Paradigm Properties president Eric Blevins was looking for objective feedback on nine geographically diverse properties when he initiated a resident survey program from Houston-based J. Turner Research last June. At the end of March 2009, Gainesville, Fla.-based Paradigm decided to implement the survey program across its entire 8,600-unit student portfolio. “Initiating a program allows us consistency across the portfolio for objective feedback from our clients on a variety of topics from the leasing process to property conditions,” Blevins says.
With the economy taking its toll on multifamily rent and renewal rates, Blevins and other industry players are finding an ally in resident survey programs. Companies such as J. Turner, Lutherville, Md.-based Satisfacts, and Los Angeles–based CEL & Associates offer outsourced mail, phone, and Web-based resident surveys that cover a core regimen of customer satisfaction topics while also allowing clients to customize questions. The data itself is often a powerful way to gauge resident sentiment, but users of the survey say the real value is unlocked by consistently following up on the results with changes to site-level operations.
Satisfacts awarded Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based Shea Properties’ portfolio a “superior” ranking for its 2008 survey results. It’s the fifth year in a row that Shea cracked the superior list, but property managers nonetheless conduct a 10-minute briefing each morning to address current survey results and other customer service and operational issues.
“We learned a long time ago that you have to consistently act on the results,” says Shea senior vice president Steve Gilmore. “If you don’t maintain superior levels of customer service, you fall behind quickly.”