There is no advertisement as powerful as a positive reputation traveling fast – Brian Koslow
Having a good reputation and positive brand image is important to the success of any business, including operating as a landlord or rental property managers. How you treat your customers (tenants) and how your company is viewed can directly benefit your bottom line. Vacancies fill fasters, tenants stay longer, and the overall experience of being a rental housing provider is much more positive when the tenant/landlord relationship is based on respect and an understanding of one another’s accountabilities.
However, as we all know, nothing is perfect, and a brand having taken months or even years to build can be easily damaged by rumors, misinformation, or your own bad behaviour. In the age of the internet, information is shared so quickly that it is important that landlords understand how to protect and maintain their online reputations.
Let’s start with the basics – What is an Online Reputation?
Simply put, your online reputation is how others see you when they look for you online. This impression can be based on many factors, including your company website, online review platforms, and personal social media profiles, including Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. It is important that you maintain your online persona to ensure that the bulk of the information made available to the public (and your customers) is accurate. Little details like correct contact information, accurate business hours of operation, and an up-to-date website all play a role in exemplifying that you are a person who takes pride in your business.
For small, private landlords the same rules apply. Ensuring that your rental advertisements provide the correct contact information, good quality images, no grammar errors or typos, and respectful language (for example, the ad should not include language that may violate the Human Rights Code or PIPA) provide tenants with confidence that you are a person who takes pride in the business you are operating.
It is also very important that landlords consider what they are posting on their social media pages. Your social media presence is part of your online brand and you should take care of the personal brand you are sharing with the public. Ensure that privacy settings are being used in a way that protects your personal information and always ask yourself before sharing “am I ok with people seeing this?” And never post anything that you would not want everyone to see. Perhaps consider who you are providing with access to your Facebook or Instagram pages via friend requests. As a landlord you are operating a business and the tenant is your customer. Keeping that relationships professional is very important to a successful tenancy.
Online Reviews and Brand Damage Control
One would be hard pressed to find someone who has never written an online review – positive or negative. Websites like Google Reviews and Yelp make sharing experiences easy. Writing a review can be done quickly, and finding reviews is also simple. People do read online reviews, and in many cases, people expect a response to their review. This can be a good thing! If you respond properly you are showing that your brand is listening to customer concerns and this is an opportunity that can be used to communicate with potential customers about the core values of your business. When penning a response to a bad review, you are writing for the people who will read this review later; those who are doing their own research on your business. If one day they are your tenants, they may have an issue that needs to be addressed. By replying to the online review in a respectful and constructive way, you are building consumer confidence that you take ownership of missteps and work to correct them going forward.
Here is an example of a bad review and how to reply:
Review: “Ridiculous! Our elevator was out of order for 3 days and no one bothered to tell the tenants! Thanks a lot, landlord.”
Reply: “Dear tenant, thank you for posting your concerns. I am very sorry that the communication regarding the elevator being serviced missed you. We did post about the upcoming repairs on the community bulletin board in the lobby, however going forward we will ensure that there are additional postings put up in the laundry room and the other elevators before we begin the repairs. Thanks again for sharing your feedback, we take all criticism seriously as we work to improve our services.”
Simple, straight forward and it shows that you care about the fact that a customer (tenant) was inconvenienced by your actions – even if that was not your intention. You have addressed their concern and made it clear to future tenants that you do communicate with your tenants regarding upcoming repairs and building maintenance, and that you are willing to tweak that communication to meet the needs of those living in the building.
Don’t be shy! If People Have Nice Things to Say, Ask Them to Share
Negative reviews happen, and it is important to address them. Positive reviews also happen. If a tenant has an excellent experience with one of your staff or the overall experience of renting from you, ask them to share the review online. Having positive reviews will help to balance out the negative reviews and improve your brand’s online reputation. According to one report, 88% of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations and 72% say that positive online reviews increase their trust in a business. It is very important that you get those positive reviews and customer service wins out to your future tenants!
Consumer Confidence and Brand Recognition – LandlordBC can help!
LandlordBC provides two programs that landlords and rental property managers can take advantage of to build consumer confidence in their products.
The Landlord Registry™ provides landlords with three-year access to the I Rent It Right™ e learning course and an online tool kit for only $39. This program was developed with the smaller landlords and secondary market landlords in mind. The course focuses on the fundamentals needed to succeed in the rental housing industry; including education on the Residential Tenancy Act, Human Rights Code, and PIPA. To learn more visit www.landlordregistry.ca.
The Certified Rental Building Program (CRB) is a nationally recognized quality assurance program designed to assist renters to easily identify well-run, well-managed rental properties. The goal of the CRB program is to build consumer confidence and elevate rental-building standards to make rental housing in the province better for everyone! This program is designed for the owners and manager of Multi Unit Residential Buildings. A full list of Certified Rental Building enrollees can be found here.
For more information regarding these, or any of LandlordBC programs and services please contact Kimberly Coates, Director of Member Engagement at [email protected] or call 1-855-707-2366.