How to Improve the Turn Process
March 4, 2019
Updated August 4, 2021
3 minutes

Move ins are always stressful but by following some important steps, you can make it easier.

It is never to early to start planning for next year's turn.

In fact, Amanda Livesay, Portfolio Supervisor at The Quarters on Campus, said at CampusConnex in Orlando last month, that she begins planning for turns a year ahead of time.

“If you see something that works great or does not [on a current turn], you should make a note for next year,” Livesay says. “Your phone works great for that.”

Move-in day also provides a great opportunity to use fliers, magnets, and t-shirts to start the renewal process for the next year. The pitch: If the resident signs up for an extra year, they won’t have to suffer through a move-out next August. In hot summer markets, such as Austin, that tactic can work well. 

“We start promoting renewals from the day they move-in,” says Jennifer Messina, Vice President of Marketing for San Miguel Management. “We try to catch them 106-degree heat [in Austin] as they move in.”

While planting seeds with residents and staff on move-in day is one way to make the turn process easier, proper planning throughout the year is also vital.

Livesay urged student housing providers to start lining up their suppliers in February. “Send bid requests early to give yourself time to compare companies,” she says.

It is also important to communicate a realistic timeframe with those suppliers. “Make sure they understand your expectations,” Livesay says.

Once students begin moving out, Livesay says housing suppliers should start fixing holes in walls and making other repairs. To start the process, it helps to allow an early check out that starts in May. “It is a great way to get in and see damage,” Livesay says.

Throughout the process, keep lines of communication with suppliers open.

“We are constantly monitoring vendors so we know if they can’t manage their workload or if they’re falling behind,” Livesay says. 

Livesay also urges student housing providers to be in touch with both their competitors and local police departments as they ramp up for turns. If competing student housing communities stagger their move-in days, it can reduce the chance of large traffic jams. “You need to work with your competitors,” Livesay says.

Both Livesay and Messina say it is important to also set expectations with new hires. 

“When I am interviewing community assistants, I reiterate that they cannot take time off during July and August because they need to be available for turns,” Messina says. “Because they are students, this often can be the time they take vacations.”

Resident education is also important before move-in begins. Messina uses social media, email, and text to communicate with students and their guarantors.

Once turn day arrives, Livesay urges student housing operators to establish a central hub called a Turn Center. That area serves as a central meeting spot. It includes a turn board that allows managers to track vendors and the move-in progress throughout the community. “It allows us to keep people out of the leasing center as much as possible,” Livesay says.

There are bound to be disputes during the high-intensity turn process. Messina urges student housing managers to meet dissatisfied residents (and parents) at their apartment. “You don’t let them become angry and loud in front of others,” she says.

During move in, Messina keeps housekeeping and maintenance on site to handle issues that arise and sends staffers out to check with students as they unpack. “It shows that we care,” she says. “It helps the parents feel calm.”