Martina Beranek, Consultant, and Claudia Bracher Wolfensberger, Partner
Whoever builds or renovates, renews, designs and beautifies. But it also tears down and disturbs with noise and dust. Early and target group-oriented communication can help to create acceptance for construction projects and to protect one's own reputation in the best possible way.
The desire for modern and larger living space has increased sharply in Switzerland in recent times. At the same time, more and more property owners are faced with the task of renovating their outdated buildings to bring them up to today's standards in terms of safety and living comfort. Cranes and excavators are therefore a common sight in this country, and the media regularly report on construction projects.
Strong emotional involvement
When it comes to renovation and construction projects, owners usually think in entrepreneurial terms and therefore primarily in terms of maintaining the property or increasing its value. In contrast, tenants, local residents and numerous other people are affected by construction work primarily on a personal level and therefore emotionally.
Thoughts of extensive or prolonged renovation of their own homes or even of the wrecking ball in the neighborhood are unsettling and generate fears of noise and dust, of disfiguring the surroundings or of overly dense construction.
De-tenanting: the highest communicative challenge
A particularly challenging situation in terms of communication arises when a comprehensive renovation makes it impossible to occupy the apartments temporarily and the owner has to declare the apartments vacant. Such a step is perceived by those affected and their environment as an imposition and unjust.
The indignation is usually even greater if the tenants are not informed personally or at too short notice - for fear of an unpleasant confrontation. If those affected do not feel they are being taken seriously, their emotions quickly boil up. And once the situation is widely reported in the media, it can escalate unexpectedly - damage to the owner's reputation is not far away.
Early and transparent dialog pays off
Building owners who want to secure the acceptance of as many affected parties as possible for their projects and protect their reputations would therefore do well to provide early and transparent information about their plans and the various steps involved. Our agency's experience also shows that it pays to enter into regular dialog with all the target groups affected, such as tenants, the neighborhood and also the authorities, right from the start.
After all, anyone who takes the different views, demands and priorities of potentially affected groups of people seriously and meets them at eye level demonstrates humanity in the public's perception. Such an approach is not only conducive to easier handling of the planned construction or renovation project. It also helps to ensure that opinions are formed as neutrally as possible, if not positively, which is good for the company's own reputation.
Are you currently planning construction or renovation projects? Are you about to inform tenants and other target groups? If so, we would be happy to advise and support you in planning and implementing the appropriate communication.