Your business's reputation is the first thing customers will know about you. Investing in reputation management will help keep it positive.
Your reputation is one of the most critical aspects of your home improvement business. Unfortunately, we’ve all heard horrible stories of homeowners getting scammed out of money by a contractor who never finished the job or left things off worse than when they started. This is unfortunately common enough that the FTC provides guidelines to avoid a home improvement scam.
But you’re not one of those contractors. You’re a trustworthy person who just wants to help people. How do you prove this to potential customers? Start by managing your online reputation.
WHAT IS ONLINE REPUTATION MANAGEMENT AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
Everything is online these days, from social interactions to shopping and paying bills.
You can’t do anything anymore without going online. Even neighborhood gossip has moved online, whether in Facebook groups, the Nextdoor app, or the group text between neighbors. So, where is your reputation going? That’s right, online.
Everything moving online allows you to take more control. Previously, people would talk about your business in person or over the phone. That’s all fine and dandy if it’s a positive conversation, but you didn’t have the opportunity to correct any misinformation. If they heard something about you that was bad but untrue, it didn’t matter; that was their impression of your business, and you were none the wiser.
Now, you can see what people say about you online and join the conversation to build a more positive reputation. Let’s explore a few ways you can do that.
MANAGE YOUR MESSAGING WITH A STRONG ONLINE PROFILE
A strong online profile is key to managing your business’s online reputation. This is your first line of defense against any misinformation out there. You control the information potential customers can access, such as your contact information and what services you provide. An incorrect phone number or unanswered phone call may seem like no big deal to you. But it could be the breaking point for someone extremely stressed because their A/C isn’t working, and this is the third place they’ve called with no answer.
The top three things you want for your online profile are a website, a Facebook page, and a Google My Business page. If you can’t afford the resources, at the very least, invest the time into managing a Google My Business profile. As of August 2023, 64% of people get contact information from Google My Business, not the business’s website. Managing and keeping this profile up-to-date creates a better customer experience, improving your reputation, even if it’s just a baby step. Plus, Google My Business is a great place to collect and respond to reviews, especially if you don’t have a Facebook page.
REQUEST AND RESPOND TO REVIEWS
Reputation management isn’t a one-person job, even for contractors. It needs to be a group project, including your staff and customers. The easiest way to get everyone involved is by asking for reviews. At the end of each (positive) visit, your techs should ask customers to leave a review. It seems like an awkward ask, but it really isn’t. Your customers won’t mind; in fact, 8 in 10 customers will only leave a review if you ask them. This helps build a bank of positive reviews online so potential customers see you are a trustworthy business.
The review process doesn’t stop there, though. Once your customers leave a review, you should respond to each review individually. This can be time-consuming, and you don’t necessarily need to be the one to do it as long as it’s done. A survey found that 97% of customers who read reviews also read the business’s response, so your response is just as important as the review itself.
Responding to positive reviews is easy enough. You thank them for their business and mention that you’re glad they had a great experience. But what about the negative reviews? Your response is critical and could turn a negative into a positive.
Don’t get defensive in the reviews; it’s just not a good look. Instead, apologize for their experience and add context if possible. Maybe you have already resolved the issue. Thank them for letting you make their experience better. Or maybe the person just commented on the completely wrong business because you have no record of them. Potential customers won’t know that if you don’t provide the context and will likely take the review at face value.
This is the part of the conversation between customers where you get to share your side and correct any misinformation. Be sure to take advantage of this opportunity.
PROVIDE A GREAT CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
Creating a great reputation for your contracting business starts with providing a great customer experience. A dissatisfied customer isn’t going to leave a positive review for you (even if you ask) or tell their family and friends to use your services.
Your customer experience starts from the very first time a customer hears about you and looks into your business. If they can’t find your website or your website is confusing, it immediately affects their experience. It’s just a small part of their journey if they continue with your business. But if they stop at your website, the frustration they feel is what they remember about your business.
This continues through every step of the customer journey, from getting a quote to meeting the tech for the first time, all the way to the payment and financing options you offer. Each little step affects their experience, which then affects what they tell others about their experience.
Customer experience is an investment, but it’s worth spending the resources on it. Trustpilot says a “totally satisfied” customer will bring in 2.6 times more revenue than a “somewhat satisfied” customer and 14 times more than a “somewhat dissatisfied” customer. They also mention it costs seven times more to bring in a new customer than to keep one. So not only will great customer experience improve your reputation, but it will also help increase your business’s profit margins.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Reputation management is crucial for contractors, even though you may not have the time and money to invest in it. Now that you know where to start, you can make time in your schedule – or someone else’s – to manage your online reputation.
By investing in an online profile, responding to reviews, and providing a great customer experience, you’ll see a great return on investment. Your customers will be satisfied, your reputation will be great, and potential customers will know they can trust you. It’s a win all around.