Customer Experience in Student Housing: Delivering Exceptional Service to Short-Term Renters

Last modified on January 5th, 2024
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Owning or managing a student housing property comes with one guarantee: high turnover rates. With most of your residents moving in and out of your property every year, offering great, efficient customer service can be challenging.

Despite high turnover rates, properties at colleges and universities come with a significant advantage — a small and tight-knit community. Unlike conventional multifamily apartment communities where residents likely have social circles that span far beyond their apartment building, student housing residents’ social circles consist almost entirely of prospects. 

Creating a great environment for a short-term, single-year renter isn’t a waste of resources, as their positive impression of your community translates into word-of-mouth promotion and references. For every student resident you deliver an exceptional customer experience to, there are several prospective student residents receiving recommendations for your property. 

But customer service for student renters isn’t one-size-fits-all. Read on to discover five ways to create long-term benefits for short-term renters.

5 Ways to Tailor Your Customer Experience for Student Renters

1.) Utilize a Robust Property Management Solution

While some student renters will remain in their apartment for multiple years, most move every year they’re in college. As a result, student housing properties see a turnover rate of around 50%. What’s more, most of this turnover happens in a two-week period at the end of summer.

To deal with this high turnover rate, it’s vital to take advantage of a robust property management solution that integrates seamlessly with other proptech solutions. This way, when a new student renter is entered into your system, access permissions are automatically updated, and students gain immediate access to online services, such as amenity space reservations, maintenance requests, and rent payments.

With so many renters spending just 12 months at your property, you have a short time to make a good impression. By investing in a great property management system that integrates with a host of proptech solutions, you can offer the best possible experience to your renters while keeping all of the data in one place. Further, a robust property management solution minimizes access permission errors or delays — creating a great first impression of your property.

2.) Offer Enticing and Evolving Lifestyle Amenities

Today’s student renters expect much more than four walls and a restroom from their accommodations. To keep up with the competition, it’s important to invest in amenities that elevate the student experience. 

Here are a few of the lifestyle amenities that appeal to student renters:

  • Fast internet: Offering high-speed internet is as important to modern students as offering shelter. So, invest in premium Wi-Fi that won’t lag — even when a majority of your renters are online at the same time. Additionally, consider adding multiple Wi-Fi routers on each floor, depending on the size of your property. This upfront cost will pay for itself in resident retention and promotion.
  • Package management system: Many students live on campus without access to a car, meaning they rely on delivery services for school supplies and groceries. And during package delivery times, they’re in class or attending extracurricular activities. Eliminate the nuisance of missed deliveries and package theft with a package room that has smart-controlled access. This way, couriers can easily deliver packages with a PIN and students can rest assured that their deliveries will be completed successfully.
  • Shared community space: A shared communal space encourages students to get together and fosters a true sense of community. It shows your residents that you’re willing to go above and beyond to offer a property that feels like home. Common offerings in college apartment shared community spaces include board games, pool tables, ping pong tables, ample seating, a large-screen TV, and vending machines with snacks.
  • Study spaces: Quiet spaces where your residents can study without distractions are a huge attraction. Study spaces should include many outlets, desks, comfortable chairs, printers, and reservable workstations for group projects.

3.) Invest in Intuitive Access Control Solutions

When working in student housing, it’s imperative that you provide a great experience not only to student renters but also their parents. The most effective way to do this is to elevate your safety and security protocols with an access control system. 

But how does an access control system — namely a smart video intercom system — improve safety to appeal to parents without sacrificing convenience to appeal to students?

One way is by empowering residents to visually confirm visitors before granting access. As a result, they can ensure a reliable courier service is delivering their packages and identify their friends and classmates audibly and visually. Plus, they don’t have to trek downstairs to let guests in.

Further, robust video intercom systems let you restrict access to only the students who live in the building. And staff can easily update the directory remotely at any time and restrict access as needed.

Finally, the best video intercom systems come with an audit trail. You have access to a time- and date-stamped photo of every entry event that’s stored in the cloud. So, in the event of a security breach, you or a staff member can check the audit trail to see who entered the building and when. 

4.) Take Advantage of Social Media to Establish Connections with Renters

Traditional apartment marketing is great for appealing to prospects, but when it comes to engaging with your current residents, it’s best to join them on platforms they’re already invested in. 

Use social media sites such as Instagram, TikTok, and X to:

  • Showcase your community
  • Introduce residents to your staff
  • Advertise in-person resident events
  • Interact with residents and encourage them to build relationships
  • Host photo contests — like best pet costume or coolest work-from-home setup — for perks such as gift cards to local businesses
  • Show the human side of your property. Save highly polished photos for rental listing sites and instead have fun showing off your community’s events, resident-submitted photos, and views from various units

5.) Create a Simple and Instinctual Move-in and Move-out Process

Moving can be very stressful, and college students typically have to go through the moving process multiple times within a four-year period. But you can make it easier by creating and facilitating smooth move-in and move-out processes. 

Because of the nature of student accommodations, most of your renters will be moving in and out in the same two-week period. So, it’s necessary to make these processes as smooth as possible to make a great first and final impression.

Here are a few tips to ease the move-in process:

  • Stagger move-in periods over several days to decrease foot traffic and open up street space.
  • Invest in a property management system that automatically grants residents access to all amenity and community spaces after being entered into the system through an OS. 
  • Offer moving assistance and dollies to lessen the number of trips between cars and units. 
  • Have residents sign up for accounts such as Wi-Fi, parking, utilities, and resident portals before move-in day. 
  • Create a move-in welcome packet with a copy of the resident’s lease, flyers that detail your property rules, their move-in inspection checklist, and a personalized note welcoming them to your community.

Here are a few ways to streamline the move-out process:

  • Opt for an electronic security deposit system that quickly returns students’ deposits after move-out.
  • Stagger move-out periods in the same fashion as move-in.
  • Give residents the chance to renew their leases several months before the move-out period to get a clear list of which residents are leaving.

Exceed Your Student Renters’ Expectations

Owning or managing a student housing property comes with the opportunity to create an incredible reputation in a small, tight-knit community. Through excellent customer service, you can guarantee that you never see a shortage of applicants. The best ways to tailor your customer service to student renters are to invest in a robust property management system, offer enticing lifestyle amenities, utilize intuitive access control software, use social media to connect with renters, and create streamlined move-in and move-out processes.

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