Whether you're a general contractor, painter, plumber, electrician or anything else under the roof, you need tools in place for online reputation management. Here's what they are and how to use them.
If you build a gorgeous house in the forest but no one's there to Instagram it, did it ever really happen at all?
Well, yeah, and you would have the backaches and splinters to prove it.
But in an age when most people are using the internet to inform their hiring and buying decisions, having an online presence is essential - even in an industry as old school as contracting.
The Foundation of a Good Reputation
You probably didn't become a carpenter/flooring expert/plumber/HVAC installer for the fame and glory. In fact, 20 years ago this industry probably seemed like the perfect fit for someone who was hoping to avoid the internet entirely.
But the internet comes for us all, including contractors. Your clients and prospective clients are using it to decide whom to hire for their building and repair jobs. Specifically, they're using online reviews.
Back when your predecessors were building the Eiffel Tower and Taj Mahal and Big Ben, contractors thrived on word-of-mouth. They slowly built reputations by satisfying one client, who would then refer them to a friend, and so forth. The best workers rose to the top; the least competent ones didn't.
Online reviews have replaced that word-of-mouth system. With just a few taps on their phones, your prospective clients can access lists of local contractors and read about the experiences that other people have had working with them.
If Jimbo's Buildin' routinely does shoddy work, those clients will read about it and avoid them. And if your company does high-quality work at fair prices, your community will find that out too.
Of course, for this to work, you have to actually provide great service. That's one of the tricky parts of running a successful business in the time of the Internet: you have to be at the top of your game most of the time in order to earn the positive reviews that will boost your business and your reputation.
But it's not as hard as you may think...
Building That Reputation
If you prefer the company of your tools to that of online strangers, you may not realize the influence of reviews.
Luckily, research confirms that they have considerable power:
- 93 percent of American consumers say that read online reviews at least occasionally, up from 91 percent in 2016.
- 35 percent of people always read online reviews when hiring a local business.
- 85 percent of people surveyed trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
- 49 percent of people only want to use businesses if they have minimum ratings of four out of five stars.
If you're a contractor looking to expand your business, that data tells you everything you need to know.
Most of the people who are looking to hire someone like you are heading straight to sites like Google and Angie's List to study their options.
And if you have a solid online reputation - if you have a bunch of recent, positive reviews that were clearly written by real customers - you'll shoot right to the top of any prospective client's list.
Nailing Down Your Reputation
So all you have to do is get your current and past clients to write you glowing reviews! Easy, right?
Actually, yes, although it may not seem like it. The research revealed one other key piece of information: 68 percent of people who are asked to write an online review for a business they've used will do it.
Provide your clients with an easy way to sing your praises, and most of them will. That's important because every business has dissatisfied clients, and they tend not to hesitate about writing negative reviews.
But if you get enough people to write positive reviews, those raves will far outweigh the rants, keeping your overall rating well above four stars.
Getting a lot of online reviews has other perks, too. When search engines see that people are talking about you online, they rank you higher in search results. And because some reviewers share their posts on their own social network accounts, one positive review may reach thousands of people.
Before you can start getting reviews, focus in on the sites where you'd most like your reviews to appear. The research shows that Yelp and Facebook are the sites reviewers trust most but you should also choose a few niche industry sites like Angie's List and Thumbtack. Visit each site to set up a page for your business, if one doesn't already exist.
Now you're ready to get those reviews. But you've got tight deadlines to stick to, and you don't have time to call or email each client to ask for a review. Besides, that can feel awkward...
The Easier Way
Yours is a business in which taking shortcuts can be dangerous. But there's good news: When it comes to managing your online reputation, taking a shortcut actually works.
When you use an automated system like ReputationStacker, getting a steady stream of positive reviews takes very little hands-on work...
ReputationStacker contacts your clients with a one-question survey, pinpointing the satisfied clients and sending them right to the review site of your choice. All you have to do is provide great service, enter an email address or phone number for your client into the system, and watch all your well-earned raves come rolling in.
The Final Walkthrough
No matter what type of contracting or building work you do, your online reputation is a significant factor to anyone thinking of hiring you.
Focus on making sure you do the best work possible, and let an automated system like ReputationStacker deal with the rest. It identifies your happy clients and encourages them to write reviews, taking care of 99 percent of your online reputation management.