University of Virginia's GrandMarc at The Corner, an EdR property.
“Using On-Site, we are able to execute leases and provide our customers with an online solution similar to those they encounter in other facets of their lives.”
EdR Property Support Manager Dawn Duckhorn
Since partnering with On-Site.com in the spring of 2013, Memphis based student housing company EdR has enjoyed a total turnaround in its leasing offices across the nation. A leasing process that once took weeks is now being completed in as little as a few minutes thanks to On-Site’s student housing specific online leasing platform.
Gone are the days of mailing leases and guarantor agreements and waiting weeks for them to be notarized and returned to the leasing office. On-Site’s solution allows students to apply to floorplans, pick lease terms and payment options based on the start and end dates for the school semester or quarter, qualify separately from their guarantors, immediately execute the lease via electronic signature and then invite the guarantor to sign electronically as well.
“Our customers are on their smart phones, tablets and laptops for everything they do,” said EdR Property Support Manager Dawn Duckhorn. “Using On‐Site, we are able to execute leases and provide our customers with an online solution similar to those they encounter in other facets of their lives.”
As great as things are for EdR now, the search for the ideal online leasing solution began with a number of unsuccessful rollout attempts with other vendors.
Students take advantage of the amenities at EdR's GrandMarc at The Corner.
Typical off the shelf leasing tools aren’t designed to handle the unique requirements posed by student housing. In fact, the biggest sticking point had to do with one of the most fundamental aspects of the business: renting by the bed.
Instead of applying to specific units, students apply to general floorplans through On-Site. This allows EdR the flexibility to pool students by their desired floorplans, match them up with roommates and lease to each student by the bed.
EdR also needed a solution that allowed students to apply online, qualify and e-sign the lease all during one, uninterrupted session. This would help alleviate the significant amount of staff time spent securing signatures from applicants.
“Once a student applied it was a real challenge trying to get them back to sign the lease,” said Duckhorn. “From there it often took weeks for guarantor agreements to be returned and for leases to be fully completed.”
For EdR, the student housing business had turned into a literal paper chase, with leasing staff spending most of their time following up with students and guarantors, trying to get the lease paperwork completed.
By late 2012, enough was enough and that’s when EdR turned to On-Site for help.
The On-Site Solution
“Instead of delivering a sales pitch, On‐Site focused on what they could do for EdR,” said Duckhorn. “On‐Site asked us what we needed in the student‐housing sector to make the product work. They listened to our ideas and gave us a solution that fit our needs.
That solution includes a number of innovative features new to the world of student housing. First and foremost, On-Site’s solution streamlines the leasing process by allowing students to shop apartments, apply to floorplans instead of units, qualify and e-sign their leases in one continuous, online checkout process.
The resident screening is included in the workflow so students know immediately whether or not they meet the rental criteria. If students do meet the rental criteria, they can e-sign the lease and invite a guarantor.
“EdR staff in the field are pleased to be able to tour a prospect and have a fully executed lease in minutes, even with a guarantor sitting at a computer hundreds of miles from the property.”
Dawn Duckhorn, EdR
EdR Property Support Manager Dawn Duckhorn.
Guarantors, who may live hundreds of miles away, undergo a separate credit check and if they qualify, they can then e-sign a separate guarantor agreement.
EdR is now seeing fully executed leases come in in record time. And by eliminating the need to chase down students and guarantors to get paperwork signed, the company’s leasing staff has more time to market their communities to prospective residents and ultimately close more leases.
“EdR staff in the field are pleased to be able to tour a prospect and have a fully executed lease in minutes, even with a guarantor sitting at a computer hundreds of miles from the property,” said Duckhorn. “More importantly, we haven’t received any pushback from anyone signing the lease online.”
In the end, On‑Site has made it easy for EdR to implement the latest in online leasing technology and realize immediate improvements to their leasing workflow. And long after the initial rollout, On-Site continues to demonstrate its commitment to EdR’s success.
“As we continue to use On‐Site’s leasing platform, the company’s representatives continue to listen and ask how they can make it better,” said Duckhorn.