CONTRIBUTORSOpinion

Nick Brown: The reality of reviews

A property manager’s job is never easy, but what happens when a bad review turns up online? Nick Brown offers some tips on responding and what you can do to set the record straight.

Disputes make a property manager’s world go around.

Our job wouldn’t exist if every tenancy was perfect and every tenant paid their rent a month in advance.

We also wouldn’t be here if every landlord had a perfect house, without the need for ongoing maintenance and upkeep.

But welcome to reality – that doesn’t exist.

I’ve written a lot recently about the stresses of the past year and the impact it has had on people’s emotions and workplace efficiencies.

What I haven’t touched on is that it takes someone with pretty broad shoulders to brush off some of the abuse, accusations and lies landlords, tenants and – unfortunately – colleagues may use to lash out at their property manager.

It’s because they have no one else to blame, and don’t want to turn the spotlight on themselves.

Not everyone in our industry is on the receiving end of abuse, and not all of our industry is perfect.

The unfortunate thing is that property managers are often the ones ‘caught in the middle’ because a landlord or a tenant doesn’t stick to their role or do the right thing – then wants to lash out.

In these instances, life can be tough on a property manager.

Over the past month, I have worked with an agency in Queensland that has copped the wrong end of the stick.

They have had a run of poor reviews online that are unwarranted.

They are seeking legal advice on the accusations, the defamatory words that have been used and the impact the reviews have had on the business.

They are the first to admit they aren’t perfect, but I can assure you that what is being said about this agency, and its team, is nothing short of disgusting.

There have even been threats made against some team members and their families.

At what point did being a property manager come to this?

This issue has stopped me in my tracks and made me earnestly consider how we can combat it.

How can we overcome false, negative reviews and slander?

Many people look to Google and social media reviews to appoint an agency.

Yet, as consumers, we are also quick to jump online and provide negative feedback – probably without realising the impact this may have on a business.

Everyone has the right to an opinion, but I think agencies should consider the following as a process to handle these situations:

  • Nominate one person to respond to online reviews, not just negative reviews, but all reviews.
  • Have standardised responses ready to create consistency in the brand and the acknowledgement of reviews.
  • Encourage the online reviewer to reach out and inquire, make a complaint or an appointment with the office to resolve the matter in person.
  • If you know a review is false or from someone not associated with the business, you should approach it in a considered manner. You should respond and stand your ground but don’t be dismissive. It’s important to call out a false review but in a professional way.
  • Everyone is entitled to an opinion, even if it’s not always favourable for you and your brand. It’s how you approach your reviews and respond that is most important. Don’t forget, if you have five positive reviews and one negative, it shows most people have been happy with you and what you do as a brand.

There is no perfect way to handle negative reviews.

In my case, I am happy to call someone out where I think the information they have put in writing will be defamatory or implies something that is not true.

I’ve had success talking with some tenants about the review and having them remove it after our discussion.

Sometimes people want to be heard and understood, and sometimes they are downright horror stories.

Put a plan in place, hold your head high, remember that while a poor review might feel personal, you should always approach it with an ‘agency’ response.

Don’t publish personal opinions as that will only fuel the fire even more.

Most of all – make sure that what you do on a day-to-day basis is documented.

It’s hard to argue with someone who has all the facts in writing, all the information about the tenancy recorded and all the evidence to show who has done what.

  • Nick Brown has more than 20 years’ experience in the real estate industry and is the founder of Edge Property Agents. For more information visit edgeproperty.com.au

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