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Dec. 5, 2012

MHN Interview: Prime Campus Housing’s Ancillary Income Game Plan

By Jessica Fiur, News Editor

South Bend, Ill.—Are you ready for some football? You should be—it could be a method for earning ancillary income at your multifamily community. Michael Zaranzky, CEO, Prime Campus Housing, talks to MHN about how one of his student housing community’s proximity to Notre Dame allows it to earn ancillary income.

MHN: Your Prime Campus Housing communities earn ancillary income off the nearby football team. How do you do this?

Zaransky: At our student housing property at Notre Dame, which is in South Bend, Ind., we are fortunate to have a property adjacent to the football stadium. Although there are only six home games, because the team is so widely loved and accepted by the alums and the people in the greater Indiana area, there’s a large influx of cars on game days looking for parking. We’re also fortunate to have not just the location, but the parking areas on our property—we have 11 acres adjacent to the stadium—so we park cars on game days. Particularly this year, with the Notre Dame football team being so hot—they’re the number one team in the country—attendance has been through the roof and our parking revenues have increased substantially.

MHN: Did you come up with this plan?

Zaransky: Yup! We quickly realized, seeing what was going on during game day, this was an opportunity for ancillary income. What’s actually unique and interesting for the 2012 football season is that although there’s the same number of games, our revenues from this parking income have doubled from the 2011 season. Same football team, same number of games, but just because they’re the number one team and playing in the national championship [we’ve gotten more cars].

MHN: How do you set up the parking?

Zaransky: We bring in our leasing agents and office manager and pay them overtime to work on the game days, and we set up a simple sign on the street that says parking available—it’s $20 per car. We also set up a system with tickets that we have them display in their windshield.

MHN: Do the students have separate credentials to get in?

Zaransky: Yes. Our students that are residents have stickers for their cars that allow them access to the area. And in advance of game days, if they’re going to have any visitors, we issue them separate credentials to get in as well.

MHN: Do you need to adjust your insurance to charge and allow others to park on your property?
Zaransky: It’s not an issue. Our insurance covers it. We do limit our liability somewhat by not keeping keys and valet parking the cars. We have the people that our parking with us self park and take their keys. That doesn’t create a bailment, which limits our liability. But frankly, it’s in such a public area, it’s well-lit, it’s right in the middle of the hubbub, so we haven’t had an incident at all in the last several years we’ve been doing this.

MHN: During football season you also rent out some of your rooms to the players’ moms for ancillary income.

Zaransky: We do, at the same property we have a section of the property that consists of two-bedroom townhomes. We have four leases for the first semester, which covers the entire football season, for the mothers of team players.

MHN: What do you do with these apartments during the spring semester?

Zaransky: We lease them for the second semester to transfer students, so there’s a market for us to be able to lease up the apartments. The turnover costs are minimal, and although [the moms] lease them through December, they’re pretty much only there for the six games and pretty much that whole week of the six games.

I think this is an interesting twist that’s unique to the student housing business that I don’t think the conventional operators have an opportunity to capitalize on, but it certainly is a revenue source that someone in the student housing business should look in to.

MHN: Are you able to make ancillary income by charging for parking after the football season ends?

Zaransky: There are other collegiate events, but nothing to the extent of the football games that brings the influx of cars to the campus. For the regular basketball season and soccer season, etc. there’s sufficient parking on the campus. There’s no special event that rivals a football game. Not only is football a big deal on the Big 10 college scene, but at Notre Dame—and no pun intended—it’s a religion.

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