The Demand Solutions Blog

Budgets are Looming

Posted by Donald Davidoff on Jul 9, 2013 1:27:00 PM

As we enter the “dog days” of summer, it’s time for pricers to look ahead. Things are usually good right now—we have a strong tailwind from seasonality so rents and occupancies are trending upward nicely. And with various summer vacations going on, the pressure isn’t quite as high as it usually is—most operators and executives are happy with the trends, and some of them aren’t even in the office today anyway.

But as anyone who’s been doing multi-family pricing for any length of time knows, beware the coming of the 4th quarter. For though the kingdom seems at peace, we know that ill winds are about to blow. Come September/October, two things will conspire as we face what is often our biggest enemy:  the BUDGET; and it’s almost equally evil sidekick, the operator’s bonus.

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Topics: Revenue Management, property management, apartment operations, apartment pricing

ApartmentRatings.com: Critical for Marketing?

Posted by Donald Davidoff on Jun 17, 2013 10:45:00 PM

There are many different opinions about the value of social media in multi-family housing. Readers of this blog should be pretty aware of mine. But the one thing that everyone seems to agree on is that ratings sites are important. There’s a lot of debate about what to do with ratings sites, but everyone seems to agree there’s some “there” there.

So I thought it would be a good idea to get a sense of exactly how important ratings sites are. The first step I took was to dig up some research I had done for a client back in February. In it I wanted to identify whether there was a clear “category killer” or whether multiple ratings sites were important. In an admittedly un-scientific way, I just looked at 10 communities in the Washington, DC market.

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Topics: apartment operations, multi-family housing, apartment marketing, marketing programs

Channel Pricing Conflict and Customer Service

Posted by Donald Davidoff on Jun 17, 2013 10:45:00 PM

So this past week was an interesting one for travel. I was attending the Folk Alliance International’s conference in Toronto through Sunday. Nothing to do with multi-family housing—just an organization I’m Treasurer of and a chance listen to a lot of incredible music while getting very little sleep.

I was supposed to fly home Sunday evening, change out clothes and fly the next morning to the NAA Student Housing conference to be on a student housing pricing panel (probably a good topic for a future blog), then on to Rainmaker’s LRO User conference in Palos Verdes, CA. Side note: Bruce and Tammy sure know how to pick resorts—the Terrenea is just a fabulous resort with view of the Pacific Ocean and Catalina that are just spectacular.

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Topics: Pricing, Revenue Management, property management, apartment operations

Pleasure or Pain

Posted by Donald Davidoff on Apr 18, 2013 8:40:00 AM

Those of you who know me well know that my brother is a sales coach. Well, more than that but this blog isn’t really about him, so I’ll leave it as a gross simplification of what he does. He and I used to work together—he ran a sales team and I ran the service team for a membership group of travel agencies back in the 1990s.

One of the first things I remember he taught me about sales and marketing is that people are motivated by only two things—they seek to avoid pain and they seek to gain pleasure. But it’s not symmetrical. We’re actually wired to put more attention to avoiding pain than to seeking pleasure. That’s why it’s easier to sell something to someone solving a crisis than it is to someone who’s doing very well and says they want to do better.

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Topics: Revenue Management, property management, apartment operations, apartment pricing, apartment marketing, marketing programs

Evaluating comps when pricing

Posted by Donald Davidoff on Mar 19, 2013 10:44:00 AM

Understanding your competitive set when pricing is obviously important. If you’re constantly at low exposure, you can push pricing and ignore whatever comps are doing. But if your exposure ever goes up, you’ll want to make sure that you’re not priced out of the market such that you can’t reduce exposure.

In my experience, I’ve seen two “camps” on how to approach this problem. The first tries to build the comparison from the ground up. We audit our community against the comp on a variety of things—age, community amenities, unit size, unit type amenities (balconies, fireplaces, kitchen and bath finishes, etc.), and record these in (usually a large) spread sheet. $15 for a balcony, $3 for crown molding, $10 for a fireplace, ….  A lot of work, and a lot of alleged precision.

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Topics: Revenue Management, apartment, apartment operations, apartment pricing

Pricing and Dispositions: When 12-1 does not equal 11+0

Posted by Donald Davidoff on Jan 15, 2013 6:00:00 PM

The deal world. Gotta love it. Smart people doing deals worth tens of millions. Even hundreds of millions of dollars. Surely with that much money at stake, processes are wired tightly and there’s really no room for pricing shenanigans, right? Of course if you believe that, you probably thought sub-prime mortgages were a great investment back in 2007 as well.

Here’s something that I’ve wondered about for the 15 or so years I’ve been doing pricing and revenue management in multi-family housing. Two different deal scenarios:

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Topics: Pricing, Revenue Management, property management, apartment operations