The upcoming academic year is quickly approaching—soon, countless students will be filing into their leased apartments and on-campus houses. While the fundamentals of property management still ring true, student housing has many additional layers to consider when implementing a management strategy.
Before your residents walk through the doors, let’s discuss some important management tactics that are crucial for student housing success.
The Beginning – Move In
The first factor to consider upon meeting your residents is maturity and experience. Yes, they are all likely to be around the same age, but there’s a difference in living style when comparing new undergraduates to almost-graduates. Pay attention to your residents and look for signs of potential problems or opportunities to show newcomers how to be great neighbors and renters.
- Rules And Procedures
From the very beginning, make your property rules known—it’s important to provide clarity with your residents. Explicitly express your expectations, along with the repercussions if renters do not adhere to your community’s policies. Next, make sure your procedures are detailed and easily available to your residents—where to go in case of emergencies, who to approach with any questions, how to contact the management team, and more. Establish this as common knowledge to all who reside in your units in order to have a safe and communicative environment.
- Partner With Local Businesses
A great way to help new residents get acclimated to your community is to partner with the businesses surrounding you—local stores, boutiques, pizza parlors, coffee shops—places that students will likely enjoy and value during their residency. Include coupons, samples, and advertisements in your welcome packets to establish the connection between your businesses right from the start. Additionally, by forming partnerships that resonate with your residents, both partners can benefit. Aim to develop a mutual advantage approach within your partnership strategy, as the payoff can be immense.
- Dispel COVID-19 Concerns
Returning to school this fall may look slightly different than years past. Following more than a year of COVID-19 quarantines, some families may still be hesitant about their students coming back and living in close quarters with others. However, you may be able to alleviate these concerns from the start. Share the details of your cleaning protocols and processes for frequently touched surfaces and shared spaces. Let your residents know their health is still a primary concern for your staff and that you’re doing everything possible to keep your community safe. You might even consider supplying residents with a small basket of cleaning products to start the year off right!
- Consistent Communication
Since many of your residents may be new to renting, you might need to play a more active role in their experience. It’s crucial to acknowledge that student renters need more guidance—including payment reminders and the correct way to handle maintenance requests. Develop an open dialogue with your residents that encourages them to communicate with your team and you may be surprised by the results.
- Relationship Building
We can’t over emphasize the importance of building relationships with your residents. Organize events, provide information and helpful resources, and get to know them on a first-name basis. While forming these connections does require some extra effort, the result of these friendly connections can greatly help your property dynamic and image.
- Primary Contacts
Since many of your residents are young and newly independent, documenting their outside contact information is crucial. Co-signing parents and guardians may want to know that rent is being paid on time, that units are being properly maintained, when lease renewal deadlines are approaching, etc.
Rent Manager is an ideal resource for keeping your tenants’ outside contacts organized and accessible. From the very beginning, add this information to the “Contacts” tab for each resident. Keep detailed records and easily access this information when managing your student accounts.
One of the biggest challenges in student housing is the fickle nature of the target audience, as renters often change their housing options repeatedly during their college years. As a result, resident retention is an especially important focus for managers in this segment of the property management industry.
- Utilize Tenant Referral Programs
A great retention tool for any property manager—but especially those in student housing—is tenant referral programs. Turn your current residents into leasing agents by offering rent credits when their referrals sign a lease; or conduct a property-wide public relations campaign that underscores the benefits of living in the same community as friends or students working toward the same degree. By utilizing tenant referral programs with your existing renters, the potential for gaining new residents is enormous.
- Social Media Makeover
If you’re aiming to appeal to a student audience, elevating your social media presence is a must. Post relevant updates on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter; host giveaways and contests; and deliver engaging content that resonates with students.
Our Property Manager’s Guide to Social Media can help you decide if your community’s Social accounts are in need of a makeover.
- Give Them A Reason
Regardless of how you choose to communicate and connect with your residents, your ultimate goal should be to make your property feel like home. That’s how you’ll get your renters to renew their lease and spread the word about their awesome experience in your community. It’s a fact—a majority of renters are willing to pay more for properties with positive reviews. When your current residents share their positive feedback, that optimism is recognized.
The Big Picture
As a property manager, you know that communication, marketing, and relationship-building can make or break your business.
As the “first day of school” approaches, consider incorporating one or more of these recommendations to your plans for the coming academic year. Design a property experience that is memorable and welcoming. Be your residents’ safe haven as they enter this new phase of their lives—by doing so, your property won’t just be where they live, it’ll be the place they call home!
By Kelsey Rizzuto, Revisited By Skyler Lance