I’m the type of person who does plenty of research before purchasing anything–even a pair of shoes. I want to know who else has bought them, if they’re comfortable, if they run large or small, if they’re good quality, etc.  I don’t spend as much time on the website that describes the shoes. Why would I? I know the shoe company isn’t going to share any negatives about their shoes. I want honest feedback from the people who’ve worn the shoes so I look at customer reviews.

If I’m doing all of this for a pair of shoes, why wouldn’t I look at the resident reviews for an apartment I’m considering? Just like the shoe company, I’m not going to fully trust an apartment website. They say they are a luxury community and they take care of all maintenance requests within 48 hours, but I want the feedback of people who live there.

I’m not the only one looking for resident reviews. Today’s consumer’s place a heavy weight on what their peers are saying about products they purchase.  For this reason, the name of the game isn’t only about getting resident reviews– it’s making sure the reviews show your community in a positive light. Here are a few tips!

1) Today’s renters are more likely than ever to check out a community’s reviews before leasing—so make sure they’re looking at you

In most cases, prospective residents are researching possible new homes online before even stepping foot inside a leasing office. A search for something as simple as “apartments in Denver” floods a prospect with a multitude of websites and reviews.

Google+ results

Ensure that they see your property by creating a Google Place page. A Google Place page not only gives prospective renters your location and information, but it also provides reviews from current and past residents. The more reviews your community has the more important Google considers it. Encourage your residents to share their experiences here and not only will it impress prospects, but it will increase your SEO too!

2) Don’t be afraid to ask for reviews

Some property operators are wary about asking residents for reviews because they don’t know what will be said. Many would rather have a page with no reviews than deal with this uncertainty. However, there are many ways to curb negative reviews and promote positive ones:

  • Place flyers on residents’ doors or in your leasing office with a simple straightforward message: if they share their experience on Apartment Ratings, Facebook, or Google Place, they will be awarded a $5 gift card. However, in order to receive a gift card, they will have to sign the review with at least their first name. Requiring a name will ensure that the correct person is getting the gift card while simultaneously decreasing the likelihood of a scathing review. This is because 1) there is now accountability as opposed to hiding behind an “anonymous” signature and, 2) collecting a gift card requires that the resident come into the office. It would take a very bold person to ask for a gift card after writing a not-so-nice review!
  • Every property has a few residents that seem to be in the leasing office almost daily. More than likely you’ve established a friendly relationship with these residents and, if asked, they would gladly post a review online for you. Have your Google Place or Apartment Ratings page already pulled up when they come in and simply ask them to write a few quick sentences. You’ll be surprised to see how willing they are.
  • When a future resident is applying or signing their lease, ask them to share their excitement about moving in! This could be as quick and easy as, “Can’t wait to move into ABC Apartments! My new apartment is huge and I’m excited to finally have access to a 24-hour gym!”

3) Don’t think a negative review will send prospects running the other way

A negative review is bound to happen; there’s almost no stopping it. However, it isn’t about how you dodge negative reviews—it is how you deal with them. In most cases, disgruntled residents posting negatively on your page did so in the heat of the moment. They may have felt as though they weren’t being heard and used a page like Apartment Ratings to vent their frustrations. Simply taking the time to respond to these negative reviews can make all the difference. This expresses to your unhappy resident and prospective renters that you care about their problems and are attentive to their needs.

A response to a negative post can be as easy as:

“John- We are so sorry to hear about this. ABC Apartments always strives to make sure our residents are as happy as possible and we clearly fell short this time. We would love to set up a time to speak with you when you’re available. Please contact the office at 555-000-000. Sincerely, Jane ABC Property Manager.”

No matter how untrue or exaggerated a pessimistic post is, it’s important to reply without arguing or attempting to prove the poster wrong. Nothing looks worse to possible renters than a combative exchange between staff and residents.  Prospective residents will be pleased to know that problems they may have in the future will be dealt with professionally.