively inform your residents what the concierge staff can do for them.  Provide a list of services as well as a resident testimonial.  If your community is new, it is exceptionally important to drive this message home early and often to generate usage of the service at its onset.  If feasible, I strongly recommend that each resident schedule a one-on-one meeting with a member of the concierge team for an in-depth look at what personalized services they can provide.The following are some suggested ways to increase the value of your concierge offering.  Your residents will thank you!

Distribute a concise internal monthly newsletter, written by the concierge staff, or if a larger publication, feature a column written exclusively by the concierge staff to highlight happenings inside the community as well as the surrounding neighborhood.  A weekly e-blast with exclusive offerings or insider tips can be really effective as well.

Provide your staff with an electronic database to store and maintain resident profiles as well as record resident transactions.  No more paper logs or post-it notes!  Not only will this elevate service in the short term, it will allow for a seamless transition when you have turnover at the desk.

Encourage “off the desk” time for concierge to grow their knowledge base about all sides of the community, the neighborhood, if appropriate, as well as have time for proactive outreach to residents.  Although payroll budgets are tight, I highly recommend building in some overlap to your schedule.  This also allows for a proper and well deserved lunch break.
Hire the right people even if it means conducting a more extensive and creative search that may take a little bit longer; a good concierge should be curious, creative, confident, charismatic, competent and courteous.  These six C’s are non-negotiable in my book.

About the Author

Jamie Cooperstein’s passion is service excellence.  In her role as CEO of J. Cooperstein Hospitality Consulting, LLC, she helps front line employees across the region to make lasting impressions.  Prior to opening her own consulting business, Jamie was the Director of Concierge Services for Madison Parke, a boutique property management firm, and played an integral role in implementing lifestyle services at their portfolio of luxury high-rises.  Previously, Jamie served as a Concierge at the AAA Five-Diamond award winning Rittenhouse Hotel and Condominiums in Philadelphia.  Jamie has obtained her Master’s degree in Tourism and Hospitality Management from Temple University.  She is also an adjunct instructor of hotel/restaurant management at Delaware County Community College.