As prospects near the end of their apartment hunt, they start to compare the properties on their short list. One of the key things they’re looking for before they submit a lead is whether a property has online ratings and reviews. If they don’t like what they see—or if they can’t find ratings or reviews online at all—they may move on to the competition. For this reason, it’s critical for communities to understand ratings and reviews as part of their approach to reputation management.
A recent study from Brightlocal found that 84% of today’s consumers trust online ratings and reviews as much as they trust the recommendation of a friend or family member. Additionally, in a 2015 NMHC study, slightly more than half of renters said that negative online reviews kept them from visiting a community, while 87% of consumers said that they would only consider a business with a rating of three stars or better.
It’s important to note that while the data does indicate that negative reviews can raise red flags for prospects, it can also look suspicious if you only have glowing, positive reviews about your community. Aim for a reasonable mix of positive and negative reviews—and make sure you stay on top of them all.
To proactively increase your positive reviews, survey your residents using an automated tool or include a request with your other resident communications. Don’t fear negative reviews or look at them as a nuisance; make them work for you. Manage these reviews with professional, polite responses (within 48 hours if possible). Always remember that the tone you use and the speed with which you respond to negative reviews can make just as much of an impression on a prospect as the original review. And keep in mind that negative reviews can also provide your staff with valuable insight that can lead to positive changes at your community.
There are a lot of ways you can control your online reputation: claim your business listings, update all of your online listings with accurate information, and respond to all online reviews (including Facebook posts). But above all, don’t ignore online ratings and reviews—manage them. With a bit of attention, you can use both positive and negative reviews to improve your online reputation, which may, in turn, increase your leads.
For a more in-depth look at understanding and managing your online ratings and reviews, download our free multifamily marketing guide to reputation management.