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
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.