Jenn Cassidy, Senior Vice President of Asset Management, shares how making students the priority of the student housing equation ultimately leads to profits.
I have been with Campus Advantage for 12 years, and one thing has rang true about our company consistently: it has always, first and foremost, been about the students.
In my role as Senior Vice President of Asset Management, I lead a group focused on building a bridge between investments and operations. The goal of our team is to facilitate alignment between our investment strategy and our related operations approach, ensuring strong performance for our investors and partners by helping the operations team at the property level leverage the appropriate data and insights to meet benchmarks and drive returns. This goal, which marries the best interest of our investors with the process and approach of our property-level staff, could never be accomplished if we didn’t ultimately have the best interest of students in mind. Our end-of-day objective is to go above and beyond for our students.
Keeping what’s best for students at heart is why we do we do what we do, which includes creating systems and articulating operational practices that we know will work (and offer returns) based on Campus Advantage’s 15 years of property management experience, yet allowing flexibility for property managers to adjust to the needs and preferences of the students in their individual market. The corporate team heavily relies on the property team to give us feedback, informing us on what is unique about their student population, so we can market each property effectively and make sure students are receiving the best possible experience.
This is what really differentiates Campus Advantage from others in the field — our teams have true autonomy to share what makes their market special, and we highly value that feedback. We don’t believe in using a cookie-cutter approach. We know the input from the on-the-ground operations team allows us to be smarter and ultimately, maintain our above-average returning renter ratio and high occupancy rates.
Our desire to move beyond “cookie-cutter” has affected many other facets of the Campus Advantage approach, as well. For example, rather than relying on the calendar to tell us when and how to adjust rent rates, we started using a revenue management software nine years ago and continue to do so today. Nine years ago, our approach to revenue management was completely unheard of in the student housing space (software of this kind was mostly used for multifamily back then), but we implemented it as a best practice across properties and have seen huge success — and now others in the space are getting on board with the idea, too. We also adopted business intelligence software this past year, working with RealPage to define what that would look like for student housing. Our data-driven approach helps us ensure that we stay in tune with not only the market overall but with student needs as well. It’s an asset that absolutely keeps us at the top of the industry.
At Campus Advantage, our mission is to lead the world in creating financially successful communities that excel in providing rewarding living, learning and career experiences.And we will always hold true to that mission, knowing driving returns as real estate investment managers means keeping our eye fixed on the student element of student housing. It makes me excited to see where Campus Advantage will be in 15 years — what we will have learned, how we’ll have grown, and how we’ll have continued to innovate as the needs of students drive us to evolve, continually ensuring the financial success of our business along the way.