Donna Preiss, Founder and CEO of The Preiss Company, recently presented “You Can’t Manage What You Can’t Measure” at this year’s 2010 National Multi Housing Council Executive Leadership Conference held on July 20-21 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington, DC.
The NMHC Executive Leadership Conference is the only leadership development program targeted to the apartment industry. The conference combined expert presentations with highly interactive discussions on the application of each subject area to the apartment industry. During her presentation, Preiss discussed TPCO’s approach to successful property management and measurement tools that her company utilizes in order to stay ahead in the market and exceed tenant expectations.
“It was Walt Disney that said, ‘There’s no magic in magic; it’s all in the details.’ Operating student housing has always been an incredibly difficult task, and current market conditions command a Property Management Company that has extensive experience in the marketing, leasing, and operations of the Student Housing asset class,” explains Preiss. “Current economic factors may limit rent increases at many properties, but occupancy and operating expenses remain very much within the control of the property manager. In our case, we knew that standard rates would be flat to negative this year, so rental increases came through differentiating the product into standard, deluxe, VIP parking, location, and so on.”
While many companies have spent much of their time and energy flipping properties, TPCO has spent that time attempting to become the industry leader in property management.
Over the past few years, the company has taken numerous properties and repositioned them within the market in order to grow net operating income. From 2005-2007, TPCO grew NOI at four of its properties by over 60%. In 2008 and 2009, the TPCO portfolio was pre-leased at 93%. This year, the company is on track to be at 96% when school starts. TPCO has also reduced water usage throughout its portfolio by 26% in the past 15 months and has had an overall improvement of NOI for the first part of the year of approximately 5%.
To accomplish these achievements, Preiss says that it takes more than simply taking an underperforming property and hanging a new sign. She says that it takes a commitment to meeting a tenant’s needs and expectations and innovation with regards to services that the rest of the market has yet to offer. By meeting tenant needs, returns from the properties will naturally follow.
“In order to maximize returns for the property owner, we have instituted the use of a number of tools and initiatives, as well as extensive training of our staff,” explains Preiss.
“By using daily trackers and reports, we’re able to gain a more comprehensive understanding of our property, as well as the performance of our competitors. If you can measure it, you can manage it. TPCO has developed a measurement matrix that includes clear and focused goal setting, design and implementation of measurement tools, visual targets with widely communicated differentiated compensation for goal attainment, and remediation for goals not met. The key to measurement is breaking each task down to its simplest component.”
NMHC’s Executive Leadership Conference has become a "must attend" event for anyone interested in student housing. The event brings together leading owners, developers, lenders, brokers and university partners. Other topics at this year’s conference included social media, employee motivation, and a case study on communication blunders and miscommunication.
About The Preiss Company
Founded in 1987 by Donna Preiss, The Preiss Company (tpco.com) employs over 200 team members and is one of the largest providers of off-campus student housing in the United States.
TPCO is the leader in the development of new technologies, tools, and strategies for the student housing industry and also acts as a receiver for several national banks. In its 23rd year, the company has formed over 50 partnerships and developed over 20 projects stretching from Maryland to Texas.
About National Multi Housing Council
Based in Washington, DC, NMHC is a national association representing the interests of the larger and most prominent apartment firms in the U.S. NMHC's members are the principal officers of firms engaged in all aspects of the apartment industry, including owners, developers, managers and financiers. Nearly one-third of Americans rent their housing, and over 14 percent live in a rental apartment.