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The Positive Impact of ORM on Apartment Operations

The Positive Impact of ORM on Apartment Operations
If you were asked to provide an example of just how much the multifamily industry has changed over the years, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more powerful one than the emergence of online review sites like Yelp and Google. As apartment communities across the country have learned, reviews posted by residents and prospects – and the online responses of operators – can make the difference between sinking and swimming. Consider this: according to a Kingsley Associates study conducted on behalf of RentPath, 91.4 percent of apartment shoppers rely on reviews and ratings at least to some extent when looking for their next home. These days, effective online reputation management (ORM) is absolutely vital to a community's success. But it's also important that operators and their onsite staffs not become intimidated by ORM or view it as a form of drudgery, simply yet another item to be checked off the daily to-do list.  Instead, apartment companies should embrace ORM enthusiastically and look at it not only as a necessary endeavor in today's marketplace but as a great opportunity to improve their operations. Free Market ResearchForward-thinking operators know that a robust ORM program can produce more than a slew of five-star ratings. They have realized that the honest online feedback can serve as invaluable – and free – market research into how to improve operations at their communities.  That's because when they're motivated to leave an online review, residents are inclined to provide the kind of raw and honest assessments they might not pro......
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How to Combat a Drop in Occupancy

How to Combat a Drop in Occupancy
A declining occupancy rate: it's hard to think of something that's more likely to keep an apartment operator up at night. When a community's occupancy dips below targeted levels, revenue goals are jeopardized, budgets are quickly derailed, and investors' expectations are compromised. For third-party managers, relationships with owner-clients can be put at risk. The possible answers to an occupancy problem are many. Below are some of the potential culprits and suggestions for how to address them. Marketing and advertising campaigns. Is your community getting the right ROI from its marketing dollars? Does it focus its advertising spend on the channels that deliver the most qualified leads? Does it have an energetic presence on the right social media outlet? Is it targeting the right demographic? It's imperative that an operator has a system in place for continually evaluating the performance of its advertising and marketing sources in delivering a sufficient number of qualified prospects. If a community's strategy and tactics in this area are off, occupancy will suffer. As for onsite marketing, communities should be diligent about signage: sometimes a strategically placed banner or sign directing passersby where to enter the community or park is all it takes to gain an edge over your competitors. And make sure that your community is kept clean - for the sake of both prospects and your current residents. Are the grounds well maintained? Is there pet waste everywhere? Are your vacant units or models clean, fresh smelling and well lit? All of these factors can......
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Think offline, when responding online.

As we approach the final weeks of 2013, I am very excited to announce that we have officially implemented our Online Reputation Management (ORM) program — which includes setting up Manager Center on ApartmentRatings.com. I look at this program launch as the next logical step in "embracing the conversation," and as with our social assets, our on-site teams are responsible for crafting responses to any comments that are posted online, with our corporate team stepping in to help when needed. We have used this strategy across all 50+ of our community Facebook pages, and it's worked incredibly well for us.  Though review sites have been dubbed the Wild West of the digital world, we encourage our teams to simply think "offline" when responding online: in other words, think about what you'd say in an offline conversation, and then apply that to the online space. The below is taken verbatim from our ORM guidelines, and is at the core of our social/ORM philosophy: Address each issue individually, and respond in a courteous, authentic, and professional way. There's nothing fancy about that statement, but since tone can be tough to distinguish online, we have found that employing the "KISS" approach often works best: be professional, be authentic, and be helpful, and you've effectively addressed 99% of the negative comments that are posted online. If you're trying to decide whether or not to take the plunge into managing your online reviews, I'd encourage you to mull something over: if people are talking about your c......
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