Guest Posts, Written Posts

Online Reviews – Still Burying Your Head in the Sand? – a guest post from Leigh Curry

0 Comments 23 August 2011

This week’s guest post is from industry consultant and customer review advocate, Leigh Curry, of Curry Conduit Services, Inc.  This topic is near and dear to me, and I wanted to share Leigh’s perspective and advice. 

Why do you need to embrace Internet apartment ratings and reviews?

Are you a multifamily owner/manger that constantly bemoans apartment review sites such as ApartmentRatings.com and ApartmentReviews.net and complains that these sites are ONLY filled with posts from the evicted former resident, the just fired employee, the competing property down the street and is obviously not an accurate reflection of your community? Are you afraid to even go out to these web sites in case you read something unflattering or a post that is patently false and untrue? If you do find something that is incorrect or false, do you just shrug your shoulders and say it’s not worth the time and effort to respond?

If any of these are true, it’s time to rethink your strategy.

Why? As social media becomes more commonplace, review and rating sites will only continue to grow and proliferate. ApartmentRatings.com certainly isn’t going away anytime soon and new “ratings” web sites like DoNotRent.com, RateMyApartments.com and business review sites like Yelp will only continue to grow as more users visit and participate. Instead of ignoring these sites and pretending they don’t exist,  it’s time to be proactive and convert them into a friend and ally.

Here are 4 quick steps to help get you started:

1.) Embrace apartment review and rating sites

Huh? Yes, you read this correctly. Stop fighting them and use them as a friend and an ally of your community.  Actively encourage your residents to post reviews to them — after the resident has leased a unit, made a maintenance request, attended a community function, etc. Be proactive with your residents and at every opportunity and at every touch point including your community’s web site, e-mails from employees, newsletters, etc. engage your residents to post reviews. If you claim you run a “great” community, take this ultimate test. The proof will be in your residents overall responses.

Satisfied Residents = Good Reviews

Here’s a great example I found on www.multifamilyinsiders.com that was posted  by Rose Morrison at Georgetown Manor. She includes this in the signature line of all her e-mails.

If you want to read Rose’s whole message to her residents, click here:

http://www.multifamilyinsiders.com/home/apartment-ideas/the-front-lines/6410-apartmentratingscom-nightmare

Also there is a whole stream of discussion from Multifamily Insiders regarding this idea::

http://www.multifamilyinsiders.com/home/apartment-ideas/social-media/5923-apartmentratingscom-in-your-email-signature#5923

P.S. If you’re afraid to do this, you probably deserve the ratings you get on the rating and review sites.

2.) Monitor your communities — DAILY!

Use tools like Google Alerts and TweetDeck to monitor your portfolio and be able to quickly respond when someone comments on a rating or review web site.  It’s extremely important to immediately address any postings in a PROFESSIONAL manner, even if it is a negative post. Make sure your posted response addresses the alleged situation, provides a solution if possible, provide an opportunity for the person who posted the review to contact or e-mail you directly, and always be positive and thank them for their feedback — even if you believe it is totally false and incorrect. If the person is posting personal and slanderous information, don’t hesitate to contact the webmaster of the site and ask that the comment be deleted. This doesn’t always work but it’s worth the effort.

3.) Post the results of your resident surveys

Again, if you claim you run a great community and use resident survey companies like SatisFacts Research, CEL Associates, J Turner Research or even your own internal surveys, why not post the results to your community’s web site, newsletter, brochures and other collateral? This is a great way to show prospective residents an accurate rating of your  community, as well as provide a great response when dealing with a false or inaccurate postings.

4.) Alternative web sites

ApartmentGrade.com (full disclosure – client of mine) provides a no cost a 7 question survey to your current residents and asks them to rate their community. If the rating is equal or greater than 3.5 Stars, the community can be listed for free on ApartmentGrade.com. Another web site is www.RenterReviewed.com which reaches out to the renters and ask them to write reviews so that prospective residents gets the good and the bad reviews — instead of just the bad that’s generally promoted on ratings and review websites. The result is review a prospective resident can trust in making their rental decision.

So whatever you do, do something. Don’t keep your head buried in the sand — or you will run a real risk of prospective residents that have visited a rating or review site to head to the community down the street.

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