The following word clouds are comprised of actual words and phrases from the 3,000 reviews we surveyed.

*The above word clouds are comprised of actual words and phrases from the 3,000 reviews we surveyed.

In my last article we covered some of the results from our survey of almost 3,000 reviews of property management companies on Yelp and Yahoo Local (read it first). We found that while there was a mix of tenants, owners, contractors, and realtors leaving reviews, the vast majority of the reviews were left by tenants. This makes sense if for no other reason than the fact that there are far more tenants than any of the other groups.

The fact that the reviews are highly polarized (love or hate) was easy to pick out, but beyond that there were a number of other common themes that came up over and over again. Here were the key issues that for tenants and landlords:

Landlords

Common Complaints

  • Delayed reaction time to phone calls and e-mails
  • Failure to promptly send out checks
  • Excessive and/or unexpected fees (especially maintenance fees)
  • Incompetent maintenance staff or contractors (slow, shoddy, overpriced work)
  • Took too long to find a tenant
  • Placing low quality tenants

Common Praise

  • Quick placement of tenant
  • Placement of quality tenants
  • Made the landlording process easy
  • Professional demeanor and rapport
  • Knowledgeable staff, understand the law and finer points of dealing with tenants

Tenants

Common Complaints

  • Long-standing maintenance requests – Tenant feels ignored or like they’re being passed from person to person in an revolving door of personnel and empty promises and excuses.
  • Run down dwelling – Everything from bugs to water spots. The worse the circumstances the more upset they are and the more explosive and colorful the review.
  • Rejection of maintenance or upgrade requests
  • Hard to get ahold of management. Took multiple phone calls and emails.
  • Failure to return all or a portion of the security deposit.
  • Rent increases – too often or a sharp jump.
  • Unfair enforcement of lease violations, fees and evictions.
  • Poor interpersonal skills – Property manager was rude, condescending etc.
  • Bait & switch – Showing a unit different than the actual unit issued, making false or misleading promises or move-in incentives, etc.

Common Praise

  • Friendly caring staff
  • Property manager was understanding and genuinely wanted to help tenant
  • Quick response to maintenance requests

It likely comes as no surprise to property managers that the list of complaints is longer than praises from tenants. The reasons for this are important as tenant reviews shape the overall atmosphere for online reviews of management companies. I’ll be covering this soon in a post titled “Why people love to hate their property management company”.

Want to beat me to the punch and provide your own explanation of what influences the online reviews we see in this industry? Let me know in the comments.

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Over the last five years customer rating and reviews sites have exploded onto the scene as a major force in the buying and decision making process for consumers. From sites built around reviews like Yelp, to internet yellow pages (IYP’s) which have incorporated them as an important feature, online reviews abound and consumers are using them to decide where to buy.

Much has been said about the good and evil of rating & review sites which often struggle to balance the interests of the businesses being reviewed, the users leaving the reviews, and their own financial interests. No matter how you feel about these sites it’s clear they are here to stay and affecting the businesses being reviewed. It’s not uncommon to see sites like Yelp ranking on the first page for searches on company names, or to see reviews from multiple sites aggregated in the search results of Google Maps.

Property management ratings on Yahoo Local

Every industry has a unique set of dynamics that influence the average customer sentiment, and while we had a pretty strong hunch of how property managers fare on these sites, we decided to do the research required to get some more concrete data.

We decided to use Yahoo Local as our source for reviews because of it’s size and reputation as one of the largest, longest standing sites in this space. We surveyed their reviews for property management companies in the following cities:

  • Austin
  • Atlanta
  • Boston
  • Dallas
  • Denver
  • Indianapolis
  • New York
  • Orlando
  • Phoenix

Of the +15,000 property management companies listed in these cities, roughly 7% had reviews. These 1,022 companies had a total of 2,118 reviews which we used to generate the following charts:

Yahoo Local’s ratings and reviews for property management companies

Breakout of property management company ratings on Yahoo LocalBreakout of property management company reviews on Yahoo Local

*Note: Reviewers can only rate with whole stars but average company ratings are calculated using half stars.

As you can see there is a very strong polarization with 90% of all reviews being either 1 or 5 stars. The average company rating further validates this strong trend of highly polarized sentiment toward property management companies.

Because of the anecdotal research we had done in the past, we were prepared to find polarization, but we were still surprised to see just how strong it was.

The stark nature of these results piqued our interest in understanding how they would compare against another review site, as well as how these ratings for property management companies would compare to other industries.

Comparing Yahoo Local to Yelp

We chose to look at Yelp because they are a well known platform built around online reviews and claim to have a filtering mechanism that weeds out fake/fraudulent user reviews. We wanted to see how this would impact the reviews compared to Yahoo Local which is much less aggressive in filtering their review results. In addition, Yelp has provided benchmarks for the average distribution of reviews on their platform across all industries and business types.

We looked at the ratings for property management companies in the same 13 cities which yielded 840 reviews from 208 companies. While the average number of reviews per company is considerably higher on Yelp (4 per company on Yelp vs 2 per company on Yahoo Local), the overall number of property management companies reviewed was about a fifth of what was on Yahoo Local in the same geography. This is at least in part because of the more aggressive review filtering mechanism Yelp uses.

Yelp’s ratings and reviews for property management companies

Breakout of property management company ratings on YelpBreakout of property management company reviews on Yelp

*Note: Reviewers can only rate with whole stars but average company ratings are calculated using half stars.

The reviews on Yelp were more balanced than Yahoo Local, but the strong polarization towards 1 and 5 star reviews is still clear. It becomes even more clear when we compare the reviews we collected from Yahoo Local and Yelp specifically for property management companies vs the reviews from Yelp across all industries and business types.

Comparison of review counts for Yelp sitewide with property management company reviews

Average # of stars given:

  • Yahoo Local (Property management companies only)
    • 2.2 stars
  • Yelp (Property management companies only)
    • 2.7 stars
  • Yelp  (Across all industries and business types)
    • 3.8 stars
  • BazaarVoice Rating Service (Across all industries and business types)
    • 4.3 stars

Clearly online reviews for property management companies are far more polarized than other industries. Tomorrow we will be posting a follow up post on some more of what we found in surveying these reviews as well as our thoughts on what specific industry dynamics cause this polarization.

What do you think about these results?

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  1. There are no facts inside the building. The only person who knows about your customer… is your customer. If you really want to know what they think then go talk to them and start asking broad questions about their needs, not if they like your product/service.
  2. Remember Parkinson’s Law: Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. Force yourself to meet deadlines. This requires getting better at making realistic time projections.
  3. Ruthlessly apply the 80/20 rule. Measure, to find what works really well and focus your time there. Beware, distractions abound.
  4. Avoid information overload. Limit your consumption to what you can actually use at this present time.
  5. Never underestimate your ability to delude yourself. Fight this with testing, metrics, peer review and mentorship.
  6. Business plans always fail. Learn to pivot. The goal is to get to plan B.
  7. Don’t put your life on hold to start a business. It doesn’t work. Make sure you are engaging in sustainable habits from day one.
  8. Work on what you’re passionate about. Don’t build a business around something you’re not passionate about. A day will come when your regret it and it starts to suck the life out of you.
  9. On the web, if there’s a person, product or process that sounds to good to be true. It is. Lock your wallet and run. People selling shortcuts are almost always selling nothing for something (This is especially true with internet marketing). Don’t believe me? That’s how scammers stay in business.

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Post image for How to get actionable insights from analytics

Web analytics is fraught with frustration for a lot of website owners, myself included. Tools like Google Analytics (GA) have made the data easily accessible, but that is not the same as making it understandable. Too often I feel like GA is my resident geek employee that makes for a good conversationalist at the water cooler, but rarely contributes anything of value to the company. Maybe it’s my fault for not giving him something to do…

Here are some pointers I’ve gleaned from Avinash Kaushik’s book, Web Analytics, an Hour a Day, that we’re using to revamp our analytics strategy. Maybe you can use them to get more mileage out of Google Analytics on your website.

What is analytics for? If you’re using it as a glorified stat counter, so that you can pat yourself on the back each month (been there, done that), it is largely a waste of time. Might make you feel good, but it isn’t creating value. Analytics should be used to make actionable recommendations that improve your company’s ability to communicate with your customers. When was the last time you used analytics to make an important business decision? If this isn’t happening, your company either doesn’t need an analytics package, or you need to upgrade your strategy.

First, recognize that your focus should be on the website visitor, not on yourself. Don’t approach your analytics asking “what is the website doing for my company?” Instead, ask “How is the website doing in terms of delivering value for the customer?”

Second, don’t expect your analytics to spoon-feed you actionable insights. Reporting does not equal analysis. By now I’ve learned not to spend time aimlessly wading through the data; it’s just not productive. To gain insights from analytics, you have to approach it as a tool to answer specific questions. Don’t expect helpful answers if you aren’t asking the right questions.

Here are the initial steps required to make headway with Google Analytics.

1. Sign up for an account, if you haven’t already.
http://www.google.com/analytics/

2. Tag all your pages properly
If you have a dynamic website, you may run into some data collection issues related to your page parameters, so make sure that Analytics is identifying your pages correctly. When you’re done, give it a day or so and confirm that Analytics is receiving data for all your pages. As an alternative, you could use a tool like SiteScanGA.com to verify that you installed the codes correctly.

3. Set up conversion goals
Without conversion goals, Google Analytics is just a glorified stat counter. Identify the pages on your site that your visitors hit after completing a desired action, like a checkout confirmation page. Set up conversion goals for your profile by entering this goal url, and any important pages preceding it in the conversion “funnel”. This will allow you to see reports on which of your visitors complete the goal, and gain some insight on how to improve your funnel.

4. Decide what to measure
One of the most perplexing problems is deciding what key performance indicators (KPI’s) are meaningful and worth measuring. My recommendation is to keep a tight focus and start small. For us, monthly traffic is an important metric, but it isn’t actionable, because that by itself doesn’t give us enough data to make a decision. We’ve had to drill deeper, looking at traffic sources. We have a number of kpi’s that give us a good idea of our progress in the search engines and other referral sources.

Conversion rate can be a very useful metric, but keep in mind that it is as much a product of external, offsite factors as internal, onsite factors. Since the search engines are continually displaying us for more keywords, traffic quality has been volitile, and it would be a mistake to attribute that simply to onsite changes we’ve made.

In addition to your monthly KPI’s, which should be few and focused, analytics can help you answer important one-off questions. For example, you could identify your most popular landing page and ask, “what can I do to improve engagement on this page?” You would probably look at the search keywords people are using to discover the page, and make sure it addresses their question. You could improve your calls to action (CTA’s) on the page to make your visitors are aware of what else you offer.

If you’ve set up tracking for a conversion funnel, you can use the funnel analysis report to identify which pages users tend to bail out on, and where they go. Use this information to make improvements to the weak page, and see if your conversions don’t go up.

These are some of the things we’ve been thinking about as we’ve revisited Google Analytics. Do you currently use an analytics package to track your visitor data? How is it helping you?

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ManageMyProperty.com was launched to make it easier for property owners to find, review and select a property manager for their properties.

Property owners want to be able to see more than an address and phone number when deciding who will manage their property or association. With ManageMyProperty.com, owners will be able to view detailed management company profiles as well as guides on what to expect and how to navigate through the process of selecting a manager.

For property managers, we provide an affordable way to promote their business with a transparent pay for performance pricing model.

The goals of the ManageMyProperty.com blog are to:

  • Provide a forum for interacting with our customers and the property management industry as a whole.
  • Answer the common questions that come up when thinking about and looking for a property manager.
  • Offer commentary and insight on trends and best practices in the property management industry.
  • Document what’s involved in the start-up process.

Blogging code of ethics:
As a reader of this blog, you can expect that we will:

  • Be honest
  • Stay on topic
  • Have a sense of humor
  • Correct our errors and omissions promptly
  • Have thick skin
  • Never have anyone that is not member of the staff write blog posts unless this is clearly and explicitly disclosed
  • Acknowledge and respond to criticism
  • Respond promptly to comments and e-mails
  • Reveal conflicts of interest

Comment policy:
We want to hear from you and to that end we do not delete or censor comments unless they fall into the following categories:

  • Abusive
  • Off-topic
  • Crude
  • Spam
  • Ad-hominem

ManageMyProperty.com’s service is still in development and we will be launching in June. We hope you enjoy the blog and look forward to receiving your feedback.

If you are a property manager, homeowner or are involved with the property management industry and would like to be notified when we launch, send an email to jordan at managemyproperty.com.

Sincerely,

jordans-gravatar-image-small-crop christopher-gravatar

Jordan Muela and Christopher Berkompas
Co-founders, ManageMyProperty.com

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