You are super excited to have this shiny, new property come into your portfolio. It looks beautiful inside and out, it has the perfect finishes, the perfect amenities, and even the perfect location. Then you look online and you find out that residents hate the place! 😫 It happens. You wonder, How can a property so beautiful be perceived as so ugly? Did the investors see these reviews before they bought it? These are legit concerns!
It can be quite devastating to learn that a new property has been smeared all over the internet. The good news, however, is that your team has an opportunity to turn that around. Residents sort of give you a pass because they know you’re new, and they assume you have no knowledge of the issues that exist at the property. The key in improving these reviews is to act quickly and communicate consistently. If you wait too long, you’ll lose the residents’ respect. Here’s where I recommend you begin…
- Formally introduce yourself.
A change in ownership or management is a big deal for residents and they like (and need) to be in the know. Your first priority when taking over a new property should be to introduce your team to the residents. This is probably best done by physical letter as, in many cases, you probably won’t have immediate access to all resident email addresses. You can also put a sign in front of the leasing office and throughout the community letting residents know that you’re new and open to meeting them.
P.S. I am not talking about those signs that you put out on the street that say UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT in bright red letters. Those are hideous and no one cares. I’m envisioning something softer like, “Come meet our new office team! 8am to 5pm Daily”, and these would be positioned only to target current residents.
- Survey your residents.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever worked for a company that started doing property renovations without surveying the residents first… How do you know the residents want a new lounge? Maybe something else is more important to them! I recommend creating and distributing a private survey to find out what your residents are and are not happy about. Once you know the residents’ expectations, it’s so much easier to keep them happy going forward.
- Fix the issues.
Now that you know what the residents need, start addressing it. Communication is extremely important in this stage. There will be some things that you’ll be able to fix right away, such as an overflowing trash compactor, and you’ll want to send notices about these issues once you have a solution in place. Then there will be things that will take more time to resolve, such as replacing an unsafe playground set. Let the residents know you have not forgotten about them by sending regular notices updating them on the progress of the issue.
- Ask residents to rate their experience online.
After you have addressed the majority of your residents’ concerns, ask the residents to rate your community online. Chances are that you will receive more positive reviews at this point. Even if your residents still aren’t 100% satisfied, they can at least say that your team is putting in the effort to make the community better, and that will speak volumes for prospective residents that are researching your community online.
- Strive for continuous improvement.
Rebuilding your community’s reputation is an ongoing effort. You must provide excellent service consistently. I recommend surveying your residents at least annually to gauge the overall sentiment. New residents can provide new insight. Expect new issues to arise each year and actively work to improve them. Ask your residents to review your community again each year and, as long as you are committed to continuous improvement, you should see your reputation improve over time.