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 community on a specific review site and ask them to give you some love?
Do you have someone who’s had a great move-in experience and they’re still in the honeymoon stage? ASK THEM. Send them an email. Make it simple. There are so many times during the life cycle of your residents to ask. All you need to do is do it.
Do NOT pay or give any incentives for good reviews. EVER. Do not be tempted. It goes against many review sites’ policies and can get you blackballed. But worse, if found out, it can cast all your other reviews into question.
Case study: we had a property that was having a resident event and were giving out tickets for prizes. The flyer clearly stated extra tickets given to those who post a good review on X review site. One unhappy resident scanned the flyer, posted it on said review site and made a case that all positive reviews posted to date were fraudulent. Whoops that sure backfired. So just don’t do it.
Go over and above. Want to get people to give you good reviews? Go over and above. Care. Show your residents you care. Take the time to get to know your residents, be friendly. Handle maintenance requests as they come in, address issues that come up. DESERVE your good reviews. You can totally do it.
Do not make fake reviews. I feel silly even writing this, it’s pretty basic. Just don’t do it. People can tell the fake reviews from the real ones. And doesn’t it feel better to have legit reviews?
Reply to all reviews, good and bad. A quick, “Thank you for the high five!” shows anyone reading the review that you value your residents’ opinions. Bad reviews are an excellent opportunity to show how much you really do care.
Negative reviews. The worst, amirite? But they can be amazing signposts pointing to areas of opportunity. Have five reviews complaining about the gate being broken? Fix that gate. Easy. Now you have five responses, “Thank you so much for letting us know. The gates are fixed! Let us know how else we can show how much we value our residents!” But wait. You’re not done. Reach out to the residents offline and ask them if they wouldn’t mind updating their reviews.
Have a couple of reviewers complaining that maintenance tracked dirt in their home? We never want that and it’s an easy fix! Get some shoe cover thingies. Your reply to the reviews? “Thank you for your feedback! You’re right. We did track dirt into your home. We are so sorry, and it will never happen again. Give us a call so we can arrange for carpet cleaning (or a laundry card, Starbucks card, whatever you deem appropriate, if anything) for your trouble. Our maintenance guys are now wearing shoe coverings in every home they enter. We love our residents! Please let us know how we can make your day better.” Then offline ask them if they wouldn’t mind updating their review.
Listen, you’ve got this review thing down. Ask for the review. Fix the problem. Care. Easy, right? So get out there and change the world! (And don’t forget to ask for those reviews while you’re doing it.)