FROM REVIEWS TO REFERRALS
WORD-OF-MOUTH IS POSSIBLY THE MOST POWERFUL REFERRAL SYSTEM for any business to flourish, and in the world of property management this is no exception. Kasey McDonald looks at how you can build an army of promoters to grow your rent roll.
Nothing will destroy a rent roll quicker than a slew of bad referrals and an army of online haters. In the face of such a demanding job as property management, how exactly do you safeguard your department from bad reviews and create a healthy tribe of promoters to grow your business through referrals?
It’s a question I often get asked by perplexed principals and property managers who find themselves in damage control when they start losing properties due to poor management. Here are a few things you need to consider:
KNOW WHERE YOU STAND
I’m constantly shocked at how many property management departments don’t evaluate their own business and ask their clients and customers if they are enjoying the level of service provided. The first thing I ask property managers to do is ask themselves whether their personal standards meet the standard they provide.
Would you do business with you? Would you use your property management department to manage your investment? Put yourself in the landlords’ shoes and assess your own level of service.
LISTEN AND LEARN
The best way to gauge your level of service is to ask the questions directly to your clients and customers. Ultimately, you cannot beat good, old-fashioned service such as picking up the phone and making the call; just be prepared for what you may hear, because it mightn’t be what you’re expecting. Remember, don’t see poor feedback as a negative; see it as an opportunity to make change and turn it into a positive.
JUMP ON THE SURVEY BANDWAGON
Conducting regular surveys through portals like SurveyMonkey is a great way to get data around your service, and you can even get a Net Promoter Score (NPS) if you ask the right questions.
An NPS measures the willingness of customers to recommend your brand to someone by breaking them down into three types of people: Detractors, Passive and Promoters. Detractors are obviously non-fans who wouldn’t recommend your brand, Passives are somewhere in the middle and Promoters are brand lovers.
Promoters work as great ambassadors for your brand out in the marketplace and will often lead to a strong referral network; so it’s all about identifying and segmenting your clients, then converting the Detractors into Promoters.
CHECK YOUR DIGITAL FOOTPRINT
I’m always surprised at how many people in property management fail to Google themselves or check Facebook for reviews. This is such an important thing to do, because bad online reviews can really
WORD-OF-MOUTH AND REFERRALS CAN BE EITHER SUPER-POWERFUL OR SUPER-DESTRUCTIVE.
damage your business and, in some cases, your own personal brand.
It’s so important to keep a finger on the pulse and know what is being said about your brand. Once you do this, you can actually start to action the conversion mentioned above.
I’ve had property managers make contact with those who made bad reviews in a bid to remedy the situation. If you do this – which can be a great tactic – be sure to do it with the right intentions and treat the experience as an opportunity to convert and make amends.
Offer to fix the problem and don’t be afraid to ask them to change their review online if you can change the outcome or sort out the issue for them.
If you’re confident in your service, consider adding a Facebook and Google review link on your email signature so your clients can add a great review. If you have clients who you know love your service, don’t be afraid to ask them to click the link and write a review. It’s a great little way to start to spread some positive feedback online.
THE GIFT OF THE GAB
It’s a good idea to look at the data and identify who your clients ultimately are. If we’re talking about landlords and your portfolio is mostly top-end, then the demographics of your client base might be mostly Baby Boomers or welleducated professionals, for instance.
Why is this important? Well, you need to know the characteristics of your client base to communicate to them effectively and get the results and word-of-mouth referrals that you truly want to grow your business.
For instance, did you know: • The majority of satisfied people will share their experience with between one and five people. The power of word-of-mouth cannot be understated. • Gen X are most likely to grieve their annoyances; in fact, 84 per cent of them will get vocal about poor service. The power of negative word-of-mouth can be very damaging, and cannot be understated either! • Millennials are most likely to express their good fortune and great experience with up to 20 people. Imagine how quickly you could capitalise off referrals if you had a large proportion of Millennials in your portfolio and you gave them a great experience! How many Millennials make up your client base? • The majority of people who have a bad experience then vent that
experience to between one and five people.
THE BEST WAY TO GAUGE YOUR LEVEL OF SERVICE IS TO ASK THE QUESTIONS DIRECTLY TO YOUR CLIENTS AND CUSTOMERS.
Word-of-mouth and referrals can be either super-powerful or super-destructive to a property management department. If you want to grow your rent roll (or clog up holes in terms of retention) it’s a good idea to create and implement a CX strategy on how to offer service that goes above and beyond to build yourself an army of promoters. ■