The Demand Solutions Blog

The Quickest Way to Reduce Vacancy Loss As Much As 75bps

Posted by Donald Davidoff on May 21, 2018 2:00:00 PM

I was recently reviewing detailed lease data for a large metropolitan market for one of my clients and saw something that absolutely fascinated me. Fully one-third of the leases had synchronized expirations at the end of the month rather than exactly one-year leases.

This harkened back to the days of 1999 when, at Talus Solutions (the company I worked for back then), we were doing analysis and simulation for Archstone in the work that would eventually lead to the creation of LRO, the industry’s first automated pricing and revenue management system.

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Topics: Longstanding Vacant Units

11 Takeaways from the Apartment Internet Marketing (AIM) Conference 2018

Posted by Donald Davidoff on May 14, 2018 2:00:00 PM

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the Apartment Internet Marketing (AIM) conference. Aside from the great location in Huntington Beach (I don’t normally pay much attention to conference locations, but I’ve really come to love that particular one), the content this year was spectacular. It’s sometimes an industry sport to complain about conference content, so Steve Lefkovits and Dennis Cogbill deserve a special shout out for curating a truly great conference.

The conference covered such a wide canvas of topics that I thought I’d replace my normal detailed review of 3-5 key themes from any conference for a quick tour of all the things that struck me. Here goes:

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Topics: Multifamily Trends, Customer Experience, Future, Artificial Intelligence, Email ReMarketing

7 Tips to Help Leasing Associates Make Sales Faster (And Delight Residents)

Posted by Donald Davidoff on May 9, 2018 2:00:00 PM

Over the last 20 years, the multifamily industry has gotten better at managing the core elements of their business. Companies are smarter regarding where they're building or buying their properties, and how they're operating them. The use of pricing and revenue management systems has become the norm, not the exception. Utilizing sophisticated property management systems, online marketing tools and so forth--again, the norm. That means we're operating more efficiently than we ever have before.

With all of these improvements, there is still one area that has been (and often still is) overlooked: sales. As the demands of customers continue to evolve and liquid expectations impact their expectations, experience and buying journey, smart operators know this needs to change. At these companies, sales acumen has begun to “earn its seat at the table” as a key driver to operational performance.

It's important to note that selling today isn't like what selling used to be. Daniel Pink, noted author of the book To Sell is Human shared, "Most of what we know about sales comes from a world of information asymmetry. Sellers had far, far more information than buyers did." That was certainly true in multifamily. Sellers could manipulate buyers and force them to play the game that salespeople wanted to play. That is no longer true.   

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Topics: Revenue Management, pricing and revenue management, Leasing Performance, Sales Coaching

A Data-Backed Strategy to Drive 150bps to Multifamily Rent Per Unit (RPU)

Posted by Donald Davidoff on Apr 16, 2018 12:00:00 PM

I’d like to take a moment to talk about a piece of the demand management platform that often doesn’t get much attention—handling the initial prospect call. Specifically, I’d like to make the case for using a professionally-run call center (full disclosure: I am on the Board of, and an investor in, Anyone Home though I like to think of that as “putting my money (and time) where my mouth is”)

So as not to bury the lede, I’d like to ask you if you would be attracted to a solution with a proven track record of raising RPU (revenue per unit) by 150bps? Okay, that’s the kind of “salesy” question meant to get your attention since there’s clearly only one logical answer to that. However, those of you who know me, know that I’m educated as an engineer and I don’t make claims like that without solid, proven test data. Though not necessarily well publicized, that very specific data exists.

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Topics: Demand Management

More Insights from A Millennial (and my shortest blog ever)

Posted by Donald Davidoff on Apr 10, 2018 2:00:00 PM

A week or so ago, I blogged on my daughter’s reaction to a study allegedly sharing insights into how you need market to millennials differently than everyone else. I got so many responses to the raw honesty and insight, I thought I’d go back to the D2 Demand Solutions Millennial Focus Group (again, really just my 23-year old daughter who is a renter) and ask her what she thought about the buzz around micro units and co-living concepts.

The good news is that, unprompted, she’s heard plenty about both of these. The not-so-good news? Just read her response:

Literally every millennial I have seen comment on them thinks they are glorified college dorms, and no one wants to live in them over a normal apartment. People just have to in places like San Fran because rent prices are ridiculous. There is a lot of grumbling about how baby boomers screwed over the housing market and now they think we want to live in dorms forever. Seriously, no one wants a communal bathroom and kitchen.

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Topics: Millennials, Multifamily Trends, Leasing Performance, Customer Experience

The Best Apartment Marketing Tips for Millennials...From a Millennial

Posted by Donald Davidoff on Mar 21, 2018 2:00:00 PM

A few days ago, I was catching up on my reading and downloaded a white paper from one of the many marketing vendors in multifamily housing. As with so many of these, the paper purported to unlock the secrets of marketing to millennials. I’m always a bit skeptical of these sorts of buzzword-laden attempts to claim that somehow this strange beast, homo millennius, is a completely different offshoot from the rest of homo sapiens and thus needs special care and attention.

The paper started with some basic facts that seemed reasonable, though hardly differentiating. For example, Milliennials have been slower to marry than earlier generations. A true statement that means they will probably be renters longer than prior generations; but it hardly seems to indicate that we need to do something different in marketing to them than everyone else.

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Topics: Millennials, Multifamily Trends

MTEC Wrap-up: 5 Key Takeaways

Posted by Donald Davidoff on Mar 13, 2018 4:00:00 PM

I just got back from the 2018 edition of MTEC, the Multifamily Technology Entrepreneur’s Conference, and I must say I was unusually impressed with the quality of the content. Here are a few of my key takeaways:

1. The MFH tech ecosystem is getting stronger.
MTEC set record attendance with more than 160 attendees. Given the somewhat lagging nature of tech in MFH, this bodes well for the future. There was a wide range of tech companies from both an “area of focus” and a “maturity of business” perspective. One of the highlights each year is the “Shark Tank”-style presentation of new businesses. In past years, I confess to feeling that some (even half) of the presenters simply did not have a compelling enough business proposition to be worth my time listening. This year, there were 10 presenters and each held my attention as I could see a need for all of them.

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Topics: Multifamily Trends, Technology

The 3 Points that Make a Leasing Sales Process Great

Posted by Donald Davidoff on Mar 2, 2018 3:30:00 PM

Selling is a lot like hitting a baseball. If you watch any Major League team play, you’ll quickly see two things: first, you’ll see some highly talented athletes on the field, and second you’ll see a wide variety of approaches, batting stances and swings from batters.

While a batting stance is as unique as the player employing it, if you study hitting, you’ll discover that despite the variety, effective batting swings have quite a lot in common. In hitting, there are three key points with the swing (where the hands are at the “load” position, where they are when the hands enter the “swing zone” and where they are at the point of contact) common across all good swings that enable a hitter to maximize the probability of making strong contact with the baseball and getting a hit.

Leasing is similar in this way. Leasing associates all have different styles and personalities. Additionally, the communities and buildings they’re leasing are quite different, and prospective residents bring their own unique personalities. The result is that every leasing opportunity is a unique experience.

Yet, in our study of top leasing associates and great leasing sales processes, we’ve identified that, like hitting a baseball, the great ones have three key elements that separate them from all others and maximize the likelihood of a positive outcome.

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Topics: Leasing Performance, Sales Coaching

How to Know it's Time to Improve Your Leasing and Sales Process

Posted by Donald Davidoff on Feb 20, 2018 2:00:00 PM

Over the years we’ve reviewed quite a few multifamily sales processes and training programs. The number one thing they’ve all had in common is (to put it nicely) they’re old. They’re built for a time that no longer exists. The impact of this is twofold:

  • It puts a drag on leasing performance and pricing while increasing lead generation costs.
  • It creates a negative customer experience, harming word-of-mouth and Net Promoter Score (NPS).

With leasing season just around the corner, now is a great time to give your leasing/sales process a check up. If you’re wondering whether yours needs improvement, here are five signs that the time to improve your leasing and sales process has come:

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Topics: Leasing Performance, Sales Coaching

2018 NMHC Recap & Reflections for the Multifamily Industry

Posted by Donald Davidoff on Jan 19, 2018 4:00:00 PM

NMHC-2018.pngFlying back home from the NMHC Annual Meeting in Orlando, I can’t help but reflect on how fortunate we all are to be in this particular industry, at this particular moment in time. After several years of record 4-5+% rent growth, the past 16 months have seen remarkably stable rent growth with Axiometrics reporting YOY growth in the very narrow range of 2.1% to 2.5% (the long-term historical average is roughly 2.2-2.3%).

It’s not often we get to experience a sustained period of “Goldilocks” growth (“not too high, not too low”). Not surprisingly, the single biggest theme I observed at the session was a general satisfaction and confidence in the industry. The tone was clearly optimistic, but not heady. I realized that many of the CEOs and COOs attending were in the same or similar positions with their companies back in 2006-07. So while everyone feels good, the lingering memory of how that bull run came to a crashing end tempers any irrational enthusiasm.

Despite the stability of current market conditions, we are clearly in a transitional period not just in our industry, but in the larger business world as well. Here are a few key observations from my vantage point:

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Topics: Multifamily Trends, Leasing Performance, Future, Artificial Intelligence