All too soon, summer is coming to a close and the back to school season is upon us! This means student housing operators are in full turn mode. In addition to the herculean task of matching hundreds of 18-to-21-year-olds into harmonious groups and assigning them to units, each year managers of student properties have only an average two-week window in which to turn a very high volume of its units.
After picking the brains of student operators across the country about these unique challenges, we’ve compiled a few tips to help make for a more smooth turn week and move-in process for property managers and residents:
“Turn” It All Digitally: As many of you can attest, turning an entire property entails endless amounts of work orders and status updates that need to be sent to a myriad of vendors and staff working on the property simultaneously. Rid yourselves of paperwork, spreadsheets and charts on the whiteboard. A digital “make ready” board allows you to input the make ready status of each individual unit in one place and update everyone involved on the assigned and completed tasks.
In addition, stacks of leasing paperwork, phones ringing off the hook in the leasing office and long lines on move-in day can all be eliminated by ensuring residents know the policies, procedures, and tools available to them for the move-in and leasing processes. Eliminate paper checks and stacks of paper on move-in day by automatically enrolling new residents in a program that allows them to fill out leasing paperwork, upload important documents, make payments online and receive updates from the leasing office.
Communicate Expectations: Outline the to do’s for the resident, guarantor and property managers in a check-list within the program. Send customized email alerts, reminders and FAQs to residents and their guarantors as questions arise or the completion deadline of checklist items looms near. Customize the communications to resonate w/ your audience. Videos, graphics, and shorter communications are better for your student audience. Incorporate reminders in your social strategy—offer reward points or incentives for completing move in tasks. Post videos or move-in day tutorials on your Instagram or Youtube page like University View in Maryland.
Longer form FAQs posted on your Website will resonate better for those helicopter parents that have a million questions and want to read and reread the information… even the small print. Answering all the questions and preparing residents ahead of time will eliminate a lot of the grunt work on move-in day, allowing your agents to remain focused on providing the utmost positive customer experience.
Use Move-in Day as an Opportunity: If you’ve “turned” everything digitally, all the student will have to do when they arrive on move-in day is sign in at a single workstation to complete a paperless move-in process. Your onsite staff will have less minute details to attend to and more time to make move-in day an opportunity to show your residents a good time, provide them with valuable information, and show residents and their parents they are dedicated to providing them with a quality, comfortable living space. Inviting vendors onsite to provide residents with utility and insurance information helps tie up all the loose ends that many residents leave to the last minute. In addition, having moving help onsite is an added bonus that every resident will appreciate.
Don’t Neglect the Guarantor: But, when all is said and done, don’t neglect the guarantor. . . AKA mom and dad. Ultimately, they have power to influence their student’s renewal decisions next semester. Pull out the red carpet for them too, and don’t forget to keep them in the loop even after move-in day. 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. Using an automated message center to send customized messages to parents is a great way to do so.
We want to hear from you! What helps your community through turn and move-in day?