For any business, online reviews play an important role in gaining and keeping clients. The rental property industry is no exception. Outlets such as Google, Angie’s List, and Yelp offer tenants a chance to post both positive and negative feedback for the world to see. Therefore, property managers must be diligent in responding to these reviews to manage their online reputation effectively. Below we share tips on how to prevent negative rental property reviews, dealing with them if they occur, and how to solicit good reviews from satisfied clients.
Why are Online Rental Property Reviews Important?
Online reviews give tenants and consumers an outlet to share their positive and negative experiences for others’ benefit. If you do not believe a few negative reviews impact your business, you are mistaken. We live in a technology age where over 90% of 18 to 34-year-old individuals say they trust online reviews even more than personal recommendations. Additionally, an even higher percentage claim that online reviews have influenced their decisions one way or another. So, landlords must address negative reviews to share their side of the story.
How Positive Reviews Impact Your Rental Property Business
- Better Search Engine Ranking – Positive tenant reviews increase your ranking on Google. Therefore, the better and more consistent your feedback, the more exposure your business will have when someone searches for your services.
- Good Faith from Customers – In the rental property industry, trust is difficult to gain and very easy to lose. Positive reviews from happy tenants or property owners serve as reassurance to potential tenants.
- Client Insight – Individuals are far more likely to address issues good or bad in an online platform than in a face-to-face conversation. Positive reviews allow a landlord insight into a tenant’s overall experience. Therefore, helping property managers improve on areas that need work and celebrate their successes.
The Detrimental Effects of Negative Reviews
- Stars Matter – Businesses with lower than a 3.3 out of 5-star rating risk losing a significant amount of potential traffic to their site. The majority of individuals are not even willing to consider a business with lower than a 3-star rating.
- Driving Away Business – On average, 4 out of 5 individuals claim that online reviews and ratings have swayed their decision. That means that negative reviews can drive away, or at least discourage, up to 80% of your business.
Essential Tips for Managing Online Presence
With so many potential places for clients to leave reviews, how does a landlord know where to focus their time. Focusing on the most popular review sites such as Google My Business, Facebook, Yelp, and the Better Business Bureau is your best option for managing online reviews. These are not only where people are most likely to leave a review; it is where potential clients are most likely to search for one. So, as you work to handle the aspects of online rental property review management, check out the tips below.
- Claim Your Listings – Do not forget to add or claim your business listing on all of the top online review sites. Take the time to correct any misinformation regarding the location, contact information, hours of operation, and services offered. Thus, having a correct and active listing will aid in getting more reviews and boosting citation results.
- Ask Existing Clients for Reviews – Chances are your business has several satisfied past and current clients who never thought to leave a review. Do not be afraid to request they take a few moments to write a review on either your business site or one of the many top online outlets for rental property reviews.
How to Handle Negative Rental Property Reviews
Online reviews, whether good or bad, will happen. These reviews can span multiple platforms and appear anytime your name or company is searched. In particular, bad reviews drive away potential clients before they even give your business a chance. The key to success for property managers is managing those reviews to capitalize on the good and mitigate the bad. Check out some of the tips below.
- Regularly Monitor Your Reviews
- Respond to Every Review, Good or Bad
- Acknowledge Issues
- Offer Solutions to Issues
- Be Positive Yet Empathetic
- Turn it Around
- Delete the Review if Appropriate
- Take a Lesson from Your Mistakes
Regularly Monitor Your Reviews
It is no fun, but landlords need to search for online reviews proactively. After all, you cannot address what you do not see. However, with so many sites and platforms to check, where do you begin? Thankfully, there are several services landlords can take advantage of that help with this tedious task. Let’s take a look at a few of the top sites below:
- Mention – Provides landlords an easy to use platform that monitors what is said online, sends alerts, and creates handy reports to track your online presence.
- Swell – Offering both a desktop and mobile app, Swell gives landlords insight into reviews, responses, review generation campaigns, and social media metrics. All of which can be found on a convenient and easy to understand dashboard for owners.
- Birdeye – Birdeye is an industry leader for reputation management software. They offer an impressive variety of services to manage, track and respond to your rental property reviews. Owners can choose from a suite of services such as review monitoring, review generation, review marketing, customer surveys, social listening, social publishing, social engagement, customer support, business insights, and many more.
Respond to Every Review, Good or Bad
Responding to every review is critical, whether that review is positive or negative. When the review is positive, responses are simple. A short yet personal thank you message is all that is needed to demonstrate you are an engaged business owner.
However, bad reviews take a little more planning and research. Therefore, search through records, invoices, or maintenance history to learn as much information as you can regarding their complaint.
Remember, the main goal is to address the review points in a calm and professional tone sticking to the facts only and not emotion. While it may be frustrating to receive negative feedback, your sincerity must be genuine. Consider drafting a few standard responses that are easily customizable as needed. This helps to keep you from becoming too emotionally charged and losing sight of the focus on customer service.
A major factor in individuals choosing to post online rental property reviews is because they do not feel their issue or complaint was heard or addressed. Therefore, in your response, do not skim over issues, point fingers, or make excuses, which will only escalate the situation. Part of the research we mentioned above is getting to the truth of what really happened. So, if the tenant cites a particular event, you know to be true, such as delayed maintenance, acknowledge their complaint. From there, explain any extenuating circumstances beyond your control that may have contributed to the delay and what you did to address it. The key here is to remain straightforward about what happened and why an issue could not be prevented or resolved.
If someone disagrees with you, they are entitled to that opinion. That said, acknowledge their point of view and explain your side. Doing so in a frank, concise, and factual manner allows the reader to judge for themselves.
Offer Solutions to Issues
When a review is truly legitimate, it is in your best interest as a landlord to try and resolve the issue whenever possible. Whether accepted or not, this offer of resolution further proves your commitment to customer satisfaction and service. Depending on the issue at hand, use your best judgment to address the review directly or direct the reviewer to a manager offline. Keep in mind; you do not want an extensive back and forth to play out on the internet. Responses and even solutions regarding reviews need to remain concise.
Be Positive Yet Empathetic
Understanding that the individual posting the rental property reviews was probably annoyed at the time will help you in your response. Therefore, your tone is critical to your success in swaying potential reader’s minds. Responses to online rental property reviews need to have a positive tone and express empathy for the inconvenience, stress, or circumstances the reviewer had to deal with. Offer an apology for their experience and convey a desire to come to a resolution. This helps to cement your reputation as an owner who genuinely cares about their tenant or client’s experience.
Turn it Around
In the best-case scenario, you and the negative reviewer will come to a resolution. When that happens, ask the individual if they are willing to amend or remove the negative review to reflect your efforts to resolve their complaint.
Following all of the steps above will hopefully help convert bad reviews into an opportunity to showcase your commitment to customer service.
Delete the Review if Appropriate
Occasionally, landlords will come across someone who, for whatever reason, is making untrue statements about you or your business. When you discover truly damaging reviews like this, it is discouraging. If a review violates a website’s guidelines for posting, business owners may have options to pursue get the review removed. Landlords will want to check with each website for their individual requirements and process for requesting the removal of the false review. Additionally, if someone is persistently writing fake or damaging reviews, landlords may need to seek an attorney’s advice and send a cease and desist action letter.
Occasionally, a website will not side with the landlord or business owner. So, when that happens, your best bet is to respond to the review and state your case against their false claims. Ultimately, the reader will decide for themselves, but it is better to state your side than not.
Take a Lesson from Your Mistakes
Good or bad, rental property reviews offer landlords a chance to learn how their business or employees are doing. Customer service in any industry is important, but the nature of a landlord-tenant relationship demands a high level of professional attention and courtesy. Receive the feedback with an open mind and use it to better your business, staff, or company processes.
How Can Landlords Prevent Negative Rental Property Reviews?
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! Indeed, efforts to prevent the bad experiences that result in poor online reviews are worth your time. So, to help landlords combat some of the common issues that lead to negative feedback, check out the tips below.
Common Tenant Complaints That Lead to Negative Online Reviews
- Tenant Does Not Receive Full Security Deposit Back
- Rent Increases That Tenants Deem Unfair or Excessive
- Complaints About Neighbors That Go Unaddressed by the Owner
- Slow or No Response to Maintenance Requests
- Application Fee Charged by Tenant Not Approved or Selected
How Can Landlords Avoid Common Issues That Lead to Negative Reviews?
Landlords can do a lot to improve their relationship with residents and minimize the likelihood of negative rental property reviews. At the end of the day, simple follow-up and diligence in your daily operations goes a long way. Let’s review some suggestions below.
- Communication and Responsiveness
- Preventative Maintenance
- Efficient Processes and Clear Guidelines
Communication and Responsiveness
It may seem simple, but the importance of clear, consistent, and concise communication cannot be overstated. When a tenant raises concerns regarding a maintenance or a neighbor complaint, the resolution may not be immediate. The worst thing you can do is allow the tenant to assume they are being ignored. So, respond quickly and keep them updated on the steps you are taking along with an explanation of any delays. Although they may still express dissatisfaction or frustration, they cannot claim you are unresponsive or unwilling to address the issue at hand.
Repairs are inevitable and so is the occasional emergency maintenance call. That said, preventative maintenance on major systems such as HVAC can do wonders to prevent unexpected problems throughout the year.
Therefore, complete semiannual inspections of the property to address any potential issues and consider a maintenance service contract with trusted vendors. Many appliances and major system repair companies offer these contracts as an easy way for property owners to get the necessary tune-ups and system cleaning to keep everything running efficiently.
Efficient Processes and Clear Guidelines
Every landlord understands that property management has many moving parts. The systems you have in place to effectively handle tenant screening, maintenance requests, and general inquiries is vital to your success. Thanks to modern advancements in the industry, sites like Appfolio and Buildium offer a variety of services on one easy to use platform. Guidelines are also important and must be the same for every tenant and applicant pursuant to Fair Housing Laws. If an applicant is made aware that an application fee is non-refundable from the start and why they may still express some displeasure but will not be blindsided when it is not refunded.
Helpful Tip: Need advice on the best property management software for landlords? Check out our blog, where we break down who is the best, and why!
According to studies, around 10% of clients will take the time to post a negative review. That said, only about 1% will post a positive one. So, what does that mean for landlords? It means that online reputation management takes diligent effort and follow-up on top of your already busy schedule. Sound overwhelming? Take away the stress by hiring a professional management firm like Bay Property Management Group. Our experienced team makes customer service a top priority as we handle our tenants and owners’ day-to-day needs. Give us a call today to learn more about our all-inclusive approach to rental property management.