Combating negative reviews on sites like Apartment Ratings and Google have always been a hot topic for many apartment communities – and for good reason.
Prospects rely heavily on resident reviews for where they decide to lease next. And if you have negative reviews floating around out there, you probably already know how damaging they can be.
In this post, I’m going to share some strategies for managing reviews on these third-party sites, and also keep reading for a creative apartment reputation management idea for competing with these sites.
So, let’s get to it.
First and foremost, you need to promptly respond to negative reviews – not defensively, but by being humble, honest, and accommodating to make it right.
Never give excuses for poor service, like the, “we were understaffed” excuse. No one wants to hear that anyway, and people aren’t really that forgiving once they’ve made the decision to leave a bad review.
Accept what they say and try to make it right. Use the classic, “the customer is always right” mentality, even if you disagree.
Here’s an example of a good response:
Thank you so much for taking the time to provide your honest feedback. We take your opinions seriously, and will do everything possible to avoid making the same mistakes again. We’re sincerely sorry for your experience at [community name], and would love the opportunity to make it right. Please email me directly at…so we can discuss your concerns further.
You could do a shortened variation of this, but always be sincere.
Remember, respond within an hour or two, no more – or you could end up making a bad situation even worse.
If you seem grateful for positive feedback, people will be more likely to leave more positive reviews. You have to remember, it takes a lot of work to write a review. Most people only do so when they are so angry or frustrated about a service, they need to vent about it.
So, if someone writes a positive review, you must have really made a good impression, and be grateful that he or she took the time to let others know.
Here’s a good response:
Thank you so much for taking the time to write review! We’re so glad to hear you’re having a good experience living at our community. Feel free to drop by the leasing office if you need anything, or just want to say hi!
The other way to combat negative reviews is by getting your new residents to leave positive reviews. Simply send them an email upon move-in with links to where you want them to leave the review. In other words, make it easy for them. Considering they just made a major financial decision to lease with you, your chances are good at getting a review.
But what MORE can be done to boost your apartment community’s online reputation?
What if we flipped this whole thing upside down and looked at it from a completely different perspective?
Here’s our idea:
Instead of taking the approach of just managing what others are saying about you on all these other third-party websites, why not create your own apartment reviews page that presents happy, satisfied residents instead of the few frustrated ones?
Here’s how you do it:
This is a fun, easy way for residents to “review” your community. Create a series of signs that have various positive messages written on them. For example, “The pool here is my favorite place to unwind.” Or, “I work out at the gym every day after work!” Or, “I love coming home to the Villas at Seaside!”
Ask to take a photo of residents holding up their chosen sign and post them to your review page on your website. You can also use images for posts on your social media channels. The key to success is having the signs made in advance. The less your residents have to do, the more willing they will be to participate. This is a fun way to generate buzz in the community, and feature your real-life, satisfied residents sending positive messages to prospects.
An added bonus: Being able to actually see residents adds a very real, honest, and genuine component to your review page. Anyone can type up a review – good or bad – and no one would ever know if it’s legit. This actually shows people who are happy with your community.
Another way to get some authentic content from residents for your review page is to include video. Nowadays, with YouTube and Insta stories, we’re all getting a little more comfortable in front of the camera. Plus, video tends to outrank the competition in search results.
Have your staff go around the property and ask residents who are out and about if they can answer one simple question on camera. Give staff a mobile phone to use, it doesn’t have to be an over-the-top production. Questions could include, “What’s your favorite part about living here?” “Which amenity do you enjoy the most or take advantage of the most and why?” Or, “What made you decide to live here?”
Again, videos can be repurposed for social media. Usually when prompted with a question, people should have no problem giving an honest answer.
Yelp, Apartment Ratings, and other review sites tend to rank really well. So, how do you make sure your review page performs even better?
With some proper SEO leg work.
With the right SEO, you can have your reviews page land in the top results for people searching your community, neck and neck or even outranking those third-party review sites.
Creating your own apartment reviews website page is not as hard as it may sound. The basic steps are:
I’ve put together a testimonial checklist to help you with the process.
You can download it below.
If simply managing reviews on other third-party websites is all you need, then great. But if you are looking to take more control of your online reputation, then the strategy we’ve uncovered here is a new approach that can help you do just that.
Sure, you can have a page on your website dedicated to resident testimonials, and this will be effective. But, try some visual reviews – like photos and videos of your happy residents – for even more of an impact and to adequately counter any negative reviews that may be out there.
Josh Grillo is a #1 Best Selling Author, Speaker and Co-Founder of Resident360.