Whether you're a general contractor, plumber, electrician, roofer, floorer, or any other type of contractor, online reviews are vital. Let's take a look at the best ways to get them.
Pat needs to hire someone to install new cabinets and build a kitchen addition. The job is going to cost Pat thousands of dollars, and he knows that he's going to have to spend weeks, maybe months, working with the person he hires. And whatever contractor he chooses is going to be in his home and around his family every day.
Pat can't trust just anyone with this responsibility. There are a ton of factors to consider here. He needs to know that he's hiring someone who does good-quality work, charges fair prices, adheres to a schedule and is trustworthy and respectful.
His coworker recommends someone, but with so much at stake, Pat wants to know that lots of people have had good experiences with whichever contractor he hires.
So Pat heads to his favorite review site. The contractor his coworker recommended has no reviews, but Contractor X has 15 reviews an overall rating of 4.4 stars. The crowd has spoken, and Contractor X gets a new customer in Pat.
The Review on Reviews
Contracting is one of the top industries for word-of-mouth referrals. Despite the fact that Pat decided against hiring the contractor his coworker recommended, the above example proves that this is still true.
It's just that today, word-of-mouth referrals happen online between strangers, not just between friends and neighbors.
Not convinced quite yet? Consider what a recent survey tells us about how American consumers use online reviews.
- 84 percent say they trust online reviews as much as they trust recommendations from people they know.
- 91 percent read online reviews at least occasionally.
- 74 percent say that positive online reviews make them trust a business more.
- Tradesmen are one of the business sectors in which consumers say that reputation matters most.
Getting lots of positive online reviews can also benefit your business in ways you might not expect. Having lots of people talking about you online helps your SEO (search engine optimization) rankings, which means you'll show up higher in search engine results.
And when people share the online reviews they write with their social networks, that increases your name recognition and - if their reviews are positive - can help you get new clients.
We get it: this may sound daunting, or even unfair. After all, sometimes clients have unrealistic expectations for contractors, and you could spend weeks working on a project only to have the client complain about the finished product.
But the bottom line is this: people are going to write reviews about you whether you want them to or not. You might as well make an effort to get every one of your satisfied clients to write them so that the occasional negative or lukewarm review will seem like an anomaly.
How to Do It
Some businesses deal with dozens or hundreds of customers every day, so they have a big pool of potential reviews. But as a contractor, you have a smaller client list. It's reasonable to ask your clients to write one or more reviews for you.
Before you say your final goodbyes, mention that you appreciate the client choosing you, and that you hope they'll recommend you to others. Then say something like, "If you would be willing to post a review on [site] and [site], I'd really appreciate it. Those reviews mean a lot to our business."
If you've done good work and made the client happy, he or she is more often than not willing to do this one small thing for you.
Now, as for the sites you mention to your clients: diversification is important. That's because some clients, when looking for a new contractor, will go straight to a favorite review site, so you want to have reviews posted on all the major sites. Ideally, you'll have a presence on around five or six sites.
- The Big Three are Yelp, Facebook and Google. They're general review sites where businesses of all types have pages.
- Niche sites include Angie's List, HomeAdvisor and Houzz among others. They're specific to contracting and home repair services.
Before you start asking clients to write reviews, visit all these sites. If your business doesn't already have a page on any site, create it. Some sites also allow you to claim your business page, which allows you to edit the information posted there and even respond publicly to reviews posted about you.
A Better Way
As a contractor, you know that working smart is better than working hard. So while it's easy enough to mention to a client that you would appreciate a review or two, you probably don't have the time or interest in chasing down clients who forget to post those reviews.
Use an automated system like ReputationStacker to do the heavy lifting for you. All you have to do is enter a client's phone number or email address into the system, and ReputationStacker contacts the person with a single-question survey. When clients respond positively, they're directed to the review sites of your choice to post a review. When they respond negatively, they're directed back to you so you can address their concerns if you wish (before they have a chance to write a negative review).
The Final Nail
Contracting is a competitive field and one of the best ways to inch ahead of the competition is to have a strong online presence. Consumers rely heavily on online reviews when deciding who to hire for a big and expensive job, so you can't afford for any of your satisfied clients to forego writing you a review.
Use an automated system like ReputationStacker to make sure that you're getting all the good reviews you deserve.