As many say, “Life happens.” We, in the student housing industry, often find ourselves saying something else: “Turn happens.” Completed for many communities hundreds of times over, that three-week process of cleaning, painting, providing maintenance, updating units, replacing furniture, updating fixtures, and so much more leads to many situations in which we just have to say — “Turn happens!”
Whether it’s losing staff, having a sub-par vendor, not preparing proper communication with future residents, or many of the other failure points that can be associated with this process, many can find themselves at wits end when it comes to a poorly planned and executed turn. Luckily, not all hope is lost. If you’re a student housing management company or owner and your ship seems to have fallen off course, there are ways to get back on track.
Turn Isn’t Over, Until It’s Over
Vendors and property management teams are not finished with turn on move-in day. By communicating and planning that all vendors are fully responsible for seeing their work through to customer satisfaction, even if that means correcting issues days after move-in, you’ll prevent leaving a resident without a solution. Many community members may not actually move in on move-in day, and will arrive days (or sometimes weeks!) later. By having resources on standby for up to two weeks after move-in day, your team will have what’s needed to provide solutions instead of excuses. We suggest adding a retainer clause to your vendor’s contract, ensuring that they do multiple touch points post move-in to provide solutions to cleaning, painting, repairs or installation that may have left a resident dissatisfied.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Most problems in student housing are caused by and can be fixed through one thing: communication. If you’ve had a poor move-in day and turn, your residents need to have the ability to communicate their dissatisfaction to ears that can provide solutions. If you don’t give them an opportunity to communicate with you, they will communicate through other means, including online reviews, word of mouth and other methods that will hurt your brand and future success. At Campus Advantage, after move-in, we send out a move-in satisfaction survey, so that all residents have an opportunity to voice any concerns. This is also sent to parents who are usually a part of the move-in process and are more willing to communicate dissatisfaction. This allows us to organize our pain points and focus on solutions while at the same time effectively opening a dialogue on how we can improve our resident experience.
Also, remember that communication is a two-way street. Once your residents and guarantors have communicated their concerns, it’s now your team’s responsibility to communicate back what’s being done to provide a solution. Whether it’s scheduling additional cleaning and painting or finding a time to sit down and apologize for a poor move-in experience, teams must grasp the opportunity to create a positive dialogue with residents. Teams also need to ensure that communication is consistent throughout the problem-solving process and that responses are fast. We suggest keeping a live document with all issues identified during the move-in process with diligent notes on where things stand, so all major milestones can be communicated to the stakeholder of the issue.
The Importance of Reputation Management
Campus Advantage communities also have access to our coveted Reputation Management services. Our reputation management services provide external insights on issues our on-site team may have missed, and aggregate data on concerns communicated externally. These services also provide an outside party’s perspective and provide the most valuable resource of all during turn: dedicated time and focus on correcting issues and building relationships with our residents — translating to long term success and a healthier perspective on a poor turn.
Move-in is not the only opportunity to build a relationship with residents. By focusing on other opportunities to smooth a rocky move-in, any student housing management company can build trust and satisfaction with residents. Campus Advantage’s Students First® Experience is dedicated to ensuring a purpose-driven experience is provided to our residents, starting on day one. By providing social experiences, growth opportunities and career resources, our students have so much more to be satisfied with than four walls and a roof. Even taking the step to host a social event such as a barbeque, pool party, or will provide value and satisfaction to residents outside of their move-in experience. Campus Advantage even goes as far as to offer a “Customize Your Experience” survey, where community members have the opportunity to voice the activities that they would be interested in attending — translating to a greater sense of ownership and involvement in the community and a higher rate of long-term satisfaction and retention.
By equipping your team with the appropriate resources, planning and communication, any community can turn a poorly planned turn (get it?) into something that ultimately produces value for your residents. If you have any additional questions about how to recover from a poorly planned turn, or would like some help doing so, please don’t hesitate to contact us.