Reputation management has become a common practice in the multifamily industry, as apartment operators are well aware that an overwhelming majority of prospects (83 percent, according to J Turner Research) use ratings and reviews during their search. But what’s next? Is reputation management as mature as it’s going to get, or is there new territory yet to be discovered?
“I think there is a full evolution that will happen over the next 12 to 24 months,” says Ryan Perez, vice president of marketing for CF Real Estate Services. “Our industry has embraced reputation management. However, holistically speaking, PMCs aren’t using this as a lead or revenue generation tool. Strategic refinement of the overall online review management space will open doors to new possibilities in the near future.”
While the primary objective of reputation management is to look good in the eyes of prospective renters who scour review sites, savvy operators have begun to utilize their reviews as free market research. Reviews oftentimes serve as the most genuine, emotional data one can get because reviewers are posting by choice rather than being solicited for their opinion. Reviews represent raw material from those who felt strongly enough to volunteer their feedback.
However, many community teams read a review, compose a response and, on occasion, follow up with the reviewer—and that’s where the process ends. While 70 percent of consumers are more likely to do business with you if their concerns are addressed, according to Lee Resources, simply responding and then moving on means one isn’t tapping into the ability to use reviews as a lead and revenue generation tool. It also overlooks the opportunity to utilize reviews for insight into adjustments that can be made in operational practices for current and future onsite teams.
“We’re making reviews a key focal point when it comes to training our teams and how we manage our assets,” says Ashley Allen, marketing and training director for Carter-Haston. “We believe there is validity in every review and feel it is extremely important to listen to our residents’ feedback. Our passion is building relationships and creating an environment where our residents love living at one of our communities. A great way to be able to do that is with reviews.”
Reviews can be frustrating at the community level because they may contain exaggerations or even unfair criticisms. But the feedback can be used to create an overall view of how your community is perceived, which areas need upgrades and what part of your service is lacking—plus the things you’re doing well.
“We currently conduct reviews on all move-ins and are testing work-order and renewal reviews in our Atlanta market,” Allen says. “We feel it is very important to see the resident’s point of view through the entire process. By doing so, it allows us to celebrate our team’s success with the positive reviews and determine whether there are certain areas that we need to focus on a little more.”
Only 20 percent of consumers leave a review when they’ve had a positive experience, according to Chatmeter. With this in mind, apartment operators have shifted their focus to proactively generating reviews in the last few years, but reputation management needs to take the process a step further by addressing all reviews, positive and negative, in further detail.
“Reputation management will continue to change and evolve,” Allen says. “It’s very fluid, and as an industry, we have to open-minded to this and be ready for change. We have to be proactive and not reactive.”
Jen Anderson is the director of B2B marketing for RentPath, where she leads the marketing strategy to support a sales team of more than 400. She previously spent 12 years in technology, insurance and financial services as a revenue marketer, launching two profitable enterprise SaaS solutions.