If you’re a landlord, you’re in the business of providing a safe and secure place for tenants to call home, temporarily or indefinitely. If you’re not doing the job in either of these principal areas, you risk high turnover, vacancies, and even legal problems or financial fallout.
How do you know if you’re failing? Sometimes tenants will tell you outright. At other times, they may let minor issues slide until their frustration forces them to action.
But if you employ the right strategy, you can monitor how your tenants feel so you’re prepared to make smart, proactive decisions and raise the satisfaction of your renters so you stabilize the bottom line.
Why is Tenant Feedback Important?
Most landlords never ask how their tenants are doing. Instead, they lay low and seek to minimize interactions with renters (and avoid having to respond to requests).
But this is not the ideal way for a landlord to behave. You’re in the business of satisfying the basic needs and desires of your renters, or they’ll move on and find a new place.
If you proactively encourage tenant feedback, you’ll enjoy such benefits as:
- Better perspective. Your cognitive processing is naturally subject to biases. You’re only able to view a situation from one perspective — your own — and that may be skewed. Unless you gather information from others, it’s impossible to know whether your view of the situation is accurate. Tenant feedback can provide other perspectives that might affirm your views, or cause you to reconsider.
- Increased awareness. Tenant feedback can make you more aware of what’s happening on your own properties. It may alert you to something you didn’t know was an issue.
- Lower turnover. When you have a sharpened perspective and awareness, you’ll be able to attend to the needs of your tenants and furnish a more satisfactory experience. This should lead to fewer problems and lower turnover.
- Increased profitability. When tenant feedback makes you aware of issues you didn’t know about, it empowers you to tackle them. In certain situations — such as a maintenance or repair problem — this could save you thousands in damage.
These are just a few of the advantages. As you grow comfortable with collecting feedback so you can maximize the impact of the insights you receive, you’ll discover many other benefits, each of which can directly improve short-term profits and long-term ROI.
Six Tips for Collecting Feedback
Clearly, there’s immense value in tenant feedback. The question is, how do you gather it in an efficient and effective manner? Let’s highlight a half dozen of the best tips.
1. Create a Survey
The best way to gather feedback from your renters is to apply surveys. With an online or emailed survey, you can automate much of the process and make it easy for tenants to provide their feedback with minimal effort. (Tools like SurveyMonkey make the process of creating them fast and simple.)
Surveys are most commonly taken when a tenant finishes a lease agreement and moves out. This gives the landlord a chance to learn what worked well and which areas could stand improvement.
Some landlords also choose to send out surveys to current renters periodically in order to assess trends (positive or negative) that are worth addressing.
2. Ensure Anonymity
The key to successful surveys is to ensure anonymity. People want to know their opinions are being gathered without the potential for negative consequences. (This is especially important to current renters who provide feedback in the middle of their lease.)
Online platforms like SurveyMonkey make it easy to collect data without the participants having to identify themselves. Still, you may run into some issues where tenants don’t feel totally comfortable about their anonymity, such as when you own just one or two properties so tenants might fear it would be easy to trace their answers back to them.
In those cases, you want to do everything possible to assure tenants there will be no consequences for harsh responses, because accurate input is in your long-term interest.
3. Ask the Right Questions
Not all surveys are created equal. In order to make this a worthwhile investment, you’ll need to craft your surveys with care so you get the best information.
Basically, there are only two things you should inquire about: yourself and your property. Every question you ask should provide insight into how you’re performing and/or whether the property is meeting expectations.
A few general questions are fine, but try to be specific with your questions. The more detailed they are, the more relevant the feedback will be.
4. Leave Room for Open-Ended Feedback
In addition to asking multiple-choice questions, leave room for open-ended feedback. Some of your most useful information may come from this section.
5. Provide Incentives
Filling out a survey for a landlord isn’t the number-one priority on most renters’ to-do list. If you want healthy participation, you may find it worthwhile to offer incentives.
These could range from a $10 credit on the next month’s rent payment to a raffle ticket in a drawing for a TV. Get creative and remember how valuable tenant insights could be. A small investment may yield big returns.
6. Act Upon the Feedback
Insights without follow-up are useless. Gathering info is only the first step. Once you identify some trends and areas for concern, it’s essential to put that information to work and actively improve your weaknesses.
Let Green Residential Help
The title of landlord is much more challenging and time-consuming than most people are aware going in. You have lots of responsibilities, and it’s easy for some of your duties to slip between the cracks and go untouched.
If you find yourself in a situation where you’re unable to attend to all your needs and tasks, it may be time to get some help. At Green Residential, we provide Houston landlords with comprehensive property management services that simplify the day-to-day headaches and allow for greater clarity and peace of mind.
If you’re interested in learning more about how we can help you, please contact us today!