How to be a Concierge in Ontario

How to be a Concierge in Ontario

What is a concierge?

A Condominium Concierge is a relatively new job, growing in both popularity and opportunity.  

The condominium market has experienced continually upward trending growth.  There is an ever-increasing volume of new condominium developments in Toronto, Mississauga, Markham, Richmond Hill, Vaughan, and other cities in the Greater Toronto Area.   An explosion in Condominium Concierge job opportunities has resulted.

A Condominium Concierge is a position highly focused on customer service.  It blends elements of Security Guard work with administrative duties and with hotel-style front desk service.

Concierge service adds a “5 Star” flair to a condominium community.  Most new condominiums in the GTA are designed with a Concierge Desk front and centre in the main lobby.  Concierge are the first people residents, guests, and prospective investors see when entering the building.  Concierge are often referred to as the “face of the building,” and even impact condominium community reputation & status.

What does a Condominium Concierge do?

Meet, Greet, and Confirm

In most modern condominiums, all non-resident guests entering the building are required to interact with the Concierge first, who will then verify that each guest entering is authorized to do so.  Courtesy calls are placed to the residents the guests claim they’re visiting, and the Concierge politely confirms that each guest is expected.  As a service, residents feel pleased to have their guests greeted and announced, and as a security measure, this helps to keep the building safe. 

Effective Incident Response

On occasion, condominiums experience incidents such as floods, power outages, fire alarms, and other situations that may pose a risk to resident safety and building security.  Concierge personnel are trained to respond in accordance with standardized procedures.  They keep the residents, their guests, and their properties safe, and they help to protect condominium corporations against liability.

Bookings and Administration

When residents want to use one of the building’s amenity rooms, the Concierge is there to assist.  Condominiums residents have the ability to use common areas such as a “Party Room” to host a wedding reception, or a “Billiards Room” to have some fun with friends from out of town, or a “Theater Room” to watch a favorite movie with close friends and family.   The Concierge has the authority and training to facilitate this, and handles bookings of amenity rooms, moves and deliveries requiring the service elevator, and keeps track of transactions such as parcels and packages, and keys.

What are the requirements for an entry level Concierge position in Ontario?

  1. Most Concierge personnel in the province of Ontario are required to hold a valid Ontario Security Guard License.  If you want to be a Condominium Concierge, you should probably start with completing the mandatory 40 hour Security Guard License Training and attain First Aid & CPR certification.  This is required by the Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services Private Security and Investigative Services. For more information on how Condor can help you with obtaining your security license, click the following link.
  2. A high school education or equivalent is generally required, as is a strong grasp of the English language both verbal and written.  Good communication skills are key, as is the ability to learn and carry out standard procedures despite external pressure and stress (for example, following a fire procedure in a fire alarm situation).
  3. There is also the factor of prior work experience. It is not a requirement but is an advantage for a Condominium Concierge to have a background in customer service. This experience could include working in a call center (since concierge deal with many phone calls on a regular basis).  Or, customer service experience might include working as an administrative assistant (since concierge write reports, complete logs, and assist residents with booking elevators and amenity rooms). Perhaps customer service experience would include a sales background (since Concierge are considered to be the “face of the building” there is an element of “selling” involved with prospective investors and residents).

How can I get a high-end, luxury Condominium Concierge position?

In addition to the previous three requirements mentioned for the entry-level Concierge position, when applying for the more demanding role of being a Condominium Concierge in a luxury condo, there is other work experience which can give an advantage: prior work experience as a Condominium Concierge.

There are a number of security companies which provide condominiums with personnel who act in the capacity of a Condominium Concierge.  These security companies each have their own training standards and company cultures.  Similarly, each condominium has its own unique culture and community with their own unique requirements.  

Some condo communities require 2 Concierge to work at the same time, side by side at the same desk, and some buildings want only 1 Concierge working at a time.  Some condos with larger Concierge Teams require 1 Concierge to stand at the entrance door, greeting persons entering and opening the door as an expression of the luxury experience.  Some condos expect more from their Concierge Team than others, and may have a higher pay scale as a result.  

Communities which require more from their Concierge also generally expect that candidates serving their community have more in-depth work experience than would candidates for a smaller, less intensive condo community in a less luxurious setting.  They want experienced Concierges with experience multi-tasking and running a busy Concierge Desk.  They want Concierge who have dealt with a fire alarm or two, and have responded in a water leak situation.  High-end condominiums want Concierge with excellent client relations skills. Therefore, prior work experience as a Condominium Concierge does help build one’s resume and capability to meet the service requirements of the Concierge Team in high end, luxury condominium.

Is it difficult to learn how to be a Condominium Concierge in Toronto area?

Condor Security Condominium Concierge Patrol

The answer to this question depends on the individual, however, there are three main challenges: personality & community match, training & learning process, and adapting to the broader team dynamic. 

Challenge #1: Personality and Community Match

One of the unique challenges of being a concierge in Ontario is understanding and getting a feel for the community in which you work.  Every condominium community is different.  You may thrive and excel in one community, yet in a different condominium community, you may feel that the community is just not “the right fit” for your personality.  

Some condominium communities prefer a more extroverted, talkative, conversationalist type of Concierge.  Other communities might prefer a more introverted, stoic, matter-of-fact kind of personality. And, some condominium communities are a blend of both.  Part of the challenge in being a Condominium Concierge in Ontario is finding the right community for you.

Challenge #2: Training and Learning Process

Another challenge is learning a new set of skills. Since the Concierge role blends aspects of security guard work, administrative work, and hotel-style front desk work, there are a number of skills, duties, and responsibilities which one would not necessarily learn from previous work experience.   You will need to operate building life safety systems including the fire panel.  You will need to use various Condominium Concierge Computer Software to log and release parcels, book amenity rooms, and write digital reports.  You will need to learn the building’s policies and rules, and then enforce them, balancing customer service and enforcement within a home to hundreds of different residents.

The training that you receive is critical to preparing you for this role. You should be receiving both in-class training and on-site community-specific training from a qualified, trained individual familiar with the community.  You will need to keep learning and improving as you go, and keep updated with any changes in procedure. 

Challenge #3: Adapting to the Broader Team Dynamic

You will need to work together with the condo’s entire staff, including Property Management, Administrative Assistants, Superintendents, Cleaners, and regular contractors for Elevators, Fire Panels, etc.  You may even have interactions with members of the Condominium’s Board of Directors – the individuals responsible to make financial and other decisions for the entire community, which will impact the Condominium’s environment and future.

You will need to work together effectively with all these entities, who will all form part of your broader team.  At times the people may change, as people in companies get promoted, move on, etc.  And as the people change, you will need to adapt to new personalities and new styles of work. 

You will also need to have an effective working relationship with the fellow Concierge Team members.  Concierge generally work within a shift format, for example: morning shift, evening shift, overnight shift.  It’s important to establish an effective communication channel so that all team members are on the same page and know what is occurring in the building despite not all working at the same time.

I want to apply for Concierge jobs at Condor Security.  How do I get started?

You’re invited to join the team!  Apply for whichever job openings you believe fit your interest by visiting Condor’s Career Section here.  After evaluating your resume, if there is an opening you might qualify for, a Condor representative will contact you either by phone or email and schedule an interview session.

Condor recommends that if you want a concierge position, you should state this during your interview.  If you state your intention to apply as a Condominium Concierge, then your interview will be geared towards understanding if you will be a match with Condor’s requirements for open positions specifically within its condominium client communities.

Applicants for Concierge positions are also recommended to attend their interviews in a full formal business suit. Condor’s Concierge Staff are expected to work and while wearing an upscale, uniformed suit blazer at all times. 

Your handwriting and typing skills are also important to demonstrate, since concierge do complete administrative tasks such as writing reports. Condor also recommends doing your best to remain relaxed and positive during the interview. Customer Service will be a large portion of your job responsibilities.  Therefore, during the interview you can demonstrate your ability to hold polite, professional, light, and friendly conversation.

Tips for Improving your Condominium Concierge Skills

Tip #1:  Improve Your Phone Skills

Be efficient and friendly at the same time.  Imagine you’re speaking with a customer face-to-face and then another customer attends the desk.  Three seconds later, another resident attends the desk.  All three are in a rush and all state they have an urgent matter. At that moment, the phone rings. 

It might be a resident reporting a flood, or some other type of emergency, so you cannot ignore that phone call.   So, you pick up the receiver and answer the call.  You know this may annoy the 3 people that are all waiting (and were there first!). 

Concierge are good at multi-tasking and assisting multiple customers.  When you receive a phone call you need to have the ability to prioritize and assist the caller with whatever they need in the most effective way possible, yet not be rude about it, and also remain considerate to other persons who also require your assistance.  Concierge balance politeness, friendliness, and a light attitude while remaining quick and effective.

Tip #2:  Study and Practice your Procedures for Incident Response

It’s difficult to predict when an incident will happen.  You never know when the next flood will take place.  You never know when there will be a fire alarm.  You never know when people will get stuck in an elevator.  Concierge prepare for these incidents by studying their emergency procedures and taking time to practice them on a regular basis.  Practice can be independent, with a team member, or by requesting a supervisor to provide additional training or performance feedback.

Tip #3:  Build Excellent Relations with Residents

Essentially, Condominium Concierge work in peoples’ homes. Residents see Concierge almost everyday. They might pass by Concierge on the way to work, and again when returning home for the evening.  Residents should feel comfortable and confident with each Concierge behind the front desk.

Smile often, be respectful, be polite, and work on establishing their respect. They may take some time to evaluate each Concierge’s work before forming an opinion, but overall, if a Concierge is professional, polite, and friendly, residents will extend the same in return.

Condor Security has developed a trademark system for training its staff in the key elements of customer service as a Condominium Concierge. The system is named “Controlling Situations Through Excellent Client Relations.” The premise of the system is that in order to maintain an orderly and safe environment for residents of a condominium community, Concierge are best empowered when they utilize their customer service skills to maintain excellent relations with the residents and guests.  This leads to increased cooperation, increased credibility, and promotes security awareness throughout the community. 

Interested in becoming a Condominium Concierge or a Condo Security Guard?

Feel free to apply for a position and Join Our Team!