The Spinney Group, based in Delmar, NY, is a second-generation, family-owned company whose focus on providing exemplary customer service helped it navigate the unexpected obstacles brought during the first weeks of the emerging COVID-19 pandemic.
On paper, The Spinney Group is a property management company that boasts five multifamily residential communities and over 100,000 square feet of commercial space throughout the Capital District. Beyond that, it’s a dedicated team of property management professionals committed to resident well-being and community engagement.
Chris Oertel, Adams Station’s Property Manager, has a unique focus on providing engaging activities. Consisting of 282 units spread over 55 rolling acres in Delmar, NY, Adams Station is “a world apart, just minutes away”. Since joining the team in 2019, Oertel’s efforts in coaxing residents to enjoy their shared neighborhood and a diverse offering of events have been well-received, but general anxieties surrounding the novel coronavirus put a near-stop to those activities. The first order of business, said Oertel, was establishing a plan that provided an assurance of safety with the warmth of hospitality. Even a simple maintenance call required that extra touch of empathy to alleviate resident concerns.
“Just to ask them simple questions: how were they feeling and reassure them our maintenance staff would be gloved and masked, and practicing social distancing,” said Oertel. “To reassure them that we’re providing customer service while abiding by our SAFE Plan and being very conscious of health concerns; both for our staff and for our residents.”
The Spinney at Van Dyke, also located in Delmar, NY, is a neighborhood of its own, designed for “55-and-better” active adults that have retired into their next phase of lifestyle, or working professionals working towards that goal. In order to connect residents with the community and each other during these challenging times, Lifestyle Director Courtney Russell has sought out partnerships with local businesses for a variety of services.
“It’s very apparent how important it is that The Spinney Group is a part of this Bethlehem community,” said Russell. When she and Oertel exchange thoughts on events and community engagement, their primary focus is on supporting local businesses. “If we’re going to partner with a yoga organization, or do a dinner-out with our residents, we’re looking really hyper local,” said Russell.
The Spinney at Van Dyke’s cottage designs and neighborhood layout are intended to provide residents with privacy while offering the benefits of community engagement. Highlighting these features for prospective residents during a pandemic poses challenges for property manager Sandra James, and the company now provides prospective residents with the option of a virtual tour of the property. Managing the move-in process was yet another challenge.
“We had a couple residents who had their movers cancel on them,” said James. “What we did was try to find alternative plans, and people to unload their trucks. So, we hit the ground running.”
James said several moves were delayed by shutdowns and quarantine mandates. In that time, she was in “constant” contact with customers, giving them the reassurance of home. When it came time to move, her team developed a “touchless move” experience that involved sanitizing the unit and providing new residents keys without seeing a staff member.
Throughout the pandemic, the Spinney Group has remained committed to the notion that communities thrive when engaged residents share their lives and experiences with one another. The Spinney Group’s attention to resident well-being and customer service is driven by family values, said Oertel.
“They have those family values,” said Oertel. “The pride in having that and providing customer service that is rooted in those family values. … You can see that pride and it’s easy to have the same pride yourself.”