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Turning the Tide on Bad Resident Reviews

Turning the Tide on Bad Resident Reviews

When a community’s ratings and reputation is struggling, it can be incredibly challenging to pull those ratings back from the brink, all while not having the team get discouraged along the way. And for those communities that are already doing well on that front, how are they proactive about getting resident feedback before that feedback turns into negative reviews?

These are two of my favorite parts of my interview with Danielle Johnson, Vice President of Marketing and Training at Bridge Property Management. She dives into how they impact Google reviews, measure the results, and how they implemented touchpoints for feedback after tours, move-ins, work orders, move-outs, and other key points along the resident and prospect journey. Plus, she shares the most common reasons for bad reviews, and how her partnership with Opiniion helped gauge impact in her efforts!

By the way, if you like this type of content where we talk with different property management pros, make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel and click the bell icon!

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Will Your Education Affect Your Pool?

b2ap3_thumbnail_MFI-image-1.pngIn 2015, we created a study that documented the availability and quality of many apartment attributes, including amenities (e.g., gym, pool, etc), and how those amenities correlated to the residents’ education level.  While the value of a college degree seems difficult to understand at times (especially during those first few years after school), there’s no doubt education has a high correlation to expected earnings.  And as it turns out, neighborhood education levels are a pretty good predictor of amenity availability and quality in the immediate apartment complexes as well. Some background: we pulled data from over 1400 apartment properties across 244 zip codes and analyzed the properties’ amenities availability and quality against the level of education attainment for young adults (25-34) in each area.  In doing so, established a correlation between the likelihood of a given amenity’s availability and quality given the immediate zip code’s education level. In other words, some properties don’t have a pool, while others have a very simple pool that’s heated six months of the year. Others have infinity pools and waterfall features. We scored this on our visit and analyzed each aspect in this study. Some background info for our friends that may have slept through statistics class: correlation does not mean causation, but it does show that variables are linked.  Correlation ranges from -1 to 1 and 0 means no correlation. A more negative correlation means the two variables are inversely related (think sunglasses sales on rainy days) and the more positive correlation, the stronger the variables......
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Feedback? You Need That - Action is Traction

Feedback? You Need That - Action is Traction
Do you ever get tired of those incessant little surveys that companies ask you to fill out? I know I do. Often times I doubt that they ever see the light of day. We rarely get any sort of follow-up about our feedback, which can make us feel like these surveys are just a waste of time.  I’ve learned something about customer surveys, though, that makes them one of the most incredible tools for improving ANYTHING. Several years ago I was tasked with improving end-of-semester evaluations for university professors.  I interviewed teachers and students, evaluated results, compared outcomes and what I found was that (...for the most part...) teacher evaluations were a waste of time! Students hated them—suspecting that honesty would be punished and seeing very little evidence it did them any good.  Teachers felt the same because they weren’t able to use that garbage data to help their (now former) students. And because the higher-ups were using these evaluations in a way that actually penalized the teacher for receiving any sort of negative feedback, the teachers had an obvious tendency to pressure students for positive comments. Everything that the evaluations were originally purposed for had been destroyed, because nobody was focusing on how student feedback could power beneficial change and improvement. I knew something needed to change. I just didn’t realize how simple it would be.  I took the system that was in place, and I made a few distinct changes: First, I made it so that teachers got more frequent feedback. Instead of only once (at the end of the semester), it was ......
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Google Reviews – Put Reputation Management in Your Hands

Track your reviews from around the web through the Google Places dashboardSmart web marketers know that online customer reviews can make or break a business; the multifamily housing industry is no exception. You don’t need to be an industry professional to know that. When people are shopping around for a place to live, reviews can be the difference between one community and another.   But what do you do about negative reviews? Even the most efficiently run communities, with the most advanced property management systems, will get a negative review at one point or another. You might not know how to respond. Furthermore, between Angieslist, ApartmentRatings, Yelp, and the myriad of other online review sites, it can be tempting for property managers to ignore them altogether, and simply hope for the best. But we can't.   Something as simple as responding to a negative review with a sympathetic tone can go a long way to repair your image in the eyes of a customer. And, with Google’s recent update to Places for Business, it's easier than ever to keep track of what people are saying about your community and respond appropriately.      Back in November, Google began rolling-out updates to the Places for Business dashboard that allows business owners to respond directly to reviews from Google users. This feature is available through the Review Inbox – a recent addition to your Places dashboard. These responses are visible to the public, giving you another way to show customers the grace with which you (hopefully) handle customer feedback.   A few quick tips for responding to apartment ratings: Resp......
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How To Write A Bad Apartment Review

How To Write A Bad Apartment Review
  If you are wanting to leave a bad apartment review, and not quite sure how to do it, well, you've come to the right place! I am going to help you craft the best worst review the internet has ever seen. You see, there is an art to writing the worst review possible, because what goes on the internet must be both factual and informative. And if not done correctly, ski mask wearing monkeys will come after you in the middle of the night. You've been warned.  Now, follow these simple tips to help you better write that review on your current/previous horrendous apartment building.  First Only review anonymously. If you do, your landlord will NEVER, not EVER, be able to decipher who you are. Nope, not at all.    Second, Always make nonsensical comparisons.  For example: "Living here is like living in hell! The walls are thin and you can hear everything the people are saying and doing (if you catch my drift) next door." This is perfection, because now possible renters will know to stay clear, AND, that hell is really just a studio apartment where you are forced to listen to your neighbors talk and uh...I didn't catch his drift, can someone please explain what drift is?  Another example: "If you want to be completely miserable and abosultely HATE where you live, deal with miscommunication, and live in a N---- Camp, this is the place for you!" Well....sorry, I can't make light of this, this person i......
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How to Reduce Negative ApartmentRatings.Com Reviews

How to Reduce Negative ApartmentRatings.Com ReviewsNegative reviews on ApartmentRatings.Com, Yelp and Google Reviews can ruin more than just your ego. The last thing you want a prospective resident to see is the first line of a negative Google review when they click on your location on a Google Map. Especially when it’s something really awesome like: “DoN’t ReNt hErE!!!! It sUX.” Although you can’t do much about former residents who think they should receive their entire deposit back, even though their cat peed on every available surface in the apartment, you can make a difference for reasonable residents by simply giving them more information so they have healthy expectations about the resident experience and the move-out experience. I have found that the most common complaints on apartment ratings sites are issues that really boil down to a resident’s expectations. If you (or your leasing agents) take the time to train and educate your residents about how things work at your property when they sign the lease, it can change everything. Some key topics that need to be discussed during the move-in lease signing include: How your after-hours emergency maintenance reporting system works. How you will communicate with a resident in case of a building-wide (or unit-specific emergency.) How and where to submit maintenance requests and what kind of response to expect (phone call, maintenance man just shows up, etc.) How to submit a 30 day notice when they are ready to move out and what kind of confirmation they can expect in order to be certain their notice was pr......
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Is Your Community FLAWSOME?

No person or brand is perfect, and fortunately today’s consumers—or in our case, residents—understand that while we strive for perfection, it is sometimes hard to reach.  Now before any apprehension sets in, as we know you deal with resident complaints and work orders every day, let us explain. Although no community is perfect and incidents do happen, hiding or avoiding flaws can actually be detrimental to your relationships with residents.  According to TrendWatching.com, “Human nature dictates that people have a hard time genuinely connecting with, being close to or really trusting other humans who (pretend to) have no weaknesses, flaws or mistakes – don’t assume brands are any different.”  Basically, if something goes awry, address the issue, keep your residents in the loop, share your plans to fix it and, if possible, provide solutions to prevent it from happening again—all in your most human-like tone even if you are communicating it through a computer.  This is called being flawsome. Flaw∙some [flaw-suhm] adjective: Marketing trend and term coined by TrendWatching.com that describes a brand that is embraced and respected by consumers despite having flaws. Being more accepted as a brand by consumers for being “human” and transparent. Being a transparent brand that has flaws, knows it has these flaws and owns them! Now don’t misinterpret this resident sentiment.  Being flawsome does not mean getting away with more and doing less now—residents’ unwavering expectations and standards are still set very high.  Being flawsome comes with still trying to meet these expectations to the best of your ability, but when the......
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CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE: The Roller Coaster Ride

                                                                Our experiences as customers can often resemble a roller coaster ride—taking us up and down hills, twists and turns, and sometimes facing sideways. Read any number of customer experience blogs or articles, and you'll see a popular theme. It's this notion that, in order to earn customer loyalty and referrals, you must consistently exceed their expectations—give them the ride of their life—every time!  Is this realistic? Does the ride (experience) become exhausting at some point? Does it break down?  While I certainly appreciate setting high expectations, the reality is there are the occasional hard falls. I am sure you have been there. You set the expectations too high (the customer or the service provider) and sometimes you end up with the “Gee, I wasn’t expecting that!” moment—it’s not always pleasant. Then just as you are about to throw up your hands, the ride takes a quick turn and the thrill begins once again.   Every day residents are riding the apartment community roller coaster. I believe a great resident experience is  built around a series of “moments of truth” during their interaction with your employees. Those on the front line, the resident’s primary contact, are expected to help them and deliver a pleasant experience—but it doesn’t always work out that way. Every person on your team, even those you may not think of as customer service personnel, has the ability to make a positive impact on the experience, improve resident retention, and in some cases even turn a ......
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How Pitbull Turned #Exile into Social Media Accolade

So maybe you heard about this: Earlier this year, rapper Armando Christian Perez, or “Pitbull”, partnered with Walmart and Energy Sheets in a social media campaign which took a turn for the worst. In June the trio announced a Facebook contest, in which the local Walmart store that received the most page “likes” would receive a personal visit from Pitbull so he could “share the experience of using Energy Sheets with [his] fans.

That’s when David Thorpe, writer for The Boston Phoenix and the off-color comedy site Something Awful, got wind of the promotion and hijacked the campaign by encouraging people to #ExilePitbull to a remote Walmart location on Kodiak Island, Alaska. The prank spread like wildfire season in the interior arctic, and by the conclusion of the contest, a city with a population of 6,000 incinerated the efforts of 4,000 other U.S. locations, achieving over 70,000 Facebook “likes.” 


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Driving Positive Reviews For Your Apartment Community

Driving Positive Reviews on ApartmentRatings.comWhat type of person is most likely going to seek out a review site to leave your apartment community a review?  An angry one, of course!  It’s not all Apartment Ratings fault, as you may think.  The way people use Apartment Ratings, versus a site like Yelp, is fundamentally different, which means that reviews often only come from those that take the time to go to the site and give their 2 cents.  And to make that much effort, that often means they are on one side of the emotional spectrum or the other. So I often look for proactive strategies to drive more residents who might be inclined to write a positive review.  To be clear, I do not advocate paying for reviews, faking reviews, or any other way of artificially skewing reviews.  Instead, I simply want to find the most passionate customers and make it easy for them to voice their thoughts.  And although it may surprise some of you, 62.5% of renters would post a positive comment about their community on ApartmentRatings.com if their community simply asked.  But only 8.8% of residents were asked to do so!*  And today, Amazon.com shared a strategy that could easily be adapted for that purpose.  After a call with customer service, I received the following email:   First of all, that was an incredibly effective way to get me to start giving feedback about my experience.  All it was asking me to do was simply click one link for yes or another l......
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