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Employee Engagement

The latest multifamily research and data regarding the impact of employee engagement on resident retention, online reputation, and revenue growth.

Student Retention: We're Not Gonna Take It

college kidsIt may come as no surprise that students generally score their satisfaction with rental housing a full quarter of a point lower than the average renter. Those who manage student housing can attest to students (and their parents) having higher expectations and being more vocal about their opinions.  This makes sense, as this may be the first time a student is away from home and their parents are not caring for the home. Many have no idea what housing in the real world is like! And while school may be out for the summer, there are many students (and their parents) who are finalizing their decisions on where the student will be living next fall. Here are some standards to put in place in order to position your community to be the student's home away from (mom and dad's) home.

1. Be courteous and professional
According to the SatisFacts Student Index, students give their property management office team an "Average" rating when it comes to basic courtesy. Students are people too! What you may be interpreting as entitlement or rudeness may be a cover for insecurity and misunderstanding. Use every interaction as a positive opportunity to educate them on what they can expect from the property team, the best way to go about submitting work orders, what the timeline for resolution might be and why. Just as parents aim to shape their children to be self-sufficient, confident members of society, Student housing providers can aim to shape students into responsible, educated renters.

2. Communicate - their way
Students, like all people, like to know what's going on. Know how your students prefer to communicate, and then ensure you have the capabilities to communicate in that way. For some communities, that may be through a Facebook page. For another, it may be text messaging. No matter what the method, the key is to be timely in responding to their communication and that means SAME DAY responses!

3. Offer solutions
This may very well be the first time a student has lived on his or her own away from mom and dad. Be the experts of your community and make it as easy a transition as possible. Storage is not what they expected? Give recommendations on storage containers that fit under their beds and where to buy them. Kitchen drawers are too small for standard utensil holders? Let the students know where they can buy a camper size utensil holder that does fit, or better yet, keep a supply on hand to give out as a move-in gift.

4. Be Proactive in Safety and Security
While no community can guarantee the security of any resident, ensure that whatever standard safety measures that are in place function properly, and demonstrate these to students and their parents during tours. During service requests, have the maintenance team check that every door and window lock latches properly. Conduct light walks every week to 2 weeks to ensure that walkways and parking lots are lit appropriately. Trim landscaping back relentlessly to minimize hiding places and keep pathways clear. Educate residents and parents on the purpose and limitations of entry gates - to minimize non-resident traffic, not to keep criminals out of the community.

The 2012 School Year will be here before you know it, and this is your opportunity to show new and returning parents that you are THE community for them. Because just like conventional renters, a negative experience or lack of service will cause students to tell a community, "We're Not Gonna Take It Anymore!"

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