Ellis Multifamily Industry Benchmark 1st Quarter 2014

The Generational Divide and Leasing Training
Q1 2014 Ellis Benchmark Trending Graphs
Q1 2014 Benchmark Questions Breakdown

We are pleased to present the First Quarter 2014 Ellis Multifamily Industry Benchmark. We are proud to be your partner and strive to help you better understand and manage the lead conversion and resident retention processes. Our team continues to deliver the most current tools to help you monitor and evaluate on-site sales and marketing effectiveness, as well as to be able to compare your team’s performance against others in the industry. The importance of the customer’s perception of their experience with your team and product cannot be ignored. This perception determines the true value to the customer related to the problem he needs to solve or aspirations she wants to fulfill.

As you reflect on the accomplishments of last year and begin to tackle the challenges of the New Year, we hope that you will find value in our 2014 topics which revolve around leasing training,

1st Quarter: The Generational Divide and Leasing Training
2nd Quarter: Does Leasing Training Need to Change?
3rd Quarter: Overcoming Leasing Training Obstacles
4th Quarter: Leasing Training Today and Tomorrow

Traditionally, every 15 to 20 years a new generation forms, shaped largely by important world events, the adoption of new technology, and evolving cultural trends. These are the patterns that produce far-reaching stereotypes about what it means to be a part of a generation. In today’s leasing office, as many as four generations work side-by-side – and the differences among them are some of the most considerable challenges facing companies today. But the differences that set us apart also can bring us together. In the leasing classroom, students are exposed to more examples and experiences than they otherwise would be in an unvaried learning environment. However, they are also very likely to carry quite different expectations relative to learning (receiving and delivering) based on their early life and workplace experiences. Unlike other collaborations, training helps to level the playing field, allowing all students to learn from one other. The key to unlocking this powerful learning environment is to understand our similarities and differences – the generational divide.

The Generational Divide

Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964)

The beginning of the “modern” era of training started in the 1970’s. At that time, the workforce consisted of people who had persevered through the Great Depression, World War II, and young Baby Boomers who had come of age in the 1960s. There were significant differences in the values, general attitudes and learning styles of these generations. Sound familiar? The early training methods tended to have a “one-size-fits-all” approach. It was not uncommon to experience a scenario where one individual lectured a group of employees, perhaps handing out a list of policies and procedures, and then told them to go back to work. Time for questions and clarifications was rare. Very little thought was given to the idea that training should be engaging or customized for different audiences.

Typically, Baby Boomers…

  • Are accustomed to lecture and/or workshop style training
  • Prefer small group exercises
  • Like to keep discussions and idea sharing “safe”

Generation X (born between 1965 and 1977)

Flip ahead to the 1980’s and 1990’s and Generation X enters the workforce. Workplace training became a growth industry during this time period. A 1995 survey of U.S. industries with 100 or more employees reported that approximately $52 billion was spent annually on training employees. Technology was also evolving and the workplace was now acknowledged as an important learning arena. There was an increase in the value of experience-based knowledge and skills, suggesting a more positive perspective to workplace learning and competence development. Role-playing, team building, and on-the-job-training were key components in many company training initiatives.  When the digital world began to emerge, Gen X was also very comfortable. Unlike their Baby Boomer parents, they were the latchkey kids, and they experienced expanding technology at a young age. They grew up with “fast” food; “remote control” entertainment; and “quick response” devices such as automatic teller machines and microwave ovens, all of which provided instant gratification. Those on the tail end of this generation even grew up with computers!

Typically, Gen X’ers…

  • Are accustomed to eLearning
  • Enjoy experiential learning, such as role-play activities
  • Thrive with on-the-job training and self-study, allowing them to multi-task

Generation Y (born between 1978 and 1995)

Generation Y are known as the tech generation.  Being exposed to the most advanced technology and being not only aware of but very dependent on those technologies has caused workers of Gen Y to require advanced technologies in the workplace and in their training. Their learning styles are also quite different. They have shorter attention spans and are used to the feeling of instant gratification. Generation Y is accustomed to receiving information quickly – they want what they want when they want it! However, their lack of patience and attention span can also be an asset when it comes to efficiency, as they can get things done swiftly without waiting around. In the training room, they are causing confusion and disarray. Many of them see no reason why they cannot customize and oversee their own personalized learning experience. Where did they come up with this crazy idea? Their use of the Web often entirely revolves around content they and their friends have created. They upload pictures and videos, build profile pages, and interact both with each other and the content through active commenting systems. Collaborative learning is their training language.

Typically Gen Y’ers…

  • Are accustomed to eLearning leveraging wikis, blogs, podcasts, mobile applications, etc.
  • Prefer hands-on learning and collaboration-leveraging technology

Generation Z: (born between 1996-?)

While Gen Z is smaller in numbers, there is evidence to suggest that their influence, fueled by a constant connection to the world around them, will outpace their size. The world is constantly connected, and they will shock you with their ability to leverage this connectivity. According to Bruce Tulgan, founder of the research organization Rainmaker Thinking, “Generation Z will present profound challenges to leaders, managers, supervisors, HR leaders and educators in every sector of the workforce. It will be increasingly important to understand where they are coming from and key strategies for bringing out the best in this new, emerging young workforce. Our research on Generation Z is ongoing.” Managing Generation Z will demand training facilitators who have mastered the tools of social media and can take control of the learning event. The key will be command-driven use of social media.

“The ideal ‘learning event’ at Dell has a class size of one, lasts 5 to 10 minutes, and takes place within 10 minutes of when someone recognizes that he or she needs to know something. Our challenge is to reduce learning to its smallest, most-useful increments and to put the learner in charge of the entire process.” – John Cone, former head of Dell learning

When preparing to deliver training in any environment, the trainer/facilitator must understand the learners. Who are they? How has their upbringing shaped their view of the world? Training professionals must understand what is important to employees and how this drives their decisions and ability to learn new information.

Changing Trends and Findings

Similar to understanding the changing demographic trends in the workplace, we can also learn a lot about a company with shopping results trends; they can be very revealing. Even when positive employee performance trends may look good on paper, the buck should not stop there; there is always room for growth. High-performers can use a little polish on some of their skills and competencies, too. When it comes to serving the potential customer, where have your employees ranked among your competitors over the last 14 years? The Traditional Benchmark Trending graph provides us with a snapshot of traditional benchmark averages since 2000, and the Customer Experience Benchmark Trending graph reflects averages of the customer experience benchmark since Ellis started collecting this data in mid-2012. What does your company trend look like?

Since 2000, the Ellis Traditional Multifamily Industry Benchmark quarterly ranking and comparison has been our way of identifying and recognizing the leasing performance of participating companies. The basic premise of the benchmark is evaluating performance on the 10 key benchmark questions. Participants can qualify for Platinum, Gold, Silver, or Bronze level based on their company average and Benchmark performance scores during the quarter.

This quarter we are releasing the Ellis Customer Experience Benchmark quarterly ranking and comparison to provide recognition to those companies who deliver, through the eyes of the customer, an exceptional customer experience. The customer experience benchmark score is based on the answers to Questions 1-9 in the Customer Experience section of the Ellis shopping report, which reflects the customer’s perception of the Service they received, the Value offered, and how well their Needs would be met. The highest possible Ellis Customer Experience Benchmark score is 5.0. The overall benchmark score ranges by category reflected in the charts below were calculated based on all of the shops included in the Ellis Benchmark for 2013.  The median Ellis Traditional Multifamily Industry Benchmark score in 2013 was 93. The median Ellis Customer Experience Benchmark score for 2013 was 3.7.

The Ellis Traditional Multifamily Industry Benchmark 1st Quarter 2014 Overall Average score of all participating companies is 91. The Ellis Customer Experience Benchmark 1st Quarter 2014 Overall Average score of all participating companies is 3.7. Your results for the current quarter for both benchmarks are indicated in the “Your Score & Rank” column.

1st Quarter, 2014:  33 Participating Companies Representing 3,719 Total Shops

AMLI Residential; Behringer Harvard; Berkshire Realty Holdings, L.P.; BH Management Services, Inc.; Bozzuto & Associates; BRE Properties; Capreit; Carmel Partners; CWS Apartment Homes, LLC; Gables Residential Services; GHP Management; Greystar Management Services; Guardian Management, LLC; Holland Residential; IMT Residential; Kettler Management; Legacy Partners Residential, Inc.; Pacific Living Properties; Palms Associates; Pinnacle (PRMC); Post Properties; RAM Partners, LLC; Riverstone Residential Group; Simpson Property Group; Sunrise Management, The Bainbridge Companies; Timberland Partners; TriBridge Residential; UDR; Venterra Realty; Waterton Residential; Winn Residential; ZRS Management, LLC

Congratulations to the 1st Quarter 2014 Ellis Traditional Multifamily Industry Benchmark Platinum Level Achievers!

  • Gables Residential Services
  • GHP Management
  • Legacy Partners Residential, Inc.
  • The Bainbridge Companies
  • Venterra Realty

Congratulations to the 1st Quarter 2014 Ellis Customer Experience Benchmark Gold Level** Achievers!

  • AMLI Residential
  • Behringer Harvard
  • Bozzuto & Associates
  • Gables Residential Services
  • Simpson Property Group
  • Venterra Realty

 * Companies are listed in alphabetical order.
** The highest level achieved for the 1st Quarter 2014 Ellis Customer Experience Benchmark was Gold.

We give special recognition to Gables Residential Services and Venterra Realty who placed in the highest-achieved levels this quarter for both the Traditional and the Customer Experience benchmarks.

How did we do?

The first graph below shows the average score of all participating companies for each traditional benchmark question and the combined overall traditional benchmark The second graph reflects the average score of all participating companies for the three categories of the customer experience benchmark – value, service, and needs.

Leasing Training

As you become more aware of generational differences in the workplace, it is equally important to consider the different tools needed to result in the best overall leasing training experience for the student. This includes choosing effective trainers/facilitators who understand and can adapt to their unique generational differences. When we consider the evolution of the leasing training experience from ‘you are on your own’, telling and instruction, on-the-job training, and involving students in real time training, to ‘you can rewrite your training program’, a new set of challenges appear. How can we make it work for everyone?

If you have been in the property management business a few years, you have seen many changes in the design, structure, and delivery of leasing training. Armed with a firm understanding of generational differences and learning styles, companies are beginning once again to shift in this arena because they see the great opportunities and rewards ahead of them.

Here is a snapshot of the evolution of leasing training and a distinct shift towards change in each one.

The Classroom

The original leasing training classroom was designed and led by the Traditionalists and possibly some of the early Baby Boomers. Quite often, the training manuals were large and connected by printed handouts and written tests to be experienced and completed by the student. The use of an overhead projector and transparencies was also very common. Piles and piles of tests were graded, and the completion of a program was often documented in the multiple excel spreadsheets each trainer was responsible for maintaining. Eventually, the books were reduced, and the overhead projector was replaced by a computer and a coordinating Power Point presentation. Today’s leasing classroom might include video, virtual teachers, and many other forms of technology to increase employee engagement and a deeper understanding of the information being presented.

Online Training

The consistent delivery of a message combined with the cost savings may have initiated the online training craze. Companies with very small training budgets found this to be a very viable solution for their employees. However, many experienced the initial challenge of upgrading equipment which would make the transfer of this information to the trainee seamless. Soon, companies were converting their classroom textbooks to online training courses. The online content could also be designed to appeal to multiple learning styles – listening, reading, personal interactivity. Consistency of message, multilingual training, and prompt training also made this method very attractive, especially as it pertained to compliance training. The cherry on top was the transparency; all training could be automatically tracked and recorded! Of course, for every upside, there is a downside. In this case, the need to secure a quiet area without interruption was and still can be an obstacle for some students. Today, we see entire learning platforms, which might include video lesson segments, embedded quizzes, case studies, video, problem-solving exercises, immediate feedback, student-ranked questions and answers, completion tracking, games, and certificates of mastery.

Social Media

Social media has many unique advantages including employee training. Today’s new generation of employees has a high degree of exposure to social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. It has transformed the way employees can access both static and real time dynamic information. Companies are able to share information in a matter of a few seconds to large groups that include both employees and customers.

Compared to traditional methods, individuals now no longer have to spend a lot of time, effort and money to communicate. Customized focus group discussions, practice communities, mentoring and coaching, as well as team-building with sub-groups are just the beginning. Social media can be used as a platform for informal learning, on-demand learning, lowering training costs, and even supplemental training. The ability to interconnect social media also allows for a rapid exchange of ideas and development of new training courses. Educational institutions, businesses and other organizations are beginning to conduct training, seminars and classes online via social media platforms. Others are beginning to connect employee learning styles to social media in a training program designed and delivered by the trainees themselves. The “teacher” is no longer the trainer; the process is.

Imagine this…a facilitator leads a live discussion with employees on the topic of “customer engagement”. One screen displays Power Point, the other a live Twitter feed from the trainees who add their insight, opinion, and bring shape to a future training program. It is like a book whose ending is being written live! Once thought to be a major time waster, social media is now proving to be a positive experience for employees, resulting in a happier and more productive workplace. Embrace the inevitable; this transformation is not a choice.

Generational values often collide when members of different generations work together. Each generation has different work values, different perceptions of authority, different responses to training methods, and different views about what is important in life in general. This is often referred to as the generational divide. If cross-generation managers and trainers are not prepared for these differences in values, it can create conflict, poor performance and low morale in the leasing office and the training arena.

Join us next quarter as we link the generations and training methods together and ask the question: “Does leasing training need to change?”

We thank you for your ongoing participation and feedback, which help make this report informative, fresh, and a reliable resource. We hope you will find Ellis Partners in Management Solutions, a feedback company and multifamily partner since 1984, to be the finest source for mystery shopping, resident surveys, online feedback, and training for your organization. Additional support and information can be found under Training and Articles on our website.

Prepared by Joanna Ellis, Chief Executive Officer

April 15, 2014