Consulting Q&A with our Business Development Team

For more than 20 years, Campus Advantage’s Consulting team has leveraged their industry experience and market knowledge to make accurate observations and develop personalized strategies for projects across the country. From market feasibility studies to design and development consulting, our services are tailored to benefit each client — from new entrants to the student housing market, to experienced owners, developers, and lenders. We recently chatted with Thomas Demiranda, Chief Sales Officer, and Chris Berger, Business Development Executive, to discuss why student housing operators make the best consultants, and how CA goes beyond just empirical data to equip you with all the information you need to succeed.

Can you provide a brief overview of Campus Advantage’s consulting experience and services? Are there key areas or aspects of the industry that CA specializes in?

Student housing operators like Campus Advantage possess unique insights that make them ideal consultants. We draw from 20 years of operational expertise to offer customized consulting that meets the diverse needs of our clients, spanning from newcomers to seasoned players in the student housing market. We have successfully conducted more than 800 consulting studies — both domestic and international — since our inception, spanning across 172 markets in 40 states and 6 countries. Whether someone is in need of a comprehensive feasibility study to assess the viability of their planned new student housing development project, an operational and resident life analysis to find opportunities to improve leasing velocity and retention, or something else, our team is there to assist. On average, we complete approximately 40 consulting studies annually, catering to both existing and new clients with dedication and expertise.

What sets CA’s consulting approach apart from others in the market?

Our distinguishing feature lies in the collaboration infused into every consulting endeavor. We bring together our Investments, Asset Management, Revenue, and Operations teams to augment our collective insight and expertise. With this approach, we gain access to a wealth of resources and a broader foundation of experience, allowing us to best address a client’s project, budget, and need.

How can hiring a consulting team benefit someone considering a potential acquisition or new development?

Third-party consultants take an unbiased approach and gather necessary data to support decisions, determine strategies, and (in some cases) recommend against something entirely. Utilizing experts in the space will free up time and resources, which allows for more focus on pressing matters while we handle the rest. For example, Campus Advantage’s comprehensive due diligence services include on-site walks of units, real-time feedback with photo and data, in-depth marketing and budget review, and more — all provided in a final report, without our clients having to break a sweat.

How do we tailor our consulting approach to meet the unique needs and challenges of different clients or markets?

Because we understand that each client and market possesses unique needs, desires, and obstacles, we highly prioritize the initial conversation and discovery phase. This phase is pivotal in allowing us, as consultants, to tailor our methodology to effectively support strategic planning for new developments or to gauge the overall health and outlook of a market. Beginning with an initial discovery call, we begin a data collection process that is meticulously aligned with the specific consulting needs. Whether it pertains to operational assessment, new development assessment, or feasibility in a particular market, our approach remains centered on addressing the identified requirements as well as the ultimate goal of the project.

Collaboration is crucial in consulting. How does your Sales team work with other departments within the company to ensure a cohesive and effective consulting service for clients?

It all starts with aligning assignments with each department’s strengths. Campus Advantage has some of the brightest leaders in our industry that come from various backgrounds. Using each team member’s strength and communicating these efforts internally has allowed all of our consulting studies to be successful and will continue to be unmatched in the industry.

Budget considerations are often a concern for clients. How does your team balance providing high-quality consulting services while being mindful of budget constraints?

Addressing budget concerns is integral to our consulting process as we strive to provide high-quality services without compromising financial constraints. When someone inquires about CA’s consulting services, they receive a standardized pricing sheet that can be customized to suit their unique requirements. While we do provide comprehensive packages, we understand recent budget restrictions may necessitate a more flexible approach. Our a la carte option enables clients to tailor services precisely to their needs, ensuring cost-effectiveness without sacrificing quality.

For example, our market study delivers extensive insights at an affordable rate for those who might just need a high-level recommendation. On the other hand, our comprehensive feasibility study — which encompasses stakeholder meetings, campus visits, and engagement with university leaders — remains competitively priced and offers exceptional value for lenders seeking detailed information and high-quality analysis.

Can you share an example of a successful consulting project where your team addressed specific challenges for a client?

In Bellingham, Washington, Campus Advantage provided consulting services during the design phase of Stateside, a new purpose-built student housing community. The primary aim was to validate the market viability and optimize amenity spaces, and following the consultation, our team was then entrusted with pre-lease management.

Upon opening in August 2021, Stateside achieved a remarkable 97% occupancy and earned a 4.7 Google rating. Projected rent growth increased to 6.9% for 2022–2023, and the property is fully leased for the upcoming year — a significant improvement from the previous year. Additionally, the website saw a surge in traffic, with 699 new visitors and 17,600 organic impressions as of April 2022. This success underscores CA’s ability to provide strategic market insights, collaborate effectively with clients, and deliver tangible results in property development and management.