Why Your Contractor Business Should Care About Customer Reviews
The verdict is as clear as can be: reviews are critical to closing sales. If you want more work, you need stellar reviews. In today's buyers world, we all know who holds the power and we also know that buyers aren't waiting for you to give them a hundred reason of why your services and your approach is better than everyone else's. They know you think you are and that you have many reasons why. Your buyers (or prospects) - are looking for reasons to not choose you. They are scouring the internet for these reasons. What they find will make or break your sale. Reviews are the cherry on the pie.
Here is one simple reason why: According to the Local Consumer Review Survey by BrightLocal, 88% shoppers read reviews to determine the quality of a local business. In other words, almost every prospect that you ever make a pitch to will go hunt down reviews to confirm whether or not your contracting business is credible, reliable, professional, and produces high quality results.
So you might have an amazing contractor website with content, calls-to-action and your conversations are tracked and consistent. You might have the best portfolio in your area. Even your photography might be of the highest quality. Without reviews, that final "background check" won't pass without honest, positive, and public feedback. Related: 5 Must Haves for a Killer Home Contractor Website.
Think your word of mouth referral network is better than online reviews and enough to bring you clients? Think again. Over 85% of review readers consider the reviews to be as good as actual personal recommendations. (Source: BrightLocal) So if you are a local home contracting business that has a strong in-person referral business - the next in line with an even stronger online review lineup is going to start eating into your market (if they're not already!).
Not all reviews are made equal. Buyers have become increasingly skeptical of inauthentic reviews. First ones to come off the credibility list: reviews on your site by a "Mrs. Johnson." Who is she!? Yes, it's a lovely quote or two from how happy she was working with your team and the beautiful design. However anyone can say that (or make it up). Get rid of these false-appearing testimonials. If you're really keen on keeping them on your website - add a picture of Mrs. Johnson in front of the completed project. Nothing fancy - a simple iphone photo from her will do just fine.
Reviews on Facebook are the most ideal way to capture positive reviews with a way for review readers to trace the authenticity. Even more - they can check where the reviewer resides and "see" how real your previous client was. All leading to your prospect relating with the previous client and trusting his or her word even more.
Other sources like Google+, Houzz, and Yelp are all okay platforms and can be helpful but make it hard for readers to trace back to the reviewer. Additionally (especially with Google+) there are less users on these platforms than on Facebook - this becomes a problem if 100% of the reviews on any one of these sites are all positive. The appearance is that you wrote the one or two reviews yourself. Even if untrue, the in genuine appearance can do more harm than good.
Speaking of numbers, quantity is the finishing touch to success with your online reputation. Nearly 9 out of 10 readers read approximately 10 reviews. (Source: BrightLocal) So a couple of superb reviews aren't going to cut it (even if they're on Facebook). Your prospects realize a couple of shared experience don't represent the company in entirety. This especially works in your favor with negative reviews; Prospects will often forgive a negative review if they are provided with many other happy client stories.
All paths leads to reviews; lots of them. Whether you're a landscape contractor, kitchen and back design/build company, pool builder, or a general contractor - you need reviews to help ensure that you win the job; to help confirm everything you've said is true. Add links to your email signature, directly ask clients to review, send emails - whatever best approach works for your business. And be sure to be specific about where you prefer these reviews to occur, "review us on Facebook" kind of thing. Happy feed-backing!
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-Image Flickr Alan Levine