Great outcomes are more important than COCM having complete control. So we determine how we and our university/owner partners can each participate in management roles and responsibilities, and then clearly outline a plan to work together. We first introduced this approach in 2001 with our partnership with the University of Maryland College Park, with the outcome being UMCP retaining responsibility for residence life and COCM for operations. This shared governance approach has been put in place at 27 of our 30 campus partnerships and has become an industry standard. The result has been custom agreements for each campus, leveraging the best of our university partner and COCM, and highlighting residence life and student services.
Sixteen of our current 30 management partnerships are the result of transitions from another housing management provider. This experience has taught us some valuable lessons about listening well, prioritizing and addressing pressing issues, and working professionally with the existing provider. While each situation is unique, we focus on making the transition as smooth as possible by minimizing the impact on the current residents and the time and resources required by our university partner.
Marketing on-campus housing is not the same as marketing an off-campus community. When an on-campus community is carefully planned and marketed, it goes beyond just filling beds, it enhances a university’s ability to recruit and retain students. There are also more stakeholders involved – university officials whose involvement is critical to success. That’s why every COCM marketing plan is designed in close alliance with our university partner to address their goals, campus culture, and the targeted student market.
COCM manages each on-campus community under the assumption “What gets measured, gets managed.” That’s why we conduct an annual web-based survey of our residents for each on-campus community. Our goal is to make any needed changes to provide more remarkable services to our residents in the areas of business / office operations, facilities maintenance, customer service, and programming. The lessons we have learned from these surveys have served to greatly improve the programs and services at all our communities.
COCM works with our university and owner partners to plan for and monitor success in a variety of ways. We have found the most effective way to plan for success is to begin with a consulting program we call Fresh Eyes. This service helps ensure the housing community we will manage is best positioned to do two things: First, work well with the entire campus housing program and second, enhance the university’s ability to recruit and retain students. Fresh Eyes consulting is a quick and efficient process, completed in only three days on the campus.
Once operational, we define success as the community’s ability to stand alone both operationally and financially. We monitor this through a variety of services and tools such as our detailed budgeting process, asset management, capital planning and implementation, and monitoring insurance compliance.
COCM places a high priority on frequent communication and interaction with our community owners, as well as the numerous university departments at each campus we serve. We connect to the entire campus, both supporting and being supported by every area of academic and student support services. Over the years, this priority has resulted in a variety of standard reports, regularly scheduled meetings, and initiatives, all designed to enhance communication and interaction with the campus we serve.
“In the 24/7 world of residential life on a university campus, it is essential to possess complete trust and deep respect for your colleagues. At Montclair State University, we are fortunate to have trust, respect, confidence, and appreciation for our outstanding partners at Capstone On-Campus Management. The COCM team provides first-rate customer service to our students as well as to our Residence Life staff. The high level of professionalism and efficiency from the two units ensures a seamless programmatic and operational offering to our residents. COCM’s energy and effort help elevate our department to a new standard of excellence.”
John J. Delate
Office of Residence Life Montclair State University
Fresh Eyes is a consulting service to help universities position campus housing programs to enhance recruitment, retention, and student success. More traditional housing consulting approaches focus on unit type preferences, rent tolerances, and the relative demand for off-campus housing options. In contrast, Fresh Eyes focuses on organic growth. How full-time student enrollment – both historical and projections for future growth – informs the planning process for on-campus housing. And conversely, how a campus housing program — when carefully planned and positioned to recruit and retain a student — can serve as a tool in enrollment growth.
The Fresh Eyes process is completed in three consecutive days on a campus, involving informational interviews with university officials, student focus groups, and a tour of the existing housing stock. The analysis and recommendations are provided in a presentation on the third day. A critical part of the presentation involves COCM’s proprietary “Housing Calculator,” which uses enrollment data to project future housing needs. Our past clients have found the Housing Calculator takes much of the mystery and confusion out of the common question: “How much housing do we really need?”
For more detailed information on the Fresh Eyes program, please see the Fresh Eyes Consulting information package.