“The On-Site team and culture is very unique and extremely customer focused. They make us feel as though they really and truly appreciate our business and having us as a partner.”
The Preiss Company EVP Adam Byrley
The Preiss Company, based out of Raleigh, NC, entered the student housing market at the end of the millennium with one modest community. As of today, Preiss Company sits as the third largest privately held provider of off-campus student housing in the nation with a portfolio comprising over 23,000 beds in 15 states and 23 markets. But achieving this level of growth hasn’t always been easy.
“Staying fresh and relevant is always a challenge,” said CEO and Founder Donna Preiss. “Each year we grow older, yet our clientele never ages.”
For Preiss Company, a big part of staying relevant means keeping up to date with how young, tech-savvy students interact with the world around them.
In a 2013 story, The New York Times reported most college students do not check their email regularly. Many others don’t even know they have a college email account.
One student quipped, “School is a boring thing. Email is a boring thing. It all goes together.”
A view of Preiss Company's 111 South, an apartment community in Statesboro, GA, serving students at Georgia Southern University.
The move to online leasing
In a world where near-instant email communication is suddenly too slow for millennial renters, replaced by fleeting Snapchat “snaps” that disappear after viewing, how has Preiss Company managed to adapt?
The key, according to Preiss Company Executive Vice President Adam Byrley, is online convenience. To put the right technology in place, Preiss Company turned to On-Site’s Student Housing Solution.
“We now have the ability for all prospects to apply online, be screened immediately, pay any application fees, sign their lease and send the information to their guarantor for them to sign as well,” said Byrley. “We feel that online leasing has complemented our leasing process very well and we are excited to continue working with On-Site well into the future.”
By allowing students to complete the entire leasing process in one quick, uniform online session, Preiss Company is able to reduce the amount of application attrition typical of time consuming offline leasing and mixed online/offline processes.
Moreover, with a no-fuss leasing process it’s easier for Preiss Company to draw students back into a renewal when the initial lease term comes to an end.
“We can take the student that’s sitting on their couch at 2 o’clock in the morning and complete 100% of their lease files in as little as 20 or 30 minutes,” Byrley said.
Preiss Company uses On-Site’s Pricing & Availability, Lead Management, Online Applications, Screening, Documents, E-Sign and Online Renewals to deliver an efficient and easy-to-use leasing process that moves at the fast pace students expect.
93% of Preiss Company’s applications are now completed online, while 75% of leases are completed online. And the company has collected over $500,000 in application fees using Online Applications.
“We really enjoy those products and what they’ve brought in terms of efficiency and productivity to our group,” Byrley said.
Partnering with On-Site
Prior to partnering up with On-Site, Byrley said Preiss Company did not have any standard way of completing leases online.
“We knew students were more apt to use their laptops, tablets or even their phones to complete the search and sign up for their next apartment,” said Byrley. “They also wanted to do it on their own time, which usually meant one or two in the morning.”
However, as Byrley explained, Preiss Company did not have the ability for a tenant to apply, get screened and sign their lease document from the comfort of their own living room without having to interact with the company’s leasing agents.
“We had online applications and were using e-signature platforms to get leases electronically signed; however, all of those platforms still required a physical leasing agent to complete those tasks like screening an online application or generating the lease for e-sign,” said Byrley.
Preiss Company realized they needed a beginning to end online leasing solution if they were going to keep up in the competitive student housing market.
Since the introduction of On-Site’s Student Housing Solution in 2013, the platform has quickly become the gold standard for property owners and operators who cater specifically to students.
Once Byrley and the team at Preiss Company saw On-Site in action, “We were hooked,” Byrley said.
“We now have the ability for all prospects to apply online, be screened immediately, pay any application fees, sign their lease and send the information to their guarantor for them to sign as well."
Adam Byrley, The Preiss Company
Wolf Creek, owned and managed by Preiss Company. An apartment community in Jonesboro, AR, serving students at Arkansas State University.
With On-Site, Preiss Company’s leasing process is up to date with a vengeance, putting the company at the vanguard of technological adoption—not just within student housing, but the entire apartment industry.
Students can now go from the “Lease Now” button on Preiss Company’s community websites to an online application and pay the application fee via credit card, receive an instant screening decision and e-sign a lease in a matter of minutes.
What’s more, On-Site customized the screening model to allow Preiss Company to screen students and guarantors using different sets of criteria. Specifically, students who are unlikely to have any significant credit history undergo a criminal background check only, saving the credit check for their guarantors.
At the same time, On-Site integrates with Preiss Company’s back office property management software, keeping applicant and resident data synced throughout Preiss Company’s software ecosystem.
“The system is very flexible,” said Byrley. “Our group loves to hear ‘Yes, we can do that for you’ when it comes to a specific need we have. Most software companies come back with ‘No, the system doesn’t do that’ in the world of online leasing.”
But On-Site is more than a typical software company, Byrley said.
“We obviously love the product and its ability to help us solve one of our company needs,” said Byrley. “But the On-Site team and culture is very unique and extremely customer focused. They make us feel as though they really and truly appreciate our business and having us as a partner.”
Byrley added, “Our company cultures align very well and they go out of their way to make sure we’re satisfied. Even when there is a hiccup, the On-Site team is right there to make sure it’s fixed.”