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Anonymous vs. Confidential Surveys – What’s the Difference and Why it Matters

          I am a whole-hearted believer in the power of employee feedback to help companies understand their team members’ collective experience. It allows leaders to gain clarity on what’s working well and what is getting in the way of employee engagement and overall business performance. Employee feedback is only valuable, however, if employees feel comfortable and safe in providing their candid thoughts and experiences and believe their input will influence positive change. The most common ways of providing this level of assurance is to conduct anonymous or confidential surveys – and yes, there’s a difference! Anonymous Approach: Pros and Cons What Defines an Anonymous Survey? An anonymous survey does not include any identifying information, and therefore responses can not be tied back to any individual participant. Pros: These types of surveys are most often deployed by giving all potential respondents the same survey link, removing any administrative burden from the employer. An employer would simply send one mass email to all employees with one common link. Cons: Since the survey link is not tied to any particular employee record, a single employee could take the survey multiple times, skewing the response rate as well as the overall results. If trying to gather demographic factors, such as their position, department, or geographic location, there is a higher likelihood of error, whether from user error or a deliberate desire to mask their identity. In addition, research indicates that accuracy can slightly diminish on anonymous surveys. In an act referred......
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How Crowdsourcing is Helping Apartment Operators

How Crowdsourcing is Helping Apartment Operators
When people picture crowdsourcing in action, the apartment industry doesn’t typically come to mind.We’re more inclined to think of big consumer brands getting ideas from their customers and the general public. Like the popular LEGO Ideas platform, through which users can submit their suggestions for new LEGO sets.  Or Waze, which has allowed many of us to avoid traffic and find the best routes by sharing information instantaneously with one another. Another great crowdsourcing platform we use without thinking about it much is Wikipedia, which far outstripped Encyclopedia Britannica with wealth of information and data. These are but a few examples of platforms that used crowdsourcing to offer better, faster, more relevant data and information that we rely on daily basis. But the truth is, more and more apartment communities are embracing crowdsourcing in a very effective way: They’re using it to make their market surveys more efficient and more accurate than ever before.Old School Isn’t Cutting ItUndoubtedly, you are familiar with the old-school, traditional way apartment communities have gone about conducting market surveys of their competitive set. It’s unwieldy, time-consuming and, too often, results in inaccurate data.Onsite associates who are too busy to begin with have to spend hours making phone calls to competitive properties to collect data about asking rents, occupancy rates and concessions. Frequently, the person at the other property they need to talk to isn’t immediately available, necessitating rounds of phone tag. Many times, the overextended person at the other community never calls back.Adding to the difficulties is the fact......
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Strong Market Surveys Can Optimize Your Comp Shopping Efforts

Strong Market Surveys Can Optimize Your Comp Shopping Efforts
There are numerous benefits to optimizing and streamlining your market survey process.To start with, when you have reliable real-time data about your competitors’ rental and occupancy rates, you understand exactly how your community compares to its comp set and you can make truly informed pricing decisions.Also, when your busy onsite teams use an efficient, automated survey-compilation process, this frees them up to handle the many responsibilities they have that are critical to signing new residents and retaining existing ones.Another benefit of a market survey system that reliably collects accurate real-time data from your comps is that it eliminates the need for any type of ‘secret shopping’ you would ordinarily undertake at your competitors. Instead of worrying about collecting information on pricing and concessions and amenities, your shoppers can instead focus on the experience that onsite associates provide prospects.And that’s vital information to have.The Ripple Effect of Bad Market SurveysApartment operators are well versed in the drawbacks of manually compiling market surveys. Onsite associates who already have many other demands on their time place phone call after phone call to comparable properties to gather information about asking rents, occupancy rates, concessions and amenities. Often, the person they need to talk to isn't immediately available, necessitating rounds of phone tag; frequently, the person never calls back.Another problem stems from the fact that associates often aren’t trained to ask the kinds of questions that will ensure the data they receive is accurate and represents a true apples-to-apples comparison between properties.Additionally, even if the associates are able ......
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Generating Submarket Data the Right Way

Generating Submarket Data the Right Way
When apartment operators are evaluating the performance of their communities, data about the surrounding submarket is absolutely critical. But not all submarket data is created equally. Although metro market reports produced by research organizations have an undeniable value in the assessment of a market’s performance, it would be a mistake for operators to rely on the submarket information presented in these reports to compare against their own property (we will get to why in just a moment).     Ultimately, the best way to understand what's going on in your submarkets is to understand what's going on with your comps. And to understand what's going on with your comps, you need to do market surveys (comp benchmarking).     Beware of Regression AnalysisMetro reports from third-party organizations can provide a great sense of the overall economic and rental trends in a metro area, such as Phoenix. This is extremely valuable information for an operator to have when evaluating the current performance of the market and when making projections about the future. This is valuable information when making strategic market-wide decisions, such as do we want to acquire/build in this market or is disposition and exit a better option. Recall how some of the public REITs years ago decided to exit all other markets and focus solely on East and West coasts. However, the most relevant data for most operators is submarket data. And, unfortunately, the submarket stats in these reports can be flawed.Here's why: the surveys used to produce these reports are conducted at the b......
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Why Casting a Wide Data Net Isn't Always the Best Approach

Why Casting a Wide Data Net Isn't Always the Best Approach
When it comes to understanding your apartment community's performance, it certainly doesn't hurt to look at as much market data as possible. Monthly and quarterly market reports compiled by research and brokerage firms about your metro area are worth reviewing, but they also have limitations. By the time they arrive on your desk or in your inbox, the data is at least 30 days old. Sometimes the data contradict each other and its projections.Also, these surveys are usually conducted at the market level and then a regression analysis is performed to determine submarket data. This means the survey reports don't offer true insight into your surrounding submarket, let alone your property's comps. In the end, the information you really want to dig into and spend the most time with comes from your comps. To state it one way, it doesn’t matter if Manhattan rents were rising a month ago if your community is in Chelsea and rents there are flat today.  Getting Vital Data the Right WayThe problem facing a lot of operators is they don't have an efficient process for obtaining the kind of data that will benefit them the most.Too many property managers rely on the traditional market survey approach. Busy onsite associates spend hours calling comps to collect data about asking rents, occupancy rate, concessions, etc. When, and if they're finally able to collect this information, they enter it into Excel spreadsheets. And we all know this presents a whole host of problems and hampers meaningful data analysis. T......
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Are you over-promising and under-performing?

Are you over-promising and under-performing?
Are you over-promising and under-performing? Not the best business plan ever. No one has ever gotten a job or a raise from over-promising and under-performing.   I get it. You want people to like you. You want people to admire you. You don’t want to give them bad news or be mad at you. You’re super optimistic about what you can get done. All sorts of reasons that we might over-promise. So what do you do? You soften the news. At home it’s, “Ok babe. I’ll be ready to go in five minute!.” As you’re standing there in your unmentionables still deciding what to wear and in desperate need of a shower. (Don’t judge me, you’ve all done this. I’ve done it three times this week already.)   In a work situation it’s, “I’ll have this project to you in…um…three days. Yes, three days. For sure.” Then when you get it to them in a week they’ve probably been blowing up your inbox or phone, have lost confidence in you and (the absolute WORST) are disappointed in you. UGH.   Unless three days is actually feasible, why not be honest? “Listen, I’d love to have this to you in three days, but it’s going to take two weeks.“ Sure, they might be a little disappointed that you’re not going to have it in three days. But watch their eyes light up when you get it to them in one week.   Wouldn’t you say that eye lighting up is SO much better than sighs of disappointment? Her......
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MEASURING PERFORMANCE

MEASURING PERFORMANCE
Competency. Over the last few years, this buzz word has made its way into many organizations as part of job descriptions, performance management plans, employee career pathing, etc.  Competency refers to a measurable component of an employee's behavior at work that is expected to be demonstrated as a regular part of their job. If you are considering going down the competency path, a couple of tips: Define the organization's goals, values and mission first.  All competencies for all positions need to be aligned with these over anything else.  Incidentally, this will actually help in process of determining competencies. Once you determine the competencies, define them.  For example: "Team player" may be considered as a competency, but can be interpreted many different ways.  Define it with sub-competencies that are measurable behaviors such as "Demonstrates appropriate verbal and written communication with coworkers" or "Contributes equally to group projects."  If you fail to define vague competencies with measurable behaviors, subjectivity comes into play and performance evaluations are based on opinion rather than fact. Don't make your efforts fizzle by using an unrelated instrument for performance reviews.  If your expectations of performance are built into the competencies, then use the competencies to measure performance.  For example, if you have chosen "Team player" as a competency and defined it with sub-competencies, then those sub-competencies must appear as a metric on the performance evaluation form and graded individually.  Gone are the days of the same performance evaluation for everyone - now the evaluation forms are specific to the posi......
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