How to Get Positive Reviews on Apartment Rating Sites

MHN talks to Bruce Keene, president of management services of Tampa, Fla.-based Franklin Street, about some trends he is seeing in property management, such as how to get positive reviews on ratings sites.
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Tampa, Fla.—Residents are sometimes quick to post negative reviews on apartment rating sites, but don’t always take the time to write positive reviews. However, there is a solution to this. MHN talks to Bruce Keene, president of management services of Tampa, Fla.-based Franklin Street, about some trends he is seeing in property management, such as how to get positive reviews on ratings sites.

MHN: Tell me about Franklin Street.

Keene: Franklin Street is a real estate services company. We provide a myriad of services not only to the apartment investor, but also to the retail sector. The company itself has four divisions: one of them is the property management division, which manages both multifamily and retail, one division is the investment/sales division, which is the brokerage division, there’s a capital advisors division, which finds debt and equity for investors, and we also have a property and casualty insurance company that provides that service to property investors. So it’s a one-stop shop for the real estate investor. Currently we manage about 4,000 apartment units and about 5 million square feet of retail.

MHN: What are some multifamily property management trends that you’re seeing in Tampa?

Keene: Since the economy has improved and the apartment market in general has improved, I think that everyone is more focused on fine-tuning the operations for maximum performance. We’re not fighting concessions anymore, we’re not fighting for rents anymore, and we’re not fighting occupancy issues anymore. Especially in our markets, concessions are gone, occupancies are up and it’s time to focus on customers and maximizing efficiency in the processes we use.

There’s one trend in particular that’s interesting that I’ve been looking into and we’ve began to use, and that’s a focus on certain technologies that will improve our efficiency and overall performance. I’m seeing the use of more resident satisfaction surveys, and a better management of the customer experience overall. These surveys have been done for a long time, but I’m seeing a lot more of it now. In the past those apartment-rating sites have been sort of a complaint department—the only person who goes on to an apartment-rating site is someone who has had a bad experience or for some reason is upset with their apartment community. In order to better manage the better customer experience, I think what is happening is that more and more of these companies are doing customer-satisfaction surveys, and then taking responses from these surveys and actually posting them on apartment-rating sites. A lot of companies that do the surveys have now aligned themselves with some of those rating sites so their responses from surveys go automatically to those sites. I think the more surveys we do, the more positive comments we’re going to get, simply because normally people who have good experiences don’t tend to go on these sites and say how great their experience was. This is something we’ve implemented to see if we can better manage the customer experience overall. Once you do get the responses, and they’re posted to the rating sites, then you have to formulate the appropriate response that has a call for action. If there was a negative experience, I think companies are now better managing how to respond to comments from customers.

MHN: How would you respond to negative comments?

Keene: The better sites that I see these days do have the option for the management company to go on and to respond. I think the important thing about it is that you’re responding to something that just happened in a real-time response. If someone is going to comment on how their experience has been in the first 90 days living in your community, then you’re able to react to it immediately. This shows better customer care. In the past we might not have known that it was an issue.

Now that we’re able to focus on fine-tuning operations and maximizing the customer experience, I think it allows us to do a better job. The more information we have from the residents, the better. And these surveys are a great tool in learning how your customers feel.