Everyone knows resident testimonials gives your marketing and leasing team a “proof advantage” which boosts new leases and leasing without concessions.

The reason is fairly simple—if you say how great the community is, it’s just bragging; but if residents say it for you, it must be true!

The problem with getting great resident testimonials is that most communities don’t have a plan for collecting them. So how do you get residents to say how great your community, apartments, company and team are in a way that helps you lease more apartments with as little effort as possible? It truly is possible to attract really powerful resident testimonials, without investing a huge amount of time, energy and money.

Here are some techniques that I’ve use to—quite easily—gather thousands of really powerful testimonials from residents!

TTTT Number One: Ask for Feedback, Not Testimonials

The easiest way to obtain resident testimonials is to ask for feedback. People feel more comfortable providing feedback than providing a testimonial—and they’re really the same thing anyway.

I have found that the two best times to ask residents for their feedback is when they’re most committed to their decision:  when they lease, when they move in, when service has been completed in their apartment and, yes, when they move out.

There’s a fabulous book that will help you do this, by Robert Cialdini, Influence: The Power of Persuasion. Pay special attention to the chapter on Commitment and Consistency, including a story about a study that was conducted on people placing bets at the race track in which people were interviewed about their chances of winning—both immediately before, and immediately after placing a bet. What the researchers found was that immediately after they committed to their decision (e.g. placed their bet), they were more confident in their chances of winning, even though nothing about the race itself had changed.

We can and MUST use this psychology to our resident testimonial advantage! Ask new residents for their feedback after their application is approved and they are waiting to move in and then again when they move in to their new apartment home. This is when residents are most committed to their decision, and it’s the easiest way to receive powerful resident testimonials.

By all means, follow up with your residents days, weeks and months later for testimonials; but if you’re not asking while you’re at the forefront of their minds, chances are, they will have forgotten how good it felt when they leased from you.

TTTT Number Two:  It’s Not WHAT You Ask, But HOW You Ask It.

If you’re asking for testimonials/feedback, how you phrase your questions will affect what people tell you. I ask three specific questions that “train” the resident to start thinking in a way that yields more powerful and persuasive testimonials. I always put these three questions on my feedback forms because they’ve been so successful in eliciting great testimonials. I call them my…

Three Questions For Getting Blow-Your-Socks-Off Resident Testimonials

  1. “How, specifically, did your leasing experience with us differ from the last time you leased an apartment?”
  2. “What would you say to a friend who was thinking of moving into an apartment in our community but wasn’t certain?”
  3. “If you feel it is warranted, please feel free to leave us a testimonial in the box below:”

Each question asks essentially the same thing, but it does it from a different angle, and targets a different testimonial “style”—the Before and After story testimonial, the leasing advice from a friend with no vested interest, and the glowing feedback testimonial.

This gives you three chances at a receive “blow-your-socks-off” testimonial responses.

In most cases, you’ll end up with something that you can work with (or rework—but I’ll cover that later).

When you’re reading through your feedback forms, look for feedback/resident testimonials that stand out. The best testimonials are precise and exact and clearly relate the benefit that the resident received by leasing from your community. I like to say that they should read like a tabloid headline with a subtext of intrigue or human triumph.

The most powerful testimonials are signed by real people with names and the real bonus would be if you can get them to let you use their photo!

TTTT- Number Three: Ask Permission

This is one instance where I disagree with the old adage “ask forgiveness, not permission.” It’s so easy to do, will save you so much trouble, and will avoid “burning” an otherwise happy resident. When you do receive great feedback or testimonials, make certain you have permission to use that feedback in marketing materials, leasing portfolios , websites and so on. While we’ve never had a resident say “no” when we’ve asked them if we could use their comments in our materials; it’s still important to ask. People who would more than gladly have said yes when asked will often put up a fight out of principle if they discover that their words were used without permission. Be safe, not sorry.

Below you will read the email we use to use to ask for permission to use feedback as testimonials; and it’s worked for us with huge success.

TTTT Number Four: Don’t Be Afraid to Rewrite!

If you’re collecting resident testimonials offline (particularly with handwritten feedback forms), chances are your residents won’t remember exactly what they said on the feedback form they handed in. This leaves the door open—or at least ajar—if you see an opportunity to add a bit of “spice” to the testimonial. Of course you won’t want to completely change the nature of the statement, but rework the testimonial before asking the residents permission to attribute the reworked testimonial to them. We always try to correct grammar, spelling and fill in missing words.

Hi {Name},

I was going through the feedback from our residents, and I came across your feedback form!

Your feedback was so great that I’d like to use what you said as a testimonial on our website. Would you mind if I did?

Here’s how I’d like to quote you:

“{Place their testimonial here}”
–{Place their name here}

Please feel free to edit this; and of course, if at any stage you decided to “withdraw” this testimonial, just let us know and we’ll remove immediately from online placement and in the very next print run of our hard-copy materials.

Thanks again for your great feedback, and please let me know if it’s OK to use your comments.




Want to learn more? Attend this Session at Multifamilypro’s Brainstorming Sessions

Increasing your reviews and apartment ratings online should be one of your 2013 marketing goals; this seminar will provide you with some great tips on how to increase the number of reviews in places that matter like Yelp and Google Places. Why is this goal of increasing your online reviews and apartment ratings so important? According to research by the Opinion Research Corporation (ORC),  84% of Americans say that their buying decisions are highly influenced by the very best product reviews. Based on research and local search ranking factors, the rating, frequency and number of reviews you have on Google Places is in direct correlation with the visibility of your listing.

  • Hear advanced strategies in assuring real reviews and how to manage them to optimize the look of your brand without cutting out the bad ones.
  • Listening is key: Top tips for monitoring real reviews and responding to them.
  • What does the future hold for reviews now that they have come under scrutiny?

Date: Thursday, November 8, 2012
Time: 10:30 am – 12:00 pm
Room: Brasilia 2
Track: New Media Optimization
Level: Intermediate/Advanced

Charity Hisle, Owner, Socially Engaged Marketing®

Charity began her multifamily marketing career in 2005. Since that time, Charity has worked with over a thousand communities and industry vendors nationwide on their garderie blainville social media strategies and education. She shares her knowledge by speaking at national industry conferences, during property management training and leadership events, and via online educational webinars.

Charity shares the most current trends and resources for all apartment marketing professionals on her website, SociallyEngagedMarketing.com. Charity is also a contributing author on SocialMediaToday.com, the National Apartment Association Blog: APTly Spoken, and PropertyManager.com.

James Watters, Director of  Business Operations, ApartmentRatings.com

James Watters is responsible for overseeing the day to day operations of ApartmentRatings.com.  ApartmentRatings.com, the industry leader in ratings and reviews, resides in the top 5 sites of Internet Brands Inc.’s 300+ website portfolio.  Additionally, James is tasked with facilitating the growth and development of SatisFacts Research, the newest member of the Internet Brands family.

Watters recently joined Internet Brands from an industry where he started two separate successful direct sales companies from the ground floor.  Previously, James spent over 6 years managing business operations for the popular online shopping website, Shopzilla.com.  During James’ tenure, Shopzilla.com went from a small start-up to being purchased by the E.W. Scripps Company for over $500 million.  Watters holds a Bachelors of Science in Finance from California State University of Fullerton.