Even during a global pandemic, where normal life has been upended and will remain so for the foreseeable future, people still need a place to live. Residents still need to rely on their property managers for assistance. And marketing and leasing professionals still need to ensure that the bottom line of their apartment community remains intact.
Stress is high and the future is unclear, but there are steps you can take to ensure that your residents feel reassured and your online reputation stays as positive as ever.
Keep in mind that both are connected: If your residents are satisfied with where they live, a great online reputation follows and your apartment community will thrive.
Read on for best practices when it comes to communicating with your residents and managing your apartment reputation during this unprecedented time.
Communicate clearly, effectively and empathetically.
Clear communication is important during this time, as your residents most likely feel worried and scared. They need to know what processes are no longer being carried out as usual, such as making rent payments and picking up packages, and they need to know how to reach someone if they have a question or concern. Let residents know that they still have support and you’re there for them, even though they might not be able to walk into the office and speak face-to-face with someone as usual.
Be sensitive to those who are struggling.
A huge portion of Americans are currently out of work because of COVID-19 and might not be able to pay rent on time. Demonstrate patience with anxious renters. Communicate your policy for those who have had a decrease in income in a professional manner.
Set guidelines for maintenance requests.
Given that more people are home now, requests for apartment maintenance service could be surging. If you’re deferring maintenance requests that aren’t urgent, ensure that your residents are aware of this policy. Be specific about which requests will be handled immediately and which ones will be handled later. Many apartment communities’ reputations are affected by negative reviews related to maintenance service, but you can reduce the chances of that happening if you set expectations.
Announce your process for apartment tours and leasing.
Even during a pandemic, people need a place to live and communities need to fill apartments. If you’re now offering self-guided tours or virtual tours only, make sure that’s communicated clearly on your apartment website and all social media channels. Put a sign on the door of your leasing office, especially if staffers are there but can’t open the door. You don’t want any prospective residents to be surprised by any of this, as they’d be more likely to write a negative review if they can’t get the customer service they expect.
Handle quality-of-life complaints with care.
Many people are contending with some anxiety right now. More residents are home, which can result in more complaints related to things like noise transfer. As you handle these situations, keep in mind that some residents have a deep need to be seen and heard right now. Take their complaints seriously and do all you can to resolve them. But, be aware of the collective tension that could be resulting in more of these complaints. A little humanity can go a long way.
Navigate complaints about amenities professionally.
Many Americans are scrutinizing their budgets and trying to reduce wherever they can, which could spark grievances about closed apartment amenities. While residents may understand why they can’t use the pool, fitness center or business center right now, they may request a reduction in rent because they can’t access them for the time being. If applicable, be apologetic and point out as kindly as possible that amenities will be reopened as soon as the health crisis is mitigated.
Put an emphasis on connecting.
Now more than ever, people are looking to connect with others. A great way to do this is to use Respage’s Content Discovery Engine to find useful articles about how to make the most of this time. You may also consider turning apartment community events into virtual ones or organizing community-wide sing-alongs at a certain time every evening.
Ensure that your apartment reputation management plan is ongoing.
Despite your very best efforts, negative apartment reviews during this time are bound to happen. Some review sites are going forward as normal, while others are temporarily changing their operations. Google is currently holding all reviews and will gradually restore functionality by country and business category, although no timeline has been given. In a statement, Yelp announced a zero tolerance policy for any claims in reviews about a business being closed due to COVID-19, and Yelp users are encouraged to flag these reviews for removal. Make sure you have effective messaging in place to respond to these types of reviews, or get help from Respage’s Fair Housing-trained writers.
The current conditions call for a deeper sense of empathy, understanding and patience to not only help residents get through this crisis, but to also ensure that your apartment reputation stays as positive as ever. Respage can help you manage your apartment community’s reputation. We also offer an integrated A.I.-Powered Chatbot + Live Chat that allows you to communicate COVID-19 related messaging to your residents and respond to their questions and concerns quickly from wherever you are working from. Contact us to learn more.