One of the most valuable assets of a property management company is a great online reputation. Your online reputation gives people their first impression of your company. Many people use Yelp just like they used the Yellow Pages when searching for local services. However, unlike the Yellow Pages, everyone’s reputation is right there to be seen, so searchers are more likely to contact the company with the most stars.

The problem is, bad reviews are one of the biggest struggles that property managers face every day. Unlike restaurants, who are there to please everyone that walks in the door, property managers have two groups of people that they have to work with – owners and tenants. Property managers are often required to make one of those parties unhappy in the course of adhering to contracts, laws, and their responsibilities as a property manager. Often, making one of those parties unhappy results in a negative review. So, today, let’s talk about how to respond to those negative reviews.

Professional Review Responses, Not Emotional Responses

The most important thing to remember is not to take negative reviews personally. To respond professionally and objectively, you need to keep your emotions out of your response. It helps to keep in mind that you are running a business, and people aren’t going to be happy with you 100 percent of the time. If you’re having trouble keeping your emotions out of it, have one of your other employees that is not directly involved in the situation craft a response for you.

Private Review Responses

The first thing you should try is to respond privately to the review, via phone call or email. This gives you the opportunity to fix the problem without making it public. It also shows the tenant or the owner that you are professional and dedicated to your job. First, pick up the phone and if you can’t get the person, then send an email, and try to resolve the issue.

You’re not trying to solve the review; you’re trying to solve the problem. Don’t mention the review at all. Why? Because we have seen this backfire far too often. When a PM mentions the review during this process, it often triggers the complainer to go back online and claim they only got a call to get rid of the bad review. You are better off fixing the problem and trusting that a percentage of the people whose problems you have solved will go back and edit their review or leave another.

Public Review Responses

If for any reason you aren’t able to communicate privately with the person who wrote the bad review, you can respond publicly, right there in Yelp or Google. There are pros and cons to a public response. One pro is that it shows publicly that you are dedicated and professional, and that you’re trying to fix the issue. On the other hand, one of the cons is that it permits a long public argument between you and the reviewer. If this happens, it’s like you and the reviewer are engaging in a shouting match right in front of your office, in full view of the whole community. You wouldn’t do that in real life, so don’t do it online.

When you respond publicly, keep what you say simple and short. Apologize for their experience, not for their specific problem. Give them an opportunity to contact you, and leave it at that. For example:

“We’re sorry for your experience. My name is Brittany, and I’m the broker/owner. Please contact me at xxx-xxx-xxxx so we can try and resolve this issue.”

Please notice that by avoiding direct mention of the problem, we have not opened up an avenue for further online discussion. When you get specific, there is the possibility of the reviewer disagreeing with your description and continuing the discussion in public.

So remember, keep your emotions out of it, respond privately if you can, and if you must respond publicly, move the conversation offline as soon as possible.

Here at Fourandhalf we are experts at reputation management, so if you’d like to hear more, please give us a call. If you have any questions at all regarding your online reputation or Internet marketing for property managers, contact us at Fourandhalf.