Let’s face the facts. You need online reviews for your local service-based business to survive and as a property management business owner, your online reputation is difficult to manage.

But…what happens if you have months, or year’s worth of reviews that are unfavorable to your business? How do you make it up? What should you do?

Today, we give you the guide to handling negative reviews! It doesn’t matter if one just came up, or if you are, simply, buried in negativity. We bring in three of Fourandhalf’s resident experts to share their experience from what they’ve learned over the years. We will talk about how to do that and about your options for turning these reviews into a positive asset for your business.  

Put the Reviews in Perspective

Property managers are in a tough spot; tenants believe you are there to serve them, and tenants are likely to leave reviews online. Consider the survey of 3,000 property management Yelp reviews that found the average rating for property managers is 2.7 stars versus the site-wide average of 3.8 stars. Property management is not the most popular service industry.

Instead of seeing reviews as a source of frustration, see it as feedback that allows you and your team to get better in the future. These negative reviews are being left for all companies, at all times, all around the nation, you can take comfort in knowing – you are not the only one!

We’ve mentioned this in the past, we know you are emotionally attached to the day-to-day running of your company and the management of your business. Take a step back and remember that as much as you want to keep a great relationship with your tenants, your first responsibility is to your property owners.

You Can Flag Reviews

When you receive a negative review, you do have the option (at least on Google’s and Yelp’s platform) to flag the review that you received. It does not work 100% of the time, however, it is worth a shot especially if the review is particularly malicious.

Is Ignoring Online Reviews the Answer?

It’s generally a best practice to respond to negative reviews. However, that doesn’t mean to fight back on every review you receive. Some tenants can be irrational and if you respond to their review, that opens the door for additional negativity, whether it’s true or not. Err on the side of caution in these instances.

Acknowledge the Bad Review

After you’ve put things into perspective, re-read the review and figure out whether there is a solution to the problem. Reach out to the reviewer privately first.

If you have an email address or a phone number for the person, contact the reviewer. By doing this first, you’ll give them an opportunity to update that review or remove it completely. This doesn’t leave a paper trail, and it shows that you genuinely care, and you want to rectify the situation. Most people really appreciate it, because it allows them what they wanted in the first place, to be heard.

Respond to the Bad Review

If for whatever reason you don’t hear back from the reviewer or can’t get a hold of them, then you will need to respond publicly to the review:

  1. Thank the person for the feedback.
  2. Apologize for the experience they had. Don’t get into specifics.
  3. If your name was mentioned in the review, have someone else respond on your behalf. That takes the emotion out of it, and it doesn’t look like you’re defending yourself.

Own the negativity and show people that you are willing to take part in the conversation. It reflects the positive aspects that potential new clients want to see out of a business, you:

  1. Take responsibility
  2. Show initiative.

We develop custom templates for our clients that can help you respond professionally and strategically. However, if you are doing this on your own, there’s no need to overthink your response, keep it simple and make sure it’s personalized enough so it shows to the client that you care.

Get Creative and Change the Conversation

Now maybe you have 30 reviews with a 1.4 star average. What are your options as a property management company?

a. Make a Concerted Effort to Get Positive Reviews From Now On.

If your reputation isn’t the best, however, your latest reviews are positive sentiments about the work you do, it can be an indicator to owners that you have turned a new leaf and made changes.

b. Address the Reviews Straight On.

Film a video on how negative reviews from tenants can mean you’re working hard on behalf of owners. It’s unrealistic in this industry for a property management company to have nothing but 5-star reviews. As a property manager, your profession is similar to that of a lawyer, a police officer, and a tow truck driver. You are doing your job but your responsibilities do not benefit everybody.

Another method of reframing the conversation is to OWN that negative reputation. We have seen businesses put up a “People Hate Us on Yelp” graphic on their website. This allows you to address the issue head-on, and gives you the opportunity to explain why tenants might not like the proactive way you do business.  

These are just a few options that you can take for your property management company. Of course, you must do whatever you can to avoid being put in this situation, however, we understand that things can get out of control.  

If you have any questions about your online reputation, we have a solution with the Property Management Managed Reputation product that will safeguard your company on the Internet, feel free to contact us at Fourandhalf to learn more.