The call came early in the morning on Saturday, March 15, 2020. I had just gotten out of bed and my first cup of coffee was still a few minutes away. Dru Armstrong, our CEO, was on the other end of the line. In a measured and purposeful voice, she began to sound the alarm: “It feels like the country is under attack, with our industry right in the crosshairs, and our customers literally on the frontline.” I nodded from my end and continued to listen.
“There’s no question we need to move quickly. Get everyone in the company aligned and focused. Our customers and the industry are going to need us to step up during this crisis.”
Then, she said something near to my heart, “Adam, this is a brand defining moment. It’s what our company is all about. It’s what we can and must do.” With that said, Grace Hill had entered the battle against the coronavirus.
Looking back, the first month or so of the pandemic remains a blur. The weeks were fast and furious at Grace Hill, with long days and long hours for everyone. Exactly how we developed so much new COVID-19 related content, made timely adjustments to our existing talent management solutions, and even produced two major research studies on a national scale during this period still feels a bit unreal. (More on this in a moment.) However, I do know the true north of our brand, helping our customers retain and grow top talent to reduce operating risk and elevate property performance, served us well. As did one of our core company values – Better Together.
I can tell you that Grace Hill is not a company that likes to toot its own horn. Indeed, we believe actions speak louder than words. But sometimes it’s important to publicly acknowledge your accomplishments. Especially, when they are in the service of protecting the well-being and livelihood of your customers and industry during these unprecedented times.
To be precise, here is a list of what we carried out for our customers and the multifamily industry from mid-March through late-April 2020:
- We developed three foundational COVID-19 training courses and four policies in partnership with the National Apartment Association (NAA), and made them available to the entire industry – all at no cost
- We produced 30 free webinars, covering a full range of timely and important COVID-19 topics, from the importance of virtual leasing, to COVID-19’s impact on fair housing regulations
- We wrote and deployed 24 COVID-19 related policies into our customer’s PolicyPartner solution
- We loaded over 75 COVID-19 related courses into our customer’s Vision2020 (LMS) library, including Grace Hill sponsored webinars, and NAA mini-webinars
- We enhanced the virtual assessment capabilities of our mystery shopping solution, Validate, to support the dramatic increase of virtual leasing by our customers due to the requirements of “Stay Home, Stay Safe” protocols
- We launched a groundbreaking, nationwide COVID-19 resident sentiment survey and report in April, developed in conjunction with Kingsley (a Grace Hill company) and Apts.com to provide a snapshot of how the pandemic was affecting residents in its early stages. The report was provided to the public – at no cost.
- In May, we followed up with a second survey and report under the same partnership, this time with feedback around reopening and beyond. It too was provided at no cost.
- We significantly reduced the cost of the top selling credentials and continuing education courses in the Visto storefront to support property management professionals when they needed it most.
Equally important to this impressive amount of COVID-19 related work has been the level of service we delivered to our customers during this challenging period. Indeed, we consider the members of our Customer Support Team to be our frontlines, our own unsung heroes. You can imagine what it meant to us to hear our customers singing their praise:
“I wanted to take a moment to say how much I appreciate the Customer Support Team. I know in these uncharted times our morale may be affected, not the case with the CST. I called Monday with a question and was greeted just as cheerful as always. It is amazing to experience the level of customer service consistently received from the team.”
-Ka’ren Sarvis, Vice President of Associate Development, Columbia Residential
“We at Cascade have been using Grace Hill religiously, especially during this difficult time with COVID-19. My experience in the last few weeks is the IT support team is always very timely, and responsive. They have been incredibly solution oriented, and tickets have been handled in a very timely, courteous and friendly manner.”
– Marietta Van Goor, Training & Development Manager, Cascade Management
“HUGE GINORMOUS EXTRAVAGANT shout out to Tyler at the help desk, and the whole team there. They have held my hand through all of this nonsense (COVID-19), and I am beyond grateful for their help. Please pass thing along to the “powers that be”
– Stephanie Riling, Training and Development Manager, Village Green
In closing, I’m proud to say that when the coronavirus hit, Grace Hill answered the call. And you can be sure we will continue to call on all the resources available to us to continue to develop policies, training and assessment solutions to meet the needs of our customers and industry throughout this pandemic.