A Digital World: How Your Apartment Community Brand Can Help You Weather Economic Storms

May 27, 2020

Estimated Reading Time: 5 min

The internet, social media, and thousands of mobile-friendly applications have taken the world by storm, and there’s little chance of this trend slowing down anytime soon. With websites like Google, Angie’s List, Yelp, and many others, your online brand is an increasingly vital part of your business. While most of the current market residents are made up of Millennials, Generation Z will soon be replacing them in our resident lists as Millennials make the move into home ownership. Because of the overwhelming presence of technology in the lives of Generation Z, maintaining a strong online presence and providing opportunities for brand trust can ultimately make or break a business. 

Reviews that Kill

Generation Z and Millennials are both tech-savvy generations, and utilizing online reviews in nearly all of their purchasing and leasing decisions has become a normal way of life. Whether they’re purchasing a mattress or looking for a new home, 93% of consumers use online reviews to determine the worth of a purchase or investment. Considering the economy, it makes sense that they would want to ensure that they’re spending their money wisely, and while the method of delivery may have changed, reviews still represent the “best” form of marketing-- word of mouth. 

Here are some real reviews from unhappy residents:

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Reviews like this play a massive role in determining whether a prospect wants to live at your property, and based on these reviews, it’s likely you wouldn’t want to live in any of these listings either. 

So, how do we protect our brand against negative reviews? The answer is more obvious than you’d think. While many companies or property managers spend time replying to these online reviews in an attempt to “correct” the situation, the best practices for situations like these are to read them and heed them. 

Residents, like the ones in the reviews above, should never have to wait for days to pass before their maintenance needs are addressed, especially if those requests are high-level requests like broken air conditioning. In addition, there should be a greater focus on resident satisfaction, especially for existing residents. While pulling in new prospects is important, maintaining good relationships with your current tenants is key to building your brand. Satisfied residents, just like unhappy ones, leave reviews, and their good reviews will encourage leads. 

Some good reviews:

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How Does This Help in Hardship?

Brand loyalty is a powerful entity in any market. It drives customers to continue using a product even if prices rise or even if a better product hits the shelves. It’s the same for residents in apartments they love. Even in situations, like the COVID-19 epidemic, where the rental market is in an unpredictable space, happy residents will put their best efforts towards maintaining their livelihood in a home they appreciate. In fact, while investors across the nation worried about the potential for significant losses in rent collection, residents everywhere surprised owners by prioritizing their rent. According to the National Multifamily Housing Council, upwards of 90% of residents paid their rent in May 2020, despite possible job losses due to COVID-19. 

As owners, it’s important to keep in mind that you’re selling more than a shelter to residents. You’re selling an experience. Your residents want a space where they can have over their family for football games or host a book club. They want warmth and comfort in dealing with staff. You’re, in a way, serving them a version of their American Dream, and people, in general, will protect that dream in return. Not only will happy residents leave outstanding reviews, but they will also respond to negative ones, to counter the argument. Brand loyalty will inspire your residents to take action for you.

Overall, it is worth the time and effort to invest in your digital brand as the world becomes increasingly more technologically invested. We’ve passed the days where prospects would ride around town looking for a place to live, and now, if your apartment community is lacking an online presence, it will cost you leads.