Communications & Transparency
Because a significant majority of our new development projects involve public-private partnerships, transparency and communication are essential to maintaining public support of our development projects. As long-term owners and community members, we value open and honest relationships. We build trust through frequent communication with our investors, community members, tenants, residents and associates. We seek our stakeholders’ input and use their feedback to identify new opportunities that enhance our ability to realize the power of place in our properties.
Forest City residents enjoy being a part of a vibrant and unique community. Our goal is to foster and strengthen the sense of unity among the people who live and work in Forest City developments. Our property-based associates actively engage our tenants and residents in a variety of ways, particularly within our apartment communities. Each of our residential communities utilizes several communication channels to organize and advertise community events and to promote new services and building amenities.
Our engagement begins during the design phase, long before our properties open to the public. We engage with potential residents and tenants to learn their preferences and understand the specific building features and amenities they desire in their homes and office spaces.
Every decision we make during the design and construction phase is in support of our residents’ preferences, so that we may provide them with ideal living and work environments. Integrating the newest building technologies, such as smart thermostats and web-enabled environmental controls, helps lower Forest City’s operating and maintenance costs and enables our residents to have greater control over their living environments.
Each of our residential properties has specific programs in place to ensure a smooth and stress-free experience, including move-in trial periods and relocation guarantees. We promote current events and share property news and information across our social media channels, and we encourage residents to follow and engage with each other using these online forums. Our property management teams use resident feedback on social media as valuable resources for new or improved engagement activities across our portfolio.
Through our resident communication system called Active Building, our property management teams can connect directly with all residents on a group or individual basis. Active Building messages can range from event reminders to maintenance notices or serious safety alerts. Residents also use Active Building to track package deliveries, request repairs and other services, reserve building amenities and submit guest authorizations. Many of our properties also display useful real-time data, such as current traffic conditions, public transit timetables and local weather reports.
We continually measure our sales and service performance using feedback from our customers about their experiences. We have several programs in place to measure our service performance and ensure we meet the needs of our current and future residents. For example, through our Quality Program, we conduct multiple rounds of online, telephone and on-site mystery shops throughout the year at our properties. Our associate evaluation process involves coaching and monetary rewards for exceptional performance.
To ensure we are offering the best living experience for our residents, Forest City partners with J Turner Research to administer resident surveys to our portfolio of communities. The survey gauges the Turner Apartment Loyalty Index (TALi), which is a monthly resident index measuring resident satisfaction trends. The survey provides us with resident feedback on a monthly basis and is a useful tool in alerting our on-site associates to immediate resident needs, identifying areas of improvement and determining how to best allocate resources at each of our communities.
As a result of our resident surveys, we also have seen an increase in the number of resident referrals and resident renewals at Forest City properties, as well as a longer average length of stay among our residents, reducing turnover costs over time.
Each year, Forest City recognizes the top-three performing communities in overall resident satisfaction and the community with the most improved satisfaction score. The community with the highest overall customer satisfaction score is awarded the Forest City “Caring Cup,” as a public display of the on-site team’s dedication to our residents. In 2017, associates from The Lofts at 1835 Arch in Philadelphia, Metro 417 in Los Angeles and Independence Place in Parma Heights, Ohio, were the winners of Forest City Residential Management’s Resident Service Awards.
Social Media and Online Reputation Management
Forest City’s Residential Management team takes a holistic look at reputation management, marketing and communications by engaging residents and prospects on both reputation sites and social media. Prospects and residents alike can look to Yelp, Facebook and Google Plus Local for descriptions, photos and reviews of our communities. Forest City responds to 100 percent of these reviews to demonstrate our willingness to engage with both residents and prospects. Our 360-degree marketing plan includes Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google Plus Local, where both residents and prospects can find an array of photos, videos, community updates and fun and exciting events nearby each and every Forest City community.
The CARE Contest
One of the cornerstones of the Forest City experience is bringing residents together through shared experiences working toward a common cause or helping those in need. Over the years, our residents have demonstrated time and again their desire to make a positive impact on their neighborhoods and communities.
In 2017, Forest City held the CARE Contest across all our residential communities. Through this contest, we encouraged residents and Forest City property teams to support the issues or organizations most important to them. Residents chose an activity or program that supported one or more of the following CARE Together categories:
- Pet awareness
- Health and personal wellness
- Environmental initiatives
- Supporting “local”
- Start an ongoing program
- Create your own theme
Throughout the year, resident and Forest City teams from around the country shared their activities on social media. The community or Forest City department that made the greatest positive impact received $1,000 to donate to the nonprofit charity of their choice. In 2017, our Grand Prize winners were the teams at Stratford Crossings and Chestnut Lake for hosting a “party with a purpose” and raising more than $6,500 for two nonprofits. Chestnut Lake, an amenity-rich apartment community in Strongsville, Ohio, and Stratford Crossings, a luxury apartment community in Wadsworth, Ohio, welcomed more than 150 guests to Cleveland City Hall for an elegant evening of dancing, food and drink, and raffles in support of The Greater Cleveland Fisher House and Marian's Closet.
The 2017 runner-up in the CARE Contest was 3700M in Dallas, Texas, (with event assistance from the Mercantile Place team) for traveling to Houston to offer help to those affected by Hurricane Harvey. Our associates partnered with All Hands Volunteers, a nonprofit disaster relief organization, to assist in demolishing a home that was destroyed by flooding.
We operate in an open and transparent manner to build and maintain trust with our existing and potential shareholders. We provide increased transparency through our financial disclosures and reporting to ensure our investors better understand our focus on creating inspiring places to live and work. For example, we have significantly expanded our annual Proxy Statement, as well as continued expansion on the level of discussion around our CR activity. In 2018, we plan to implement a new program to provide customized training to our Investor Relations team on emerging trends and best practices in ESG investor engagement.
Forest City also continues to enhance our stakeholder transparency through more detailed and robust CR reporting. We began formally disclosing our CR activities in 2012 and this year we progressed to a GRI Standards Core Level report. In 2017, we submitted our CR performance to the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB) annual Real Estate Assessment for the third year in a row, scoring higher than the GRESB average in every category. We are pleased to report Forest City received another Green Star rating from GRESB for performing in the top quartile among participants in our sector. We also responded to the CDP Climate Change assessment for the first time, achieving an Awareness (C) level score for knowledge of our impacts on climate change.
We also published an Investor Download that provides our raw data in a consolidated format. In 2018, we will submit our performance again to GRESB and CDP, and also will begin disclosing our CR performance through the Corporate Sustainability Assessment for the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI).