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Why Should Online Reputation Matter to Your Multifamily Residential Property?

Posted by Joseph Curd on Jul 28, 2022

What fuels a multifamily residential property’s growth?

That’s easy, right? I bet we all immediately think, “By bringing in new renters, and retaining residents, while increasing rents whenever possible.”

But ask yourself…do you invest in, or otherwise incentivize, the right operational behaviors?

One of my favorite questions to ask multifamily operators is if they pay more leasing commissions on new leases or renewals.

Now, before any of your revenue management gurus come after me with pitchforks at the next trade show, yes, of course there are nuances in asset strategy. But in aggregate, multifamily has a huge opportunity to put proper emphasis on resident retention and renewal success, as even the most sophisticated pricing engines do a poor job of truly extrapolating turn costs in context of new lease or renewal trade outs.

One axiom that remains true:  it is far less expensive to retain existing residents than to acquire new renters. The operational expense of high turnover erodes hard-earned net operating income quickly. When we have mass exodus, rent rolls and historical pricing context rapidly becomes repositioned. Vacancy loss is painful and marketing budgets are generally tapped out. Even if you can quickly fill a vacant unit, you will still pay for the turn, not only in maintenance expenses but also marketing expenses and leasing commissions.

And even if you keep residents for as long as possible, move-outs will happen. A major key to finding new residents as quickly as possible is to remove barriers to entry. One of the most important things you can do to help with this is measure and manage your online reputation.

Why a Multifamily Residential Property’s Online Reputation Matters

A GlobeSt.com article references research demonstrating online reputation as a significant corollary for multifamily revenue. While property managers can’t control factors such as inflation, employment, and health issues, they can strongly impact reputation. According to Rich Hughes, Senior Vice President of Data Science at RealPage, many apartment communities don’t track resident data based on online reviews.

Online reputation tells you how your multifamily residential community’s reputation comes across in the digital world. Multifamily Executive references a survey that shows the majority (93%) of apartment renters read reviews before deciding whether to rent from a property.

The top three factors that matter the most in reviews include negative reviews, positive reviews, and the timing of the latest review. Moreover, 64% are willing to shell out more rent for highly ranked properties.

Increase Multifamily Residential Property’s Identity and Visibility

As my marketing friends will tell you, the most dangerous person in their world is an after-hours disgruntled customer with a keyboard (and a few drinks in them). Spend more than 15 minutes on Apartment Ratings and you will see how these situations can undo years of costly and finely crafted branding identity, when left unchecked.

Apartment properties focused on reputation management as a core strategy component strengthen the identity and visibility of their brand. Potential renters, current residents, and former customers all post reviews and talk about your property on social media. This feedback influences online shoppers and most importantly organic referrals, which are the best converting leads in the industry. Operators who track and respond to these comments have a stronger brand identity than those who don’t.

Let’s start with measuring. A plethora of sentiment analysis tools are available, so we will avoid writing a novel on those options today. Our message is simple:

  • If you do not currently have automated survey tools for prospects, residents, and formers, you should start immediately. You will learn, grow, and profit if you listen and react wisely.
  • If you don’t have a tool to scan, alert, and measure online reputation, you need to find one quickly. Re-branding or changing management is wildly expensive; transparency and awareness will help avoid drastic expenses.
  • If you have these tools, you need to use them every day.

So, how do we best leverage these tools?

While consumers value companies responding to reviews in general, the critical factor is responding to both positive and negative feedback. A National Apartment Association story states that almost 60% of prospects want a response to online feedback, including a solution and contact information, within 72 hours. Another 42% want at least an acknowledgement from the community within 24 hours. In many cases, online reviews are a cry for help as direct communication has failed and the interested party has pulled out their online megaphone (read: keyboard). Time is of the essence to avoid major blow ups.

Review sites rank well with search engines. Prospects will find your property on these sites. It’s crucial to track and respond to online feedback as review sites greatly increase the visibility of your property website. You can help boost your online reputation by encouraging residents to post feedback, then responding to that feedback, thereby telling “the story” to the public.

If prospective residents see you’ve acknowledged and addressed a negative review or problem, then they will be more likely to view your property as resident centric. People forgive mistakes when they are handled properly.

Gain Insights from Residents

The needs of residents have changed dramatically when you compare them before and after the pandemic. Feedback is one of the best ways to understand residents’ current expectations and requirements. The advantage of online reputation management is that it takes a customer-oriented approach to service. You’re showing the community and prospective renters that you listen, acknowledge, and accommodate residents and work to address their problems.

Think about a customer leaving a post stating they’re unhappy with the property because a reported problem has been ignored. Property A does not respond to the comment. Property B lets the customer know they’re aware of the problem and are working on a resolution. All things being equal, which community would you rather live in? The comments and reviews will give you valuable information to help you improve your community.

The way you respond to feedback will build trust. Being transparent will help boost loyalty and retention. Amenities are important. Feedback can help you stay on top of what amenities your community wants.

It’s no surprise that cost and location are the top two factors in selecting a multifamily residential community according to the aforementioned Multifamily Executive article. Your location is set. Cost depends on factors, some outside of your control. Fortunately, you have control over the third factor: safety and security. This factor can also help your residential property’s online reputation.

How Remote Video Surveillance Can Help Your Online Reputation

Apartment amenities affect your online reputation. Residents will share how well (or not) the amenities live up to their expectations. One thing the pandemic has changed for everyone is that more people are working from home. While some businesses plan to bring employees back into the office, others have decided to make remote working permanent.

With people spending more time in their rental communities, they put a higher value on safety and security. Remote video surveillance is a proactive and preventive security solution that can supply residents with peace of mind. By implementing security cameras, your property could increase both loyalty and NOI.

Most traditional security technologies won’t catch anything until after the crime when the damage has already happened. Video surveillance with remote monitoring offers proactive incident mitigation.

What are the benefits of remote video surveillance when you work with a company like Stealth Monitoring?

  • Reputation management: Deploying Stealth Monitor’s solution allows you to maximize the community’s safety and security. It can help prevent crime and the expenses associated with damage, which can cost more than just the price of the damage itself. Deterring damage helps you avoid receiving the worst kind of negative feedback.
  • Cost-effective: Stealth’s solution can save you up to 60% on your security expenses. Most clients yield an ROI within months.
  • Easy 360-degree solution: Stealth’s team of multifamily security experts can design, install, and manage a solution that fits your community. Your property management team can be in consistent contact with the security team to help ensure you reach your safety and security goals.

The way video surveillance with remote monitoring works is that a security specialist can strategically place cameras around the apartment community and property. The specialist can make sure the security cameras can see everything on the entire property.

Security operators monitor analytics-based cameras that are pre-programmed with specific parameters. Anytime something suspicious occurs that fall outside of those parameters, the monitoring operator can quickly assess the situation and take action. They can issue a warning on an on-site speaker letting the intruders know they are being watched. They can also call local police while staying on top of the suspects’ movements.

Not only could you enhance your online reputation by adding video surveillance as a must-have amenity, but you’ll also help strengthen resident retention. Additionally, video surveillance can help your reputation with your insurance provider because it helps reduce risk. As a result, video surveillance helps lower liability.

Improve Multifamily Resident Retention

Smart owners and operations invest in amenity analysis because you don’t want to add new amenities simply for the “cool factor” or to make the amenity list longer. Not all amenities have value. New amenities need to be useful to the lives of the residents or help the staff be more efficient. Fortunately, sentiment analysis can help make decisions about future investments.

Being intentional about the most impactful amenities means understanding your customers and their preferences; they are generally as unique as your demographic. The best way to do this is to read your residents’ online feedback. They are more likely to air grievances online than with the property staff.

As mentioned above, if residents have tried to get a problem solved to no avail, they could take it online in hopes of reaching an audience that will listen. These comments are your chance to make things better. More so when the property management company takes the time to respond and follow up. Others will see how they respond and judge them based on that.

Safety and security is a significant factor in new leases and renewals and are among the most poignant topics for online reviews and survey feedback. If you determine you have issues in these areas, the best place to start your search for the right security partner is to find companies like Stealth Monitoring with strong experience with multifamily. In working with a remote video surveillance company like ours, you’ll obtain a customized safety and security system for your multifamily residential property. Our security experts can design one that meets your requirements and budget. As safety and crime improves, organically feedback will likely improve.

When you partner with us, your property can benefit from emergency services responding more quickly. They know that we have video verification of something suspicious happening which tends to elevate the priority they put on the call.

How do you find the right security partner? Use this video surveillance checklist. The requirements for your multifamily residential property’s security are different from a business in another industry or even in your industry.

Want to learn more about multifamily residential security? Pick up your copy of Complete Guide to Securing Your Apartment Building. This guide highlights your options for securing your apartment building to help protect your residents, employees, visitors, and vendors. You’ll learn about four lines of defense that bolster apartment security. And finally, it’ll show you how to select the right security system that fits your budget. To learn more, contact us.