Reconsidering The College Rental

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By Norm Shore, Director, Kayne Anderson Real Estate

How many years have we heard that the college rental is not the preferred customer? Long enough to know that the college student 10 years ago is probably no longer in college, is possibly married with a growing family, and maybe has a new job or is moving for a new job. Perhaps he/she downsized back into his/her childhood home. The possibilities are endless.

What do you think they remember about their experience? What was the quality of the property where they rented? Do you think that they will remember anything about that experience? What are you doing today to ensure that today’s college student will remember the experience that they are having so that you create brand loyalty for when they become tenants again?

First, let’s be clear on a couple of things: The short-term rental in a small unit is not exactly a business plan on which to rely. This customer is likely to be paying with a parent’s credit card or a collective. Regardless, they are a short-term rental in a unit that probably is not one of your cash cow size codes.

If you do not believe in brand loyalty, watch the documentary on NASCAR and its spectators’ love for all things Tide or Lowes, etc. Creating brand loyalty is not a sprint or a marathon. It is a process where the experience of the customer brings them back to buy your product.

So, what are doing to ensure that the experience of today’s college student will prompt them to return in the future when the unit they rent is more in line with your current length of stay customer?

How are you branded? Does your technology enable them to use their mobile device? Do you have an app? What incentives/perks did you provide to them so that they remember you? Do you have an awards program to earn points towards boxes, free rental days, waived admin fees, or another month of free storage when they rent again?

Sure, you could do nothing since it is a short-term college rental. However, everyone remembers a good customer experience and a bad customer experience. If you plan on renting space in 10 years, acknowledge the fact that today’s college student rental is that customer.

Set the table; they will show up.

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