Director Spotlight: KrisAnn Kizer

KrisAnn Kizer began her career as a community assistant fourteen years ago and has loved the industry ever since. She is constantly learning from the people around her promoting a culture of learning that has contributed greatly Pierce's success.

How did you become interested in the property management/marketing field? 

“I actually began my career when I moved into a new house and decided to apply to be a community assistant there. I ended up loving it and fourteen years later I'm still with the same company as a national director! It's been a journey and it's taken me through six different states but I fell in love with the industry and the work that I was doing.” 

Whats kept you at Pierce for so long? 

“I love the environment. I started with the first properties Pierce brought on and have grown with the company each step of the way. Fred, who is the president of Pierce, and honestly one of the greatest bosses I could ever ask for, has also been able to create a new role for me as I’ve become ready to take on more responsibility. The company is small enough that people know each other. At every one of my properties I know the managers, leasing professionals, and even student staff. It’s a family feeling that we have and we take care of each other.”

What makes the student housing industry stand out in your mind? 

“Well I actually have a crazy story to illustrate some of the challenges we face on a daily basis but also why I love what I do. I was working onsite at a property in Tempe Arizona and we were getting ready for the upcoming year. I was walking all the units to make sure everyone had turned in their keys and moved out and kept hearing noises from one particular unit. We started looking in closets and when we opened one, someone ran out into the living room. This guy had turned in his keys but needed to spend an extra night in the apartment so he left the door unlocked, snuck back in, and when he heard us jumped into the closet to hide. It was terrifying but once it got explained to me I couldn’t stop laughing. While that’s one example of the unique challenges we face, student housing also has the added obstacle of pleasing residents and parents. They have different expectations. Students may want the cool party place while parents are focused on the study spaces. You have to market two different ways to convince both parties to make a decision.”

What are some changes you’ve seen in the industry since becoming a marketing director? 

“When I first started social media was big. With that being said, every year something new comes out. Over my time platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Vine, Yeti, and Yik Yak have come and gone. You have to try and figure out what’s important. Part of the reason we have a student staff is because they know what's cool and they’re essentially our target audience. Another change is obviously the virtual aspect of leasing. The past year has taught us you need a virtual tour on your website. You have to figure out how to have this component and still have the human touch. People don’t want fully automated. They don’t want to just click play on a video but rather hear a voice and feel like someone is there to help them if need be.”

Can you describe your experience with LeaseMagnets thus far and how it fits into the current leasing landscape? 

“It's been great so far and I want to incorporate it into more of our properties, especially those that have high international populations. There is always a group who is making the move to a student housing property without even having been to campus. There has also been a huge decrease in our in-person tour numbers so LeaseMagnets is a great way to offer a creative solution to that problem. We now have properties where 30-40% of the people that sign have never toured in person. Their first time seeing the property will be move-in day.”

How did your marketing strategy change given the onset of COVID? 

“We definitely tried to sell the community over amenities. Most of our properties are further from campus which leads to them being garden style with bigger spaces. This became more important to people who were spending increasing amounts of time in their personal space. Previously, the first picture on our website was a pool or fitness space but now we push the actual apartment and things like the internet that they can use regardless of what’s going on in the outside world. It was a lot of fun to try and sell a living room and think about what inside the apartment will get people really excited.”

If you could give one piece of advice to someone looking to go into the marketing/leasing field what would it be? 

“Don’t be afraid to learn from people who are in positions that are technically below you. I hate saying ‘below you’ because we are all a team and we all work together but that part-time student may have the thing you need to learn. You should never stop learning because everyday there is something new happening. Sometimes we get afraid that if our own staff get too good, they will take our place. I always tell people you want that because you need someone qualified to take your place before you yourself can move on to the next step. I love watching and seeing employee growth.”

What have been some of your greatest accomplishments? 

“A personal success was arriving at a property in October that was at 60% occupancy. This was after move-in and at a point in time where people don’t expect numbers to get much higher especially in student housing. By January 1st, we hit 100%. The next two years I was there we hit 100% each year. That was awesome. On a company level, the first time we had a manager summit, getting to see everyone together sharing and learning was the best feeling ever. The fact that people were excited to be there and excited to work was amazing and an accomplishment I hope to have played into.”

Has there been a senior member throughout your career that has helped you get to where you are today? 

“My previous boss, Maureen Lannon, has taught me much of what I know. She supported me an unbelievable amount and even though she's not in the industry anymore she’ll still text me little fire up messages and reminders that I can do it. She was always big on growing other people. She taught me pushing other people up doesn’t push you down. I consider her a friend and mentor both personally and professionally.”

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200% more virtual tours.

125%  leads.

20%  higher lease

*pre-leasemagnets stats from real websites

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