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Elements of a Rock Star Review Response

  Responding well to an online review is more involved than you might think at first glance. There’s a lot of customer service and public relations theory working in the background that has to be incorporated into a few short sentences. And it’s happening while you’re trying to hold back the emotion from being skewered online. If you can find a way to tame the angry beast inside and remember the following five elements, you can become a response rock star. Authenticity This isn’t a statement to the media or a legal letter. It’s a response to an upset resident with hundreds, if not thousands, of prospective renters watching. If your response reads like you outsourced it to your legal team, it’s not going to sound natural and prospects are going to know it isn’t genuine. Be natural, be authentic and prospects will believe you truly care about your residents. Honesty The worst thing you can do is lie. Saying your service manager was at the community at 9 a.m., when they didn’t show up until 3 p.m. might seem like a good idea because prospects will believe you arrived on time. But the truth always comes out and it’s more believable when it comes from a resident. The resident will call you out on a follow-up post and other residents might post their own negative reviews about late service just out of principle. Always tell the truth, even when responding to a review. Friendly It’s hard to be friendly to someone who just ......
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EQ Meets Reputation Management

There’s only one thing worse than getting berated by a resident on site – getting berated on a review site.  When words are put on paper, they’re much more powerful than when they’re said to us in the heat of the moment. That’s because we can say something we don’t mean much more easily than we can write. When we write it, we probably mean it.  That’s what makes multifamily reputation management so hard for anybody who works for an organization they love and believe in. The moment you read a negative review from an angry resident, you feel it to your core, whether you were involved in the situation or not. You might feel angry, annoyed, hurt, sad, confused or any other negative emotion for that matter.  But that emotion won’t serve you well when you sit down to write a response to that review. That’s why we recommend hiring a third-party to respond to reviews. However, if you are tasked with writing the response yourself, you’ll need some strategies to manage your emotions. Here are a few I’ve seen work: Give it a few hours. Don’t just jump into your response right away. Let yourself work through the emotions before hitting the keyboard. It often takes time to work through the initial emotion and start viewing the situation rationally. Those first feelings are often irrational because expressing them to the resident won’t fix the problem. They will only escalate the negativity. Vent to a trusted coworker. You’re going to want to do this in privat......
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The One Customer Service Question You Need to Ask Yourself!

The One Customer Service Question You Need to Ask Yourself!
As a corporate speaker and strategist one of my most requested topics to speak on is customer service. I imagine you are not surprised by this … I’m not. After all-all businesses require customers to succeed and customers expect some level of customer service every time they choose to do business with someone. Therefore we can all agree that customer service is crucial-that customer service is important, right? I think we can also agree that most companies have some sort of customer service mantra that they proclaim to the world. Macy’s: “Macy’s, Inc. clearly recognizes that the customer is paramount and that all its actions and omnichannel strategies must be directed toward providing a personalized merchandise offering and shopping experience…” State Farm Insurance: “Like a Good Neighbor, State Farm is There Nationwide Insurance: “Nationwide is on your side.” (Is it just me or do you hear Peyton Manning humming the Nationwide theme right now?) So, here is my question. If everyone can agree that customer service is important, why do we keep having bad customer service experiences?  Remember this epic rant of a Starbucks barista caught on video? In case you were not sure of what happened-from what I understand (and I might be wrong) the barista accused the customer of trying to steal an edible straw worth about 99 cents. (And yes, the barista no longer works there. Some reports say she was fired, the barista herself says she quit, I’ll leave it to you to decide what is true.) So, I’ll repeat my question again-why do we keep ha......
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Asking for the review

Asking for the review
Have you ever left a review on your own, just because? Chances are you were either super happy or more likely, super upset about a particular incident. On the rare occasion, someone may ask you to. But that’s the exception, not the rule typically.   So my question is, are you asking for reviews? Or are you passively waiting for someone to be sufficiently upset or sufficiently over the moon happy to post something about your community on their own? If it’s the former, kudos to you, super star! If it’s the latter, you need to get busy! Like, yesterday.   This is a world where people rely on online reviews to make purchasing decisions. Facts are facts, whether we like it or not, it's gonna happen. Are you leaving your property’s reputation and future revenue in the hands of just anyone? What you should be doing is controlling that message as much as possible.   Are you making it easy for your happy residents to review you? If not, why not? There are so many reputation management tools out there that can help you manage your message. Even if you don’t have anything budgeted for reputation management, there are plenty of things you can do that don’t cost a dime.   Invite your residents to review you. You know the residents who love you. You know them by name, you see them all the time, they hug you in the hallways. Why not send them an email with a link to your commun......
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Are you over-promising and under-performing?

Are you over-promising and under-performing?
Are you over-promising and under-performing? Not the best business plan ever. No one has ever gotten a job or a raise from over-promising and under-performing.   I get it. You want people to like you. You want people to admire you. You don’t want to give them bad news or be mad at you. You’re super optimistic about what you can get done. All sorts of reasons that we might over-promise. So what do you do? You soften the news. At home it’s, “Ok babe. I’ll be ready to go in five minute!.” As you’re standing there in your unmentionables still deciding what to wear and in desperate need of a shower. (Don’t judge me, you’ve all done this. I’ve done it three times this week already.)   In a work situation it’s, “I’ll have this project to you in…um…three days. Yes, three days. For sure.” Then when you get it to them in a week they’ve probably been blowing up your inbox or phone, have lost confidence in you and (the absolute WORST) are disappointed in you. UGH.   Unless three days is actually feasible, why not be honest? “Listen, I’d love to have this to you in three days, but it’s going to take two weeks.“ Sure, they might be a little disappointed that you’re not going to have it in three days. But watch their eyes light up when you get it to them in one week.   Wouldn’t you say that eye lighting up is SO much better than sighs of disappointment? Her......
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How to Overcome Reputation Issues and Increase Occupancy

How to Overcome Reputation Issues and Increase Occupancy
In the Property Management industry your community's reputation is everything. It is your bottom line. It is far more challenging to increase your occupancy rate when you have to contend with bad ratings or reviews. It plays a large role in whether or not you will make occupancy quotas and generate new residents, as well as maintain your good residents. Occupancy is going to be the driving force for your apartment community in order to make a profit. As a leasing agent, you must overcome bad press and protect the reputation of the owner's property. This ensures high profits and your job security. If you are fearful that your reputation as a leasing agent is falling short, or your apartment community is being devalued, you need to follow the suggestions below to overcome the negativity.   How can I overcome a bad reputation? The first step to overcoming a bad reputation is to act positively. As a leasing agent, you need to create a plan. If you have current residents that love their apartment homes, ask them to write a helpful review. You would be surprised at how many people will jump at this idea. Reviews can be 50 words or less as long as they portray the community in a positive light. Next, you need to respond to bad press. Get online and be social on your social media pages. If someone said there is a maintenance issue, or an issue that you can directly resolve, get it done. Draft......
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Residents: 5 Truths About the Most Underrated, Most Underutilized Marketers on the Planet

Residents: 5 Truths About the Most Underrated, Most Underutilized Marketers on the Planet
Remember when prospects battled like shoppers on Black Friday - scratching and clawing for a handful of underpriced, supersized vacant apartments?  If you answered yes, chances are those days are long gone.  Marketing is essential to leasing and retention; without it communities become ghost towns and owners disappointed in the teams hired to manage their assets. Beyond the banners, balloons, and latest gimmick of the moment, marketing is most effective when the message is conveyed by those who believe in the product itself.  So, if the goal is to market a lifestyle, as opposed to an empty box, who better to spread the word than residents at your community?  Here are 5 truths that point to why residents can be a powerful marketing ally. 1. They have an extensive network – the wider the net, the better.  Family, friends, co-workers, friends of family members, friends of co-workers, the cashier in the checkout line, their children’s teachers …you get where I’m going with this.  As discovered in our “Today’s Online Renter Study”, 74.4% of apartment hunters trust the opinions of people they know.  You never know where the next lead will come from and residents could be a powerful and FREE marketing channel. 2. They love to brag – and will do so to a worldwide audience.  In the same study, 61.0% of residents said they would be willing to post a positive review if asked by their management company.  Talk about low hanging fruit!  Especially considering that 67.7% of apartment hunters trust online re......
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Being Honest with Prospects vs. Being Dishonest: Which Way is More Profitable?

Being Honest with Prospects vs. Being Dishonest: Which Way is More Profitable?
In all circumstances, a lie is a sign of fear. People tell lies when they fear that the outcome of honesty won’t be in their favor. When it comes to leasing apartments, the fear is that the prospect will pass on your offer, causing you to miss out on the value they would’ve brought to the property and to you.  It’s vital to recognize that the short-term benefits of dishonesty cannot compare to the long-term benefits of being transparent. A resident that you convinced to move in by lying will quickly become disillusioned and will either seek to break their lease as soon as they can, or refuse to renew their lease once it expires. Dishonesty Can Cost You More Than You Might Think As anyone who has extensive experience in the business of property management and leasing apartments knows all too well, it costs much more to have a high resident turnover rate than it is to maintain resident loyalty. The turnover expenses come in the form of advertising fees, apartment cleanup, additional time spent searching for and screening new prospects, and much more.  Depending on the size of the property and the turnover rate, such expenses can easily add up to several thousands of dollars a year. All of that money is money that uncompromising honesty can help you save.  But the financial burden of dishonesty in apartment leasing doesn’t stop with the cost of bring in new residents. It’s important not to forget that the resident who moved out becau......
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Understanding the Motivation behind a Review

It is that time of year when we all start thinking about our goals.  What did I achieve this year?  What do I want to focus on next year?  Have you thought about any goals specific to ratings and reviews?  There are a lot to choose from, but I have one for you…  Strive to better understand your residents and for your residents to better understand you.  You and your residents should be having the same conversation.  Too often those conversations are very different.  What I mean by this is that what you say in your marketing and sales pitches doesn’t match the resident testimonials and stories. To better understand your residents, you have to understand their motivation for leaving you a review or sharing feedback with peers.  And hopefully it is not because you paid them!  People leave you feedback for a very specific reason.  You have to understand the kind of feedback to know how to fix the problem.  For example, not all negative reviews come from unhappy customers.  Their overall experience could be wonderful outside of that one problem.  You can’t understand a conversation you are not part of, so determining your next steps is difficult (and not always effective) if you are not engaging consistently with your residents to understand their motivation and needs. Every interaction, both online and off-line, is an opportunity to collect information.  It exposes flaws and misconceptions that can be fixed, but it also exposes all the wonderful things you are doing.  Use this ......
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