While industry opinion is split on the validity of customer review websites, property manager and real estate coach Todd Breen believes they can hurt agents in a ‘dramatic way’.
Speaking at the BWT 'Re-Engineering Rent Roll Growth' seminar in Sydney last week, US-based Mr Breen said agents who ignore bad online reviews are putting their business at risk.
“What goes on online behind the scenes can either help us or hurt us in a dramatic way… Your online reputation is crucial, and will become even more important in the coming years,” he warned.
“What is the point of spending time and money on SEO (search engine optimisation) if all you’re doing is pushing bad reviews into the public eye?”
According to a recent Real Estate Business strawpoll, 49.3 per cent of the 341 respondents didn’t believe online review websites were a threat, while 39 per cent believed they were. Just over 11 per cent were undecided.
Mr Breen told attendees that after 10 online reviews were made on a website, they will appear at the very top of a Google search, right next to the map that shows where you're located.
“So what you need to do is push your clients, at the appropriate time, to go online and review your services," he said.
“We call these referable moments. Like when you’re signing a lease or renewing one, after a quick and easy repair job, when a tenant gets their bond back in full or when you’re concluding a contract.”
According to the Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising poll released earlier this year, consumer opinions posted online is the second most trusted source of advertising.
Recommendations from people known to the consumer took first place, while social media came 16th behind TV program product placement.
But with many review sites, Mr Breen admitted clients usually won’t be bothered submitting more than one comment.
“I suggest taking it out of their hands… I provide my clients with a QR code to scan which links them to my own site for them to write their review just once," he said. "Then we go and put that on each of the review sites."
“It’s great for the consumer who just won’t close; you can send them online to compare you and your competitor’s reviews, and since you’ve been pushing so many of your happy clients there, you have a good chance of winning the business.”