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The Continuing Evolution of Performance Metrics

Operators are using new data to inform decision-making, enhance ROI and better position their associates to succeed in a rapidly changing world.

As technology evolves, so too do the metrics the rental housing industry uses to measure performance. The market already was already undergoing high-speed advancement, but when COVID-19 hit, the evolution of performance metrics kicked into overdrive. As the industry assesses conditions during the pandemic, some of the pre-existing metrics have continued to empower sound decision-making, but a new set also has emerged. 

During “The Evolution of Performance Metrics” session at this NAA’s APTvirtual, panelists discussed some of the new data operators are using to make smart decisions, maximize ROI and better ensure success amid the global health crisis.

Virginia Love, Industry Principal at Entrata, said that one of the benefits of performance metrics is that they have given operators great direction, before, during and after the pandemic.

“Our teams have really stepped up to the plate when it comes to taking an unforeseen situation and using data to guide their decisions,” Love said.

It’s true that the most frequently used metrics such as occupancy, delinquency trade-out percentages and customer satisfaction haven’t changed much over time. But after the pandemic hit, operators also started to focus on internal metrics including employee satisfaction, retention and employee referrals.

Emphasis on Training

Having this data is one thing; making it accessible and actionable for onsite teams is another. Training is a fundamental component in ensuring that all associates understand where the data is housed and what each metric means.  

“The key to any data is the training around it,” said Joe Coleman, Chief Operating Officer of Decron Properties. “Teams need to understand the ‘why’ and the business plan for the property. They need to understand what the business goals are, not just for this year, but in future years, so they can look at the data and understand where the action should be.

“There’s a big movement toward empowerment. We are really training our team members on how to be leaders and make informed decisions and not be afraid to make those decisions. So, by empowering them and providing them with the data, they can make those decisions and streamline the process,” Coleman said.

Changing Marketing Metrics

As new technology evolves and undergoes further enhancement, it allows operators to view more layers along the customer journey, creating a better understanding of how to market to customers. Ryan Perez, Vice President of Marketing at CF Real Estate, discussed how marketing metrics have changed over time and how marketers need to continually evaluate the metrics they use.

“A few years ago, multi-touch attribution was new, and that became a consideration of how we look at the data and their journey much differently,” she said. “What’s important is that we look at every angle and how we can help our customers through their journey and make it an easy and seamless process from the point at which they land on the site, through their experience, virtual or in person.”

One thing that has significantly changed since having to operate through the COVID-19 pandemic is the customer lifecycle. Almost all prospects are communicating with leasing teams digitally and choosing to tour virtually in some capacity. This has left marketers with a wish list of new metrics.

“I would like to measure the overall engagement,” Perez said. “Right now, our platforms can measure an engagement score based on an algorithm, but you can trick that score in a sense as long as you engage within certain parameters. But true engagement and attention, did they get the response they needed, was it accurate and timely? Did they feel they were fostered throughout their journey? We don’t have a metric that really tells us how the prospect feels about their interactions. And now that everything is virtual, it’s even more difficult.”

Good For The Team, Good For The Customer

Now that operators have spent the better part of a year redefining standard operating procedures, they are able to set future-forward performance metrics to measure productivity, the ROI of time spent in meetings and employee happiness.

All panelists agreed that the ultimate strategy for success involves focusing on team members, their morale, their health and safety, understanding what’s going on with them at home and doing what is most helpful to them so they can be productive.

“What is best for our team is even better for our customers,” Coleman said. “We spend a lot of time focusing on the mental health of our teams because then the performance scores take care of themselves. Happy associates yield happy residents.”

Samantha Chalmers is an Account Director for LinnellTaylor Marketing