I was browsing Facebook today and a post from my little sister Kelsey caught my attention. Kelsey is currently a student at Eastern Washington University. She lives off campus at a privately owned apartment complex called the Grove. The Grove is a new complex designed specifically for students. It includes a number amenities like tanning, swimming, basketball, and shared recreational room. The post from Kelsey was a notification that she “likes” a fan paged named “Not living at the Grove next year.” Upon further inspection I realized that the group had at least count 323 people in agreement with my sister. Most of whom were or are residents of the complex. This caught my attention and I decided to dig deeper.
Now, I can’t say much for or against the Grove because I have never lived there personally. I know both my sisters have lived there and neither enjoyed the experience. I did assist them when they moved in and I can say that their apartment was completely filthy, the electricity didn’t work in one bathroom, the mattress had a huge brown stain that went clear through, the door to that bathroom didn’t open all the way because it hit the toilet, and there were insects breeding in the closet. However, I also must say the furniture was brand new, all the appliances worked, and when they called maintenance someone was there in less then 30 minutes on move in Saturday to help fix the various electrical problems. Overall, in my opinion, even with the various negatives it was far superior to the nasty old houses most of my friends lived in while I was attending EWU.
Anyway, enough background, now to my point. After discovering so many students disliked the grove I did a search to see if I could find a Facebook page for Grove residents sponsored by management. I was unable to find an official page but I was able to find a page called, “We ♥ The Grove in Cheney, WA.” This group only had 36 fans at the time of writing this. After doing some additional research the only positive information about The Grove I could find was from their poorly designed website that contained a wealth of multi-cultural photos and very little relevant information. Aside from what I found on Facebook I also found a number of negative Twitter posts and reviews on various review websites none of which had an official response from The Grove management.
Making an impression is important. Both of my sisters were very excited about living in The Grove last Spring when they signed their lease and now as the end of the year is coming they couldn’t be more excited about leaving. The Grove could’ve created evangelists and multi-year tenants but after a number of poor experiences they have created enemies, both of whom are willing to go out of their way from discouraging their friends from moving there next year. When your primary target audience is a tightly knit group like college students it is incredibly important to maintain a good reputation because word spreads very quickly about any problems that occur. Social media outlets like Facebook magnify this problem to an entirely new level. What does it say to a prospective tenant when the group against living somewhere has 900% more fans than the group supporting it? I think some reputation management would be a fantastic idea for the folks at the Grove. The Grove could be actively monitoring the Facebook, Twitter, and review websites and offering solutions to people that post about problems but instead they are nowhere to be found online. I suppose this is fitting, at least the online experience mirrors the real-life experience students are reporting. Every business should be monitoring their reputation online. There may not be much activity on a daily or weekly basis but if there is a negative review it is important to resolve that issue as soon as possible before it evolves into a social war like one The Grove is about to be fighting in Cheney.