Thursday, August 6, 2020

Case Study: Phi Delta Theta, University of Michigan

Tom Buck, often called JT within the Greek community, has been the University of Michigan’s Phi Delta Theta chapter’s house corporation president for over two decades. In 2018, he faced the suspension of his chapter, a situation that has now become a common hurdle for house corporations. Facing the loss of rental income from the chapter for four years, JT and his alumni board needed help to avoid taking on additional debt and preventing the potential loss of the property.

In early 2018, two separate incidences in the same academic year resulted in the realization the chapter would not have a presence in the house that fall. Fortunately, Alpha Fraternity Management already represented another chapter that needed temporary housing while its chapter house was under construction. This was JT’s renewed introduction to Alpha Fraternity Management, who continued to manage the operations of the group that rented the Phi Delt house.

“This arrangement provided us with a great opportunity to watch Alpha’s work at arms-length,” JT explained. “They did a fine job of managing the group and I could see the respect their alumni leaders had for Alpha and what they brought to the table.”

In June of 2019, Alpha Fraternity Management was retained to manage the house under its Graduate House model, part of AFM’s ‘Save our Chapter House’ program. AFM instituted a plan to restore an income stream through rentals to individual students, manage the property as alcohol-free housing, and provide business management and resident services. Alpha got right to work to find tenants for the fall, ultimately leasing every room and all parking spaces, even with a late start. The plan was a success and the property was restored to positive cash flow.

“Alpha has been responsive and has helped us keep our house in good shape even when we haven’t been in it,” JT continues. “They’ve done a pretty darn good job and their ability to help us secure tenants and preserve our cash flow has validated our decision to use them and earned them the chance to manage the house when our own chapter returns in the fall of 2021.”

The Phi Delts appreciate the “hands-on” approach Alpha takes when managing tenants. Good systems and processes, plus monthly calls between the house corporation and the Alpha team keep the house in good shape and everyone informed. “Allan has a real presence in Greek life,” says JT. “I know he’s trying to make a difference on our campus, just as we are.”

“It takes an enormous amount of time to manage a fraternity house,” JT concludes. “Having Alpha in place gives me a lot of time back that I can use in other ways.”

Snapshot of Remedies
Implemented ‘Save Our Chapter House’ program 
Evaluated options that preserved the property’s zoning status
Provided solutions to restore the chapter’s revenue stream
Leased 100% of rooms and parking spaces within 90 days
Achieved positive cash flow in the first year of the partnership
Located a group tenant for rental the following year, increasing profits

Thursday, April 2, 2020



Managing the Chaos of COVID-19: The New Cash Flow & Operations Challenges



If you were unable to join us for our webinar this week on "Managing the Chaos of COVID-19: The New Cash Flow & Operations Challenges," a recording is available for you here.

Stay tuned! More webinars will be announced in the future.




Wednesday, March 4, 2020

What Do Today’s Fraternity Members Want in Their Chapter House?


Based on our interviews and interactions with fraternity members that have lived in chapter houses we manage on campuses throughout the country, listed in order of importance below are the amenities that members desire in their chapter houses.
  1. Blazing-fast internet and Wi-Fi coverage throughout the house
  2. Single occupancy rooms
  3. Private or semi-private bathrooms
  4. Nicely finished sleeping rooms
  5. Heating and air conditioning systems that allow individual control (not boilers or window a/c)
  6. Large assembly spaces for social functions
  7. A good food service program that accommodates special diets and requests
  8. Furnished rooms
  9. Professional cleaning, snow removal, lawn service, etc.
  10. Study spaces with video screens for presentations

What do you feel today’s members desire from their housing?

Leave us your thoughts here by clicking on the title to post a comment. Or, email us at info@alphafraternitymgmt.com with questions on how you can improve the culture in your chapter house for your members. 

Friday, February 14, 2020

The Downward Trend of Fraternity Housing


Having observed fraternity housing for over 30 years on multiple campuses, it appears we have entered a new phase for fraternity housing. This new phase continues a downward trend in fraternity housing that first began in the late 1990s and has resulted in a decreasing desire by college men to live in fraternity chapter houses. If the owners of fraternity properties and the leaders of the national fraternities ignore this trend, we predict we will see a significant loss of fraternity properties similar to what resulted in the early 1970s.

The downward trend in housing has been caused by several factors, but one of the most significant factors is the expectation that 19 and 20-year-old men with no professional training can be tasked with successfully managing a $300,000 to $700,000 annual housing operations including the food service program, the financial management, and the building maintenance and repairs. It doesn’t take much thought to understand why this is a recipe for disaster. For example, Alpha Fraternity Management is currently working to turn-around a housing operation in which undergraduate mismanagement has resulted in over $250,000 in financial losses over a two-year period.

As more and more of the daily management duties were transferred to the undergraduate chapter leaders, the daily condition of many fraternities declined. Changes in the scheduling of university classes into the evening hours and the proliferation of campus restaurants and delivery services has resulted in members being less interested in meal service programs, which we know are an important element of the brotherhood experience. Over this period, fraternity alumni have been less engaged in advising, mentoring and sharing the fraternity’s culture and standards. Much of what fraternity alumni view as the traditional fraternity experience no longer exists. It has been replaced by a culture based on the priorities and standards of 19-year-old men.

The chapter house has grown to be viewed as simply a place to live and party when you are a sophomore. The decrease of services at the chapter house, the poor condition of the properties, and the lack of beneficial housing services and alumni engagement has resulted in a loss of importance of the chapter house and lower levels of loyalty to the fraternity. Most fraternity members now have a primary loyalty to the members of their 20- to 30-man pledge class, rather than to the larger chapter membership, the chapter or the national fraternity. At the same time, the renovated dormitories and a proliferation of large, new campus apartment properties are providing housing competition that is much nicer and has better amenities. These factors have contributed to a culture in which the expectation is that upperclassman don’t live in the chapter house.

Up to this point, sophomore members have still been willing to live in the chapter house because it gives them a place to hold their social activities. However, the recent negative publicity related to fraternity-related incidents has resulted in many parents refusing to allow their son to live in a chapter house. Sophomore members are finding out that they can still be part of the fraternity experience but not live in the chapter house. Chapters are having difficulty filling the 25 to 30 beds in their chapter house when their memberships exceed 100 men. Chapter officers are now elected as sophomores and it has become routine that key officers no longer live in the chapter house.

The current trend is that members primarily want a lodge or simply a party hall at which they can hold their social activities. The chapter house is shifting to that function, and it is likely that occupancy levels will continue to decline unless fraternity property owners act to reverse this trend.

If you would like to discuss this trend and what you can do to combat it, give us a call at 1-833-ALPHA00 or email us at info@alphafraternitymgmt.com. We’d be happy to talk!