Rethinking Your Summer Turn Process

RobotsTurnover, or “Turn” is a critical component in successfully managing student housing. This is the process of ensuring every unit in your community is repaired, cleaned and ready for new students to move into come fall. At times it can feel a bit like an automated, robotic process, but it’s an important step in building maintenance and operations. Turn sets the tone for move-in day, which we all know impacts the entire academic year for students, parents, friends and roommates at your campus.  A successful move-in day leaves a lasting, positive impression on your students and can ultimately influence renewals for next year.  Move-in is your moment to make a first impression, and a poorly managed Turn process can negatively impact occupancy and future demand for your community.

In student housing, Turn occurs on a predictable cycle.  The bulk of our students move out at the end of the lease term, and we get a short period of time to recondition and prepare those units for the upcoming year. The challenge is typically the short timeline to implement our plan and allocate the appropriate resources to manage this process as efficiently and effectively as possible. In our experience, the Turn process for on-campus housing is often managed by a small group of facilities maintenance and occupancy management staff, with limited financial resources. In addition, there is a belief that using existing staff over an entire summer is more cost-effective.  In reality, this approach severely limits the availability of units for summer programs and early arrivals in late summer.  It also tends to lead to a highly compressed schedule in late summer as staff hurry to hastily finish units that have not been completed.

In contrast, Capstone has learned to efficiency Turn entire buildings in just two weeks. This is driven in part by necessity, because the 12-month leases at many of our communities only allow for this short window of time before new residents move-in. However, we have also learned that budgeting and planning for a shorter Turn process at academic year leased communities is far more cost-effective and reliable than a protracted process. The budgeting for Turn is done nearly a year in advance, while the detailed plan and service contracts for temporary labor are in place months ahead of move-out. Everyone in the company is involved in Turn to ensure it is well planned and executed at each of the communities we manage. With this in mind, we encourage colleges and universities to rethink how they approach the Turn process to tackle it with a much shorter, more intense strategy that ensures units are ready well ahead of move-in next year.

Author: Dr. Matthew Brown, President Capstone Management Partners