Use Tenant Surveys to Improve Your Rental Business

For almost as long as marketing and sales have existed, businesses have attempted to receive feedback from their customers. This data is an incredible advantage to businesses looking to refine and improve their product and their organization as a whole. For companies that produce consumer products or offer more intangible services, this can be difficult information to acquire, which is why so many spend tremendous amounts of capital on focus groups and expansive customer surveys. Customer feedback (read: tenant feedback) is just as important for landlords looking to improve their own product (read: rental units and management service). And fortunately for landlords, they’ve got a captive audience! As a landlord or property manager, you can use tenant surveys to improve your rental business, getting direct input from the folks that matter most to your business.

What should you be asking?

When it comes down to it, there are two things you should be asking about: yourself and the property. When asking about the property, find out what the tenants enjoyed, what they didn’t, and why. If you happen to have budgeted for some renovations in the near future, ask the tenants what changes or repairs they’d most like to see. Not only will this help you create the best product you can to attract future renters, but it will also make your tenants feel grateful that a landlord would be willing to invest in their interests. This will also encourage your tenants to stay for additional years, reducing the often substantial cost of tenant turnover. When asking about yourself, try to get the most honest feedback you can. Ask about your strengths and weaknesses as a landlord and how to improve in the future.

Surveys work better with more responses.

The more properties you have, the more imperative it is for you to issue feedback surveys. If you have a single property, then it’s easy (and important!) to maintain contact with your tenants, keep track of their needs, and respond accordingly. With multiple properties, just remembering everyone’s name can be difficult, much less remembering every issue or recommendation they’ve thrown your way. A larger number of responses will also ensure more robust feedback. Rather than have a survey colored by the responses of a grand total of three people, a larger sample size helps guarantee more accurate feedback as a whole. Whether your group is small or large, it’s still crucial you get lots of submissions. To further encourage participation, get a gift card to a local restaurant or shop as a prize for one random participant.

Guaranteeing anonymity is essential.

In most satisfaction surveys, anonymity is essential, and here, it’s no different. Your tenants won’t give you honest feedback unless they’re confident their responses are anonymous. On this point, landlords of multiple properties enjoy the benefit of having a larger number of tenants. A larger group of responses makes it more difficult for the administrator of the survey to guess who submitted the survey they’re looking at – and if the responders are aware of this, they’re more likely to give honest feedback. Still, it’s necessary to take steps to guarantee anonymity and the confidence of your tenants. There are numerous free online survey tools you can use, ranging from Survey Monkey to Survey Planet.

Focus on open-ended questions.

Your purpose behind issuing a survey should be to get as much information as possible. Outside of some simple but necessary questions such as “Would you recommend this property to a friend?” it’s best to keep your questions open-ended. Don’t settle for simple yes or no answers – encourage your tenants to provide as much information as possible. Finding out that a tenant thinks the rent is overpriced for what they’re getting isn’t particularly useful unless you know why. Check back in the near future and we’ll have a suggested survey up that you can easily download or copy.

Keep an open mind.

Negative feedback will happen. Don’t get offended or indignant at bad reviews from your tenants. Instead, take positive action. Addressing such concerns is your way to becoming a better landlord. And responding directly to the problems your tenants identify is a great way to show them you really do care. In fact, addressing negative feedback can turn the bad good! In contrast, ignoring responses and criticism will only keep you entrenched in habits that hurt your ability to attract and keep good tenants. And it will leave your tenants less likely to respond next time you ask for a survey. If you can use tenant surveys to improve your rental business, stay open, stay positive, and you’ll see big benefits.

 

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2 comments

    1. Great question, Marcus. I would say that it is worth it to provide incentives. You want as many answers as possible, and as long as you strongly encourage your tenants to be honest (whether good or bad), many will comply. Let them know you’re doing this to improve. And as far as incentives go, you could give each of them something small (small local gift cards, credit to their rent, etc.), or offer something a bit larger and enroll anyone that fills out the survey in a lottery contest for the one prize.

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