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Drive great reviews to a new GBP, free up onsite teams time to focus on improving the resident experience
Outside of Miami, Florida, right before the COVID pandemic hit, Alberto Amador was getting excited. Well-established in the multifamily industry, Amador had just changed jobs. His new employer, Terra Group, owned the last building he managed and the group had just launched its own property management company: Grove Management.
Grove Management hired Amador to help develop, launch and manage a new lease-up property: Natura Gardens multifamily community.
Armed with a considerable marketing budget and a resilient onsite team, Amador felt prepared to tackle the challenge of filling 460 units as the Area Community Manager.
But first, he needed Google reviews to get found online and appear as a legitimate business.
Getting lease-up reviews on Google is typically harder than getting reviews for a stabilized community. Mainly because Google only grants Google Business Profiles (GBPs) to businesses with a physical address capable of receiving mail. So, when buildings are in the construction phase and can’t yet receive mail, these properties cannot set up a GBP.
It’s a Catch-22.
By the time the building can receive mail and therefore can set up a GBP, lease-up marketers want to be actively promoting the community as much as possible in order to fill the units quickly.
But it’s hard to market a community with a fresh GBP and zero reviews. How can prospective residents trust a location that’s not peer-reviewed?
Natura Gardens’ strategy to address this issue was to try and get as many reviews as possible in a short period of time once its GBP was set up. Lease-up marketers need to build a positive reputation quickly by driving reviews to the community’s new GBP.
Amador had used Widewail’s Invite and Engage in the past. The previous property management company he worked for used Invite to get its property more reviews and Engage for resident responses. And Amador himself had seen great results with both products.
“When we switched management companies and I had the ability to choose a reputation management company, obviously, my first choice was Widewail. Fortunately, Grove Management said, “Cool, you love them? We love them.”
And so Natura Gardens trusted Widewail to make sure the new multifamily community was accurately represented online.
“When we switched management companies and I had the ability to choose a reputation management company, obviously, my first choice was Widewail. Fortunately, Grove Management said, 'Cool, you love them? We love them.'"
—Alberto Amador, Area Community Manager
In its lease-up phase, Natura Gardens needed to populate its Google Business Profile with reviews, fast. Rather than wait for reviews to come in organically, Amador decided to actively solicit reviews using an automated review generation tool.
Widewail’s Invite is an automated review solicitation tool that texts residents or prospects via SMS asking for a review. Texts go out either when triggered by an event in a community’s PMS, in this case, Yardi, (think: after a tour is completed, after a renewal is processed, etc.) or when sent manually by an onsite team member.
The team at Natura Gardens decided the best way to ensure residents leave reviews was to automate the request process but to still give residents and prospects a heads-up in person that they would be receiving a text message asking for a review.
“Once a prospect's tour is complete, we want to mention that they will be receiving a link. And if they had a great experience and they enjoyed it, it's easy for them to share that experience online.”
The combination of Amador’s leadership, encouraging onsite team involvement, and facilitating trainings with members of Widewail’s onboarding team led to teamwide success.
Amador also recognized that a property’s responses to reviews heavily influence a prospect’s decision whether or not to live there. Natura Gardens needed a review response service to make sure these responses were drafted professionally and efficiently while saving its team time.
Not only do they weigh into a final decision, but reviews are sometimes the first topics discussed on tours.
“We’re seeing that often prospects actually prove they read the reviews when they come in to look at an apartment. They’ll bring up reviews and ask direct questions about them to figure it out or ask for an explanation.”
If there is already a management response to a negative review, the prospect’s mind is eased and they don’t tend to question negative reviews as readily on tours.
“Widewail helps us take this off our plate entirely by being able to answer all our reviews. Now, we have more time to answer phones and give the proper attention to the prospects and residents in front of us.”
—Alberto Amador, Area Community Manager
With a review response service monitoring and managing reviews, “Widewail helps us take this off our plate entirely by being able to answer all our reviews. Now, we have more time to answer phones and give the proper attention to the prospects and residents in front of us.”
Now, questions that would have been brought up on tours are answered in advance on behalf of Natura Gardens by Widewail. To prospects before their tour, the property looks thoughtful, engaged and attentive.
Review generation has gone very well in the first four months since launching the review generation software Invite, despite unexpected delays in property construction along the way.
“Due to construction delays, we didn’t have our move-in right away. We had to push people back, which caused us to lose some of the leases for those who couldn’t wait that long.”
The challenge, then, was to make the property appealing to prospective tenants and to reassure them that construction would be over soon. A key part of this was to ensure the property was receiving great reviews to continue attracting prospects.
Using Widewail’s Invite, Natura Gardens jump-started its GBP with massive review volume.
In four months, the property received:
Widewail’s managed review response service, Engage, has taken the stress of addressing online feedback off of Amador. The Widewail team of responders is highly skilled in crafting review responses that are thoughtful, keyword-rich and professional.
Amador especially likes the approval process for negative reviews. This allows him to share contextual information to responders, who then turn the initial details into an SEO-friendly response that follows best practices in multifamily.
“Widewail specializes in multifamily, and I love how your responders can reword things. I can explain approximately what I’d like to say in a reply and a responder on the other side rewords it and it’s perfect: ‘Yes, that is exactly what I was trying to say!’”
An added bonus: Widewail’s response team is multilingual, capable of responding to reviews in Spanish, French and English when relevant. With many multilingual prospects and residents, Natura Gardens appreciates Widewail’s ability to respond to reviews in the same language they’re written in.
“Widewail specializes in multifamily, and I love how your responders can reword things. I can explain approximately what I’d like to say in a reply and a responder on the other side rewords it and it’s perfect: ‘Yes, that is exactly what I was trying to say!”
—Alberto Amador, Area Community Manager
Customer service from Widewail was key throughout the initial implementation of the two products. Widewail’s responsiveness and willingness to answer any question during onboarding helped Amador feel confident about the relationship to come.
His main point of contact was Katie Ritter, Widewail’s Multifamily Lead, who he wanted to acknowledge as being incredibly responsive:
“Katie is amazing. During my setup process, I remember she was getting married and she called me, saying ‘I'm getting married today,’ but she still was helping me. The fact that she returned my call on her wedding day was super cool and that was a testament to the level of support that Widewail gives us.”**Katie wanted to clarify that this phone call took place the day before her wedding, not while she was getting ready to walk down the aisle.
The Natura Gardens team is leading the charge in multifamily and overcoming one of the biggest barriers blocking multifamily marketers today: being hesitant to ask for reviews.
Amador thinks it’s time for others in multifamily to rethink the review request as an opportunity, especially given his success in generating great reviews with tools like Widewail’s Invite.
“In order to get more positive reviews, it’s important that the multifamily industry feel comfortable enough to ask for a review and not just wait. Because if you don’t ask for it, you’re not going to get it. Widewail makes it much easier to make the conversation a little bit different and enables someone to write something short and leave something positive for us.”
As the adage goes: ask and you shall receive.
*See more of our Property Management Reputation case studies.
Learn how Widewail can help your multifamily portfolio get more Google reviews and attract more prospective residents. Schedule a demo today.