The role of a property manager is to ensure that the properties they oversee are well-maintained. A major part of this process is to respond to tenant complaints and repair requests in a timely and thorough fashion. Unfortunately, property managers often fail to offer a level of responsiveness that tenants expect and deserve. This can lead to tenant frustration and can ultimately damage your image. Below is a look at the most common types of frustration tenants experience and the one simple solution that can prevent these frustrations from hurting your reputation.
What are the most common sources of frustration for tenants?
The key to protecting your reputation as a property manager is to identify the most common sources of tenant frustration and take proactive measures to prevent them from surfacing. The five most common types of property management frustrations that tenants experience are as follows:
1) Inability to speak with a live person when a problem arises
Few things are more frustrating for tenants than being unable to communicate their needs to their property manager. Being unable to have a live conversation with a representative of the property management team can leave tenants feeling disillusioned and worried that their problems might go unaddressed.
2) Poor responsiveness on behalf of property management
"Many of your good tenants could buy a home, but they don't. The National Multi Housing Council calls these folks "renters by choice."...They choose to rent because they don't want to have to deal with taking care a house...That means when they call about something broken, they want it fixed right away, not next week. If they can't get service, why are they paying the big bucks?"
Once a tenant has submitted a repair request, frustration will arise if the property manager does not issue a timely response. Poor communication can leave tenants feeling like their problems are not important and may even spur them to voice their dissatisfaction in online forums.
3) Lengthy wait times while repairs are made
Repair work should be completed as quickly and efficiently as possible. When repair work is postponed or takes too long to complete, frustration can arise. Whether the delays are due to back-orders on parts or repair personnel being on vacation, tenants will become discouraged and embittered if they are forced to endure lengthy delays.
4) Having their lives disrupted by repairs
Property repairs are an inevitable part of life, regardless of whether you own your property or rent it. Most tenants realize this and are usually willing to make reasonable adjustments in their schedules to accommodate the repair process. However, tenant frustrations will surface if property managers blatantly fail to take the steps to minimize disruptions to a tenant's living space or the surrounding common areas.
5) Feeling undervalued by property managers and ownership
When tenants are unable to communicate their needs to a live person and then have to contend with delays or unresponsiveness from property managers, they feel undervalued. They feel underappreciated by property managers and owners, which can cause their satisfaction with their living arrangements to plummet.
How does tenant dissatisfaction impact your bottom line?
Property owners should never underestimate the impact of tenant dissatisfaction - especially because it can ultimately result in an increase in tenant turnover. Of all of the destructive forces that can impact your reputation, tenant turnover is perhaps the most costly and damaging. The American Apartment Owners Association (AAOA) outlines the impact that this turnover can have on your bottom line:
"The cost of turnover is expensive. The costs to take into account include the collection of overdue or unpaid rent, legal fees, marketing and advertising of the available unit, cleaning and repairs, lost revenue from vacancy, tenant screening of new applicants, labor for repairs, showings, calls, and processing paperwork. All of this can range in total cost from $1,000 to $5,000 per unit, depending on the size, location, repairs needed and time vacant, says Property Management Minutes."
- American Apartment Owners Association (AAOA)
What steps can you take to address tenant frustrations?
It is nearly impossible to completely prevent all clients from experiencing frustration. However, property managers can completely control the way that they respond to tenant frustrations once they are voiced. Here are three steps you can take to properly address tenant frustrations:
1) Do not procrastinate or hide from bad news
Responding to angry tenants is never a pleasant experience. However, you can transform a panicked, frustrated tenant into one of your strongest advocates by delivering a swift response. Even if you must deliver news that is less than satisfactory (for instance, some items required for tenant repairs are on backorder), it is better to contact the tenant right away and provide an honest response.
2) Respond to any online reviews as quickly as possible
"As soon as you note a negative review and analyze it subjectively, respond with an apology and request the reviewer to contact you directly to resolve the problem. Your prospective tenants will take note of the quick response, which will reflect positively on your business image."
- Property Matrix
Research shows that 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as they would personal recommendations. For this reason alone, it is critical to address any negative online reviews as quickly as possible. With the proper response to negative online reviews, you can elevate your company's industry reputation.
3) Follow up on tenant issues
Following up on tenant concerns will help you close the loop and maintain a good relationship with your tenants. Keep a calendar on hand and resolve to follow up with clients approximately one week after repairs are completed to ensure that everything is working properly. Proactively following up on tenant issues will help you attract top tenants and keep existing tenants happy.
What is the single best way to maximize tenant satisfaction?
As outlined above, there are several steps property managers can take to respond to dissatisfied tenants. However, the single best step you can take to bolster tenant satisfaction is to enlist the help of a trusted after-hours answering service. Because an answering service offers 24/7 availability, tenants will always be able to communicate their needs and will be on the path to having their repairs completed sooner.
The experts with Westpark communications are committed to delivering a level of answering service excellence that is second to none. With the ability to answer all of your critical questions, their representatives work tirelessly every day to ensure that tenant calls are handled professionally in just a few rings. Their USA-based agents are able to categorize inquiries based on severity and route calls to on-duty maintenance staff. Most importantly, they have the resources to handle all of your properties and are eager to work with you to help you maximize your bottom line. We invite you to contact us to learn how we can help you optimize tenant satisfaction!