You’ve heard the term helicopter parent before, but have you thought about the impact they are having on the apartment industry? This year’s NAA Student Housing Conference breakout session, “The Parent Trap: Effectively Managing Parent Expectations,” challenged industry leaders to embrace these parents and think of new ways to better manage them through their student’s rental process.
“At the end of the day it is the parent’s checkbook footing the bill, so it is not uncommon for the entire family to show up to tour a community and be heavily involved in the process,” said Chase Harrington, Property Solutions’ Chief Strategy Officer. Chase Harrington moderated the session in which Julie Bonnin of Asset Campus Housing and Del de Windt of Cardinal Group shared how they are tackling this challenge in creative ways. Each brought interesting perspectives to the table, ultimately placing the importance on two areas:
- Setting parent and student expectations during the leasing process
- Making parents feel a part of the community once their student becomes a resident
Not all parents have the luxury of visiting each potential community their student may live, so having a remote way for parents to be involved in the renting process is key. The implementation of online leasing at many properties is allowing parents the flexibility and convenience of completing the leasing process remotely. In addition, many properties are placing FAQ sections on their sites that are specific to answering parent questions. You can also utilize a FAQ page to manage parent expectations by informing them of their rights and privileges as guarantors. Once the lease has been signed, setting expectations continues into move-in day. It is a memorable moment that can either put parents at ease, or worse, cause extraneous stress. The significance of setting the right expectation during that day is paramount.
“Move-in is the one time you really have the chance to interact face-to-face with parents. We show them exceptional customer service, give them confidence in where their student is living and provide them with assurance that we’re willing to go above and beyond for their student, so they can sleep and rest easy at night,” said Del de Windt.
Once the move in day hurdle is passed, don’t let the next time you communicate with the parents be asking them to renew their child’s lease. During the session, Cardinal Group mentioned an increased trend of parents submitting online work orders and calling the leasing center with questions for their students. Similar to online leasing, parents and students now expect the ability to pay rent and submit maintenance requests online. An online ResidentPortal allows parents the ability to take care of their student’s maintenance requests and payments from afar with ease. Property message centers can make it possible to send automated messages to both students and parents at specific trigger points. In addition, online community forums, such as what Asset Campus mentioned piloting, allows for regular parent interaction and feedback with other parents and the community staff.
The moral of the story? Don’t fall into the parent trap. Pay just as much, if not more, attention to the parents at your student housing community. What are you doing at your community to manage parent expectations and guide them through their student’s rental process?