5 Tactics to Get Five-Star Real Estate Reviews
When browsing Amazon.com marketplace for a specific product, what is one of the first things you look at before adding the item to your shopping cart? If you’re like me, you scroll directly to the “reviews” section to see the number of reviews, the overall rating and to read customer feedback. If the product has too many negative reviews, I pass and move on to the next brand. These factors hold the most weight on my purchasing decisions.
The same concept that applies to Amazon products, and other online outlets, is applicable to real estate as well. When someone sees your rental listing on Craigslist, or if they search your apartment community online, they are going to see reviews. What do you want a prospective resident to see? Do you want them to read raving reviews, or the one or two people that had a bad experience? What’s likely to command higher rents – good or bad reviews? If good reviews can command higher rents, then that results in a higher cap rate, which increases the overall value of the property. Therefore, online reviews are paramount to a property’s success. However, I’ve found it incredibly challenging to get them.
A loyal Best Ever listener, Joseph, works for a property management company. One of his responsibilities is to get 5-star reviews for properties they manage. Lucky for us, Joseph sent me a list of the most effective ways to increase the number of 5-star property reviews.
1 – Hire a 3rd Party to Manage Reviews
The first method to get more reviews is to hire a 3rd party to manage your reviews. Joseph said, “if you can’t be them, get close to beating them. Yelp! is the hardest to control and seems to be an outlet for dissatisfied residents. We contract with a company called Modern Message, who has a resident’s rewards program that turns social media and reviews into a game for our residents. This allows us to get internal reviews and place them on an external site that has amazing SEO value.”
Basically, you hire a company, like Modern Message, that has a rewards program that makes leaving reviews like a game. Then when you get these reviews, you link them to your website, Facebook, or other online platforms, similar to a testimonials tab you see on websites. Since you are linking the reviews to these external sites, it increases the SEO for keywords for your company’s name. Joseph said that if you Google his company’s name, the first link is his company’s Yelp! page.
2 – Free Stuff in Exchange for Reviews
The second method is to give away a random gift to residents in return for property reviews. Joseph said, “We had $5 T-shirts for [a local sports team] and gave them away to everyone who came in on a certain day, along with a card that read ‘Thanks for being a great resident. Please share your experience on Google.’ And this worked really well.”
This is one of my favorite methods because when people expect something, they’re not as impressed with what you give them, but if they don’t expect something, you can give them something of a much lower value and it will be more impressive than the higher value item they were expecting. The only thing I would add is in the note, include a direct link to the reviewing site, which takes a step out of the process and will increase the chances of the resident leaving a review.
3 – Send a Satisfaction Survey
Another method is to survey your residents. Joseph said, “Send out a survey to your residents, asking for feedback on cleanliness of the building, maintenance response time and things like that. After you fix some of the concerns, send a survey out a couple of months later with a link to review at the end.”
This method is beneficial because not only are you getting more reviews, but residents may also bring issues to your attention that you didn’t know about.
A spin on this method is to take it to a more granular level. When there’s a maintenance request that doesn’t appear to be to a negative thing for the property, then after addressing it, send the resident an e-mail and say “Hey, did we fix it? Are you good with everything?” When they say “Yes,” provide them with a link to review. And what I mean by “a negative thing for the property,” you don’t want a resident posting a review if their maintenance request was that they had something like bedbugs. You want to use this method if the maintenance request is something small, like a leaky faucet or a malfunctioning toilet. If you follow this more granular, personal approach, you will receive a higher rate of reviews compared to sending out a mass email to all the residents.
4 – Be Responsive and Follow Up
The final method for getting reviews that Joseph provided was “be really, really good at answering the phone, expressing empathy, and following up.” This is similar to the previous method. You want to be responsive to your resident’s needs, and when you fulfill those needs, always follow up with a request for them to leave a review.
5 – Bonus Tactic
Along with Joseph’s four pieces of advice, another method to increase your property reviews is to host a community event (we do things like Taco Tuesday, Poolside Popsicles, etc.) and have an iPad or laptop available for residents to leave a review. Your residents are having a good time at your event, so they will be in the perfect mood to leave you a 5-star review!
What tactics do you use to get 5-star property reviews? Leave a comment below.
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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog post are provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as an offer to buy or sell any securities or to make or consider any investment or course of action.