When Redwood Capital Group decided to launch its management division, Redwood Residential, Mary Herrold knew the new company could benefit from a departure from the traditional market survey process. She knew they needed something simple, innovative, comprehensive and streamlined.
A multifamily veteran with nearly 30 years of experience in
the industry, she is all too familiar with the numerous problems presented when
onsite associates call comps to ask about rents and other data and then compile
that information into Excel spreadsheets.
Long story short: the process takes way too long and
frequently results in data that is not trustworthy.
Herrold, Senior Director of Marketing for Redwood Residential,
wanted the company to get market surveys right from the start. So, she turned
“We love it. The onsite associates
who are tasked with completing weekly surveys find it easy to use,” Herrold
says. “I’ve never had a question or a complaint from a team member about
it. I also know that I can rely on the data because the input flows easily.”
One of the primary problems with the
traditional market survey process is its considerable inefficiency. Onsite
associates with a lengthy list of other responsibilities place time-consuming phone calls to comparable properties.
Inevitably, they aren’t able to reach
the people they need to speak with and then have to follow-up with another
round (or two or three) of phone calls. To add insult to injury, oftentimes associates are not trained to ask the kinds of
questions that will produce accurate data and true apples-to-apples
Another set of problems arises when
it’s time for associates to manually input the information they collect into
Excel spreadsheets. To start with, they may enter the data incorrectly and with
inconsistent formatting. They may spend too much time adjusting the column widths and the row heights to make the spreadsheets
easier to read for other associates. And then, once a market survey in
Excel is passed along for review and analysis, team
members begin saving and emailing each other different versions of the same
spreadsheet, creating unnecessary confusion. It’s like the game of telephone. Each
time a spreadsheet gets shared, the data gets diluted. Also known as, data
Over the course of her time in the apartment industry, Herrold had grown exhausted with the traditional process and felt the new management company couldn’t afford its numerous drawbacks. “I’ve used different templates. I’ve written step-by step instructions, conducted in-depth training, and still found data that I couldn’t trust. The spreadsheet method is unruly. It is easy for busy site associates to forget to go back and complete information they may have missed inputting during the first pass. Although platforms are a better way, I found a lot of them cumbersome, time consuming and wrought with too many options to get any consistent measures over time.”
A New Day
Herrold’s search for a revamped market survey methodology
led her to BI:Radix. She and Redwood Residential were quickly impressed with
The solution dramatically streamlines the data collection process with its SurveySwap™, which enables communities to automatically exchange information with comps through the BI:Radix platform. As such, the result is more accurate and timely data and less time spent by associates making comp calls.
product also provides a centralized database for team members to view data. Its
analytical tools illuminate pricing trends over time, something Excel can’t do.
“One of the best things is the tracking of updates,” Herrold says. “I get a weekly report telling me the date each comp was surveyed. Our teams are updating surveys weekly (with ease), giving us 52 points of data versus the typical 12 over the course of a year.
Everything is accessible through the
platform, and we trust the data,” Herrold says. “We rely on it for
our decision-making and we especially like the trend report. Our market surveys
aren’t something we just check off of the to-do list so we can add them to the
financial reporting package. We’re truly getting value out of the
Engaging Onsite Teams
Similarly to Redwood Residential, Maverick Residential Company implemented BI:Radix when it launched. Jeff Krohn, President and Co-founder of the company, says his experience with the solution has been very similar to Herrold’s.
“One of the main things that was important to us and our management style, was to get our onsite associates out from behind their computers. Instead of doing data collection, we want them to be able to focus on taking care of the residents and creating an atmosphere that’s conducive to people wanting to live at our properties,” he says. “Every technology we selected needed to reduce the manual labor that goes into so many of the various tasks that onsite associates have to do.
“BI:Radix was our first choice for market surveys because it eliminates the monotonous process of picking up the phone and talking with comps,” Krohn adds. “As the old saying goes: ‘garbage in, garbage out.’ A lot of the data was erroneous – human beings are fallible, and their ability to collect information and interpret information and then put it into a spreadsheet was taking way too much time.”
True Analysis: The
Value of Apples-to-Apples Comparisons
Both Herrold and Krohn applaud BI:Radix’s ability to
highlight pricing trends and provide true apples-to-apples comparisons between
“We’ve had instances where we’ve identified: ‘This
fee’s too high,’ or we’ve said, ‘Nobody charges this, we shouldn’t
either,'” Herrold says. “It’s that eye-opening moment when we realize
we could charge more because we weren’t meeting market performance. It helps us
stay competitive and push the envelope where we can. And that’s invaluable to
any organization, especially one that is just starting to establish itself as a
strong management company.”
Data Drives Decisions
Above all, the information gathered by BI:Radix and the analytical power of the solution has helped Maverick Residential communities adjust their comp sets, according to Krohn.
“It allows us to really dive into the details and show
our communities that certain properties they think they’re sharing traffic with
are not, in fact, comps,” Krohn says, “On the flip side, it helps us
identify properties that are comps that weren’t previously in the comp
Community owners may sometimes balk at moving away from the
traditional Excel-based system because BI:Radix carries an acquisition cost and
Excel spreadsheets are free. But that line of thinking is extremely
short-sighted, according to Krohn.
“The Excel-based system certainly carries a
significant cost,” he says. “You have to account for the hours your
associates lose trying to collect the information and also for impact that bad
data has on your pricing decisions at the end of the day. So to us, the minimal
cost of BI:Radix is a no-brainer.”