Renters have come a long way since the days of opening up a newspaper and browsing the classifieds to find an apartment.
Today’s renters conduct online searches and most importantly, compare reviews, looking to find the best fit, value and reputable management company to meet their needs. A process that used to take days — if not weeks — of in-person research, can now be done in one internet session from a renter’s smartphone.
A prospective renter can see what others love about your properties instantly on review sites and social media; but just as quickly as you can find the positive, your online reputation can be ruined by a few angry renters. Competition is stiff, and if you want to remain a key player in the industry, it’s critical to attain — and maintain — a stellar online reputation.
Online research rules all: know what they’re saying about you
It’s estimated that more than 80 percent of all consumers do some sort of online research before making any purchasing decision. With this in mind, it pays to know — and manage — what is being said about your property online.
If, for instance, a renter is trying to choose between two different properties where monthly rent is about equal, yet one property is reviewed significantly better than the other, their decision on where to live will be an easy one.
Ideally, you want to be reviewed significantly better than your competition. If you’re not, you’ll want to know why that’s the case, so you can address and take steps to mitigate any online negativity.
How to encourage positive online conversation
How do you encourage positive online conversation? Create a positive real-life experience for current residents.
The answer may be easy, but the execution is not so simple. You need to accept that no matter how well you run your business, you’re never going to please everyone.
When someone does take their less than stellar review to the web, you should never ignore it. If you see poor reviews on public sites, take the time to politely and kindly respond to the reviewer, perhaps even inviting them to contact you directly offline to work out issues. This shows potential renters that you’re serious about making amends for any wrongdoings and committed to an excellent tenant experience.
Actionable ways to boost your reputation
Here are a few ways to help build up a positive online reputation:
- Amp up renter appreciation efforts by hosting events like monthly movie nights in the common area or a summer picnic on the property. Brainstorm different ways to give back to your renters and improve your property’s image. You might also consider rent discounts based on years of residency and referral discounts to enhance renter appreciation.
- Make things more convenient for renters (and potential renters) by offering an app for your property where tenants can pay rent and contact maintenance or management. These types of tools improve overall service levels.
- Be proactive when issues occur on your property, but know that how you handle them is what really matters. Contact your tenants before they realize there’s a problem and reach out to you. You still might take it on the chin, but being proactive is a lot more successful than being reactive when the damage to your reputation could already be done.
What it comes down to is actively monitoring reviews, engaging with your renters and learning from them. Embrace the good while using the bad to improve yourself and your business. You may find some low-cost or even no-cost opportunities to boost your property’s online reputation and become the “it” building renters are excited to make their home — and rave about it online.
To learn more about how AppFolio Property Manager enables apartment, residential, commercial, student housing, and community association property managers to more effectively market, manage and grow their business, visit www.appfolio.com.