Managing a multifamily property goes beyond the building and landscaping
More goes into managing a multifamily property than maintaining the building and grounds. In this blog series, we’ll take a look at some other priorities property managers should heed. First up: managing your property’s reputation.
Why Reputation Matters
The vast majority of renters will search online for an apartment. While they might use different search terms or apartment search sites to find you, they will inevitably also discover online reviews along the way.
Think about the last item you purchased online or the last hotel you booked. Did a star rating influence your purchase decision? Seeing a three-star rating (on a five-star scale) likely made you pause. You probably read a few of the negative reviews to see what made a person give the product or service a low rating.
Recent research shows that 60 percent of Internet users turn to online reviews, and those reviews influence purchasing decisions for a whopping 93 percent of those people.
If a prospective renter uses apartments.com, for example, a low star rating might remove your property from search results altogether: The filter on that site allows users to search for four- or five-star properties only.
One research firm, JTurner Research, also publishes a monthly list of multifamily properties with the best reputations in each market. Making that list could be a feather in your property’s cap.
Beyond online reviews, think about what your current residents might tell their friends about the community. If they’ve had a good experience, residents might help draw in new renters. If they’ve had a bad experience, however, assume they have told everyone they know about it. Bad news doesn’t sit still for long.
Both word-of-mouth or online reviews can significantly impact your multifamily property’s reputation for good or bad.
What Makes or Breaks a Property’s Reputation?
Think of reputation management as part of your overall multifamily marketing and branding strategy.
A proactive reputation strategy can help you create vocal fans of your brand, and a quick process for managing negative feedback can head off issues before they blow up your reputation entirely.
So, consider the following tactics and scenarios:
Think proactively in terms of developing a strong reputation with your current residents and within your neighborhood, town or city:
- Build excellent customer service into your corporate culture. Hire staff who buy into that culture, train for it and reward staff who deliver on it.
- Maintain open communication with residents. From day one, find ways to encourage residents to reach out and communicate both positives and negatives. Survey residents periodically to uncover potential issues brewing.
- Foster a sense of ownership. While renters don’t own their homes, you can help them feel more invested in the property by hosting community-building events, volunteer events and more.
- Encourage positive reviews. Have a bunch of happy residents? Encourage them to post their good thoughts online and share testimonials with you.
- Commit to community stewardship. Show residents and the community at large that you care by investing in a beautiful, well-maintained property and by participating in neighborhood/city causes and initiatives that fit your brand.
These proactive efforts show your residents and the broader community that you care. Your brand should become a symbol of a good citizen within your neighborhood or city.
Don’t Break It
You already know that building and property maintenance are musts for keeping residents happy. You also must address safety, security, noise, resident conflicts and more to maintain a reputation as a warm, comfortable place where people want to live. If you want to go above and beyond, you add extra touches of luxury, comfort and fun wherever possible.
In addition, you cannot bury your head in the sand when it comes to negative feedback. Think of complaints and negative reviews as a chance to shine in terms of customer service. The right response can defuse a situation — or even turn it around so the angry party becomes a fan.
- Listen. The first rule of excellent customer service? Be quiet and listen. When a resident does not feel heard, it’s a surefire way to escalate an already tense situation. Show sincere concern when a resident raises a complaint.
- Communicate. After listening intently, clearly communicate that you understand the issue and that you intend to follow through on a solution.
- Act. Find a solution to the problem and deliver that solution as quickly as possible. Slow responses are one of the quickest ways to lose trust — and residents.
- Pay attention to online feedback. The above three steps apply whether you have received feedback face-to-face or in an online review. Don’t ignore or delete one-star reviews online — addressing them openly shows that individual AND other readers that you care about customer service and that you’re quick to remedy problems.
- Follow up. After resolving an issue, be sure to check in afterward to ensure resident satisfaction.
The way you address problems speaks volumes about your brand. Remember that each interaction with residents, and even community neighbors, matters. Train your staff to handle each issue with respect and expediency.
Reputation management should be part of your overall multifamily branding and marketing strategy. Need help? Contact us to learn how we help multifamily brands develop and maintain stellar reputations.