Last modified on April 20th, 2023
By Megan Eales Monroe
What is the secret to making better property management decisions? As Neil Cadman, President of Cadman Group, puts it, “data is everything.” In a recent episode of The Top Floor podcast, Neil shared his invaluable insights and advice on property management data — and how to use it to make better business decisions.
But gathering data is only one part of Neil’s approach. The true value comes from how he acts on the insights the data provides. However, to ensure that the volume of data collected is going to help — rather than block decision-making because of “analysis paralysis” — Neil outlined his approach to tackling data and implementing the insights it provides.
Keep reading to see Neil’s top tips or tune in to the full episode to hear more.
Assess data regularly
When we asked Neil how often property managers and property management companies need to look at data, he said that “data should always be analyzed.”
However, different pieces of data may be best monitored daily, weekly, or monthly. For example, it’s good to look at maintenance requests and work orders on a day-to-day basis. But, when it comes to guest cards, Neil’s team prefers to look at them on a weekly basis, which gives team members a larger data set to review. In addition, rent reports and other big-picture financial metrics are more likely to be reviewed monthly, so trends can be accurately assessed.
Neil also points out that how often you look at data may also depend on an owner’s needs. Some may want data reports more regularly, whereas others are happy to let their property managers take care of everything and just get quarterly or yearly updates.
Ultimately, while there’s no such thing as too much data, you can be assessing too much data or assessing it too frequently, which can come with unintended consequences that will be covered in the next section.
Therefore, Neil recommends starting with the metrics that will most directly drive your business forward:
“Understand your data, understand your portfolio, understand your trends. And so, I’m looking at these reports, and I will look at them quite a bit and just say, “Yeah, I know why that one’s there. I understand that one. Oh, this one’s new.” So, I’m familiar enough with the data so that it’s not overwhelming, and I’m able to catch things that are new, catch things that seem stale.”
Look for trends and patterns in data
Consistently looking at data will make it easier to spot trends, both good and bad. Neil’s team works in seven-day cycles with specific sets of data, which means they look at trends for that data set in seven-day increments. For Cadman Group, this data set includes monitoring the number of phone calls, maintenance requests, resident retention, and unit turn costs, and then comparing the trends to a previous seven-day period.
By looking at shorter timeframes for the metrics that help drive the business forward, his team can analyze trends before the data becomes too outdated. That way, they can take action quickly and rectify any issues, as Neil explains:
“It’s about repetitiveness, of understanding your information. It’s very hard to look at this data, say every ten days, or 15 days, or 30 days because you’re not seeing any trends, and you’re not experiencing that something might be going stale that may not look stale after 30 days, but if it’s been on for 29 days and you haven’t seen it for 29 days, it seems new to you. So, it’s understanding your information, looking at the data quite a bit.”
Take action quickly
If you want to keep owners, residents, and your own team happy and productive, Neil says it’s best to take action quickly on any issues the data reveals.
If there are maintenance issues, solving them as soon as possible keeps everyone satisfied. Your team won’t have to manage easily preventable resident and maintenance team frustrations, issues are fixed quickly and with less stress involved, and both resident and team member retention can be improved in the long run.
However, by not acting quickly on the data you have, you could miss opportunities to drive the business forward as well. Neil gave an example of how you can use data to properly price units according to current market rates and resident expectations.
“Don’t wait 14 days to make a change. Analyze it and say, “We missed the market with $1,975. Let’s maybe put it down to $1,900, or $1,895, and leave it another seven days.” If, all of a sudden, after those seven days we have 37 people who want to see it, we’ve now just met the market.”
If your team doesn’t look at data regularly or waits too long to act on insights, like necessary adjustments to pricing or upcoming resident renewal opportunities, then you could miss out in ways that cost your business. But by using the data effectively, you can take a more proactive approach and make decisions that drive your property management business forward in real time.
For more insights into how to use data to make better business decisions, listen to the full episode of The Top Floor podcast now.