In partnership with Reputation.com, we scoured the Internet and went through hundreds of property management reviews from unhappy owners. We had one goal in mind: To help your company avoid your own negative owner reviews.
Did you ever ask your landlords about what they really want? It can be hard for property managers to get that information in real time. After our research, we compiled complaints into four categories, with nine opportunities that you can work on to improve your services, increase your client retention, and attract better owners. These are actual reviews that we saw, and these are reviews that you are going to get; it’s important to take the initiative on this so your company can avoid having a one-star blemish on your reputation.
The nine most common complaints that property management clients have put online in the last few months can be arranged into these four categories: Communication, Technology, Fees, and Professionalism. Let’s talk about each category and what you can do to improve owner satisfaction.
Keeping open communication is vital, if owners can’t get a hold of you, they get apprehensive about their property. When it comes to communication, there are four main complaints that property owners mentioned:
Response Time. If there was one recurring theme from the owner reviews that we read, it’s that property managers are hard to reach. When you take a long time to respond to an email or a call, it makes your clients lose trust. The fact that they aren’t hearing from you makes them doubt your process and what’s going on. That’s going to damage your client relationships. Be very cognizant and make sure that you and your staff are accessible to your clients. If there was one thing that you are going to implement on this list, make sure it is this one, and you’ll find that you’ll avoid almost half of the negative reviews you receive!
Phone tag. You don’t want to create a situation where you and your client are missing each other. It’s a frustrating process for both parties, and something that we have seen come up multiple times in reviews. Make it a part of your process, when you’re out, for someone to answer your phone and arrange a specific time that you will call back. Your owners will appreciate the transparency, even if you can’t handle the request at that moment.
Updates. If the property or the contract has gone through an update, keep your client in the loop. Your owners have to know what’s going on, otherwise they will be surprised. Owners hate surprises. Limit surprises as much as you can when working with your owners.
Communicating Fees. Fees are a big complaint and you need to pay attention to the way you communicate your property management fee structure. If you have fees listed in your contract that have already been explained to your clients, don’t change those or add extras without making sure the client is informed. Again, Owners hate surprises. Be warned, sending an email may not be enough. Emails often go unread. If you do have additional fees, or a change in fees, educate your clients so that they’ll know before you send them a bill.
In the last five years, the property management industry has made huge leaps when it comes to technology. Often times you will get clients who have previous experience with property management and if their previous property manager provided the latest tools, or an advanced website, you want to make sure that you do also. In the technology category, there are two main complaints that routinely appear:
Inspection Images. These days, with camera phones so prevalent, there is no reason you shouldn’t be able to document everything. In many of the reviews we read, homeowners complain about getting reports without any proof that supports the findings in those reports. Has the water heater gone bad? Include an image of the damage. Is the roof going? Are there leaks? Include pictures! Adding images to inspection reports helps ease any doubts your client may have. Add images to inspection reports whenever you can.
Contact Information. Another review complaint we often came across is an owner’s inability to find contact information on a website. Make sure you have a “Contact Us” page and that all of your details are easy to find there. Have your address (both mailing and physical if they’re different), have your phone number and email – if your company is arranged in departments, have direct contact info for the bookkeeper and the maintenance coordinator, etc. If your company is portfolio based, have your Property Managers’ direct lines, emails, and pictures on the Contact Us page.
This was another very common complaint that owners make about property management companies. A lot of negative reviews were left regarding the date that rent payments are supposed to be made to the property owner. If you say you will pay the homeowners on the 10th, make sure that unless something goes wrong, it’s always on the 10th. If you promise the 10th and payment doesn’t show up until the 13th or 15th, clients will lose trust and start finding other things to complain about. Whatever you do, do your best to make rental payments on time. If you can’t set a specific date because of bank availability on the weekends, educate your clients that their payments will be there “prior to” a specific date that you can set, and explain why you’ve worded it that way.
Owners expect a certain level of professionalism when they choose someone to manage their investment. Accountability and responsibility are qualities owners value that often come up when reading reviews.
Trustworthy Vendors. Clients need to trust you and the vendors you work with. When your vendors show up at your properties, they need to know where they’re going and what they’re doing and try to have them show up on time – especially if they’re going to be interacting with an owner in the process. They should be able to tell your owners and tenants how long the work will take. Always make sure they are licensed and insured. Remember – in many cases your clients, especially tenants, will have more contact with your vendors than they do with your employees.
Be On Time. If you have set a time to meet a prospective or current client, make sure that you’re on time. If you’re 30 or 40 minutes or an hour late, you’ll create a lot of doubt in the minds of your clients. Everyone gets stuck in traffic once in a while, but communicate to your client that you’re running late, and don’t let it be a habit.
Now, you have the property owners’ complaints that trigger a negative online review most often. Address these four categories, and you’ll have fewer negative reviews and a growing business.
If you have any questions about marketing your property management company or managing your reputation, please contact us at Fourandhalf.