HappyCo

Recover More Losses at Student Turn with Your Final Account Statements (FASs)

Industry Insights

Are you missing opportunities to recapture damage losses? No more debates over damage or cleaning charges. Make a statement by documenting MIMO on mobile and get your FASs to parents and students fast.

•   •   •

One common message we hear from Student Housing companies regarding Turn is that it’s the most disruptive juncture in their business all year. The volume of transactions and squeezed timeframe during the turn cycle makes it easy for operators to get buried under bad processes and miss opportunities to recapture damage losses at move-out.

Complicating matters is the fact that in Student Housing, Final Account Statements (FASs), including unit charges, most often get billed to parents who serve as the co-signers and financial support system for your residents. Unlike other multifamily verticals in which operators deal exclusively with the primary resident of each unit, Student Housing operators have to manage relationships with highly involved parent stakeholders who are one degree removed from the property. And parents often resist the assertion (they might view it as an accusation) that their son or daughter could possibly be at fault for property destruction — making disputes over damage charges particularly contentious in the Student space.

Aware that property managers are under immense pressure during Turn, parents may also leverage the overwhelming nature of the season to attempt to get the charges dropped. This factor brings not only your interactions with parents and students into focus, but also the efficiency of your workflows. When managers and staff are stressed, drained and overburdened by sub-optimal processes, they have less time, energy and willpower to devote to handling disputes and recovering damages.

•   •   •

"You can take an important step toward operational excellence by re-examining both the efficiency of your inspection and maintenance workflows, and the effectiveness of your FASs in recapturing property losses."

•   •   •

Questioning whether your company is effectively creating property-level visibility, organization-wide accountability, and clear communication between all management levels is a common theme in our conversations with Student Housing operators. And we find communication and documentation key to being able to recover losses successfully at Turn time, having witnessed our multifamily customers collect almost 10% more cost recoveries and slash their damage disputes by 50% by adopting our real-time inspection solution.

Where Are You Leaking Damage Costs and Why?


Student Apartment Damages

You can take an important step toward operational excellence by re-examining the efficiency of your inspection and maintenance workflows, and the effectiveness of your FASs in recapturing property losses.

In the Student Housing vertical, business opportunity tends to be concentrated, limited by each geographic market — as only so many student-oriented properties can exist within a viable distance to campus. Owners and managers in the Student space typically target either the 2-miles-and-under or the 2.5-to-5 mile radius for their apartment community operations. The nature of the market means regional managers often have to cover a larger surface area, like 5 or 6 states, as opposed to what is usual in the broader world of multifamily enterprise. The effect on Student Housing is that properties operating within the same portfolio tend to act so independently of each other they may as well be in separate portfolios.

Obvious visibility challenges are created by a situation in which regional managers are expected to drive operational success across such sizable territories; and between properties that are operating through independent processes. And during annual turn the challenges get magnified — contributing to chaos, supplier delays, over-budget expenses, angry parents and losses due to property damage.

•   •   •

"These issues are attributable to a poor inspection workflow that isn’t tracking critical data points, creating accountability or offering you instant property-level clarity. Anything you can do to develop and push accountability portfolio-wise will help your achieve lift on your recoveries. And that includes upgrading your inspection workflow."

•   •   •

Poor Property Visibility

You may think you’re doing everything possible to collect damage charges. But using a paper or manual-based system for inspections makes it absolutely impossible to achieve property visibility and accountability, keeping your home office unaware of how many damages truly get written off at each property. In actuality, one result of lackluster documentation and communication on unit conditions at move-in and move-out is that corporate offices get excluded from both the formal and informal dispute processes, with more under-the-table damage charge write-offs occuring than you might believe due to lack of good inspection records.

As described in our Maxus Properties customer story video, your overly cumbersome workflow hides another sneaky cost-leaking hole in the form of maintenance staff simply fixing issues without recording them — precluding you from realizing those charges.

These write-offs and failures to record damages reflect that if you’re employing pen-and-paper or manual inspection systems, lapsed opportunities to collect charges aren’t due to intentionally devious behavior on the part of your property staff. Rather, these issues are attributable to a poor inspection workflow that isn’t tracking critical data points, creating accountability or offering you instant property-level clarity. Anything you can do to develop and push accountability portfolio-wise will help your achieve lift on your recoveries. And that includes upgrading your inspection workflow.

Better Documentation Limits and Wins Your Disputes, Creates Property Visibility and Pushes Accountability


Using mobile technology to document

Backing up your charges and quelling parent disputes effectively require collecting photos of the damage, creating before-and-after comparisons and pinpointing the exact items and costs in the FASs you return to residents and their families — and doing so quickly.

Moving away from paper inspections prevents lost documentation when you need it to support your FASs. Management’s new mobile-facilitated response is to immediately produce detailed reports with side-by-side photo evidence through the use of a mobile inspection app — drastically reducing the number of charge conflicts they face and rapidly resolving those that do emerge.

When it comes to achieving lift on your cost recoveries, you need rock-solid records provided by a fully-featured mobile inspection platform, the most important features being:

  • 100% Offline Functionality
  • A User-Friendly Interface
  • Easily Customized Forms
  • Timestamped Photos and Comments
  • Digital Signatures
  • Automatic Cloud Backup
  • MIMO Comparison Reports

Moving to a real-time operation with the right tools helps you move really fast, so you can get final account statements to residents promptly after move-out — and so parents know what they’re being charged and why. if the corporate office needs to get involved, they can sign in to the system right away, drill down to properties, units, inspections and even individual apartment items, see pictures of the damages in question and decide if the charges stand or not.

College Student and Parents Moving

But not only does a mobile system create visibility and unassailable documentation for move-outs without the need for constant onsite visits — it also allows you to do mass data collection quickly, in the compressed Turn period and all year long during your quarterly inspections, helping you realize a number of year-round benefits.

•   •   •

"But not only does a mobile system create visibility and unassailable documentation for move-outs without the need for constant onsite visits — it also allows you to do mass data collection quickly, in the compressed Turn period and all year long during your quarterly inspections, helping you realize a number of year-round benefits."

•   •   •

Because you are now documenting more consistently on a mobile system and communicating better, you’ll stay synced with property-personnel to save money, and beat your R&R budgets for example, by better identifying where you can “save” carpets through a $100 cleaning, rather than replacing them for $600.

By using mobile inspection software for your quarterly inspections and furniture inventories, you can track the age and condition of your furniture, identify patterns and buy in bulk. You can gamify property performance by rolling up real-time data into metrics dashboards, so your properties are competing with each other and so are driving desired behavior portfolio-wide. Most importantly, you are extending the usefulness of your inspection data from a retroactive case-by-case dispute basis to actionable data you can use to project expenses and forecast orders years ahead.

When we take into account the impact of a modern mobile inspection system on student housing top-line revenues like damage recoveries and unit downtime — and combine those figures with bottom-line benefits, including savings on labor, legal avoidance and more — we arrive at an estimated ROI of $9.30 per unit per month, which is really not an insignificant number and adds up the more units you manage.

Make Turn Mobile

The best way to enjoy a successful turn season is to reframe it as an ongoing operation. The Student Housing companies who are most successful view Turn as a continual action throughout the year, conducting periodic inspections, training new staff, and alleviating stress — and are able to free up time and labor with real-time property operations.

Change management isn’t easy. So in choosing your inspection and maintenance tech, it’s critical to get the software into the hands of your property personnel and ask them to describe how they feel about its ease of use. Their opinions directly impact your adoption rate and the success or failure of the deployment. This plus the technology vendor’s ability to roll out the platform rapidly are crucial considerations.

Your new, faster and more efficient Turn workflow takes the sting out of billing residents — and frees up time and energy to focus on your people by addressing the intensity of Turn more creatively than you had the bandwidth to do before.

•   •   •

Best Practices PDF Guide for Student Turn

•   •   •

Step to the head of the class with HappyCo.

Get our PDF Guide to driving faster Turn, recovering more damage charges, and maximizing your renewal rates.

DOWNLOAD GUIDEDOWNLOAD GUIDE

About the author

Avatar

Ben Chadwell
Marketing Manager

Ben hails from the gentle, rolling hills of Pennsylvania, where he achieved a BA in a degree program of his own design - a combo of Conservation Biology, Spanish and International Business - at West Chester University. He brings his background in nonprofit development and writing to the transformative work of HappyCo and especially enjoys crafting thought leadership pieces. When he isn’t creating content and collateral, Ben delights in reading, doing improv theatre and blues dancing.

You May Also Like...

Industry Insights

June 14, 2017

Reduce Turn Time, Costs and Complaints: What Every Student Housing Operator Needs To Know About Using Software to Manage Turn

When you’re turning 10,000 beds, mobile inspections with real-time turn boards can eliminate thousands of hours of labor, reduce resident disputes and raise your damage recoveries, but how do you choose the best tool?...

Ben Chadwell

Industry Insights

January 9, 2018

Is Your Online Reputation Costing You Student Renters?

Reclaim your online reputation and drive better reviews with real-time inspections for Student Housing...

Jennifer Tyson

Learn why HappyCo is the leading mobile inspection platform for real-time property operations.

Learn why HappyCo is the leading mobile inspection platform for real-time property operations.

Learn why HappyCo is the leading mobile inspection platform for real-time Due Diligence.

Get access to this and all HappyCo insights from our industry experts

Learn why HappyCo is the leading mobile inspection platform for real-time Lease File Audits.

Request a free 14 day trial of
Happy Inspector and Happy Manage.

Sign up to attend the webinar hosted by HappyCo!