Owner and Qualifying Broker at Rhino Realty Property Management and Rhino Realty B&B, entrepreneur, investor, advisor, author and speaker.
Like it or not, the world revolves around reviews and social media. So much so that many of today’s potential clients or consumers will weigh your review score as much as or more than a direct referral. And in regard to real estate and property management, there is no exception. With this type of shift and demand, there is much more pressure to increase reviews and, more importantly, maintain a squeaky-clean online image. Potential new clients are looking to find you quickly when they open up their browser, so it is crucial to be on point with your reviews and online presence if you or your brokerage is going to thrive.
However, this comes with a catch. One of the biggest issues for the reviewee is that most if not all reviews are based on unfiltered public opinion, with little or no defense or justification required for a review to be left. If that weren’t challenging enough, very few sites or policies protect the business or broker if false claims are made. This makes for a very challenging goal of pleasing the masses and at times leaves you feeling like you need to be a doormat or reluctant to speak the truth in fear of retribution.
But, if you are able to master the online world of reviews and social media, it can help scale your company and turn into a healthy source of business. Here are some tips for building your online presence.
Pick The Right Platform And Ignore The Rest
With so many different platforms, it is almost impossible to have an active and strong presence on each one. Even if you are in the position to have a third party run and monitor multiple sites, it doesn’t mean the ROI is there. This makes it crucial to study which platforms have the most influence and impact in your niche and market. Otherwise, you can waste a lot of time and money on platforms that have very little impact on your business. It’s better to go after one or two platforms that give you immediate results. In the end, this typically offsets the reviews on other platforms.
Respond To Each Review
If you want to show the public that you and your company are truly professional, it is crucial that all reviews — especially negative reviews — are responded to relatively quickly. Most consumers gloss over all the positive and five-star feedback and lock straight into the bad. This is human nature, and a rapid response is vital to provide a clear dialogue that gives the reader both sides of the story. Not responding can leave a reader the impression that you don’t care, are not serious or are guilty.
Reply With Facts, Not Emotion
This is a key component of dealing with online reviews. You may find that some are blatant lies, overexaggerated or left out of spite. No one likes to be blasted online or threatened with a bad review, and your reaction may be to become emotional and go on the defensive. However, it’s best to steer away from emotion, stick to the facts and hold your integrity. Doing this will show a potential new client reading the reviews a positive perspective and hopefully hold you in higher esteem.
With that said, it does not mean you should be a pushover. For example, if someone leaves a poor review with no explanation, you should always respond with a question, such as: “We are sorry that you had a bad experience with us. In order to help raise our standard, can you please give us more feedback so we can do better? We would love to raise our review and know what we did wrong so we can fix it.”
For another example, if someone just leaves profanities or aggressive statements with no facts, or gets personal, this is the time to be more assertive. Depending on your niche, brand and industry, even a bit of sarcastic humor or witty banter may be an option. At times, it can help shine a light on the obvious tone of the negative review and level the playing field without you having to become defensive or emotional.
When You Are Wrong, Own Up And Fix It
Mistakes are bound to happen, of course. If you clearly drop the ball and get hammered with a negative review, take accountability and do all you can to make it right. Being too defensive on each review can give readers the perception that you can never admit to wrongdoing. So, make sure you are fair in all your evaluations and take responsibility when appropriate. Doing so shows professionalism and culpability to future clients, even if you can’t mend the mistake.
The online review world is a fine dance between truth, justice and apologies. The sooner you find the best option for each circumstance, the quicker you will reap the rewards of a flourishing business.