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 Surveys
Apartment 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 to get the desired information from a comp, they may enter it into their survey spreadsheets incorrectly.
Long story short: the manual collection of market surveys presents too many opportunities for associates to not get the true apples-to-apples comparison data operators need.
As a result, operators sometimes rely too heavily on their secret shoppers to get information about pricing and concessions when they’re visiting competitive properties. While these insights are important, it often comes at a price.
Focus on What’s Important
Secret shopping a competitor shouldn’t just be about gathering numbers and facts and figures.
It should be about experiencing how another community’s onsite associates interact with prospects. It should be about seeing what kind of tours and customer service they provide, and developing an understanding of how your associates compare, for better or worse.
When a community already has information it needs about comp pricing, concessions and amenities because of a reliable market-survey methodology, secret shoppers are free to focus on and evaluate the experience a prospect has when visiting a competitive property.
They are able to get a feel for the actual living experience at a community. They can better understand just how the amenities plus additional services may enhance a resident’s lifestyle. They can more accurately offer insights into if the newly remodeled units have the same appeal as a new development or if they just feel like a band-aid remodel. These aspects of a community are pieces that just can’t be assumed from data alone.
Combining optimized market survey practices along with experience-focused secret shopping paves the way for truly market leading performance. And as our industry moves more and more towards an experience-based, resident-centric model, this kind of business intelligence is simply invaluable.