It’s summertime, which means warmer weather, slower months, and many residents leaving their student housing properties and going back home to live with parents and guardians until the next school year ramps up. For property managers, summer is one of the busiest times of year, as it’s the prime season to focus on filling beds for the fall. Accordingly, nine out of ten business conversations during this time are centered around leasing: how to attract more students, catch up to the market, and the like.
But focusing on leasing new residents doesn’t have to mean ignoring everything else.
Those students who have already signed on for another year or those who are staying at school for the summer deserve just as much of your attention as prospective residents. These are the students who are already committed to your property — your core customers, if you will. When they’re properly engaged with, they will be far more likely to tell their friends about your property, which will generate new leases naturally through positive word-of-mouth referrals. This holistic approach positively drives ROI while — most importantly — keeping the needs and experience of your residents top of mind.
Here are three easy, effective tips for engaging with students over the summer.
Keep quality consistent.
Summertime is no excuse to slack on cleanliness, great service and functioning amenities. In fact, with more open schedules comes many students inviting guests over to their residence more frequently than in the school year. Student housing property management companies that ensure pools are clean, grills have gas and charcoal, and volleyball court nets are sturdy and ready for a good game will contribute to an experience that leaves a positive impression.
For example, at Campus Advantage, our property staff are required to test amenities and tour public areas daily, and that doesn’t stop in the summer. We make sure that all protocols are followed just as they would be during the school year. This promotes a sense of consistent quality and ensures that our properties are trustworthy residences that students want to live and spend their time in.
Actively build a sense of community.
Host regular events throughout the summer just as you would during the school year. Whether it’s a barbeque, rafting on the river, or a movie night on the lawn, these events provide regular opportunities for residents to interact with each other as well as property staff.
In addition to building community during the summer, it is worth noting that what you do now sets the tone for the upcoming academic year, both for your renewed/returning residents and for your new incoming residents, who should be invited to attend summer events! Even if they can’t make it, the fact they are invited and will see what is happening on social media (more on that below) sets the foundation for a great year of community.
In our fast-paced world, there’s no underestimating the value of face-to-face connection. Remembering a resident’s name and having intentional conversations with them will go an incredibly long way in building relationships that will increase their likelihood to renew in the future. And, providing fun events gives students more opportunities to invite their friends… which equals more face time for your property!
Use social media to provide value, not just specials or discounts.
While summertime deals and specials provide an incentive to renew or lease, they should in no way be the bulk of your content strategy. Instead, use property social media platforms to offer useful and relevant information to your residents.
One example is to regularly let residents know about fun summertime events taking place on campus or in town. Tweet about that university-sponsored pizza night or post real-time photos of that outdoor concert on your Instagram story. Your residents should feel like your property is a helpful friend, not a constant solicitation.
Another idea is to follow back those residents who follow your property on social media, so you can repost photos they take while at your property. Summer pool party? Share it! Late night breakfast? Share it!
Speaking of late night breakfasts, remember that many of your residents are still in school taking summer classes. Provide them with scantrons, specialty coffee, or breakfast to-go, and use social media to get the word out. Social media is an incredible asset when used as a vehicle to genuinely provide value to your residents.