Insufferable, un-satisfiable, impossible clients. Cruel, creepy, fraudulent competitors.
That’s who I hear about when I talk to remodelers about the world of online reviews. Everyone has a story about how they’ve been wronged on Google, Yelp, Angie’s List, or other online review sites. And believe me, I sympathize. There’s nothing fair about the way reviews are written, posted, or believed by homeowners online.
My advice to home improvement companies is to ignore the online trolls and bad reviews, no matter how outrageous or fictitious they are. There’s a better way: focus on driving as many good reviews as you possibly can.
Push Out the Bad
Do you know which home improvement company gets more bad reviews than any other? With its unlimited scale and massive number of stores, it’s most likely Home Depot. How many of you would like to swap balance sheets with them?
The point is that bad reviews don’t kill businesses. Every remodeler has bad reviews or will get them eventually. They’re a fact of life in our Internet-centric world.
A better strategy is to shift your focus from those bad reviews to generating an abundance of good reviews. It sounds obvious, but it has a couple of key benefits.
First, generating more good reviews quickly drives bad reviews to the bottom of whatever page homeowners are looking at. Visually, having three recent, strong reviews right by your name on Yelp will almost always push bad reviews off of a web page, or at least so far down the page that the homeowner won’t reach them.
If this sounds like a weird game of visual real estate on a web page, you’re right! The real-life behavior of homeowners on the web is to scan quickly, then click to something else. If they only see three or four positive reviews at the top of the page, that’s going to be good enough for most homeowners.
Online Tools Can Help
There are several online tools that can help you generate good reviews via email. The key to these tools is that they use email marketing to generate positive reviews but not bad ones.
Here's how the tool works. You send an email to your customers, asking them to answer a few questions about their project. The first question is something like this: “Were you completely satisfied with the work XYZ Home Improvement did for you?"
If they homeowner answers “yes,” they are then asked to submit a review, which is almost guaranteed to be positive. If they answer “no” they are not directed to submit reviews at all.
The tool generates what you are looking for: more good reviews and fewer bad reviews.
Ask for Good Reviews While You Ask for Referrals
At the end of every successful job, good home improvement companies go back to the homeowner to ask if they’re satisfied and if they can make a referral to neighbors, friends, or family members.
It’s incredibly easy to ask for a good online review at the same time. There’s a happy homeowner with your sales rep during an in-home appointment. Open a laptop, bring an iPad, log on using a cell phone. With the click of a button you can have a new review.
Good reviews don’t have to be complicated. A simple, “They did great work, and I’d recommend them to anyone” is all you need. It’s a positive review that makes you look good and drives bad reviews away.
Don’t waste your time or energy trying to resolve every last bad review. Whether they are chronically dissatisfied homeowners or emotionally unbalanced consumers, you just can’t satisfy them. What you can do is focus on your good customers and the great work you do for them.