If you’re a landlord or property manager and you’re doing your job and treating your tenants fairly and honestly, go ahead and skip this article. If you are a scrupulous landlord and have been slumming it up for the past 20 years because “don’t fix what’s not broken”, you should read on.
The power of the internet. The power of social media. They will be your downfall if you continue to operate a business with the “who cares about the tenant” attitude.
Take Whose Your Landlord for example, whose company overview is “We were built to weed out bad landlords. Join us as we bring quality to the rental experience…” They have over 19,000 likes on Facebook. Or locally, here in Fort Collins, Northern Colorado Property Rentals. Mostly, it is folks looking for and connecting each other to rental opportunities. It is also a platform where unsatisfied renters will dish on landlords/property managers whom they’ve had conflict or problems with.
The community has always talked about poor landlords and frustrating situations, but now there are platforms and abilities to broadcast their concerns. Facebook, Twitter, Google and Yelp just to name a few are commonly used to review landlords.
Fortunately, I have been able to have some pretty great renters who in turn are very easy to work with. By the time they move out, I never think twice about asking for a review. It is important to me and it should be to you to get those good reviews. “90% of renters are looking online first” when exploring their next rental option. You could get away without any reviews, at least they aren’t bad, but with each passing year and more and more Millennials and Gen Z’ers renting, it is just a matter of time before you get a review. Hopefully it will be a good one.
I also want to point out that it is not always a big bad landlord who is the bad guy here. There are PLENTY of times or situations where a renter has destroyed a property. Then the landlord has taken the proper steps to be made whole and the renter flips out when they receive a few thousand-dollar bill and takes his/her “atrocity” to the internet. That happens and that isn’t fair. What you can’t do, though is ignore these reviews. You need to address them.
Transparency alert!! I just dropped the ball as a landlord a couple of weeks ago. I had a commercial tenant who was out of A/C for 5 days. Although we were working on the problem every day possible and my maintenance technician was communicating to the tenants, I did not communicate to the tenants. They felt in the dark and were upset. Rightfully so. All I had to do, was send an e-mail, drop by the store, or even text them.
To address the poorly handled situation, I had a meeting with the commercial tenant and we addressed all the issues at hand. Hopefully, going forward it will be a smooth flowing line of communication. It is important to hold yourself up to high standards in an industry that has few.
Property management is a pretty softly regulated industry. There are no exact rules to play the game besides providing minimum standards of habitability, no discrimination per fair housing but other than that, the ground rules are few. Institutions such as IREM and NARPM along with others try to raise the bar on these property managers with ethics, education and best practices. Ultimately though, it is up to us, the industry to raise the bar of property managers.
Here are 3 Ideas on How to Better Your Reputation Online:
Ask for Reviews
Although it is some times awkward asking for the sale. You’ve got to do it. If you feel you’ve handled your job to the best of your ability, ask the previous tenant OR owner, for a review. Send them the link to your Facebook profile or Google profile. Make it as easy as possible for them to give you a review.
Monitor your Social Mentions
There are websites out there that actually monitor when and how your name was used. Try it. Other than that though, a simple Google search, Facebook search or Instagram search with you or your company name will bring up whatever information is out there, good or bad. If you find negative reviews and it makes sense to address it, do it, tactfully.
Be Proactive About What Information is Out There
Are you blogging? Tweeting? Facebooking? What content are you putting out there? These are all things that can be a “self help” way to address your social presence on the internet. Take these blogs that I’m writing for example. I know I’m not the best writer, but I am passionate about the industry and like putting out content about me and my company for others to “enjoy”.
When it comes to your business practices, they are no longer secret. If you take 2 months to address a leaking ceiling. Your tenants will talk about it. Not just to their mom or dad, but to their friends, Facebook, Google, everybody.
With the paradigm shift happening of more renters, there will be more entrants into the landlord and property management business. Activists for landlords as well as renters and everyone in between. This is a good thing. Competition brings out the best in businesses.
Good luck and understand the power of these reviews and the power they will have when these companies gain more traction.