The end of summer marks an annual rite of passage for student housing properties as college students move out of rental units and new residents move in as the new school year ramps up. Turn season is often the busiest — and most stressful — time of the year for property managers and their staffs. Over the years, those of us who have lived through our fair share of turn seasons have learned ways to successfully lead our teams through this hectic period.
The turn season may last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the property. For example, Asset Campus Housing has properties where our turn season allows us to work throughout an entire month while some of our other properties may only have a week to turn hundreds of units. No matter what the time frame is and having experienced hundreds of turns, we have learned that it is ALWAYS best to start the planning process as early as possible.
Ultimately, many mistakes can occur when there is a lack of planning from a property manager. Therefore, we begin by asking our property managers and regional managers to prepare timelines, deadlines and budgets to ensure the turn process is as seamless as possible. We also work with the managers to create detailed plans ahead of time so that when turn hits — no matter how long or short it may be — every staff member knows exactly what they are supposed to be doing. We understand that first impressions are key with new residents, and we strive to ensure their first experience with their new home is a pleasant one, and that takes planning.
To help them along, here are just a few simple tips I recommend to our team:
- Plan Early -- Make sure you are prepared and have enough vendors and staff to meet your deadlines.
- Find the Right Vendors -- Don’t always go for the cheapest bids when it comes to vendors. Find vendors who are trustworthy, efficient and cost effective.
- Communicate – Communication is key! If you are unable to communicate with your vendors, staff, or even your corporate office, your turn will be very difficult to get through.
When things are not prepared, scheduled or communicated properly it can cause employees to make errors, and they can quickly become overwhelmed. To help prevent this, we always communicate to our managers to stay positive. There is almost always something that comes up and does not go as planned. Vendors may walk out of turn, you may discover a pest problem or you may even feel like you are losing a bit of your mind from working with the same people for 12 hours a day. It is the manager’s job to stay positive and work through any problems that may arise.
I think it is safe to say everyone who has been in the industry for any period of time has experienced a bad turn. One thing Asset Campus Housing does as a company is to take that bad experience and turn it into motivation to transform every future turn into a good one. It is important that we take those less-than-ideal situations and use them to ensure we do not make those same mistakes again in the future.
— As senior vice president at Asset Campus Housing, Joe Goodwin is responsible for the global development, implementation and oversight of all external- and internal-facing marketing and leasing initiatives for the Asset Campus Housing portfolio. With over 17 years experience in the student housing industry, he also has an in-depth operational knowledge in various student housing markets across the country.