If you’ve read any of my previous articles, you’ve probably noticed that I refer to the Malagasy language a lot. I tend to do that because of the incredible experience I had living among the Malagasy people in Madagascar for a couple of years, and because I spent the next five years of my life studying and teaching the Malagasy language. Malagasy is incredibly simple (fortunately for me), and that simplicity somehow makes it easier to clearly present deeply profound thoughts. In fact, the Malagasy people have ancient traditions of teaching powerful messages through short and simple “ohabolana,” or parables. One of my favorite ohabolana from the Malagasy people is this one:
Ny teny toy ny atody; raha foy, manan-elatra.
(Words are like eggs; when hatched, they have wings.)
You can discern a few different meanings from this ohabolana. For example, you might reflect about how harmful gossip or rumors can be; you might think about how words have the ability to uplift and drive good causes forward; or you might even discern a message in the ohabolana that I’ve never considered! That’s the beauty of an ohabolana; you can get from it what means the most to you. For our purposes in the multifamily industry, I want to stress the importance of knowing what is being said about your community and taking the right amount of time proactively managing your reputation. More importantly, my goal is to help companies avoid the distraction of “wild goose chases”, running after each little thing that has been said about their community.
Words today, more than ever in history, have wings. Good or bad, words said online often seem to take on a life of their own, grow wings, and take flight. Once they’re out, they’re out! Some might be harmless or even entertaining (like those hummingbirds fighting over a single bird feeder), while others seem a lot more like fire-breathing dragons, dead set on tormenting you for the rest of your life. A rating or review of your community posted on one forum can quickly be disseminated to a dozen different forums. Because of the rapid dissemination of these words, and because of the potential impact of them on the bottom line of a community, it’s imperative that communities stay aware of what “eggs have been laid” and where they’re going. It’s not an easy task to track down everything that is being said about your community, though!
As I mentioned earlier, there are dozens of different sites that focus on collecting and displaying masses of ratings or reviews, and a million other one-off sites that try to do that for themselves. A Property Manager or Leasing Agent could easily (and many do) spend several hours a day scouring the internet to track down comments about your community, and they only come up with a small handful. That seems a lot like someone diving into a flock of birds, then trying to catch each bird one by one; the birds have scattered, they’re going to have limited success, and their time could be better spent.
Before you or your employees go on the next “wild goose chase” searching for a small handful of ratings and reviews, you should ask yourself “is searching for these ratings and reviews really where I want to spend my time?” Just as a net will be much more productive in catching a flock of birds, there are tools available that have been designed with the intent of spreading out and gathering ratings and reviews into one place so you can focus on managing them! You can then focus on the more important task of “hatching eggs of your own” to address any negative messages said about your community; or better yet, you can proactively send out positive messages about your community!
Here’s the thing: We all need to realize how impactful positive or negative comments really are to our bottom line, but the focus should really be on managing our reputations, rather than spending our time tracking down what has been said about us. Focus on what you do best, and simplify “bird catching” by utilizing the net-like tools that consolidate ratings and reviews into one, easily managed location.
We’d love to hear about how you’ve tackled the challenge of managing your reputation! Are you chasing after each comment, one by one, or are you using “nets” so you can focus your time and efforts on responding to comments and proactively managing your reputation? Shoot us a line!