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6 Secret Shopping Lessons to Improve Your Student Housing Lease Up Rates

Secret shopping, or “mystery shopping”, originated in banks and retail environments in the 1940s as a way for companies to ensure their employees were trustworthy and doing their jobs correctly. Although the practice has spread throughout other industries, the structure is essentially the same: a consumer in the target market poses as a potential customer, taking notes on what they did and (perhaps, most importantly) did not like. 

At The Black Sheep, we take secret shopping to the student housing network, relying exclusively on college-aged students to pose as potential leasees through online, phone, and in-person tour inquiries. This past quarter, our network of contractors set out to evaluate 130 properties spanning nearly 30 states. From their analyses, we’ve compiled a list of what makes a property stand out, both positively and negatively. 

Some may seem obvious – if nobody picks up the phone after three tries, you’re going to lose that prospect. On the other hand, some of the things that really caught our student’s attention may not be as obvious. Let’s dive in!

Company Culture /

3 Ways to Have Better One-on-One Meetings Today

“Collaborate with respect” is one of the core values of The Black Sheep and in pursuit of living our values, we regularly take a beat to assess how well we are communicating between ourselves. We have previously talked about how reading “The Culture Code” helped us create standards for promoting candid feedback, and now our leadership team has taken some time to break down what makes a truly great one-on-one meeting – and how to make improvements when it becomes necessary.

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Student Athletes, NIL, and Your Brand

It has been a little more than a year since NCAA vs. Alston where the Supreme Court ruled in favor of student-athletes. As a result, the NCAA now allows student-athletes to receive compensation for their name, image, and likeness (“NIL”). 

What is NIL?

NIL literally means name, image, and likeness. In the context of collegiate sports, it refers to the compensation deals that brands make with a student-athlete in order to use their likeness in their marketing efforts. These deals can be for money or in-kind compensation with tickets, merchandise, or other products.

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5 Proven Steps to Recovering Your Brand’s Reputation

No matter how strong your marketing campaigns are, they will never be effective without a good reputation among consumers. A good reputation is also difficult to hold on to–particularly because consumers are more likely to tell their friends about a poor experience than a positive one. Combine that with nearly half of consumers refusing to engage with a business with a rating below 4 stars, and any brand has their work cut out for them. 

Company Culture /

How to Promote Candid Feedback

The first step to gathering candid feedback is to ask for it! In theory, this sounds so simple, ask for feedback and you shall receive, right? Not always.

Often when a leader merely asks their team members for feedback, they might receive some responses, and while some of it could be beneficial, a vague request for feedback rarely presents the best results. Everyone on the team must first feel comfortable with their team leader and trust that they can truly present candid feedback without fear or hesitation.

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College Students are a Tough Crowd. Here’s How to Market to Them.

The college scene is, without a doubt, one of the most valuable markets a company can hack. Students are fresh out of mom and pop’s house, willing to throw family brand loyalty out the door for a sense of independence. They’re suave with social networking and keen on innovation. Campuses are highly concentrated with potential buyers, and it only takes a few positive impacts for buzz to begin. Plus, college students are young, and likely to accumulate a substantial consumer lifetime value

However, tuition has increased 169% in the past thirty years, and 77% of college seniors say they ran out of money at some point in their college career. This leaves many brands fumbling. How do you get the perpetually broke to bite? 

Fortunately, The Black Sheep has infiltrated college campuses from the inside. Our nationwide network of student contractors has kept us in the know, from the chaos of the student union lunch-rush to the trenches of the local college bars. With the help of real college kids, we’ve been successfully marketing to real college kids since 2009. And we’ve picked up on six bona fide strategies along the way. 

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4 Reasons Student Housing Companies Can’t Forget Summer Marketing

Fall and spring may be considered THE prime times to market to students, however a summer strategy can be a hidden gem when it comes to filling student housing properties.

You might be thinking, “That doesn’t make sense, students LEAVE campus for the summer.” At first, summer marketing seems counterintuitive. Most students have signed leases for the next school year, those who haven’t might be less inclined to make decisions without physically being with their potential roommates, etc, etc. However, when you dig a little deeper, summer marketing can turn these red flags green.

Social Media /

Social Media Usage and Media Consumption Survey 2020

In October 2020, The Black Sheep carried out a national survey targeting college students to understand their media consumption habits when it comes to social media platforms. Primarily, what apps do students use, and most importantly, why. These results help those targeting the Gen-Z audience understand how to reach this audience and on which platforms.