by J. Retinger
For nearly 25 years, the ability to post an online review has been a way people can either give praise about an experience or share their disappointment and list every single reason why their experience was so bad. Every industry has to deal with it, but for multifamily, online reviews hit differently.
All reviews are good in the sense that it’s feedback on where a community is succeeding or where there’s room for improvement. However, negative online reviews for things like community cleanliness and an abundance of pet waste can crush a community’s reputation. While these are seemingly little things, they do add up; over time prospects take note when a resident flags an apartment community as being dirty or unkept. Negative reviews can hinder a community’s leasing, renewals and asset value.
One of the biggest offenders that makes a property look unappealing is unscooped pet waste. Beyond the health implications and the unsanitary living conditions it breeds, unscooped pet waste is a top producer of negative online reviews.
According to the latest Multifamily Pet Policies and Amenities survey conducted by PetScreening and J. Turner Research, 84% of respondents ranked pet waste as their No. 1 pet-related concern. When that many people share such a concern, it definitely translates in online reviews. While every review deserves a response that shows operators care about their communities, the ones that discuss pet waste being left behind are actually the easiest to correct.
Adding more fully stocked bag waste stations and asking maintenance teams to pick up unscooped pet waste confronts the issue in part, but eliminating the problem altogether requires a more thorough and proactive approach. Implementing biotechnology services like DNA testing pet waste improves cleanliness and resident satisfaction by holding irresponsible pet owners accountable for their actions. In addition to a 95% average decrease in the amount of unscooped pet waste, many communities that enlist such a program witness a significant drop in the number of negative reviews mentioning pet waste or cleanliness.
Improving a community’s curb-appeal not only enhances resident satisfaction, but it also helps boost a community’s online reputation – and reputation matters.
Chances are that if a resident will make an online remark about a property in need of attention, they will be just as likely to mention a clean, beautiful apartment community in a review and be appreciative of living in such an environment. Wherever people live, they will generally take pride in it and let others know their feelings, good or bad.
Onsite teams can even get their communities involved with pet-related holidays, like National Scoop the Poop Week, to demonstrate to residents they are mindful not only about community cleanliness, but also the impact to the environment and overall community health and well being. These holidays can create fun ways to get residents involved while underscoring the importance of picking up after pets.
In such a competitive industry, operators must leverage every highlight they can to attract and retain residents. Of course, amenities and luxury services are big selling points, but if potential residents won’t even inquire about a community because the online reviews indicate that it’s dirty and unkept, every other effort is done in vain.
It’s no longer simply about providing stellar customer service and meeting residents’ needs in terms of amenities and perks. Although that is still at the core of resident satisfaction and maintaining a good stature as a community, reputation management begins with improving community cleanliness and keeping a pristine curb appeal. When the aesthetics of a property are in order, reviews will inevitably be more positive and attract more potential residents while encouraging longer stays, increasing occupancy and asset value.