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May 28, 2024

The Resident #002: Who Will Win?

Multifamily has a review volume problem. The operators that figure out how to leverage high-frequency resident interactions like tours and maintenance requests to maximize reviews will win.

Welcome to The Resident. Each month, we explore multifamily reputation and sentiment data. Our research is based on the Widewail Multifamily Reputation Index, a database of 400,000 resident reviews. For more, go to widewail.com/data.

We have a prediction. 

Operators that get this right will be the reputational winners in the next 24 months.

But before I get into that, some context.

Multifamily has a review volume problem. The average community generates 1.59 Google reviews/month.

Automotive averages 9x that volume. A dealership in California, Longo Toyota, averages 600+ Google reviews per month. 1,500 dealerships in the U.S. average >50 reviews per month. Yes, automotive and multifamily have several apparent differences, but multifamily can narrow that gap.

Here’s how we recommend you approach solving the review volume problem.

Operators need to go after the lifecycle stages that have the highest activity levels: tours and maintenance requests.

Tours are the lowest-hanging fruit.

So, start with tours.

Currently, tour reviews account for only 5.85% of all reviews in the Multifamily Reputation Index, with an average rating of 4.18, the highest of any of the lifecycle stages.

Tour – 4.18

Move-In - 3.87

Maintenance - 2.89

Renewal - 2.98

Move-Out - 1.98

If you’re not asking for reviews after a tour, take this as my official recommendation: start now. 

A tour is 100% a “reviewable event.” It’s a material interaction with your community. You invest a lot in a great tour experience, so capitalize on that positivity early in the resident lifecycle.

But here’s the thing. It won’t be long before the industry figures this out.

It’s a simple win. High volume + high ratings = better reputations.

A solid tour review generation strategy will likely become table stakes soon, offering no competitive advantage.

The lasting reputational winners will leverage maintenance reviews.

Maintenance is the true winner. Why? Because it’s hard. But it’s also high volume.

Let’s dig into some data to back up my claim.

Maintenance is the number one cause of negativity, mentioned in 34% of negative reviews. The average maintenance review rating is 2.89.

Sentiment surrounding maintenance skews negative, but remember, every portfolio deals with similar negativity. 

We think about improving your reputation from two sides simultaneously: maximizing positivity while minimizing negativity. You won’t be able to eliminate negativity in maintenance, but you can reduce it below the levels of your competitors.

That said, maintenance is driving positivity in a few areas.

“Maintenance staff” is the #3 most often mentioned topic in positive reviews. While maintenance issues are generating a lot of negative feedback, the people involved are a leading cause of positive outcomes.

During renewal, positive mentions of maintenance occur 80% more often than the benchmark. This suggests when maintenance is well-regarded, it is a significant driver of renewals.

Somebody will figure out how to build a positive reputation with maintenance. And that portfolio is going to set itself apart in a way that is hard to match.

Tomorrow, May 29th, we are going deeper into maintenance feedback sourced directly from resident reviews in Part 2 of our Voice of the Resident Event Series: Residency. Join us at 3 PM EST or watch on-demand any time after.

Register for Voice of Resident Part 2: Residency

If you’re already registered, this link will also get you to the event. See you there!

The Widewail team had a great time at Multifamily Marketing East last week! For a first-time event, it exceeded expectations.

To those we met and those we missed - see you at NAA! We are booking meetings now.

And don't forget, Part 3 of the Voice of the Resident Series is next week:

June 6th @3PM EST: Voice of the Resident: Retention

You can find Part 1 here.

See you in Philly - Jake, Marketing at Widewail

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