Continuous Improvement: How Focusing on Customer Satisfaction Also Boosts Employee Morale

“In everything we do, we focus on our residents and customers first.” This is a common phrase used by Avenue Living’s Chief Investment Officer, Jason Jogia, and a sentiment that reverberates throughout the organization. This laser focus on the customer drives our investment strategy, our approach to service, and our operations as a whole. 

Since 2006, we’ve learned that superior customer service requires ongoing adaptation from our team. Employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction are uniquely linked; when a process is smooth and easy for our leasing specialists, maintenance associates, or regional portfolio managers, it usually means it’s convenient for our customers.  

“We centre our operations around the customer and employee experience. We want to make tasks easier for everyone,” says Winford Rader, Vice President of Continuous Improvement. “Creating efficiencies means doing our research, evaluating the tools we’re using, and aligning our teams to best serve our customers.” 

Avenue Living’s Continuous Improvement department develops better processes for our team and customers. Officially formed in 2019, the group of almost 20 includes business analysts, data analysts, and operational efficiency experts. They break procedures down and examine how each component can be streamlined. And sometimes, they uncover simple, time-saving solutions to a host of challenges. 

The property management industry is in the middle of significant change, as new technology and changing customer needs push managers to consider how to attract and retain residents. The Entrata 2022 Renter’s Report notes that 62 per cent of renters surveyed prefer interaction with a real person — and it builds greater trust. Renters listed responsiveness, ability to give feedback (renter input), and face-to-face interaction as the top items they wanted their property manager to improve. 

For Avenue Living, delivering industry-leading customer service has been a key differentiator from the very beginning. Providing a positive experience means re-examining our processes and adapting, whether it’s improving our response time to maintenance calls (99 per cent of which are fully resolved within 1.85 days) or making showings, rental applications, or the leasing process easier. 

Sometimes the solutions to our biggest challenges lie in the smallest details.  

Using data to drive improvement 

The Continuous Improvement department looks at data from numerous sources, such as Google My Business, and Yardi Voyager to consolidate one “curated, validated, and trusted source of data.” With this one source of truth in hand, teams across the Avenue Living platform can begin to see where processes are performing well and where improvements can be made. 

“It’s easy to get hung up on how we’ve historically done things,” says Winford Rader. “But sometimes asking the right questions and understanding the end result can help us arrive at an improved destination sooner.” 

Humanity + Technology 

The insight we get from front-line interactions between our residents and our Regional Portfolio Managers (RPMs), leasing specialists, and maintenance associates has led to simple solutions that can have a big impact. For example, improving the outcome of the leasing process by tailoring appointments to times when potential residents are most available, or creating tools that allow a smoother application and signing process. 

The Continuous Improvement team works in tandem with business units across the organization to arrive at solutions, rather than prescribing them. The team gathers data and provides analysis that allows each group to determine a feasible endpoint. This collaborative effort creates greater buy-in and personal investment in the results. 

Smoothing out these processes often has reduced costs by eliminating redundant efforts. Innovation that allows our team to save even minutes a day has a significant impact throughout the calendar year. Coupled with responsive customer service and a focus on retention, it has helped us create value for our investors, today and in the future.  

The Continuous Improvement team allows us to think strategically and see how our end-to-end customer service processes work together. As the market evolves and resident demands change, we’re able to respond more effectively and work toward a shared vision that serves our customers, employees, and investors.  

This commentary and the information contained herein are for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute an offer to sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy, any securities or related financial instruments. This article may contain forward-looking statements. Readers should refer to information contained on our website at for additional information regarding forward-looking statements and certain risks associated with them. 

This Year’s Most-Read: Our Top Content in 2022

We’ve gathered the blog posts, articles, and white papers that garnered the most interest from our readers last year. They cover a diverse range of topics, from our partnership with the Canada Infrastructure Bank to the complexities of the private rental housing market, but they all come back to one thing: understanding the real estate investment landscape. As investors seek opportunity in a changing market, it’s important to explore and analyze the fundamentals that impact our industry to refine our strategy and provide value for our residents, our investors, and the communities in which we operate.



This announcement is the next step in our commitment to ESG — one we officially started when we began a relationship with PRI (Principles for Responsible Investing). Our partnership with Canada Infrastructure Bank will allow us to undertake capital improvements that reduce our carbon footprint and provide comfortable homes for our residents, without compromising affordability.


RE-EXAMINING A HEDGE AGAINST INFLATION: Multi-family Residential Real Estate 

This paper examines the effects inflation and rising interest rates have on affordability, and how investors may find opportunities in multi-family real estate. 



Our founder and CEO, Anthony Giuffre, collaborated with the University of Regina’s Dr. Grant Wilson on this examination of the North American rental housing market, identifying the lifestyles, demographics, and value propositions that make up six major groups in the housing spectrum. The peer-reviewed paper was published in the International Real Estate Review in April 2022. 



This white paper explores how diversification in real estate portfolios — across asset types and markets — can enhance value for investors, helping them minimize risk and maximize the potential for returns. 



We examined factors that make the workforce housing market an attractive investment opportunity and  why it’s the focus of our multi-family strategy.  

This commentary and the information contained herein are for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute an offer to sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy, any securities or related financial instruments. This article may contain forward-looking statements. Readers should refer to information contained on our website at for additional information regarding forward-looking statements and certain risks associated with them. 

Avenue Living’s 2022 Year in Review

In 2022, Avenue Living grew in more ways than one. In addition to expanding our footprint and operations with new offices in Toronto and Dallas, we improved our customer satisfaction through active management, invested in technology, and elevated our ESG efforts.  We’re also entering our third year as signatories for PRI and since signing on, we have partnered with the CIB to sustainably retrofit nearly half of our multi-family portfolio. In 2023, we look forward to commencing phase one of the project and making a positive impact. 

How Avenue Living’s formidable 2022 provides solid base for 2023

With a cycle-tested business model and a steadfast commitment to the everyday, Avenue Living continued to make great strides.

In 2022, accelerating inflation and rising interest rates created a challenging investment environment, with negative returns flashing across the asset spectrum. Still, that didn’t stop Avenue Living’s 16-year growth streak.

After ending 2021 with just over $3.1 billion in total assets under management (AUM), the organization grew by 48% to reach $4.6 billion AUM. It achieved broadly diversified growth across its multi-family apartment, farmland, and self-storage real estate portfolios — all while staying true to its strategy of investing in the everyday.

“It speaks to the durability of Avenue Living’s business model across multiple market cycles,” says Gabriel Millard, SVP, Capital Markets – Equity & Research. “2008 (GFC) and 2014 (Commodity Crisis) were lost years for many other players, but they were periods of growth for Avenue Living as we leaned into the opportunities. 2022 was another very formative year for us.”

A win-win in the multi-family residential space

Avenue Living entered the apartment space as owner-operators in 2006 with a relentless focus on the resident experience. The company has continued to grow while offering an institutional level of service to those who call its buildings home. A pivotal strategic development was the establishment of the Avenue Living Real Estate Core Trust, which has grown into the first North American Workforce Housing Fund in just five years. Today, Avenue Living’s residential portfolio includes over 15,000 multi-family suites across 3 Canadian provinces and 5 U.S. states.

While headlines around real estate investments tend to revolve around high-growth markets — the likes of Toronto and Vancouver — Avenue Living leans into moderate growth markets, such as the Prairie provinces, where assets are valued at a relative discount. Its vertically integrated business model has also allowed it to control operational costs.

Those factors have enabled Avenue Living to responsibly raise rents in pace with higher inflation and interest rates, without hurting residential stakeholders. “We’re achieving our targeted returns while still maintaining affordability for our residents,” Millard says. “We’ve seen collections improve, occupancy continued to tick up, and we have wait lists at over 100 of our buildings.”

Growing opportunity in Canada’s breadbasket

Meanwhile, Avenue Living’s farmland holdings have expanded from 49,000 acres of Saskatchewan farmland at the end of 2021, to over 83,000 acres today. 

In terms of global output, Canadian farmland represents a large portion of durum wheat, peas, and other important base crops. Saskatchewan is a big piece of the agricultural puzzle, as it accounts for approximately 40% of the cultivated acres in Canada.

“We’re witnessing a breakdown in the global food supply chain,” Millard says. “Canada has a real opportunity to be a world leader in ensuring food security.”

With a history of outperforming inflation over the past 30 years, farmland is also growing more attractive as a diversifying asset class. That’s bolstering Avenue Living’s bullish view on Saskatchewan farmland, which remains at a steep discount compared to neighbouring provinces.

Great strides in self-storage

The Mini Mall Storage Properties Trust has also cemented itself as a premier player in the secondary and tertiary markets of North America’s self-storage industry.
From just over 2 million square feet at the end of 2021, the trust has grown to nearly 6 million square feet of self-storage space. That expansion was partly driven by Avenue Living’s ability to introduce its proprietary technology stack and operating expertise into all the new locations it enters.

“A lot of innovation has happened in the primary downtown, new-development segment of self-storage over the past decade,” Millard says. “We’re taking that approach and applying it to older legacy-run assets that have traditionally operated as mom-and-pop, cash-and-paper businesses.”

Avenue Living is pushing for more growth through a new office in Dallas, where it has hired key industry leaders in the self-storage landscape.

“Our expansion into Texas has taken us from a smaller, scrappy Alberta-based company into a truly North American player,” Millard says. Mini Mall Storage is now a top 25 self-storage operator in North America.

More milestones

Above the 49th parallel, Avenue Living has arrived on Bay Street with a new Toronto office. With that new foothold in Canada’s financial hub, the company is positioned to further reinforce and broaden its capital base in the years to come.

With about $160 million in expenditures made toward capital improvements in its residential properties, Avenue Living is also sharpening its focus on maintaining a superior resident experience and providing great customer service.

After becoming a PRI signatory in 2021, the company is doubling down on sustainability through a partnership with the Canada Infrastructure Bank, which includes a $150-million co-investment on deep energy retrofits on its older-style multi-family assets.

“Real estate – especially older stock properties – represents a significant portion of GHG emissions in Canada,” Millard says. “Our goal is to reduce GHG emissions by at least 49% through deep energy retrofits”.

Leveraging its unique perspective on workforce housing, Avenue Living has also published industry-leading papers and research. That includes a peer-reviewed paper on the residential housing spectrum, which unpacks the nuances of typical renter demographics, as well as their needs in terms of rental housing.

“We’ve published a number of white papers on the importance of affordability, and how a changing cost of capital affects real estate across different markets and asset classes,” Millard says. “We’re really solidifying ourselves as thought leaders within the industry, while continuing to advocate for our residents and provide value for our investors.”

The way forward

Avenue Living has built a strong capital stack. Coupled with a diversified equity base and the use of longer term, fixed-rate debt instruments, Avenue Living is focusing on innovation and investment to ensure strong same-door performance and operations in 2023. It also plans to continue focusing on active property management to deliver the best possible results for residents and investors alike.

“We’re heading into a world with a lot of dark clouds, but we’re seeing opportunities in the market. We’re in a defensible position, and we are aiming to take advantage of any disruptions that may come,” Millard says. “2023 is going to be an interesting year globally, and a very exciting year for Avenue Living.”

This commentary and the information contained herein are for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute an offer to sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy, any securities or related financial instruments. This article may contain forward-looking statements. Readers should refer to information contained on our website at for additional information regarding forward-looking statements and certain risks associated with them.

The Reading (and Listening) List: Our Favourite Books and Podcasts of 2022

Across the board, the team at Avenue Living is a curious bunch. Whether we’re catching up on industry insights, going deeper into a contemporary news story or historical event, or delving into the human condition through classic or modern literature, we’re always learning. Below, we’ve rounded up some of our team’s favourite books and podcasts from 2022.

Marius Botha, VP Fund Operations 

“The Richest Man in Babylon by George Samuel Clason. It’s about a man in the third century who rises from poverty to become the richest man in Babylon. It’s all about finance and wealth planning, and there’s something for everyone to take away.” 

Alexandra Larsen, Marketing Director 

“I’m reading Fair Play: A Game-Changing Solution for When You Have Too Much to Do (and More Life to Live) by Eve Rodsky, which was recommended by several professional women I admire. Fair Play is about balancing the distribution of work, both paid and unpaid, for couples. Having just come back from maternity leave, I was interested to see what tips and tricks my husband, and I could pick up as working parents. I also recently finished The Storyteller by Dave Grohl, an autobiographical read about his life from scrappy backup drummer to Foo Fighters frontman, I really enjoyed learning about his life on the road, especially the Nirvana years.” 

Cameron Hills, Director, Capital Markets 

“Let My People Go Surfing:  The Education of a Reluctant Businessman an autobiography by Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia. It explores his life experiences and philosophies that inspired his innovation as an entrepreneur. There’s something for everyone in this book, even if you find some of the ideas a little controversial.” \

Janelle Donohue, SVP – Strategic Risk Management and Senior Legal Counsel 

“This year I read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling, several stories in the Dragon Masters series by Tracey West, The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak, The Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems; and I Survived the Shark Attacks of 1916 by Lauren Tarshis. In my defense, these aren’t my interests—I read these ones with my three kids! I’m also reading a cookbook called Real Food Kids Will Love by Annabel Karmel.” 

Max Graham, Chief Performance Officer 

“I recently read the classic Casino Royale by Ian Fleming, and I’m partway through Goldfinger. I also regularly read Pivot, a magazine for CPAs, and each year I read the Urban Land Institute and PwC Emerging Trends in Real Estate report.” 

Rosa Cameron, SVP People & Culture” 

Atomic Habits by James Clear. I’ve also subscribed to his 3-2-1 Thursday newsletter for the longest time, and I like his approach to continuous improvement and developing good habits on a small, incremental basis each day.” 

Steve Smith, SVP Capital Markets – Debt 

“I just finished American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road by Nick Bilton. It’s about Russ Ulbricht, who built a billion-dollar online drug empire. I also really liked The Only Rule is It Has to Work, by Sam Miller and Ben Lindbergh, about what happens when two baseball analytics bloggers were allowed to manage a minor league baseball team. I recently listened to Bad Blood, an audiobook about Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes.” 

Leif Snethun, CEO, Agricultural Land Trust 

“Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand. It’s a thought-provoking novel about a philosophy that’s still relevant today, even though it was written in the 1950s.” 

Gabriel Millard, SVP, Capital Markets – Equity and Research 

“I like the podcasts Macro Voices (about markets and macroeconomics), On the Margin (about asset management, macroeconomics, and ideas that were once radical are becoming mainstream); and Hardcore History (which takes a deep dive into historical events). 

“I’ve been reading The End of the World Is Just the Beginning: Mapping the Collapse of Globalization by Peter Zeihan, which makes some dire predictions about how various countries will fare as globalization collapses; and the memoir Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey. I recommend you listen to the audiobook for the full experience.” 

Tammy Cho, SVP, Marketing

Educated by Tara Westover is a page-turning memoir that recounts her sheltered life in the deserted mountains of Idaho, and her father’s resistance to normal society, government, and education. Despite all this, she went to college at 17 and completed her Ph.D. at Cambridge University. I’m also listening to the Greenlights audiobook by Matthew McConaughey that documents his life’s trials and tribulations in a raw, unfiltered, and captivating way – it’s an inspirational collection of stories and insights.”

This commentary and the information contained herein are for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute an offer to sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy, any securities or related financial instruments. This article may contain forward-looking statements. Readers should refer to information contained on our website at for additional information regarding forward-looking statements and certain risks associated with them. 

Market Spotlight: Hot Springs, Arkansas

Whether it’s the medicinal healing waters that gave the city its name; some serious baseball history (this is the birthplace of spring training and the spot where Babe Ruth hit baseball’s first 500-foot-plus home run); or unique attractions like the alligator farm and petting zoo, Hot Springs, Arkansas has drawn people to it for generations.  

And for Mini Mall Storage Properties, Hot Springs offers several strategic advantages as well. 

Easy Access  

Arkansas is known for its affordability and business-friendly environment. These factors, paired with Hot Springs’ appealing cost of entry, made it an ideal region for Mini Mall to deploy its hub and spoke model. 

“This city is the perfect size to fit our business plan,” says Raheem Amer, president of U.S. operations. “Our framework dictates that all our facilities must be located within 30 minutes of a management hub. In Hot Springs, we had the opportunity to create a real market presence by acquiring 17 properties in close proximity, which means our manager is no farther than five minutes from any location.”  

This ability to travel quickly and easily between locations is a cornerstone of Mini Mall’s strategy and helps us to elevate the customer experience to a universal standard. Mini Mall also uses technology paired with a human touch to provide a top-tier experience for an affordable price. Customers benefit from on-site managers, customer service specialists, and technological upgrades such as state-of-the-art security systems that allow tenants to access their units via a mobile app. 

A market that makes sense 

Real estate analytics provider CoStar finds that Hot Springs apartments rent for half the national average, making it an ideal place to put down roots, and with a metro population of 100,000, Hot Springs is demographically full of promise for the self-storage industry. According to the U.S. Migration Report, in 2021 Arkansas experienced, more active in-migration than any other state (by ratio). In that time, 44 per cent more people moved into the state than out, with many attracted by strong employment opportunities and an affordable cost of living.  

Home to numerous stable industries including banking, finance, healthcare, logistics, and light manufacturing, the area has benefitted from strong job creation and income growth. In fact, CoStar reports that wages are climbing seven per cent per year, well above the national average, and are forecasted to remain strong when compared to the rest of the country. 

The self-storage tenant profile for Hot Springs is also appealing. The region is home to a vibrant tourism industry, and retail intensification continues to drive strong demand from commercial tenants. Seasonal residents in Hot Springs and nearby resort communities also use self-storage for recreational vehicles and other items not needed throughout the year. In addition, there’s a growing retirement community, and renters make up a substantial portion of the population. Many homes lack basement storage, so people turn to self-storage facilities to reduce clutter.  

“With every acquisition, we look for ways to bring technology and innovation to a self-storage facility, enhancing safety, security, and service for our customers,” says Raheem. “We were thrilled to bring our model to Hot Springs and demonstrate to this growing market what the future of self-storage can look like.” 

As with every community we enter, we look forward to developing and deepening relationships with the residents of Hot Springs, a place with a rich history and, we believe, a vibrant future.  

This commentary and the information contained herein are for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute an offer to sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy, any securities or related financial instruments. This article may contain forward-looking statements. Readers should refer to information contained on our website at for additional information regarding forward-looking statements and certain risks associated with them.