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How A Top-Ranked CRE Company Keeps Its Clients (And Its Employees) So Happy

The Blake Real Estate team at the 2019 AOBA Commercial Awards ceremony

When it comes to customer service, Mark Benedetti understands why commercial real estate companies are primarily concerned with their external customers — the parties actually buying their services. But Benedetti thinks companies ought to care equally about what he calls their “internal customers.”

“Our internal customers are all the different lines of business within our organization, from leasing and development to construction management and property management,” said Benedetti, who serves as vice president of property management for Washington-based Blake Real Estate. “The way we all interact and affect each other has a direct impact on our building occupants, so we work to be efficient and caring in everything we do.”

To make sure customers are satisfied, Blake looks inward, instilling a culture of ownership across all the parts of its organization. So far, the strategy seems to work. The company recently received the 2018 National Commercial Real Estate Customer Service Award for Excellence from CEL & Associates, a Los Angeles-based real estate consulting firm and a national provider of tenant satisfaction surveys. Blake received the award in recognition for having the highest ratings for satisfaction and service nationwide in CEL’s “Under 10 Buildings” category. 

Benedetti credited Blake’s success to a lesson he learned from the hospitality industry: Every employee should have a personal stake in the company. Because it is often difficult for a building’s staff to feel connected to the overall operations of a building, Blake takes care in the training of all of its staff to emphasize how their work contributes to tenant satisfaction and to the company as a whole.

In 2010, Blake launched an employee training program known as STAR Service for all of its on-site employees, from security guards and maintenance workers to cleaning staff. The program walks through technical topics about Blake’s properties, but also takes time to emphasize personal responsibility and accountability for the company’s success. 

Members of Blake Real Estate's staff

“We show our employees that the way they service buildings and customers has a direct impact on the company’s bottom line,” Benedetti said. “Happy customers tend to stay put and renew their leases. Every member of the Blake team knows they have an important role to play in building enjoyable workplaces and pleasant experiences for our clients and customers.”

Taking care of its own employees has translated into another award for Blake: The company was listed among the Washington Post's Top Workplaces 2019. The paper highlighted Blake's three-generation family-owned history, as well its profit-sharing program, which allows employees at all levels to share in the company's success.

Good customer service is also good business sense in terms of hiring. Because Blake’s customer base is so happy, Benedetti said he and his team feel more satisfied in their own jobs. That means less employee turnover and fewer new hires to find.

Blake’s award is all the more impressive considering the competition in its category: Companies with under 10 buildings often boast about their ability to offer superior customer service compared to larger competitors due to their small size. Yet Benedetti said that Blake’s model is not constrained by size. 

“We could do this in the 10-building category or the hundred-building category,” Benedetti said. “We’ve worked to build a scalable solution.”

Most of all, Benedetti is proud that his colleagues have received outside recognition for the hard work that they do every day.

“I’m thrilled,” he said. “All of the outside success that our customers are reporting and all of the success our company has seen starts right here.”

This feature was produced by Bisnow Branded Content in collaboration with Blake Real Estate. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.