News & Resources

In the dynamic world of property management, unexpected challenges can arise, ranging from incidents such as crime on site to sudden waves of negative reviews pouring into your Google listings. We’ve all heard the stories of someone threatening to have their family and friends take down your property in reviews. What’s more, it can sometimes feel like a burden for operators to suddenly become experts in navigating these circumstances. In such critical moments, having a dedicated process and approach becomes not just an option but a necessity for property management companies with diverse portfolios. The ability to swiftly and effectively respond to crises can make all the difference in preserving a company’s reputation and maintaining resident satisfaction. Consider the who and what within your company’s trusted marketing partners, as well — chances are you might not have to reinvent the wheel because your community might have a strategy outlined or a history in this space. While there can never be a template for how to deal with each situation, there can certainly be predetermined options.

Naturally, a team helps to provide a structured and proactive approach to crisis management. With predefined roles and responsibilities, a team ensures everyone knows their part in addressing any given situation. This strategic organization enables rapid response times, minimizing the impact of the crisis on both residents and the portfolio’s public image. By having a team in place, property management companies can demonstrate their commitment to resident safety and satisfaction, fostering trust and loyalty even in the face of adversity.

At Catalyst, our history of utilizing this strategy extends years back with our partner, Campus Advantage, where we see response times for releases, reviews, and the like happen within a 24-hour window by practice. We do this by adopting the strengths of our team: Who on your team is trained and comfortable with public relations or speaking on behalf of the portfolio? Will someone have a statement ready that can be used for any reviews that might come through? Answering questions like these now helps in avoiding mass panic when trying to sort out a public situation. While always remaining cautious of how time operates in these touch-and-go concerns, our teams work together to keep internal updates flowing in real time.

Furthermore, an assembled team acts as a central hub for communication during crises. Clear and timely communication is paramount when dealing with incidents that might affect residents’ well-being or the perception of the portfolio. Keep in mind that the more people you involve, you run the risk of CC (carbon copy) fatigue — a situation in which you feel like you don’t need to participate because you might be one of 10 or more people in an email thread not being spoken directly to. Keep this team well-rounded but limited in size to avoid this. The team can coordinate messaging across various channels (video conferences, bulk texting, Teams meetings), ensuring accurate information is disseminated promptly to residents, staff, and the wider community. This transparency not only helps manage expectations but also mitigates the spread of misinformation, which can be detrimental in crisis situations.

In the realm of online reputation management, this approach also plays a pivotal role in addressing sudden surges of negative reviews or potential threats of negative feedback. By monitoring online platforms and social media, the team can proactively engage with residents and address concerns before they escalate. This proactive approach not only showcases the company’s commitment to resolving issues but also helps in swiftly turning the tide of public opinion in a positive direction. Additionally, never consider your response to a situation to be the end of it – there may be updates along the way to solving an issue that needs to become part of your exchange online. You should always encourage those engaging in reviews to be on the lookout for more dialogue to come in the venue of communication they’ve chosen. In 2023, we saw three separate situations in which a mass of negative reviews came in for a small portfolio because of extraordinary circumstances (crime on site, delivery delays, and weather-related issues). In all three, we attributed three responses respectively to serve as holding statements until more feedback could be delivered. At Catalyst, our reputation management software makes updating these responses very simple, and we keep our teams informed daily until the conclusion of the circumstances.

As an example, let’s assume your portfolio is preparing for move-ins, and you’ve been notified that you will not have new furniture in time for three of your communities in a regional portfolio. Whoever has been nominated as your reputation manager in this case will undoubtedly be prepared to see this situation become public in the form of reviews online. With that said, having a statement that is customizable, approachable, and actionable will be perceived as the best case scenario by all involved. Your response might look something like this.

“Thank you for your concern; we deeply apologize for the delay you and others are experiencing at this time. Our dedicated on-site team is actively addressing the situation, communicating directly with affected residents to provide assistance and alternative solutions. We promise to provide daily updates to keep you informed on the progress and ensure a smooth transition into your new homes. Your understanding and patience during this time are greatly appreciated, and please be sure to follow your review as we will update this response accordingly.”

In conclusion, a well-structured response team is an indispensable asset for portfolios navigating the complexities of crisis situations. Beyond being a reactive measure, it serves as a proactive force that instills confidence in residents, employees, and the broader community. As the real estate landscape continues to evolve, investing in this approach becomes a strategic imperative for property management companies looking to safeguard their reputation and maintain operational resilience in the face of unforeseen challenges.