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A 2017 survey from J. Turner Research of multifamily industry executives revealed that the need for apartment reputation management is vital to success. Specifically, 49 percent of the respondents viewed the property’s online reputation as the most important factor for potential tenants aside from the overall rent and apartment location.
The growing importance of apartment reputation management makes it more paramount than ever to track and improve the way your properties are perceived online. This seems daunting at first, but you can start the process by managing two vital aspects of your online reputation.
- Resident Reviews
Apartment Reputation Management Tip 1: Claim Your Listings
The foundation for any business online is listings. Establishing these footholds solidifies a legitimate online presence and also acts as a preventative measure.
With each listing claimed, you can display correct information about your business, which helps prospects make a fair and well-informed purchase decision. Unclaimed listings with incorrect details will deter potential tenants from making further inquiries or scheduling a visit.
The question is: where should you claim your listings? Glad you asked.
Listings Worth Claiming
J Turner Research published a 2018 study titled “Resident Attitude Towards Renewals and Online Reputation,” which showed that respondents had a higher influence rating on “Other Review Sites” like Google, Yelp, or ApartmentRatings.com for apartment information as opposed to the property’s personal site or Facebook page.
This puts the onus on you to make sure that future residents can easily find your apartment on a plethora of third-party sites. Kinglsey Associates compared a list of sites used in apartment searches from 2014 and 2019 and found that Apartments.com is the front runner with 29 percent of people looking at the site for their next apartment. The full list of popular sites includes:
- Apartments.com (29 percent)
- Google (28.6 percent)
- Community/Company Website (20.8 percent)
- Zillow (11.7 percent)
- Apartment Finder (10.5 percent)
- Apartment Guide (5.6 percent)
- Apartment Ratings (4.2 percent)
- Craigslist (4.2 percent)
- Rent.com (3.1 percent)
Claiming your properties across these sites ensures that you are casting a wide net and capturing the attention of as many prospects as possible. Again, make sure that you include correct and updated pertinent information – such as an address, phone number, leasing information, etc. – as well as appealing images and video for each unit to stand out from competing properties in the area.
One of the challenges you’ll face is making sure these listings all have the correct rent information and the right details (are pets allowed, is parking extra, etc.). For example, when apartment seekers see discrepancies in your listings, like one apartment showing different rent costs on different sites, it makes your management company look much less trustworthy.
Ensuring that you have correct and updated information across multiple listings can be tedious and takes valuable time out of your workday. However, you can speed up the process with online citation tools that cut down production time to just a matter of minutes.
The Growing Importance of Facebook for Apartments
Even though the Kingsley report didn’t include Facebook in its list of popular sites for apartment hunters, the social media site might still be worth your time and effort. The 2018 J Turner Research study revealed that usage of Facebook as a source for finding new apartments jumped 19 and 17 percent for “conventional residents” and students, respectively between 2017 and 2019.
In addition, more students (38 percent) visit the Facebook page of an apartment property than the average resident (30 percent), and you should use your Facebook page to cater to both types of tenants. You can do this by posting appealing photos of the community and showing off resident reviews, both of which grab the most attention for traditional tenants (61 and 74 percent, respectively) and students (88 and 80 percent, respectively) alike.
Apartment Reputation Management Tip 2: Acquire and Respond to Resident Reviews
The 2018 J Turner Research study showed that online reviews have a 52 percent influence on prospects who want to rent. Further evidence via Zillow’s report on consumer housing trends reveals that 48 percent also want to see reviews on the property manager or landlord, which is especially important to the 62 percent of residents that want to live in larger buildings.
To get interested residents to view your units, you’ll need a steady stream of reviews on your listings. More importantly, those reviews need to exude positivity. Negative reviews drove away 94 percent of consumers from a business in 2018, but that doesn’t mean you should hide every negative review you have. Instead, use it as a way to further improve your service and the experience for future tenants.
Acquiring Resident Reviews
But how do you get reviews from residents? As it turns out, asking for reviews is quite effective, but it’s not as common as it should be today. Only 27 percent of tenants were asked to write a review, but more people would be willing to submit feedback if they were asked to do it.
This brings up another issue: how do you ask residents to leave a review? The 2018 study also covered lease renewals and found that most tenants preferred communication about renewals through email, which makes it an easy medium for review generation as well. If most of your residents are already looking at their email for renewals why not add a request to write a review in the message?
If you’re having trouble crafting a request message, you can check out our free and handy guide, which includes templates for email review requests.
Responding to Resident Reviews
When those reviews do come in make sure you set aside some time to respond to them. Not only does this show that you are active and engaging with tenants; it tells future residents that you value and care about the well-being of your tenants.
Put it another way: the 2018 study also revealed that 70 percent of residents look at management’s response to a review, and the appearance of a response from a landlord or manager improve a prospect’s perception of the apartment community.
Prospective residents aren’t just looking for the presence of a response. They care about its contents as well. While it’s important to have an effective review response strategy, your writings shouldn’t be identical each time. Simply put, your responses need to be both professional and personal.
If you need some guidance, consider the study’s results for the top three things that people look for in your management response:
- A commitment to resolve the issue.
- An authentic/customized response.
- The right attitude.
With the right responses to negative reviews, you make potential residents 45 percent more likely to check out your properties.
Effective Apartment Reputation Management Brings In Prospects
Research shows that 71 percent of prospects will make the choice to visit properties with a better online reputation. Getting to that point takes time and monitoring listings and reviews are no easy task, but when it’s done properly it brings more exposure and inquiries for your apartments.