Property Grunt

Friday, May 06, 2005

Doormen: The Gatekeepers of a building

There is an excellent blog that has come to my attention through Curbed called Clublife which I highly recommend not only for its entertainment appeal but the education it presents in dealing with customer service.

The Grunt has known many a bouncer and has found an interesting correlation between bouncers and doormen for residential buildings since some of the best doormen the Grunt has known were successful bouncers.

The duties of a doorman and a bouncer are quite similar since they determine who is allowed in the building and enforce the house rules albeit through different means. If you are not on a list the bouncer will simply deny you access and any attempts to gain access without their permission will result in being physically restrained.

What sets the tone for the building is the doorman since they act as ambassadors and enforcers of the building since they do the bidding of whoever is in charge whether it is the board or the management company. Fisticuffs are usually avoided because that type of element is not attracted to a residential building.

A good doorman will be able to maintain order in a building by impressing upon residents and visitors that it is in their best interest to follow the rules. Those that do not are reminded of the consequences of their actions. They have to make sure that whoever enters the building will be someone who will not cause any harm to the building just like a bouncer sizes up a patron to see if they are going to start a fight once they are inside.

Like any good bouncer in a club a doorman’s philosophy is an ounce of prevention rather than a pound of cure. They have every option available for every situation and if a situation comes up that does not fit in their firing solution then they have to be able to think on their feet. But they want to avoid confrontations especially with residents because it’s not worth the trouble.

Communication skills and a strong back are probably the two strengths to look for in a doorman because they will be doing a lot of talking and hell of a lot of lifting. Doormen are going to be speaking to countless people from residents, deliverymen, brokers and the board president. By default they act as representatives of the building to all that enter their hallowed halls and they should be able to present themselves in a cordial manner to anyone entering the building. There will also be an infinite amount of luggage, packages, groceries, fresh direct, wheelchairs and ramps. So a doorman better be in top physical shape.

The relationship between the doorman and the broker is imperative beyond belief because the doorman knows all and sees all. The doorman is the intelligence officer and knows the inside information of a building that is vital to a broker. Residents build a strong relationship with their doorman and often place a tremendous amount of trust in making a doorman a valuable source for referrals for brokers.

This is why a good agent will never ever, ever, ever, ever piss off a doorman. Even if the doorman is a complete jag off, the agent should always take a passive stance. In other words if the doorman tells a broker “Go take a crap.” The agent will respond, “What shape?”

The Grunt once had an encounter with a doorman that could have been potentially explosive but the Grunt knew the rules of the game and abided by them. It occurred when the Grunt arrived to do an open house but the doorman had no idea who he was and was denied access to the apartment until his identity was verified. The Grunt alerted the proper authorities and awaited their approval and took the opportunity to build a rapport with the doorman. Despite the fact an open house was about begin in 5 minutes the Grunt was not angry or outraged because the doorman was following the policies of his building.

In the end the green light was given and the doorman apologized for the delay however the Grunt would not hear of it and apologized for inconveniencing the doorman and made it clear that the Grunt understood the doorman was only doing his job.

The Grunt once witnessed a broker go to toe to toe with a doorman over keys at a showing giving the Grunt a chance to create a bond with the doorman. While the broker went upstairs to set up the apartment and the Grunt awaited his buyer, the doorman made his opinions known about the broker. The Grunt concurred with the doorman that the broker acted unprofessionally and was unjustified in her actions.

One time a doorman denied access to the Grunt because as he put it, brokers get all the money while doormen get all the crap and are not respected by brokers. I immediately humbled myself to him by stating that without doormen a broker is nothing and that I have always respected the will of a doorman whatever their whims were. It turned out that the doorman was bluffing me to see how I would act and I am sure he wanted to get into an argument just for the fun of it. But I did not take the bait. And when he saw that I was willing to humble myself to him, he let me in.

Some may call this being a kiss ass. I call it showing respect to the doorman and their place in the real estate food chain. If you are not willing to do that then the Grunt recommends you find another line of work.