“If they have a great experience with a person who actually knows them and has developed a relationship, they want to go laud that person online and tell people how great it is. So, you just saw it organically…improving our online reputation and it all just kind of took off. And the next things we knew we were No. 1 in the country in student housing”
In this episode, Mindy chats with Clay Hicks and Aryne Bailey of The Dinerstein Companies, the No. 1 student housing company for the fifth year in a row based on online reputation. Clay and Aryne explain that student housing management differs from conventional housing management in not only its residents, but also the fast pace and hard deadlines for leasing and turnover. There is a need to market to both students and parents in the student housing industry, and any delay due to communication from the university or services from vendors can affect the leasing cycle.
So how has Dinerstein continued to stand out so strongly in terms of online reputation? Clay and Aryne emphasize their company’s focus on the customer experience. They have pulled back from many of the virtual experiences necessitated by Covid, putting all of their efforts into their teams and leaning into the personal touch. They acknowledge that if personal connections are strong, everything else will fall into place and people will want to go out and leave great reviews. Even in hard times when things do not go as planned, they show that if you treat people the right way and residents know they will be taken care of, they will be happy. Clay and Aryne also discuss the idea of 212 degrees of service, explaining how even one degree extra makes a huge difference.
Finally, Mindy guides the discussion toward the future, asking about hiring practices and next steps. Clay and Aryne emphasize how important it is to hire genuinely nice people, noting how they can be trained to do the job well, leading to loyalty because of the time invested in them. This feeling of loyalty will then trickle down to the resident experience, too. Moving forward, Dinerstein is making efforts in the Build to Rent sector, and Clay and Aryne note that in all areas of their business, “you don’t know what’s coming next—just be ready.”