CAN TENANT SURVEYS HELP LANDLORDS

If there is one thing I know about you, it’s that you’re not aware of your blind spots. None of us are or they wouldn’t be called blind spots.

The quickest way as a property manager to identify these shadowy beasts is to send out tenant surveys.

If we’re being honest, not too many people love honest feedback when it’s negative. So we avoid asking for it until things bubble up and create a larger issue.

Here’s a real-life example of this in action.

basic apartment tenant survey for property managers

Now… you probably haven’t heard about #SockGate until this blog post. We will cover this later on so keep on reading.

But first, let’s go back to the heart of the matter.

Tenant Survey Property Management – The 1 Question

There are plenty of questions you can ask, but there is one simple question that you should lead with before any other.

tenant survey property management

This question is referred to as the Net Promoter Score (NPS).

Your tenant will fall into one of three groupings depending on how they answer this question.

  • Promoters (score 9-10)
  • Passives (score 7-8)
  • Detractors (score 0-6)

In today’s digital age it is very easy for a detractor to strike a nerve on social media and create a firestorm of negative press for your business.

Let’s use a real life (and recent) example to demonstrate this.

On July 4th, 2018 a resident of Riverset Apartments in Memphis, TN posted the following…

Why tenant surveys matter

This post was shared over 10,000 times.

Granted, we do not know both sides of the story but this event did end up with the property manager being fired after an investigation.

#SockGate did not trend on Twitter. It’s just me proving I’m not clever.

The Facebook post created a slew of negative reviews online. On their Google Business page, they received 9 one star reviews within 48 hours of the viral post.

On their Yelp page, they hadn’t received any reviews in over a year and then received 5 one star reviews within two days.

Let’s analyze the Google Review shown at the beginning of this post.

basic apartment tenant survey for property managers

Now, this viral event is clearly what triggered Lynn to go back and leave a negative review based on her experience in 2015.

What if management was sending out tenant surveys then?

Could they have dealt with minor issues back then instead of major issues today?

Could they have avoided #SockGate altogether? It’s not hard to imagine that small blind spots turned into the sock that broke the camel’s back.

How To Create A Tenant Survey for Property Management

There are lots of options out there.

If you just want something free and easy, I’d suggest Google Forms.

If you want deeper insights I would suggest using Survey Monkey.

Survey Monkey has industry benchmarks built into their NPS data. You can compare how you stack up against others in your space.

More importantly, you want to keep tabs on how your NPS score stacks up over time. If it’s declining you may have some issues to address.

This is especially helpful for PMs who manage several properties with many different investors. You can survey your tenants along with your clients to identify any potential blind spots you may have.

 

Can Tenant Surveys Really Help?

A tenant survey is just one way to discover what tenants are thinking as far as the property, the level of service you provide and what they wish were different.

For example, you might not be aware of what your tenants really think about the property swimming pool or how they like the maintenance staff. You might even find out how they feel about the way grievances are addressed or what it would take to get them to renew the lease agreement with you.

It’s an excellent way to discover what residents are really thinking.

A tenant survey is an inexpensive, easy way to get real feedback on what you can do to improve your business.

Turning feedback into positive reviews

Of course, no tenant is going to point out all the bad things going on and then sign their name to a survey. The key to making sure all surveys are accurate is to provide a high level of anonymity.

The nice thing about the Survey Monkey NPS question is that it allows you to use something called “logic.”

Logic is where the survey will serve different content and questions based on how the tenant answers the NPS question.

If they’re a detractor you could ask them to fill out questions on why they wouldn’t recommend this company.

You could even ask separate questions with a comment box on the following topics:

  • Experience with maintenance issues
  • Communication with staff
  • Leasing experience
  • Systems for rent collection
  • Amenities
  • Concerns

Now, if the tenant is a promoter, you could create a page encouraging them to leave a public review for you online.

It’s against review sites policies to incentivize people for reviews but there is nothing wrong with encouraging your promoters to leave you public feedback on Google, Yelp, and other review sites.

Creating Good Resident Surveys

Surveys can be good or bad, and it all depends on the creator. Obviously, the questions on the survey are extremely important, because you want to gather as much information from the residents as you can. However, the length of the tenant survey and the incentive for completing it can also impact what kind of answers you get.

Here are 3 ideas on creating good tenant surveys:

  1. Don’t ask yes or no questions. It doesn’t really help you if you ask residents whether they like the current maintenance request system. A yes or no answer won’t give you much insight into why residents do or don’t feel the system is meeting their needs. It also doesn’t give any room for suggestions.
  2. Keep it short and sweet. Instead of overwhelming your tenants in endless long surveys, focus on a few topics and deliver several surveys over the course of the year. For example, rather than ask pages and pages of questions about every aspect of the property, focus one survey on the rent collection process or opinions on shared areas like the clubhouse, pool and parking lot.
  3. Benchmark performance using NPS It can be hard to interpret data at times and NPS makes it simple. You have a score and you want to see that score go up. It’s a general overview of how people feel about your company.

Use the Info You Collect from Tenant Property Surveys

Starting to administer tenant property surveys doesn’t do you any good unless you actually dive into the information it reveals to you and apply the feedback to your property.

It is pointless to send out a survey that gives your residents a chance to tell you how to improve your business and then ignore the results, even if they are hard to take or hurt your feelings.

Approach the data as a business person would and analyze it for clues on how to make your real estate investment business even more productive and more profitable. Once you start to address tenant concerns, you’ll be well on your way to reaching your real estate goals.

Have you ever administered a tenant survey? Is it an effective tool? Why or why not? Please share this article and let us know your input in the comments below.

2 Comments

  1. Great article!

    I’ve only been a landlady for 2 years and own one rental, a single-family 3 bedroom/2 bath.

    I sent an email to my tenant who had moved out to live with her boyfriend and the two families needed a 5 bedroom home. She had already received her security deposit and I had given her a glowing recommendation. She had been a perfect tenant.

    I felt she could give me great advise having lived in the house for a couple of years. I was so pleased when she took the time to give me suggestions. The house is all laminate floors, she suggested carpet in the bedrooms. She suggested that if we ever redid the floors to select a medium or darker color as opposed to the light color that’s now on the floors. It shows too much dust. On the outside of the house, could we plant a few things that are green along the walkway?

    I also asked her to help me to become a better landlady and give me suggestions about how I could improve. Her answer was, “There is ABSOLUTELY nothing I would change about how you managed the house and treated me and my family. You were amazing and beyond fair. You went above and beyond as a landlord.”

    I realize that she would have a hard time answering with anything negative, but felt this wasn’t a mediocre answer.

    • Wendy it sounds like you’re on the right track! It’s always a good thing to have this kind of feedback from a tenant – especially when it’s logical. I’ve been in situations where the tenant’s suggestions have been outright crazy, such as installing a hot tub in the second floor living room!

      So it sounds to me like you and this tenant have a good connection and mutual respect. Which is always a good thing as long as it stays professional so that when the time comes to make a business decision you’re not in an uncomfortable spot.

      Keep up the good work Wendy!

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