Real estate investing, like most other forms of investing, is a different beast today than it was a decade or more ago. This holds for many, if not most, industries. While change has always been a constant, the changes that many businesses have undergone in the past few years are looking far more revolutionary than evolutionary. Much of the revolutionary change has come about from the ubiquitous use of the internet in almost every facet of business. Large numbers of your potential—and actual—owners and tenants will have grown up with this reality as a part of their lives. You may have done so yourself. So what does this mean for your property management business?
While traditional forms of marketing have retained a place in your business planning, you probably won't get far without a robust online presence! At RentBridge, we know that successfully attracting new owners and tenants online will take a multifaceted approach. One of those crucial elements to success is the role of online reviews.
How Important Are Online Reviews?
Let's put it simply: online reviews are critical to your property management marketing efforts. Large numbers of internet users conduct research online for the products or services that they are seeking. Because reviews should reflect the experiences of other consumers, consumers widely regard them as among the most credible forms of online marketing. This concept isn't new. "Word of mouth" advertising has existed as long as people have had products to sell. The internet has merely expanded the reach available to the average consumer.
What many people don't realize is that online reviews can influence search engine results. Good reviews can make your business more visible. Negative reviews can do the opposite. Earning positive reviews is a pretty straightforward idea: provide quality services to your owners and tenants, and you should gain a positive review. Unfortunately, it's not always that simple. People are generally quick to write a negative review rather than a positive one—but excellent service should correlate to a good reputation.
What you may not realize is that online review platforms can become a battleground of sorts for your competitors to undercut your business. In a crowded real estate investment market, this can be a make-or-break deal for your property management marketing plan. How common are fake reviews? Some estimates say that up to 79% of consumers have read a fake review online in the last year. An even higher percentage of customers were unable to determine when a negative review was fake. It's important to curate your online reputation—and take the right steps when you encounter a false negative review.
How Do I Know When a Review Is Fake?
There are a few common factors that help fake reviews stand out from the real deal. Be on the lookout for a few of these traits:
- While people are passionate about their homes—and reviews may reflect this in their tone—be attentive to reviews of any competition in your area: if you are finding exceptionally glowing and over the top reviews of another property management company and scathing critiques of your own, it may be a sign that you're the victim of a fake review.
- Be alert to the details that the review's author uses in their description: if they are vague and lack specific information about an event, or discuss things that you know for a fact did not occur, it can indicate that the reviewer has fabricated the experience they are discussing.
- If you can view other posts by the review's author, pay attention to patterns in their posting: if they are writing several extraordinarily positive or negative reviews over a short period, they are probably not an authentic consumer.
So What Can You Do?
If you've determined that you are the victim of a fake review or two, and you're worried about how this can affect your property management business, what can you do about it? Resist the urge to get into a "tit-for-tat" response with the reviewer. Remain calm, offer a genuine apology, and offer to move the conversation to a private venue. If you know that you have not done business with the reviewer, make it clear in your response. Most major review platforms offer methods to flag or report fake reviews. Follow through with whatever process your chosen platform offers. If possible, try to accrue some additional good reviews as quickly as possible—this can help to temper the bad press with some good. Finally, continue to monitor your reviews. You should make this an ongoing part of your business practices anyway, but now is an especially important time to be alert to what people are saying.
When it comes to your own property management company, you know that reviews are critical. This is why RentBridge offers our property management partners access to our Review Management Software. If you're interested in learning about how powerful reviews can be in terms of your business, get in touch with us! Set up a consultation to see if review management is right for the needs of your property management company.