What Our Data Shows About Negative Property Management Reviews (& What to Do About Them)

What Our Data Shows About Negative Property Management Reviews (& What to Do About Them)

Phil Puccio

If you’ve been in the property management industry for a while, you know that negative reviews can really hurt your business. But we’ve got data about negative property management reviews that will help you be proactive about implementing policies & practices to prevent them. Today, Fourandhalf’s Director of Product Delivery (nicknamed our “Reputation Queen”) Theresa Barnes will break down the top negative reviews property managers get, and what you can do about it.

What Our Data Shows About Negative Property Management Reviews

We analyzed data from over 2,600 negative reviews submitted from January 2019 to August 7, 2020 and here’s what we found:

Who Submits the Most Negative Reviews About Property Management Companies?

You’re not going to be surprised that tenants submit more negative reviews than owners do, but how big is that difference? Well, the data we studied show that over 90% of negative reviews come from tenants, which makes perfect sense given that property management companies interact with more renters than with owners in their day to day operations.

Think about it this way:

What is your average number of units per owner?

It’s very unlikely that you have 1 owner per unit you manage, but for the sake of argument let’s assume you have a 1:1 ratio (by the way, if you have a 1:1 owner to door ratio, your business is likely not scalable!).

Now, what is your average number of residents per unit?

It’s very likely 2 or more per unit, but for the sake of argument, let’s low ball the ratio and settle with 2:1 (2 residents per unit on average). Side note, if you’re managing mostly single family homes, your ratio will be much higher.
Two pie charts demonstrating about 95% of the negative reviews we analyzed in 2019 and 2020 came from tenants

With this quick math, you’ll see why there is such a big tenant footprint when it comes to reviews.

What Are the Most Common Issues Mentioned in Negative Tenant Reviews?

Note that a lot of these negative reviews bring up multiple issues, and so we identified the top 3 issues or themes from the actual reviews and then looked at how often certain issues/themes came up.

The top issue that kept showing up in the negative tenant reviews we analyzed is by far Maintenance, which shows up around 48% of the time. This is followed by Communication, Customer Service/ Experience, and Move Ins.

Notice that we didn’t combine move ins with move outs. We wanted to see which one had a greater impact on negative reviews, and it turned out that Move Ins ended up getting more mentions in the negative reviews we analyzed.

The types of complaints about maintenance tend to be related to the speed of issues getting resolved, work/repairs not being done properly, poor coordination with vendors/ vendors not honoring appointments, and work orders being closed even before the issue was fixed.

A graph demonstrating the various categories that negative tenant reviews fall into.

If you’re concerned that reviews you’re receiving are inauthentic, read up on what you should do in “How to Manage Inauthentic Property Management Reviews in a Reputation-Driven Market.”

What Are the Common Complaints From Negative Property Owner Reviews?

Negative owner reviews also tend to have multiple themes in each one, so we followed the same methodology and here are the results:

  1. The top two complaints we found coming from owners are: Communication (which shows up over 50% of the time) as well as Customer Service/ Experience (which shows up over 40% of the time).
  2. These are followed by Owner Disbursements, Fees/ Charges, Property Condition, and Maintenance.

The owner reviews that complain about poor communication tend to mention lack of transparency about what is going on in the property, not being able to get anyone from the company on the phone, and not getting followed up on after they have sent emails or left voicemails.

On the Customer Service/ Experience side, they mention rude/ unprofessional staff and not feeling like the PM company cares.

Issues with owner disbursements is a clear pain point, but tend to go hand in hand with complaints about poor communication from the property manager. Setting expectations and promptly notifying owners about any unforeseen issues related to disbursements is definitely a great thing to do.

On the Fees/ Charges side, reviews mention unreasonable fees and charges that do not have supporting documentation.

A graph demonstrating the various categories that negative owner reviews fall into.

The Overlap Between Negative Tenant and Owner Reviews

What’s interesting is if we look at the issues each group mentions in their negative reviews, we start seeing some overlap.

A Venn diagram demonstrating the unique negative review issues to tenants and to owners, and the negative review issues that both tenants and owners have in common.

Communication, Customer Service, and Maintenance are the top themes that overlap for both groups. So generally speaking, looking into improving these 3 areas of your business could greatly improve your reputation. It might be tempting to just focus on those three things and call it a day. But that may not be enough for certain businesses.

How to Improve Your Property Management Online Reputation

If you truly want to improve your online reputation, we recommend a three-step process:

Step 1: Analyze your existing negative reviews and identify root causes

You may find that your negative reviews may skew a bit differently from the average, and that’s okay. Remember that negative reviews that are specific to your company are better indicators of what you can do to improve since they are direct feedback from your own customers.

Then, it’s very important to work with your team in identifying the root cause of these complaints. Write down what you think are the root causes, and then keep digging deeper until you can’t go any further.

Step 2: Fix the root causes of those complaints (aka stop the bleeding!)

Be diligent but patient with this one, coz much like a weed, if you don’t pull up the roots they’re just gonna keep coming back.

Step 3: Time to repair your Online Reputation (aka start the healing!)

Once the root causes are addressed, it’s time to start asking for reviews again. Be patient during this time, and keep your eyes on any new negative reviews that may come up. Identify the root cause so you can nip it in the bud before it gets out of control. And yes, we’re basically going back to step 1!

If you’re curious about ways you can incentivize online reviews, check out our blog, “Incentivizing Your Online Property Management Reviews: What to Do and What Not to Do.”

Key to Getting a Better Average Star Rating

The reality is, online reputation is a numbers game. Your average star rating is directly impacted by each review, whether it’s from an owner or a tenant. The less total reviews you have, the more your average rating can swing with each negative review.

Just asking for more reviews without fixing the root causes can just amplify the problem.

The recipes for positive tenant reviews and positive owner reviews have similar ingredients:

  • Efficient & transparent communication
  • Showing empathy and putting yourself in your client’s shoes
  • Clear processes and accountability when dealing with issues or complaints from clients

If you need any help improving your property management company’s online reputation, or have more questions about our data and negative property management reviews, contact us at Fourandhalf Marketing Agency. We’ve been helping property managers with reputation management since 2014, and helping them market to owners since 2012. Give us a call or send us an email. Thanks for watching and/or reading!

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