You’re put in a very unique situation when it comes to PBSA planning. Operators and developers may have the best idea of what it is students want from accommodation, but since someone else is fronting the costs, not all plans get the green light.
It can be highly frustrating when you know your student accommodation plans deliver on everyone’s needs, but the people holding the purse strings say no. It’s even worse when your ideas will actually save money and make more of it in the long-run.
Investors are a lot like hurdles blocking you from reaching your final destination. But when you look at things from their point of view, it’s easy to understand why they’re hesitant to approve some plans. They’re in the game to make money, so when the cost of their investments rise, red flags start going up.
That said, you’re the expert. If there’s something your PBSA will benefit from, you have to sell that vision to investors. In this article, we explain how to ensure investors approve your student accommodation plans.
Demonstrate Your Knowledge
Property investors know a good market when they see one. It’s why the PBSA sector has become so popular in recent years. 2020 in particular was a great year for PBSA investments with a record-breaking £5.77 billion being invested in the UK market according to Savills.
But just because investors know the market is lucrative, it doesn’t mean they fully understand how it works. Remember, investors aren’t experts in student accommodation. They don’t understand the needs of a student in the same way you do. It’s up to you to explain how your student accommodation plans will create added benefits.
Historical data can be your best friend here. Let’s say a new PBSA development has been approved, and you're at the furniture procurement stage. Investors are in agreement that cheaper is better. You, on the other hand, know differently.
Can you show your investors the true cost of cheap furniture? Do you have figures you can show them from previous developments on how often cheap and flimsy pieces needed to be replaced?
On the other side of that coin, do you have data that proves quality furniture lasts longer and is more cost-effective in the long-run?
Students are famously rowdy. We both know furniture that isn’t built with the target demographic in mind won’t last five minutes once the students have had a few drinks. If the investors can’t see this for themselves, the facts and figures you pull up will surely help convince them otherwise.
The bottom line will be one of the biggest concerns for investors. Prove your options are the most lucrative, and you’ll encounter less resistance.
Get the Ball Rolling
Sometimes, the best defense is a good offense. Instead of pitching your thoughts to investors and waiting for them to reach a decision, put things in motion before you even approach them.
Let’s stick with our furniture procurement example. If you know investors want to find a supplier who can furnish a PBSA cheaply but not necessarily effectively, you should find suppliers who fit the bill of what you’re looking for instead.
You should never go to someone just to highlight a problem unless you can offer them a solution as well. In this instance, you want to avoid working with a poor supplier, so present a case for your preferred furniture providers.
Explain how ordering quality pieces will benefit the development, and then point out how your chosen suppliers will help by delving into their:
Knowledge and expertise of the student accommodation market
Great track record
Their range of services (such as interior design, delivery, installation and replenishment)
When the bid goes to tender, the investors will remember how much you backed your preferred provider. If your argument is convincing and the bid is competitive, considering the quality of furniture and scope of work, you stand a much better chance of getting your student accommodation plans approved.
Get Investors to Believe in You
There’s a lot to be said for understanding how the human mind works. Despite having all the knowledge to make a PBSA development a huge success, your expertise won’t mean a thing if investors don’t find you convincing. They have to believe in you just as much as they have to believe in your plans.
Never underestimate the power of soft skills. You work with students for a living, so you’re going to be friendly and approachable by nature. This is great for getting people on your side, but when you need to get student accommodation plans approved as well, you need to come across as a dynamic and professional expert. You can do this by:
Being charismatic: If you believe in your plans, you should be excited about them. People don’t necessarily buy into ideas, but they do buy into the person who pitched them. Let your enthusiasm shine through and let the feel-good factor spread to the investors.
Being patient: At the end of the day, you’re still asking investors to spend a lot of money on amenities for students. You won’t be able to convince everyone there and then. This is why you need to be patient if they ask for time to think about your proposal.
Remembering the first two points covered in this blog: Your knowledge of the market is your greatest asset. Convince investors you know best, because when all is said and done, you do know best. Likewise, having the wherewithal to get the ball rolling shows you are a person who takes action. That generates a lot of faith in your abilities.
Being gracious: No one hits the mark 100% of the time. If your plans are rejected, don’t let it get to you. There are always other developments for you to work on, and you want to maintain your professional reputation. Ensure your plans are always at-hand in case investors change their minds or you find a new reason to repitch.
Ensuring Your Student Accommodation Plans are Approved
Getting your student accommodation plans approved can feel like a monumental task, but having a strategy you can count on is the key to success. Your stance as the authority on the PBSA market is basically being questioned at every turn, but the more answers you give, the stronger your standing.
We mentioned earlier in this blog that presenting your ideas and chosen service providers to investors will play a big role in ensuring success. LOFT has been at the forefront of PBSA since the concept first started. In 18 years, we have helped develop countless student properties.
For support convincing your investors of your plans, you can rely on us. Our award-winning interior design team will design the perfect spaces for students while our procurement team sources the best furniture.
Contact us today to hear more about our services and how we can make any PBSA property stand out from the crowd.
Student Amenity Space Survey
Are you a PBSA developer or operator? A student landlord or letting agent? If so, please take part in our survey.