A strong reputation is a landlord’s most valuable asset. And in the age of social media, online reviews are one of the most influential factors affecting your reputation as a landlord.
Current and previous tenants are willing to share their experiences online for everyone to see. Their reviews can influence the opinions of potential tenants. The bottom line is that online reviews directly impact your business.
Google, Yelp, Facebook, and other online review sites have made it incredibly easy to find and leave reviews. Many people looking for a place to rent start their search on Google. Even if they get recommendations from friends, they will still check you out online. And, rather than be swayed by slick advertising, most people base their decisions on what previous or currents tenants say about you.
How online tenant reviews impact a rental business
Online reviews are a form of word-of-mouth advertising. If you build a positive reputation, happy tenants will gladly recommend you to their friends and family. What’s more, existing tenants will be willing to share their experiences online. If you provide a stellar rental service, you will find that it’s easier to attract new tenants.
According to one survey, 80% of renters actively search out online reviews when looking for a new place to live. The results of other research found that 73% of renters based their decision to rent on reviews.
There is another aspect of online reviews that landlords should be concerned about. Studies show that consumers—especially millennials—believe what they read in reviews. Over 90% of people under 34 trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
On the other hand, 94% of consumers avoided a business after reading a negative review online.
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Benefits of online reviews
How do positive reviews convert into tangible benefits for you as a landlord?
- Fewer vacancies. Potential renters decide to choose your property or look elsewhere based on your review profile. They will read internet reviews from a variety of sources to form an opinion. Additionally, because you strive to provide excellent customer service, you’ll keep existing tenants longer in a rental property.
- Increased rental income. Landlords who build a solid online reputation enjoy greater rental yields. A 2017 study found that commercial landlords who have a reputation for customer satisfaction benefit from better financial rewards.
- Reduce the impact of negative reviews. By providing a good service and having a review management strategy, you minimize the harmful effects of a negative review. Prospective tenants won’t pay attention to a few negative reviews among a ton of positive reviews.
- Cut marketing costs. Happy tenants will gladly spread the word about your landlord business. Not only will they tell friends, family, and colleagues, they will write positive reviews about you online. This can significantly reduce costs associated with online reputation management.
It’s crucial to have a strategy for managing reviews if you want to benefit from them. A review strategy requires asking tenants (especially happy tenants) to leave a review and promptly addressing any issues in bad reviews. It is also vital to continually monitor reviews to identify and flag any fake reviews.
Being a landlord can be fun—if you do it right
No matter how great you are at finding good rental property deals, you could lose everything if you don’t manage your properties correctly. Being a landlord doesn’t have to mean middle-of-the-night phone calls, costly evictions, or daily frustrations with ungrateful tenants.
What to do about negative reviews
While you may shy away from having a review strategy due to worries about getting negative reviews, it’s good to remember that tenants will leave reviews, regardless of your marketing strategy.
It’s crucial to respond professionally to any negative feedback about your landlord service or rental property. But before typing your response, it’s a good idea to take a step back and analyze the comments. How you respond can significantly influence your reputation.
If you suspect the review is fake or not from a real tenant, you should report the damaging review to the review site.
How to respond
Prospective tenants won’t write you off because of one or two negative reviews, especially if you have many positive ones. If your reply is professional and addresses their concerns, you will strengthen your reputation. It also shows that you take an interest in your tenants and care about their opinions. You can use the negative feedback as an opportunity to learn and emphasize your rental property business’s positive aspects.
Here a few handy tips on replying to a negative online review by a tenant.
- Acknowledge their hurt feelings and avoid the temptation to lash back.
- If the negative review is justified, don’t blame someone else.
- Depending on the complaint, you can address the issue in a few sentences.
- If applicable, promise to take their comments on board to improve your service.
Let’s look at a few examples of using negative reviews to strengthen your reputation.
Suppose a tenant complains because you evicted them for unpaid rent. In that case, your response could be, “Unfortunately, because there was a violation of the rental agreement, the eviction took place.”
What if a one-star review complains about maintenance issues? In this case, check through positive feedback on your review profile. If there are positive comments on your maintenance services, you could respond with, “I am sorry that you experienced issues with [name the problem]. This obviously is below the standards I aim for. However, as you can see from this reviewer [mention the review], maintenance issues are uncommon. I will take all steps to ensure this type of problem doesn’t happen again.”
It can also be a good idea to take the issue offline. Consider, “Hi [name]. I’m sorry that you had a problem with [name the problem]. This rarely happens. I have sent you a personal message and would like to discuss it further to resolve the issue personally. Thank you [your name].”
Online reviews are a crucial part of building a solid reputation as a landlord. It’s vital to actively encourage happy tenants to leave reviews on your Google profile, Facebook, or other online review sites. Getting more positive reviews will strengthen your online profile and negate the impact of any negative reviews.