Ellis Shopping Report Multifamily Industry Benchmark 2nd Quarter 2014


Welcome to the Second Quarter 2014 Ellis Shopping Report Multifamily Industry Benchmark. Our team continues to deliver the most current and effective 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. As your partner, we strive to help you better understand and manage the lead conversion and resident retention processes. The importance of the customer’s perception of their experience with your team and product cannot be ignored. Perceived value as defined by customers creates loyal customer relationships, and customer loyalty is the best predictor of your subsequent strength and growth potential.

For 2014, we are focusing on leasing training for our Benchmark letter.

  • 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

Last quarter we tackled the topic, “The Generational Divide and Leasing Training.” We concluded with the proven fact that generational values often collide when members of different generations work together. Different generations often have different work values, different perceptions of authority, different responses to training methods, and different views about what is important in life in general. If cross-generation managers and trainers are not prepared for these differences, it can create conflict, poor performance, low morale in the leasing office, and challenges in the training room.

This quarter we respond to the question, “Does Leasing Training Need to Change?” Technique has always been the foundation of most sales training programs, yet it has become more of a challenge to teach the emotional piece – how to connect with customers. Throw Generation Y into the equation, who by 2020 will represent a full 40% of the total working population, and the question becomes a very valid one. The what, when, where, and how are at the forefront of many trainers’ minds today. The trends are changing and shifting quickly. How will your company adapt your training and prepare your employees to successfully compete in this new “experience economy”? Join us as we provide some insight on this topic at the end of this letter.

Changing Trends and Findings

Trends have always carried powerful information. We can learn a lot about a company with shopping results trends, too. Even when employee performance looks good on paper, there is always room for growth. High-performers can even use a little polish on some of their skills and competencies. This often is the difference between good and great leasing consultants!

When it comes to serving the potential customer and providing a great experience, where have your employees ranked among your competitors over the last 14 years? The trending graph provides us with a snapshot of benchmark averages since 2000. This graph tells us that overall leasing performance has been slowly edging up since the inception of the Benchmark. What does your company trend look like?

2Q2014TrendGraphSince 2000, the Ellis Shopping Report 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. Last quarter we introduced 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 Ellis Traditional Multifamily Industry Benchmark 2nd Quarter 2014 Overall Average score of all participating companies is 90%. The Ellis Customer Experience Benchmark 2nd Quarter 2014 Overall Average score of all participating companies is 3.7.

2nd Quarter, 2014- 30 Companies Representing 3,764 Total Shops

AMLI Residential; Behringer Harvard; Berkshire Realty Holdings, L.P.; BH Management Services, Inc.; Bozzuto & Associates; Capreit; 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; Timberland Partners; TriBridge Residential; Venterra Realty; Waterton Residential; Windsor Property Management Co / GID; Winn Residential; Wood Partners

Congratulations to the 2nd Quarter 2014 Ellis Traditional Multifamily Industry Benchmark Platinum Level Achievers!

  • AMLI Residential
  • Gables Residential Services
  • Post Properties
  • Venterra Realty

Congratulations to the 2nd Quarter 2014 Ellis Customer Experience Benchmark Gold Level** Achievers!

  • AMLI Residential
  • Behringer Harvard
  • Post Properties

* Companies are listed in alphabetical order

** The highest level achieved for the 2nd Quarter 2014 Ellis Customer Experience Benchmark was Gold.

We give special recognition to AMLI Residential and Post Properties who placed in the highest-achieved levels this quarter for both the Traditional and the Customer Experience benchmarks.

How did the participating companies do?

This graph shows the average score of all participating companies for each benchmark question and the combined overall benchmark score on line one.

2Q2014BMBreakdownDoes Leasing Training Need to Change?

When the Generation X kids showed up for work, the Baby Boomers had to make some adjustments to adapt to their style of learning, values, and work ethic. The idea of employee engagement vs. lecturing started to blossom and the Baby Boomers were facilitating a lot of role-playing, hosting monthly sales meetings, and wallpapering offices with sales awards.

Now we have Generation Y. Gen Y employees have a unique set of drivers that have caused them to develop workplace beliefs that do not match up to those who have come before them. Consequently, this difference has caused members of other generations to develop negative connotations about Gen Y.

However, the first thing we must realize is that for all intents and purposes this generation is really no different than the Baby Boomer generation was from the Traditionalistsa completely different set of morals and ethics, and a strong sense of individuality. Once we understand this, we can accept that they are simply a product of the world they have grown up in. We must understand them first before we can get down to the business of training them.


Manyarticles written about Gen Y support the fact they are some of the most social of any generational cohort. However, how they communicate and socialize is very different than Gen X and the Baby Boomers, which is what is causing a lot of the confusion.

We know that Gen Y would rather gather information through the Internet, use their phones to communicate with friends, share their information on Facebook and tweet about their daily activities. How can trainers use this technology to enhance the training experience for Gen Y without starting from scratch in developing training? What is the best training approach and environment for Gen Y? How can you teach them to connect with all generations?

Does leasing training need to change? It is a difficult question because we do not know what each company’s training program looks like. Even if we did, we do not have all of the answers. However, there are three areas that deserve a quick evaluation: training practices, training environment, and training content.

Training Practices

If you want to retain employees who will become the future leaders of your company, you must be willing to rethink some traditional training practices. Workplace Options, a provider of employee benefit options, conducted a study about experiences with training programs. They found stark differences between the training desires of the Baby Boomers, Generation X and Generation Y.

  • 75% of those 18-29 said they would find more value in training programs if they could be available remotely through hand-held mobile devices. 40% of respondents age 30-45 agreed and only 26% age 46-65 agreed.
  • 63% of those 18-29 said they would find workplace training sessions more valuable if they were less time consuming. 39% of the remaining respondents agreed.
  • 95% of those 18-29 said they would be more comfortable talking to supervisors if internal communications training were provided. 67% of respondents age 30-45 and 66% of workers age 46-65 agreed.
  • 70% of those 18-29 said the availability of personal or professional development training is an important employee perk.

Creating an open space for meaningful, proactive discussions about training practices is a first step. Asking the questions in various formats with the willingness to listen, respond, and take action is the second step. Internal social networking groups are a good platform for these discussions. At the end of the day, if you ask Gen Y the questions, they want to see the results, not just talk about them. Make sure that you share the results of new training practices with all employees on a regular basis.

“The flow of information, the ease and quality of connections and collaboration, the facilitation of self-expression and feedback are all experiences that directly impact the way Gen Y workers feel about their workplace and their place within it. Our research suggests that Gen Y may have the most highly refined BS detectors ever.” Kelly Services

Training Environment

The Workplace Options study, along with other research data, paints a clear picture in a few areas about the training desires of Gen Y; 1) shorter training sessions, 2) remote training using hand-held devices, 3) classes on how to communicate with supervisors, and 4) personal and professional development training. This leads us into the conversation about the most effective training environment for Gen Y.

According to a 2012 Business Journals article, “Generation Y learns by doing and networking, not with slide presentations in a dark room or behind their computer screens.” Yes, it is true. Gen Y grew up with different tools and expectations than the rest of us. They are more inclined to communicate and interact effectively through technology, so the standard model of one person lecturing to a room full of people may not be the most productive approach to reach this mighty generation. However, they also do not want to sit at their desks and watch a dancing head talk to them hour after hour.

Change is taking place…

  • Trainers are becoming coaches who engage, involve students in the learning, inspire them and give them personal attention when they are stumped.
  • Extended training sessions are fading. They are being replaced with short training bursts and a blended use of technology and Instructor Led Training (ILT).
  • In-person, online, or through social media, trainers understand that they have different types of learners in the room. Attaching workbooks and pre-read assignments to a training group set up in Facebook or LinkedIn is an alternative some are choosing.
  • Trainers are stepping into the virtually interactive training room, delivering short webinars and follow-up podcasts to target specific training needs.

Companies such as Delta Airlines, IBM, and Coca-Cola are speaking to the gaming desires of Gen Y. According to recent data, 49% of gamers are ages 18-49, encompassing all of Gen-Y and a large portion of Gen X. That is a huge chunk of the current workforce. Gamification is a concept which takes advantage of people’s desire for competition and achievement by incorporating the mechanics of a game into what would be considered a non-game setting. This approach blurs the line between “work” and “leisure” – a perfect match for Gen Y. Gartner, a professional technology research firm, has predicted that by the end of 2014, 70% of global organizations will have at least one gamified application.

Companies are taking heed to research the trends of workforce dynamics and they are adapting their training to achieve the highest possible success rate for all employees. Web companies are notorious for launching unique ways of engaging and training their younger workforce. Experts say that these methods are now spreading into traditional businesses. Slides and swings at work and even solving a problem through a ‘serious game’ of Lego construction are not unusual management and training tools. Do you have a set of swings in your training room?

Training Content

Gen Y represents a promising future for the property management industry. They are bright, driven, and have a strong sense of responsibility when engaged and mentored properly. They are the creative force that will be changing the way this industry does business. They also have a few self-professed missing pieces that you might consider adopting into your training program:

  • Understanding and Communicating with other Generations: In 2008, Brand Amplitude conducted Gen Y focus groups around the country. They asked, “If you could tell your boss one thing, what would it be?” At the top of the list was, “Teach me!” They realize that they have a lot to learn from older generations, beginning with how to communicate with them. Creating a safe environment where all generations can tell stories, share their wisdom, or teach others something they do not know will result in a stronger and more competitive workforce and a deeper understanding of their customers.
  • How to Emotionally Connect with Customers: With this digital generation, it is critical to the customer’s experience that they learn how to connect emotionally with customers. It takes work to truly connect with today’s information overloaded customer. The Gen Y employee who thinks an email or a text message will do, needs some redirecting. Sometimes it is a fundamental rethink and redo.

Research led by the social psychologist Sara H. Konrath at the University of Michigan has shown that college students’ self-described levels of empathy have declined since 1980, especially so in the past 10 years, as quantifiable levels of self-esteem and narcissism have skyrocketed.

Less influenced by TV, and more interested in the internet, Generation Y salespeople are often more concerned about what makes them different, not what they have in common with other generations.

Gen Y needs to learn how to locate the common denominator in order to connect with today’s customer. When this takes place, they will become more involved with their customers’ needs. They will use technology fearlessly to communicate and will see as much value in face-to-face meetings as they do in text messaging. Their social desire will blossom in a different arena. Do not be afraid to ask Gen Y their perspective on sales training content and even your customer experience goals. They have eyes and ears on lots of issues facing their generation – especially how they are sold to.

Making the Transition from School to Work: It sounds crazy, but this is a huge issue for some companies. It is second nature for Gen Y to text message, tweet and share news with their Facebook friends, but the workplace has a different rule book than university life in several areas.

  • In school, you go to your professor for the answer, and he gives it to you; in the workplace, you go to your boss, but she most likely will point you in the right direction rather than giving you the answer.
  • In school you are graded on every project; in the workplace you do not automatically receive a score for everything you accomplish.

The property management industry is an ideal industry for Gen Y because it provides a fast-paced day-to-day work environment with endless growth opportunities. Gen Y are highly capable multi-taskers who are interested in developing new knowledge and taking on new responsibilities. But before they hit the leasing floor, they must be trained. They must understand how the workplace works. They must understand how to communicate with all generations. They are quick learners – if they learn by doing. They learn differently – so speak to them.

Join us next quarter when we will dig into some of the most common leasing training obstacles and how to overcome them.

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 not only the finest source for mystery shopping but also a training and feedback resource for your organization. Additional support and information can be found under Training and Articles on our website.


Prepared by Joanna Ellis, Chief Executive Officer

July 15, 2014