JF1573: Getting Great Online Reviews For Your Real Estate Investing Biz #SkillSetSunday with Brian Greenberg
Brian is a true entrepreneur, has started and ran numerous businesses, all on the backs of good reviews. He’s had over 10,000 great reviews over his career that has helped his businesses grow. Today he’s here to share how we an get a lot of great reviews for our businesses as well. If you enjoyed today’s episode remember to subscribe in iTunes and leave us a review!
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Brian Greenberg Real Estate Background:
- Has founded businesses in e-commerce, marketing, and financial services.
- Author of The Salesmen who Doesn’t Sell
- He has generated over $50 million in revenue from his businesses and collected over 10,000 reviews and testimonials from customers.
- Based in Scottsdale, AZ
- Say hi to him at https://www.brianjgreenberg.com/bestever
Sponsored by Stessa – The simple way to track rental property performance. Get dashboard reporting, smarter income and expense tracking and tax-ready financials. Get your free account at stessa.com/bestever
Joe Fairless: Best Ever listeners, how are you doing? Welcome to the best real estate investing advice ever show. I’m Joe Fairless, and this is the world’s longest-running daily real estate investing podcast. We only talk about the best advice ever, we don’t get into any of that fluffy stuff.
First off, I hope you’re having a best ever weekend. Because today is Sunday, we’ve got a special segment called Skillset Sunday. You’re gonna learn a specific skill that you didn’t have, or you’ll be able to hone a skill that perhaps you had, but now you’ll be able to do it even better. Today we’re gonna be talking about, well, online reviews, and holy cow are these important, especially if you’re in the apartment investing business and your property has a website with an online reputation, because potential prospective residents, they go look at that online…
And if you also have online reviews for any other aspect of your business, then listen up, my friends – which should be pretty much all of us, by the way… Listen up, because we’ve got Brian Greenberg with us, who wrote the book “The salesman who doesn’t sell.” He has generated over 50 million dollars in revenue from his businesses and collected over 10,000 reviews and testimonials from his customers. Based in Scottsdale, Arizona. With that being said, Brian, do you wanna give the Best Ever listeners a little bit more about your background and then we’ll roll right into it?
Brian Greenberg: Sure. I’ve been able to make my living since 2003 on internet-based businesses. My current business right now is actually life insurance, at truebluelifeinsurance.com. A very tough industry, and I’ve been able to grow my business over my competitors, over the years, by collecting reviews.
Reviews are so important when people are choosing who to do business with, especially if you’re in an industry where you have people that aren’t so ethical, and it sells them without selling, Joe.
Joe Fairless: How have you gotten 10,000 reviews, and where are those reviews, by the way?
Brian Greenberg: Good question. Well, the first thing is you’ve gotta ask. I think so many people don’t ask for reviews, it’s terrible. I think also when you get reviews, people don’t like to display it and they think it’s some sort of bragging, or they’re embarrassed to do so.
Now, there is an easier way to do it. You don’t have to verbally ask. I collect all my reviews by e-mail. Knowing when to ask for the review by e-mail is another trick. Obviously, if you did something nice for them, if you fixed something for them, you just had a good conversation, that’s a tie-in, “Can I send you an e-mail?” Or it could be a cold e-mail.
Joe, I think one of the important things I wanna say is when you’re using e-mail to collect reviews, have them give you a review that you control first. This is a huge thing. You don’t wanna send them right to Apartments.com, or Yelp, or Google. That could be problematic, because they might not be happy. So send it to your own site first, and if they give you a five-star review, then you send a follow-up e-mail asking them to review you in other places, include the exact comment that they gave you originally, and give them the exact link where to enter the review. Don’t just send them to yelp.com, or don’t even send them just to your Google business page. There’s particular URLs that will give you a pop-up; it’ll show the stars, it’ll show where to enter the review, and make it so simple for customers.
Joe Fairless: So you’re asking them to basically do things, eventually; not the first time, but eventually you ask them to leave a review after you do something nice for them, and then you’ll screen it, essentially, to make sure it’s a good review, and then assuming it is, then you ask them to leave it one more time.
Brian Greenberg: Exactly. And it doesn’t have to be only when you did something good. You can send these e-mails to all your tenants, to everybody. Look, you’re gonna get feedback; if they’re unhappy, you’re gonna learn something. The important thing is, like you said, you wanna filter it first.
Now, I use Active Campaign. It’s an e-mail marketing software program. There’s a lot of other ones. I send three e-mails. Send it three times. In my business, I send it on day three, day seven and day ten. It’s good to send multiple.
Joe Fairless: What do you mean by day three, seven and ten?
Brian Greenberg: So I send them an e-mail on Tuesday, and then I’ll send them another e-mail on Friday…
Joe Fairless: But just randomly, or day three of your relationship with them, or day three of a certain milestone that was reached? What’s day three of?
Brian Greenberg: Well, first of all, I think if you did something nice, you fixed something for then, that’s a given. You can initiate those somehow. But yeah, as soon as they move in, if they’re happy. As soon as they renew a lease. Catch them when they’re happy.
In my business, I sell them life insurance policies, and the best time I can get them is right after they’ve been approved, right? They’re clients. I’ve done such a nice thing for them, and it invokes — it’s called the theory of reciprocity, and they wanna do something nice back for me.
Joe Fairless: That’s a law, by the way… That’s not just a theory. That’s legit, reciprocity.
Brian Greenberg: Joe, I also wanna say there’s a format. It pains me to see people get feedback and there’s no stars, there’s no date, there’s no details. Make sure when you get a review, get their name, the city, the stars, and then a comment. The more, the better, because people… They don’t wanna see a review — if it’s not done right, they don’t think that it’s real or legitimate. People are very good at spotting these now.
Joe Fairless: When you get their name, do you use their first and last name?
Brian Greenberg: No, I use their first name. I try to keep it as conversational as possible. I’ll send three e-mails, and they’re all gonna be a little bit different. Some will say the salesperson who is representing them is in a contest, or they get bonused if they get a review, which is — well, Joe, it’s true in my case…
Joe Fairless: Right, right.
Brian Greenberg: But again, that law of reciprocity – they’re gonna wanna not only help the company, but they’re gonna want to help the salesperson, the customer service person.
Joe Fairless: Is there a way that you also incorporate something that is helpful for them? Like, you give them a reason to give a review that is selfishly beneficial for them?
Brian Greenberg: Some people like to offer something back in return for a review, we’ll see this all the time – a gift card, a discount… These are all things that do work. So you could absolutely offer some sort of incentive for filling out a review. Sometimes you could offer an additional incentive if you then ask them to leave a review on a third-party website, like apartments.com or Zillow, wherever you’re trying to build up your reviews.
I also suggest that you pick one or two platforms that you wanna focus on. It can be problematic to go after too many. You don’t wanna spread yourself too thin. When people look you up, they’ll look up your company name, or your property name, followed by reviews or complaints. People do that nowadays – they look you up online, and a lot of these places will show up first; you’ll get multiple spots on the first page of Google, and you wanna have as many reviews as possible.
Joe Fairless: When you are looking at the best times to ask for reviews, I find it really interesting that you’ve mentioned we should identify the happy moments and then ask at that point in time… It makes a lot of sense, but perhaps not something that we’re doing — I’ll just speak for myself… Not something I have done. I haven’t actually sat down and thought, “Okay, in the lifecycle of a resident, when are the happiest moments? We should be strategic about asking for a review and be specific about where we’d like that review, in those moments.” I mean, just that simple insight can lead to some really good things.
Brian Greenberg: Yes. Joe, I don’t want people to overthink it too much. If you can’t find a time to trigger it, it’s fine; whenever you can, send out the blast. E-mail is a nice thing; you guys have their e-mail address – send it out, ask for feedback. Some people will give you feedback and it won’t be great, and the people that give you five stars – those are the people you ask to give you additional reviews on the third-party websites you’re targeting. The important thing is to ask. Don’t wait to ask. You don’t ask, you don’t get.
Joe Fairless: And when you come across negative reviews, what’s your approach there?
Brian Greenberg: There’s a lot of things. Number one, don’t react.
Joe Fairless: Don’t comment on them?
Brian Greenberg: Don’t react in a negative way. Don’t say “This is baloney! I did it this way, I offered this!” Don’t get in an argument match with these people. The thing is, you might think “Oh, I can get this review taken down. It’s such baloney…” You can’t. These third-party websites do not allow businesses to take down those reviews. If you try to get a lawyer, they’re gonna tell you no, and if you pursue it, you’re gonna waste a lot of time and a lot of money. It’s better to not react or respond.
The first thing I’d like to do is try to get the review taken down, or at least get them to change it to a five-star review, and I’m often able to do so. People that give a negative review, they usually want a response, they want something, so contact them.
I have a policy at my company, ABN. A lot of sales companies, they have ABC – Always Be Closing. I have ABN – Always Be Nice.
The first thing when I get a negative review – I know who it is, so I’ll call them… If I can’t get them on the phone, I’ll e-mail them. The first step is sympathize, say “I understand you’re upset.” The next step if fix it, or offer them something. Be willing to take a loss. These negative reviews can be tens of thousands of dollars in lost business. I’ve seen business having to change their whole company name and start all over again to get new profiles because of these negative reviews. So fix it, be willing to take a loss, and then after you’ve given them something, ask them to take it down. Overwhelmingly, they take it down. Knock on wood — please note, people do wanna take it down; usually, when they leave a negative review, it is to get something done for them.
Joe Fairless: With your business, what sites do you prioritize over others? And then we’ll relate it back to real estate.
Brian Greenberg: Sure. For me, I’ve done surveys and studies, and the number one for me is the Better Business Bureau. People weigh that so heavily. And then I also focus on Google, because people are already on Google. If they’re looking up my name, I know it’s gonna show. So those are the two platforms I focus on.
Every once in a while I’ll get Facebook reviews. I don’t believe those are Facebook. If you get negative reviews, you have the option to take that review tab down. So I like the Better Business Bureau and Google.
Joe Fairless: Got it. Well, I can tell you with our business Google is number one for reviews that we wanna focus on, and then Apartments.com tends to be number two. ApartmentRatings.com is also an important website to have good reviews, but most residents, whenever they look to live in an apartment building, they’ll google it, and lo and behold, Google Reviews comes up, so that’s the one we really wanna focus on.
Is there anything that would encourage someone to leave a review that we haven’t talked about, that you think we should?
Brian Greenberg: We kind of brushed over it, but there’s a trick on Google, and you can even google how to do it, but you wanna send them to the actual page that gives them that pop-up and the stars. They make it tough, Google. You have to actually do a search and find out your company ID, and I think you’ve gotta go to Maps to do it. Then you’ve gotta drop the URL, and then you could even populate those stars with five stars to begin with, to kind of just push them into that five-star rating. That’s a big trick.
Joe Fairless: Anything else that we haven’t talked about that you think we should?
Brian Greenberg: Look, if you can’t get a negative review down, the best thing to do at that point is respond. Now, when you respond, again, you wanna come off as almost the victim, make the person get the karma. But also, when people are reviewing your company reviews, they view the negative reviews. They’ll go to the one-star ones, and the two-star ones, and they’ll find out how you handled them.
I think people know that everybody is human, but if you make a mistake and you say “Look, we tried to fix it for you. We feel terrible about it. We’ve taken steps to correct it, we’ve offered you a refund” – whatever it is, if you handle it in that nature, it could actually turn that negative review into a positive. People will find out that you are accountable, you’re not gonna brush somebody off.
Joe Fairless: How can the Best Ever listeners get in touch with you?
Brian Greenberg: Best Ever listeners can go to my website, BrianJGreenberg.com/bestever. I’d like to offer all your listeners my free audiobook. It’s The Salesman Who Doesn’t Sell. I give step-by-step instructions on who to do all these things. It was my goal to help people as much as possible.
Joe Fairless: Awesome. Well, thank you so much for being on the show. Very applicable advice for us as real estate investors. I believe that online reviews are something that is not discussed enough among investors, and it has much greater impact on our bottom line than what we perceive it to have.
There’s a lot of people googling our properties, and if we don’t have a solid review system set up with a strategy that is being implemented consistently, then we’re leaving money on the table. Regardless if we have an apartment building or if we just have a brokerage — not just, but if we have a brokerage, or if we’re in the service business within the real estate industry, all these comments that we talked about today are relevant.
Thanks so much for being on the show. I hope you have a best ever weekend, and we’ll talk to you soon.