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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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How to Improve Your Apartment Reputation Management

apartment reputation management  These circumstances have you questioning the importance of online reputation. Does it really influence your prospects? And should you be concerned with negative reviews?  These are legit questions, and they are all going to be answered in this post.  How Much Do People Trust Online Reviews? Word of mouth marketing (WOMM) is still one of the best forms of advertising. People will believe in a recommendation over any kind of advertising.  The internet opened the doors to a new method of WOMM, online reviews. Recent research suggests that when family or friends recommend a business, prospects will still take it to the internet and read the reviews.  When it comes to apartment living, a survey conducted by Apartments.com showed that 98 percent of respondents read the property’s reviews either always or sometimes. The number is an indication that renters want an insight into your community before signing in the dotted line.  But it doesn’t stop there. Eighty-four percent trust online reviews as much as word of mouth. And 68 percent will form an opinion after reading them.  These statistics show that apartment reputation management is an essential skill. But what if your community has no reviews? How Do Reviews Affect Your Community If your community has no reviews is not good. Based on the Apartments.com survey, 94 percent are likely to rent from a place that has reviews. A community with positive online reviews will attract a lot more prospects than one with no reviews. On a similar trend, 82 percent of consumers are likely to avo......
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Seven Recommendations to Drive Leasing

Seven Recommendations to Drive Leasing
After the apartment market's blistering-hot run over the last decade, many metros have seen lots of new supply crop up in the past few years. With increased competition it's more important than ever that apartment communities – whether in lease-up, coming off major renovations or are simply stabilized properties – have intelligent and innovative strategies to attract prospects and drive leasing. Below are 7 methods to keep your tour numbers high and your occupancy rates where you want them to be.1) Pay extra attention to negative reviews. We know that prospects make a point of checking out review sites like Google, Yelp and Facebook when shopping for their new apartment home. But what we may not realize is the outsized impact negative reviews may have. Our brains have a negative bias which indicates that each negative review could have a much bigger impact on the reader than a positive one. So a series of negative reviews and inadequate responses by your community may be more than enough to persuade prospects to look elsewhere. Apartment managers have to commit themselves to both the large and small things they need to do to develop a good online reputation.2) Just say no to concessions. When markets soften and vacancies climb, apartment managers often turn to concessions such as discounted rent or a free iPad or free television. However, these incentives come with some pretty sizeable drawbacks. To start with, discounted rent or month(s) of free rent result in lower effective rents, which can decrease the......
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Death By Template: 5 Tips To Create Custom Responses

Death By Template: 5 Tips To Create Custom Responses
You know what, I totally get it.  With all that goes on during the workday, responding to reviews is somewhere on the priority list with eating lunch.  And in this industry, we all know an hour-long lunch break is a luxury.  Responding to reviews takes time; and for property management professionals, time, just like lunch, is a luxury. In my last article, I wrote “Many think it’s easier to have a bank of ready-to-go responses, but as renters tend to read an average of 6-10 reviews per community, repeat and formulaic responses are complete turn-offs.”  And it’s true!  We’ve been conducting conversations with renters for the past 3 months and here a few direct quotes from some of the over 100 interviews we’ve had so far. REVIEW RESPONSE: Thank you for taking time to leave a review to help us improve our community. Your feedback is important to us as we want our residents to be comfortable and satisfied with their living experience. If you wish to add any more details, please email us at XXX to discuss. QUESTION: What are your thoughts on this response? “It's nice that the manager took the time to post however I wonder if the answer is a pre-made one. Seems like a copy/paste kind of thing.” “This response feels kind of canned, very robotic.  The intentions are good but this response could apply to any review, positive or negative.” “Where are the specifics? None of the resident’s issues are addressed. A response like this would make me mad if I was th......
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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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Improve your Reputation Management Strategy

Make no mistake about it: Online ratings and reviews are more important than ever to renters. According to the 2017 NMHC/Kingsley Renter Preferences Study, nearly 80% of renters said that online reviews influenced their leasing decision. Additionally, a 2017 renter’s journey survey conducted by RentPath found that 57% of online apartment shoppers prefer listings that have “a lot of honest reviews from people like me.”   Despite these numbers, many owner/operators don’t have formal reputation management programs in place. This could be because when the apartment market is experiencing high traffic volumes and high conversion rates, operators may not think they need to worry about reputation management. It’s also possible that many owner/operators think they don’t have the budget to hire a third party to manage their online reputation. Or they simply may not know where to start when it comes to handling reviews.   Given the importance that prospects place on online reviews, it is now critical for apartment operators to have a sound reputation management program in place. Here are three steps that a community can take to get started laying the groundwork for reputation management.   1. Ask for honest feedback. Use surveys or social media campaigns to ask residents to leave a review of your community on your ILS listing or on a site such as Google to generate recent and fresh feedback. By consistently prompting residents to leave reviews, online prospects get a better and more real-time understanding of resident experiences. If reviews are outdated, data suggest......
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I Got Called Something Offensive on a Ratings and Review Site!

I Got Called Something Offensive on a Ratings and Review Site!
Have you ever been called something offensive on a ratings and reviews site? I have! The one that stands out the most to me is the time when a resident's complaint was triggered because I said he needed to pay his rent by the deadline or I would initiate the legal process. If I remember correctly he felt meant that he didn't need to pay his rent by the deadline because of a specific personal situation that he felt negated his requirement to do so.  I was the assistant manager at the time, so I had this resident's situation forwarded up the chain of command to get reviewed. As I initially thought, this person's situation did not enable him to pay his rent when he felt he should be able to and I communicated this to the resident. Well, the resident wasn't happy with this and went on a ratings and reviews site and called me a "Nazi" and criticized all of us too.  What the heck? When I first read the review I was equal parts upset and it also made me laugh. It upset me, I think for obvious reasons, as I felt that I was very reasonable with the resident, had his situation reviewed (even when I knew that he was not going to get what he asked for), and I hated being called a "Nazi." And I also had to laugh because his comment was so nonsensical, so over-the-top, so ridiculous that I didn't know what else......
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Think You Are Managing Your Reputation? Think Again.

                  As an industry, multifamily has done a remarkable job in embracing and managing their reputation related to online resident reviews. In fact, according to the soon-to-be-released 2018 Multifamily CSR Benchmark Study, nearly 87% of property management companies have a policy on responding to online resident reviews. For the past several years, industry conferences have had panels and workshops teaching strategies and best practices on how to respond to these reviews professionally and in a way that enhances the company's reputation and attracts prospective renters.  In the background, however, a critical component of your reputation has slowly been exposed. The curtain has been pulled back, and all of your inner workings have been revealed.  Your residents aren't the only ones who have been talking about you. Your employees have been talking, too. Not only do they have a lot to say, but there is a large audience who is enjoying the show and making decisions about whether they want to audition or exit, stage left.  Allow Me Introduce You to the World of Company Reviews. As with any industry, the online job search websites have evolved and expanded in their capabilities and focus. Our industry has used these websites to post jobs and find new employees. We have counted on our managers and HR team to write interesting and attractive job descriptions to appeal to the right skill sets and value systems that would fit into our culture. Alas, those days are gone.......
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Top 6 Resident Complaints That Will Damage Your Reputation

Author John Green’s book title “The Fault in our Stars” seems fitting to describe the significance of star ratings for prospects scouting the Internet to search for apartments. We know that residents are flocking online to voice their disappointments or favorable experiences at their apartment homes. Research proves that these online conversations affect prospect traffic to your doorstep.   A nationwide survey by J Turner Research involving more than 25,000 residents indicates that 62 percent refer to online ratings and reviews at the beginning of their apartment search. According to a 2016 study, the two most influential aspects of reviews in a prospect’s decision making are star ratings and the relevancy of reviews to their likes and dislikes – relevancy refers to content of the reviews. The number of reviews is a close third.   Are you monitoring the content of your online reviews? Do you know the top complaints echoed by residents on online review sites and ILSs?  In analyzing hundreds of online reviews, below are some key pain points that annoy residents the most.   1.  Racial discrimination – The rhetoric of racial discrimination can damage a business severely. Residents feel victimized due to “perceived” racial discrimination by a specific staff member. Residents also notice how staff members deal with a diverse resident body. If the interaction is not respectful by their standards, the resident may misconstrue it as an act of racial discrimination.   2. Eviction letters/notices - Residents view eviction letters as humiliating and threatening. Sticking eviction letters on thei......
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