Closing Time

  Amy Jo Gabel

Amy Jo Gabel

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Packing bags and waving goodbye does not a house closing make. As we all know, there’s so much more to it than that. For students to leave on a high note and for the home to be fully prepared for summer, it’s critically important we have a detailed plan. This includes clarity in terms of what we need to learn as students move out, precise steps to secure the home post student departure, and how to properly prepare the facility for “off season” projects such as upgrades and renovations. Below we’ve detailed a timeline and tasks list to assist with the process, so we all have a better understanding of the importance and fundamentals of preparing the chapter house for summer.


So, Where Do We Start?

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Our team recommends starting the closing process six weeks before resident move-out day(s). This timeline incorporates items for house closing, but to be clear, counts back from the day students are actually scheduled to move out.

We absolutely recognize that some of you may not have that long. Don’t panic! Adjust as needed this year, then plan accordingly next go ’round. One add’l note to consider is that we’ve have been ultra-conservative in the planning of the move-out timeline knowing students often need to be reminded of important dates given the multitude of end-of-term activities. This also allows you to build in a bit of wiggle room ensuring all boxes are checked when and where they are supposed to be.

Again, ideally, six weeks before move-out is the time when onsite resources or volunteers should be partnering with chapter officers to remind everyone of the date and time of the chapter house’s summer closure. We encourage you to make sure this is listed, announced, and understood at each chapter meeting from now through the end of the term. We also recommend making sure the summer maintenance plan is fully defined and agreed upon at least a month prior to finals. For instance, consider what kitchen equipment needs to be cleaned and calibrated, make sure your quarterly HVAC system check is scheduled, and consider what life safety inspections will be due over the summer or should be done while there are no residents onsite. You’ll also want to make sure your pest control and lawn care treatments are set for summer months. The last thing we need when fall recruitment rolls around are pests and weeds greeting our perspective members!

Four weeks prior to move-out, schedule trash to be picked up the day after move-out. Whether that is extra pick ups, extra containers or both, we want to plan for the trash and recycling that will accumulate during the move-out process. If you need extra hands to assist during certain hours, don’t be afraid to ask for help! Coordinate support as needed with alumni, advisors, and staff for the day(s) of move-out in the event a few additional hands are needed – and they will be. Finally, we need to make sure summer break plans have been communicated to all involved, especially if the house is going to be vacant for an extended amount of time. Have we identified someone who’s willing to walk the facility inside and out every 3-4 days (an adviser, local alum, or trusted vendor partner)? If not, put out an APB via email, phone, and social media immediately!

Closing is Approaching

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At two weeks out, we’re still making appearances at chapter meeting, but we’re also at a point where we need to send multiple communications that include specific details about the move-out process. This communication should include things like the following: 1) How you sign up for a move-out time, 2) Resident expectations for how to leave their room to ensure they receive their full security deposit, and 3) Details on the actual move-out day(s) such as where to park while loading and the check-out location.

One week before move-out, the collegiate property manager should be fully engaged. He/She should be fully aware of how to create and execute a sign-up/sign-out audit. This should include ensuring everyone has signed up for a check-out time, contacting the local or university police to request increased patrol during times the house will be vacant, and modifying mail and trash services. Contacting your local trash service will help ensure you aren’t billed unnecessarily; while notifying the USPS of address changes should ensure mail is forwarded to each resident’s correct summer address. This is especially important for members not living in the house again next year.

The final tasks before your “one week to go” countdown begins include: securing move-out supplies (bottled water, pens, highlighters, post-it notes, etc.), organizing room condition forms completed at move-in, and creating a master spreadsheet to record move-out details. Want to go above and beyond and make the process a little more enjoyable? Lean on a few members for suggestions and create a playlist of the chapter’s favorite songs to play throughout the house as members say goodbye for the summer. It’s an easy touch everyone will appreciate.

Move-Out Eve

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Before we look at actual move-out day, lets discuss that resident communication first. In your message, start by listing the details about the actual move-out day. Secondly, make it clear we will be sticking to the pre-determined move-out times. If something comes up, require the student to reschedule. Additionally, you’ll want to identify designated parking spots for loading and the location of the “official” move-out desk. Be sure each of these pieces are clearly communicated.

Another key piece of information we need to share is a reminder that they are expected to complete their check-out form completely, indicating in detail the condition of their room upon exit. Members should also be reminded to return keys, fobs, or swipe cards to the individual manning the check-out desk.

Finally, list how we expect them to leave their room and other residential common areas. Note specifically that all of their belongings should be out of their rooms and bathrooms, all trash should be emptied, and floors should be “broom clean”. To encourage energy efficiency, remind your residents all windows should be closed and locked with blinds down and lights off.

You Don’t Have to Go Home, But…

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On the day(s) of move-out, we should be organized and ready to go at least 30 minutes prior to the scheduled time to help ensure all residents easily complete the check-out process.

When all students have checked-out, make sure all windows are closed and locked in the house, again, with blinds and drapes closed. Ensure that all doors are functioning as they should and that each of them is secure. This includes disabling key fobs and changing door codes if applicable.

Look Ahead! That’s the Finish Line…

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It’s the day after and students are headed home. What now? Well, once move-out is complete, we want to assess the entire facility for any damages or immediate repairs.This includes each individual bedroom. Compare your findings with what the resident shared in terms of room condition.

Two days after closing, make sure all trash has been taken out and picked up, including the exterior – patios, basketball courts, parking lots, etc.

Within one week, check your key/fob/card inventory and make note of any orders that need to be placed or keys that need to be made or disabled. The kitchen staff should complete a kitchen inventory of all food items, cutlery, and small wares making note of anything that needs to be reordered. The same process should be in place for the cleaning staff. They should also complete a cleaning supply and paper product inventory and restock and/or plan to order as necessary. Finally, the damage report should be finalized and sent to all necessary parties in case fines need to be assessed or security deposits need to be deducted before year-end statements/notifications are sent to individual members.

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So summer has “officially” begun, but don’t think there’s nothing to do just because the students and staff are gone for a couple months. Like most of us, the house runs on a schedule and unfortunately doesn’t take a summer break. With that said, here are a couple of final summer reminders.

First, please don’t forget about life safety inspections and preventive maintenance items with summer due dates. Also, keep close tabs on tasks that are best completed while the staff and students are away, specifically summer projects and cleanings required to have the house ready for fall.

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And, just in case the house actually does physically close for any time during the summer, make sure that all interior and exterior doors are closed and secure, thermostats are set to 75, valuables are secured, and alarms are set. Once we’ve checked those items off the to-do list, it’s time for a well-deserved, and fairly short, breather. But don’t get too comfortable, we start the memory making process all over again in no time.