For most moving companies, getting more positive online reviews is the easiest and most cost effective way to get more business. Learn how to do it here.
At first glance, moving services might seem like one of those industries untouched by the rise of the internet.
Travel agencies, shipping companies, book stores: they've all radically changed in recent decades.
But moving is still moving, and although companies may get new business through their websites, they can mostly operate in the same way they always have, right?
Not exactly. One important aspect of modern life plays a huge part in how you get and keep customers:
Online reviews already affect your business, for better or worse.
And if it's the latter, you can easily turn the tide and start making online reviews work for you.
Whether it’s a small apartment move just around the corner, or a long-distance mansion move across the country, reviews for your moving company now play a major role in how many new clients you can get.
Knowing this, your moving services need to evolve beyond simply offering attractive hourly rates, a friendly staff, free boxes and padded blankets, and a dedicated moving coordinator. While all of these are certainly important for movers, you need an effective online reputation strategy to reach potential domestic and commercial clients.
You need to highlight your services online with a steady stream of positive customer reviews and minimal negative feedback.
Why Reviews Matter
Hiring a moving company is expensive (even if you promise the best rates in town!) and requires customers to trust strangers with all of their most personal items and valuable possessions. So it's not enough that your potential customers can get instant quotes and free packing material. Making sure the company they hire is reliable is also a big concern for customers.
Worrying that a company won't show up on moving day, when the new residents arrive the next day, is the stuff that keeps people up at night.
To prevent scenarios like this, potential clients are doing exactly what you do before you hire someone to perform a service as big as a move. More than talking to friends, more than going over the service details on your company’s website, they’re reading online reviews of your business.
In the past, moving companies relied on word of mouth and referrals between friends, family members and coworkers. Today, referrals are still essential. But they happen on sites like Yelp and Google instead of at the water cooler.
Now, all your previous customers can share their experiences working with you, and prospective new customers are listening.
Here's how people use online reviews, thanks to the respondents to a recent survey:
- Eighty-four percent said they trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations. That number rose from 80 percent the year before.
- Ninety-one percent said they read online reviews regularly or at least occasionally. That means that only 9 percent of consumers don't read reviews, down from 29 percent in 2010.
- Fifty-eight percent said that the overall star rating is the most important thing they consider when looking at reviews.
- Eighty-seven percent said that they would use a business only if it had a minimum rating of three stars (out of five).
By the way, getting lots of online reviews has benefits beyond the obvious. It boosts your online presence, which is important for SEO (search engine optimization) strategies.
Basically, if people are talking about you a lot online, search engines will put you at the top of the pack when people in your area are searching for local moving companies. And if your happy clients share their reviews with their followers on social media (many people do), you get exposure with a whole new crowd of people.
How Not to Get Reviews
Take a look through online reviews posted for your competitors. Do any of them mention getting a discount for writing reviews? There's a good chance that they do.
Many moving companies don't realize that offering discounts in exchange for online reviews is a bad practice and potentially really dangerous to their reputations.
That's because this tactic is legally questionable in some places, and getting caught offering discounts for reviews can yield pretty hefty fines if the practice isn't disclosed properly.
It's also not allowed by most major review sites, which watch out for this kind of thing. Yelp, for instance, hides reviews that it deems to be unreliable, and if the site's moderators find out that a business has been offering incentives for reviews, they place an obtrusive popup on that company's page explaining what the business is suspected of doing.
Potential customers who see that you're suspected of coercing people into writing positive reviews are highly unlikely to do business with you.
Even if you don't get caught doing this by the site moderators, other customers will notice and be suspicious if your reviews mention that you gave discounts in exchange for them.
And anyway, it's more expensive to give discounts than it is to get reviews in a better way...
The Right Way to Get Reviews
If you do a good job for them, many of your customers will be happy to write glowing reviews of your moving company. All you have to do is ask after you've finished up the last of the paperwork at the end of the move. Say something like, "Thanks for choosing us. We would appreciate it if you would write us a review on Yelp or Angie's List."
(Vary the sites you mention each time, so you get reviews on all the major online review sites: the mainstream ones like Yelp, Google and Facebook, and the industry-specific ones that are important for your business.)
This method will often work, but only if you or your team of movers remember to ask. That may not happen, which is why it's important to systemize your approach.
Get a process in place that handles the work of reminding your customers to write you those reviews, so you can focus on other aspects of running your business.
Use an automated system like ReputationStacker to do the heavy lifting for you. When you enter a customer's email address or phone number, ReputationStacker contacts them with a one-question survey. Satisfied customers are directed to the review site of your choice to post a review, and dissatisfied customers are directed back to you.
The Last Piece
In a competitive field, having a steady stream of positive online reviews posted about you can help you stand out from other moving companies.
Offering discounts and other incentives often backfires, and anyway, you don't need to do anything unethical to get reviews:
Use an automated system like ReputationStacker to help you get the steady stream of positive reviews that you've earned.