When uForis’ Dora Cheng sat down with William Butler of Empower Property Management Consulting last month to talk about student housing and virtual tours, he entertained us with several stories. He takes his own advice to “show, not tell,” by illustrating his points with captivating tales.
“One thing I’m really passionate about is ‘experience over amenities,’” he told us last month. And then he shared a story that demonstrated a positive consumer experience.
We’ll share it here just as he told it to us:
William Butler’s Valentine’s Day Tale
Last Valentine’s Day, I wanted to surprise my fiancée on February 13. I live in Houston, the City of No Limits, and there’s this huge restaurant scene. We wanted to beat the rush, so I wanted to take her out on February 13th.
One of my colleagues recommended this place called Eddie V’s Prime Seafood. I’d never been there before. As we approached, we were looking for a street-side restaurant, but it wasn’t. It was upstairs, and it looked like an elite country club where you needed a membership to go in. Luckily, we were dressed for the occasion.
We were immediately just intoxicated by the atmosphere. The line was out the door, but it was only about 10 minutes before we were welcomed into the room. I get to the reception desk, and they’re like, “Mr. Butler, we’ve been waiting for you.”
They take us to our seats. But it’s this booth that looks like it could accommodate about six people. Naturally me and my fiancée were a little uneasy, because we wanted a more intimate one-on-one setting, and the booth setup wasn’t it. Our waiter, James, comes and looks at us, and says, “Before we dive into the meal options, is there anything I can do to make you guys more comfortable.”
I said, “I see there’s a table right over there that’s more fit to accommodate two people. Can we move there?”
At first, he said he had to go talk to his manager. Then he took two steps, closed his book, and said, “Yes, let’s get you guys over there.”
He treated us like we were the only people in the room.
Somewhere in that conversation, he uncovered the fact we were celebrating Valentine’s Day a day early. He goes to the back and gets a bunch of rose petals, and he puts them on our table in the shape of a heart, with the tip pointing at my fiancée, outlining the candle that’s right in the middle. The ambiance is really set.
There’s a smooth jazz guy playing, the heart shape on the candle, beautiful chandeliers. It’s just a great experience.
I ordered the Chilean Seabass that’s smothered in butter and has King crab on top. She ordered a 22 oz. steak. We have everything. Phenomenal food. Great ambiance.
When we finish, James comes back and says, “Did you save room for dessert?”
I said, “Absolutely not.” He offered us red velvet cheesecake – on him – next time we visit.
He goes to get the check and comes back with a rose wrapped in baby’s breath and gives it to me so I can present it to my fiancé. Her face lights up. She is loving every minute of it.
When I look at the check, I realize the price was $180. I wouldn’t have expected to pay any less. Not only did I pay the $180, but I gave him a 22% tip. I was more than willing to pay once I experienced the smooth live jazz, the chandeliers, the amazing service from James, and the great cuisine.
Do Your Customers Understand the Value You’re Providing?
That was William Butler’s story. And when he speaks to his customers about student housing lease-ups, he reminds them not to try to “slide the ticket before embracing the experience.” You should already be providing an exemplary experience to your tenants. How can you convey that to students before they’ve moved in?
It’s not always easy to showcase the experience your student housing offers to students – they might live too far away and can’t travel or because the property is not yet constructed.
3D renderings and virtual tours help put students in your space. They can see themselves streaming Netflix in the living room, studying with their friends at a study room table, even walking the grounds.
Details that relate to them – whether it’s sporting equipment tossed in a corner or a chess board on the coffee table with a game in process – make them feel as if they’ve come home. And that feeling is what leads to faster lease-ups.
Once you sell the students, they will sell their parents.
Parents – the ultimate decision makers in student housing lease-ups – will see the passion in their children’s eyes. They will know they’ve discovered the place where their children can be happy, fulfilled, and thrive academically. Instead of asking, “How much does it cost?” they will ask: “Where do I sign?”
What elements do your student housing apartments use to create the ultimate experience? uForis can help you convey those details and ambiance to students and parents with photorealistic 3D renderings and student housing virtual tours.