Sunday, August 9, 2015

Things You Hear In Student Housing

Things you hear in Student Housing Property offices you don’t usually hear or experience in conventional or senior housing community offices:

“You mean I pay the utilities? You guys don’t do that?”

“I’m here to check in.” – Oh, you mean move in? We educate them that this is independent living, not dorm life, and there is no RA to hold their hands for them 24/7.

“Hey, yeah, you emailed me about my rent. Can you just call my mom about that?” Hummm, this one does not have a Guarantor.

After reporting wet carpet, the Leasing Specialist asks how long it has been wet. “I guess about 2 or 3 weeks. I just wear my shoes so my feet don’t get wet.”

About two weeks prior to the big move in rush, deliveries start arriving. Many consist of futons, bed frames, mattresses, Flat Screen TVs, couches, dining sets … which all fit nicely in the 5x5 Package Room.

Large boxes of Solo cups are shipped to the students.

You mean you guys don’t put hammers and screwdrivers in the apartments? How am I supposed to put together my bookcases? (We do have these to lend out, but it is funny they expect it to be supplied in the units.)

Students will traipse across the grounds in PJs on Saturday afternoons to collect packages … barefoot. In the snow.

It is not uncommon for someone to come in and say the “maid” hasn’t been to their apartment yet (after a couple of months) and their parents are arriving in a couple of hours. Yikes. Maid Service, we always ask? Do you think this is a hotel we want to say, but don’t. 

Hey, yeah, I just got back in town and I’m locked out. At 4 in the morning. 

Hey, can you let the delivery guy in so the food is there when I get out of class?

The Leasing Specialist is calling about an important matter (usually because all emails have been ignored.) The Resident answers and says, “Oh, hey. Can you call back later; I’m in class.”

Someone calls in and reports vomit in the common hallway of his building. “What happened?” I think there was a party there last night in my apartment. But man, can you clean that up before my girlfriend comes over tonight?

Doing inspections reveal a fist sized hole in the wall of the entry. “That?” Shrugs shoulders. “Yeah, some guy was showing off and did that.” You inform them there will be a repair charge. “What?????? No way! I’m not paying for that.” That’s okay – your security deposit will.

If there wasn’t humor in the day, we would all be cranky!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

What Are You Doing to Reduce Common Service Requests?

At some point in the last twenty or so years, tub spouts changed. In ordinary circumstances, you wouldn’t pay too much attention to this unless it affected your own ability to turn on a shower. But even then, I think most Americans figure it out pretty quickly. Instead of having a lever to pull upwards to turn on the shower, one must pull down on the spout itself. I remember when we installed on in our shower of the main bath, my husband demonstrated how to do it; our children actually grew up knowing how to operate it.

It may seem extraordinary then, when our Residents cannot seem to figure it out. However, the one thing I noticed right away was that almost 99% of the returned move-in inspection forms from our international residents contained this: “shower doesn’t work.” When the Maintenance Tech would go to attend to the work order, he would turn it in as completed marked “Nothing wrong.”

This type of service request became such a frequent one (recurring from our international students) that a pictorial demonstration booklet was given to every person at move demonstrating how the shower operates. (We found many people were extremely embarrassed and felt “dumb” after finding out there was nothing wrong and it was attributed to “Operator error.”) In addition, our Maintenance Techs now pay a visit to each person who moves in and demonstrates the operation of the thermostat, alarm system and shower.  Sometimes it is the simple things that make life easier – like knowing how to turn on one’s shower. 

More than that, by reducing the risk of making someone feel badly for not figuring out the “American way” of doing things, I think it helps us create a better overall experience for our Residents.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Hire a Team Player

Short and sweet, hiring a team player should be the goal. If you have the fortunate or unfortunate experience of trying to hire someone for your Leasing/Office Team (that depends on why you need to hire someone!), may I make one suggestion? Don’t hire someone for your Office/Leasing Team who uses the word ‘I’ almost exclusively throughout the interview. Instead, listen for the word ‘we’ or ‘our’ at least three times. I know – that’s kind of an arbitrary number. <SMILE>

I know when someone comes in to interview for a position, she/he wants to make a good impression. They hopefully show up in proper business attire, groomed, and smiling. But when you get down to the nitty-gritty, he/she will also want to highlight his own accomplishments. But if the person spends all the interview time talking about “I did this”, “I did that”, “I increased NOI by such and such”, and “I reduced the cost of turns by this much”, that’s great – so – how did YOU do all this? Alone? I don’t think so.

 I really don’t think it matters if you are hiring a Manager, Assistant Manager, Leasing Consultant or a Maintenance Supervisor. Instinctively, we all want to show our great results, that we should be hired on the spot, but no one works in a vacuum. I like hiring people who know how to work within a team and still shine. Eventually, someone who cannot, will become sullen and will not give credit where credit is due and those people, my friends, are not going to do the team or the company any good in the long run.