First Quarter 2020 Abridged Benchmark Results for Mystery Shops and Resident Surveys Executive Summary

Since 1984, Ellis, Partners in Management Solutions has specialized in helping customers achieve their business goals. We are proud to offer a turn-key integrated customer experience program, backed by our outstanding customer service, cutting-edge technology, and longstanding ethical business practices. Our apartment mystery shops, resident surveys, live training, and e-learning partner (Edge2Learn) are resources that can be used independently to address specific needs or jointly for ongoing employee performance optimization.

Given the current circumstances and the impact to the multifamily industry, especially to onsite teams, Ellis made the decision to publish an abridged version of our First Quarter Mystery Shop and Resident Survey Benchmarking results. Our decision was based on our determination that these results would not be indicative of true performance of the First Quarter 2020 and therefore might present unfair comparison data. Presented here is an abridged summary of our First Quarter 2020 Mystery Shop and Resident Surveys Benchmark Performance.


Mystery Shops

Ellis benchmarks apartment mystery shop performance on the 10 key Benchmark questions and the Customer Experience. Companies can qualify for platinum, gold, silver, or bronze level based on their company’s overall Benchmark score for the quarter.

In 2019, the overall average Ellis Traditional Multifamily Industry Benchmark score across Ellis’ entire database of eligible shops1 was 85%, representing 45,449 shops and has risen slightly to 86% for First Quarter 2020, representing 9,646 shops. In 2019, the overall average Ellis Customer Experience Benchmark score was 3.6 and remains steady at 3.6 for First Quarter 2020.

Due to COVID-19 circumstances, Ellis is not publishing mystery shop performance by Tier/Rank or Mystery Shopping Top-Performing Companies for First Quarter 2020.


Resident Surveys
The Ellis Loyalty Benchmark identifies and recognizes the customer experience performance of companies subscribed to the Ellis Resident Surveys Program. It evaluates performance on 5 key touchpoints of the prospect and resident journey. The percentage of surveys responded to by the onsite team and the average number of days it took for the team to respond are also measured because these two factors impact the customer relationship and overall loyalty. Utilizing customer loyalty as a metric allows customer-centric companies the ability to forecast three specific customer behaviors: likelihood to convert/renew, willingness to pay more, and likelihood to recommend.

The overall average Ellis Loyalty Benchmark score in 2019 was 75%, and increased slightly to 76% for First Quarter 2020. In 2019, the onsite response rate averaged 88%; First Quarter 2020 reflects a stable 88%. The response time was 5.7 days in First Quarter 2020, not moving from the average of 5.7 days in 2019.

Note: Ellis is not publishing Resident Surveys Top Performing Companies for First Quarter 2020.



Mystery Shops
How did we do?
The charts below reflect the average score of Ellis’ entire database of eligible shops for each of the 10 key benchmark questions and the Customer Experience by category, as well as the combined overall Benchmark scores for First Quarter 2020.


Resident Surveys
How did we do?
The chart below reflects the average scores across all Ellis Resident Survey companies for each survey touch point for First Quarter 2020, as well as the combined overall loyalty score and average accountability performance results.




Apartment leasing as we know it has changed due to COVID-19 for at least the next 90 to 120 days and perhaps permanently as we navigate these uncharted times. As property management companies adapt to rapidly changing new business protocols, leasing definitely tops the list. Recognizing the immediate change in leasing strategies, Ellis developed new mystery shopping evaluation tools – virtual and self-guided tours – to help our clients better understand the prospect experience in today’s new normal. Ellis’ proprietary mystery shop templates provide an in-depth evaluation of the telephone presentation conducted by a leasing professional from the call connection experience, to first impressions, exploration of the prospect’s needs, selling effectiveness of a virtual or self-guided tour, closing efforts, and the quality of the follow-up.

After conducting over 1,000 virtual leasing shops to date, Ellis’ preliminary findings have identified virtual leasing mystery shop scores averaging 66% (based on a 100-point scale). The chart below outlines the type of virtual leasing experience being offered to prospects, as well as the type of experiences delivered by leasing professionals. As the onsite teams acclimate to their new style of leasing, we are likely to see a shift in what is actually being delivered to the prospect (i.e. Face Time personalized tours and self-guided tours). Interestingly enough, despite contacting the properties, 30% of the completed virtual leasing shops so far have resulted in no type of tour being provided to the prospect.


Since apartment leasing strategies are effectively changing for Second Quarter 2020 (and potentially Third Quarter 2020), the Ellis benchmark for mystery shopping performance will be based on virtual leasing, and possibly self-guided tours. Ellis will soon provide the details for the virtual tour and/or self-guided tour benchmarking standards, which will reflect performance for current times. When business returns to normal (pre-COVID-19), we will reinstate the established Ellis’ mystery shopping benchmark program.

Thank you for your ongoing support, participation and feedback, which help make this report informative, fresh, and a reliable resource. We hope you will find Ellis Partners in Management Solutions to be not only the finest source for apartment mystery shopping and resident surveys but also a training resource (including our partner Edge2Learn) for your organization. Additional support and information can be found on our website. Also, our free COVID-19 multifamily training resource library includes several virtual leasing training resources for you and your teams.

Stay safe, healthy, and positive during these challenging times.

April 30, 2020

Prepared by Joanna Ellis, Chief Executive Officer and Francis Chow, Chief Strategic Officer