Our firm owns and assets manages a national platform of approximately 5,000 beds of vintage student housing assets across six (6) universities. Several years ago, it became apparent to us that we needed to make a management change. Having been heavily involved in the asset management of our portfolio for over five years, with multiple management companies, we were determined to find a long-term solution to our operational challenges. In our search for a new management company, we were looking for three primary attributes in our new Management partner: operational expertise so we could leverage our time and become more hands-off, institutional quality accounting, and a solid platform built to handle the inevitable onsite turnover that comes with operating mid-sized assets efficiently.
Operational Expertise - Within months of their initial takeover, Cardinal implemented the following impactful changes: (1) Drawing on their deep reservoir of national relationships, overhauled the on-site teams with a number of key hires, (2) re-branded the assets and implemented a revamped digital marketing program (3) Normalized expenses by implementing a vastly improved facilities oversight process. (4) Raised the standards of the leasing process to reduce attrition from 9% to 2%.
Institutional Quality Accounting - Prior to Cardinal's involvement, our firm was plagued by a consistent sloppiness of financial reporting. This cost hundreds of man hours on a quarterly basis to amend our financials prior to disseminating information to our investors. Cardinal is staffed with multiple professional level accountants, as opposed to most management companies we interviewed, who simply staffed bookkeepers. The difference has resulted in us now having the ability to send out our financial reporting package directly to our investors, and feel confident that we are in a position where we are ready to sell at any time, a hallmark of the Cardinal philosophy.
Soundness of Platform - Last year, we discovered that arguably the best manager in our portfolio had to be let go at an inopportune time in the leasing cycle. Cardinal often stresses the importance and the differentiation of their "cell" model, where there is a team of highly qualified personnel on a particular asset. One of the reasons behind this is that in the event of unexpected turnover, crises can be more easily averted. In this particular case, we were able to replace the manager, reduce payroll, and actually increase NOI above projections despite his departure.
Cardinal is without a doubt the best management company we have encountered during our eleven-year tenure in the student housing business. I would recommend them without reservation; and with supreme confidence in their abilities, their ethics, and their team.