The Demand Solutions Blog

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

3 Qualities Successful PRMs Share

Posted by Jessica Mills on Jun 23, 2017 12:00:00 AM

A revenue management system is a large company investment. We expect site teams to comply with this pricing and train them on what information they should be entering in our systems. However, you may hear that teams aren’t showing up to pricing calls or have failed to mention the road construction deterring prospects from visiting their property. If this sounds familiar, you do have a problem. But it may not be your sales team...have you hired the right person as your Pricing and Revenue Manager?

The most successful PRMs share certain qualities that give them the ability to effectively run revenue management systems, but also manage the relationships involved. Here are the top three qualities that ideal PRMs share:

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Topics: Pricing, Revenue Management, pricing and revenue management

9 Essential Reads that Will Change the Way You View Business

Posted by Donald Davidoff on May 24, 2016 12:00:00 PM

In my consulting work, I am often asked to coach or mentor pricing managers, marketers and/or regional operators and above. In doing so, I typically include reading assignments involving books and articles that I believe are relevant to the skills we’re trying to develop. Occasionally, I’m even asked proactively for a reading list.

So in that spirit, here are my “Nine Essential Reads.” A couple of them are classics that I’m sure you’ve heard of, while I’m guessing a few of them are new to you.

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Topics: Revenue Management, multifamily sales, Reading Material

Winter is Coming - 6 Areas for Multifamily Operators to Review

Posted by Donald Davidoff on Apr 21, 2016 3:00:00 PM

With HBO about to premier my favorite currently running series, Game of ThronesI couldn’t help but see many signs of that show's catchphrase in recent pronouncements from various media, that absorption rates are now below new delivery rates, thus likely driving moderation in occupancy and rent growth in many markets.

Winter is indeed coming.

Unlike the never-ending contest between the Lannisters and the Starks, we in multifamily can step away from the battle and prepare to face the Windwalkers of the next recession. Here’s my checklist for just a few areas in demand management to review for any sophisticated multifamily operator: 

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Topics: Revenue Management, pricing and revenue management, apartment marketing, multifamily sales, business intelligence

Is Your Bonus System Hurting You?

Posted by Donald Davidoff on Sep 26, 2013 5:26:00 PM

Funny thing about bonus systems —you often get exactly what you incent. Now that doesn’t mean you get what you want. It means you get what you incent. So here are a couple of pet peeves of mine that I’'ve seen w.r.t. bonuses in multi-family that at best just waste money but at worst actually hurt our pricing and revenue management efforts:

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Topics: Revenue Management, apartment, property management, apartment operations, apartment pricing, multi-family housing, pricing and revenue management, financial performance

Inverted Leases at Renewal Time: A Big Challenge

Posted by Donald Davidoff on Sep 17, 2013 6:51:00 PM

It’s that time of the year when prices typically start going down. The good news is that with rent growth relatively strong over the past year, in general new rents are above expiring rents come renewal time. However, there are still times when rents are “inverted.”

With transparency of pricing on web sites, this can cause a real challenge. Existing residents see you offer no (or a small) increase and then take a look at the website where they see new pricing below what they’re currently paying. So what do you do?

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Topics: Revenue Management, apartment, property management, apartment pricing, pricing and revenue management

A Gathering of Pricers--Will I See you at ARM?

Posted by Donald Davidoff on Sep 3, 2013 10:43:00 AM

It’s been a while since I last blogged. Lots going on—crazy busy with clients, my younger daughter just started high school and we just sent my older daughter off to Princeton for her freshman year. Both of those milestones got me thinking about how I got to where I am.

Hard work, smarts and a good bit of luck certainly had a lot to do with it. But I think the most important thing for anyone in a “cognitive skill” career path is to be constantly learning. Learning from experience,  but more importantly learning from others—from “experts” we may not know and from colleagues (and competitors) who we do know. Which got me thinking about how important a role conferences have played in my career. I’ve met so many people who become not just business colleagues but also friends; and I’ve learned from many speakers I never would have otherwise encountered—people with ideas that changed how I viewed the world, my job and myself.

So if you’re serious about pricing in the multi-family industry, you simply have to go to the Apartment Revenue Management Conference. There are lots of pricing conferences and lots of multi-family housing conferences, but ARM is the only conference dedicated solely to practicing our art in our vertical. I’ll be there again and hope to see you. For those of you who might care, here’s what I’m expecting to do there:

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Topics: Revenue Management, apartment, property management, apartment pricing, multi-family housing, pricing and revenue management

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, pricing and revenue management, financial performance

KPIs: What Exactly Are You Trying to Measure?

Posted by Donald Davidoff on Jun 27, 2013 10:50:00 PM

So I’ve been doing this D2 Demand Solutions thing since I left Holiday Retirement a bit more than 7 months ago. I counted that I’ve now worked with an even dozen clients [ok—a) there’s no such thing as an “odd dozen” and b) why is it that I’m compelled to count things? Have been since I was a kid—no wonder I got into metric-driven analytics]

Anyway, the point I want to make is that across virtually all of this client base, I have found an almost never-ending pursuit for the perfect metric (or metrics)—that simple set of KPIs that will do everything we need to know what’s “really going on” in our business. And I’ve realized that part of why this is a virtually impossible quest is that there are really two VERY DIFFERENT purposes for a metric.


Financial metrics/dashboards/reports

As the name suggests, these metrics deal with financial results. For public companies, they give us advance insight into what the EOQ numbers are going to look like; for private companies, they’re really what our owner cares about—it’s all about the cash in bank.

The trouble with financial metrics is that they can show skewed data that leads to incorrect assumptions about how operations/sales is performing. For example, if I forecast 95% occupancy for the community and I hit that number—BUT my 1BR occupancy is 97% and my 2BR occupancy is 92%, my financials will be below budget (and vice versa if the 2BRs are the higher occupied unit) just because of the sales mix. This is particularly an issue if you look at a metric like month-over-month (MOM) new rents—if I sold 10 2BRs last month and 5 1BRs—and this month I do the reverse and lease 5 2BRs and 10 1BRs—my MOM new rents look way down. But it’s just a temporary sales mix thing, not poor sales performance. 

The thing is that these metrics still matter—if I do sell more 1BRs than 2BRs, my cash in bank and my reportable revenue is truly lower, so I need to know that. But I DON’T WANT TO GIG OPS FOR JUST A SHORT-TERM SALES MIX ISSUE.


Business behavioral metrics/dashboards/reports 

Enter the “behavioral metric” which is great for operational dashboards and reports. With these metrics, I normalize for the sales mix. For example, I can calculate a new rent at the unit type level and then aggregate up to a community-level new rent by using a UT-count weighted average of the two. This fixed ratio gives me a number indicative of the community-level rent, but it won’t tie to financials because I normalized away the sales mix. It will, however, show me whether my underlying rent trend is up or down because sales mix variances won’t affect this metric.

I can do the same thing for unit-level amenities. I can strip away the unit amenities and track base rent movements. Again, these won’t tie to financials because amenity upcharges are real, but this metric won’t have volatility simply due to changes in sales mix of highly amenitized vs base units being rented.

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Topics: Revenue Management, apartment operations, financial performance

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