Reputation.com Polishes a Property Manager’s Rep

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Garden Communities, which offers one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments, studios, townhouses, and active adult communities (for residents 55 and over) throughout New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, needs to keep its finger on the pulse of customer sentiment if it has any hope of making sure its units are occupied. If residents are unhappy with services—such as repairs to plumbing or electrical systems or exterior maintenance—they will not renew.

No matter what the residential complex manager does, some residents won’t renew their leases for reasons that are out of the company’s control. But Garden Communities needs to control what factors it can to minimize negative word of mouth that makes it harder to recruit new tenants and might cause current tenants to move out at the end of their lease terms.

Because of social media and third-party review sites, the vast majority of prospective tenants already have an impression about the residential complex long before they pick up the phone, says Jonathan Goetz, Garden Communities’ director of marketing, leasing, and training. “They’ve already researched us. We want to make sure that we look as good as we can. We want the customers who are happy with us promoting us. We want to provide an easy way that they can put out their opinion so that others can see it.”

The sheer number of third-party review sites makes it challenging to monitor and respond to them effectively; doing so was too much of a hands-on, manually intensive process. Instead, Garden Communities wanted a single solution that would allow it to gather feedback, respond to the feedback in a timely fashion, monitor and manage what residents were saying about its properties, and identify recurring issues.

The company had used other tools that fell short of that goal and eventually turned to Reputation.com’s Online Reputation Management (ORM) platform in 2016 to help manage its online reputation.

Reputation.com’s Bulk Uploader feature allows Garden Communities to send out emails requesting reviews, encouraging residents to share their positive living, leasing, and move-in experiences on review sites; at the same time, residents are encouraged to share negative comments with Garden Communities directly through its website. Dashboards and executive summaries provide details about review volume, sentiment, ratings, and more.

Since implementing ORM, Garden Communities has seen its reputation score jump by 50 percent, while monthly positive reviews have increased 427 percent. Overall average star ratings have improved by 26 percent while negative reviews have dropped by 10 percent.

Goetz hopes to improve that performance even more following the recent addition (in March) of online surveys from Reputation.com. The surveys help Garden Communities ensure that service requests for repairs are addressed quickly and efficiently and resolved to residents’ satisfaction.

The Reputation.com surveys also seamlessly integrate with the property management software, from Yardi Systems, that Garden Communities uses to schedule service calls. Once work is completed, residents receive a quick survey. Positive comments can be promoted through social media or used in marketing material. Negative scores or remarks are investigated to determine the cause and to seek a quick resolution.

“If they didn’t get the right service, perhaps they didn’t communicate their needs correctly,” Goetz says. “We want to keep our customers happy. If they are [happy], it is easier to retain them.”

Once Garden Communities resolves any issue that resulted in a negative review, residents can go into the system and change their initial reviews and ratings.

In addition to now being able to send out surveys upon completion of scheduled service calls, the Reputation.com software also enables Garden Communities to send out surveys at other times. Goetz says the plan is to survey residents every time they have any interaction with the company, no matter the reason.

The Payoff

Since turning to Repuation.com to help manage customer reviews, Garden Communities has seen the following results:

  • its monthly positive review volume has increased by 427 percent;
  • its reputation score has increased by 50 percent;
  • its average star ratings has increased by 26 percent; and
  • its negative reviews have decreased by 10 percent.

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