Homeowners need to feel confident the contractors they choose to provide services are reliable, skilled and trustworthy. Online reviews and word of mouth are some common ways of building trust. Growing your online portfolio and building a list of positive feedback can do wonders for your reputation.
CraftJack’s Reputation Manager can help you manage your online reviews and more to make sure you’re improving customer trust. Learn more.
Building Trust In A Connected World
The world we do business in today is very different from the world our parents were used to. Even as recently as a generation ago, if someone wanted to attract new customers, they’d need to be listed in the phone book, hand out flyers, and engage in marketing campaigns on billboards or the radio.
Stickers saying “As Seen on TV” or ads that highlighted an endorsement from a local radio celebrity were highly coveted. After all, if something’s big enough to be worthy of a mention by such respected media experts, it must be trustworthy.
Today, the phone book is considered a relic of the past, and the first thing most people turn to when they’re looking for a reliable tradesperson is either their favorite search engine or a social media platform.
Think about your own habits. If you’re looking for a product or service, there’s a good chance you rely on social proof yourself. For example:
- Reviews on Booking.com or Tripadvisor for hotels
- Yelp reviews for restaurants
- Trustpilot reviews for unknown online retailers
- Goodreads reviews for books
- Amazon or eBay feedback for sellers on those platforms
- Facebook ratings for service providers who run business pages on the platform
Almost everything you buy and every person or company you buy from is rated online in some way. As a contractor, you’ll most likely have received reviews of your services somewhere online too.
Trust comes from experience. It’s much easier to get repeat customers than to get a homeowner to trust you when they haven’t used your services before.
Having a good website and a strong online presence with lots of glowing reviews is a good way to get customers to pick up the phone the first time. But once that customer has started talking to you, you’ll need to win them over and get them to open their wallets.
Building Trust With New Customers
Taking a customer inquiry and turning it into a contract for a job requires skill and professionalism. Some novice contractors try to compete on price or availability, but being known for being cheap or fast isn’t always a good thing.
The best customers are the ones who are willing to pay a fair price for a job well done. Contractors who compete on price are more likely to end up getting customers who are difficult to deal with or aren’t loyal. Rather than turning your offerings into a race to the bottom, take the time to educate your customers on why you charge what you do and what it is that makes your service better than the competitors.
Providing a detailed itemized quote is a good starting point. This quote helps the customer understand exactly what it is they’re paying for. Let’s take the example of a plumber fitting a shower in a bathroom. The quote might include:
- The shower itself
- Other materials (e.g., tiles, plaster, for a neat and tidy finish)
- Electrical wiring work for the shower heater
- Time (number of hours of labor for the job)
Breaking the quote down in this way helps make it clear exactly what’s covered and helps avoid confusion or complaints. Some customers might think, “A shower from the local hardware store costs only a few hundred dollars. Why are you charging more than that when you must get a trade discount?”
That customer may not be aware that the shower unit isn’t the only thing you need to do a good job. If they’re not someone who does a lot of DIY work, they might overlook the need to tile the walls or not think about extending the pipes or wiring up the unit itself.
You don’t have to provide a step-by-step description of every part of the job, but itemizing the estimate or quote well enough to show what the job entails will help the prospective customer understand why you arrived at the price you did.
If a homeowner gets three quotes and one is cheap but not itemized, while yours and that of another contractor are closer to each other in price and clearly itemized, the homeowner is more likely to trust the two quotes that agree with each other.
At that point, you need to differentiate yourself from the other contractor with personal touches and customer service. That means arriving on time for the estimates, being polite, having a professional-looking website, and answering the homeowner’s questions clearly and concisely.
First impressions matter, but so does the ongoing vibe you give off. Treat all your customers and prospective customers with professionalism and respect in every interaction.
How To Make An Online Portfolio For Trust Building
If you’re trustworthy, it’s easy to persuade people of that when you see them face-to-face, but you need your online presence to look good too. An outdated website and abandoned Facebook page won’t win you many contracts.
So, take the time to build up some online feedback about your services.
- Update your website and ask recent clients for feedback to use as testimonials.
- Build up an online portfolio (on your website or on contractor directories), showing off the work you do.
- Claim your profiles on Facebook and other social platforms, and politely ask customers for reviews.
- Make sure your Google My Business listing is up to date.
- Make sure your contact details are up to date on any local tradespeople directories.
Even if you aren’t tech-savvy, you should be able to build up an online presence using free online portfolio sites to post photographs of your work and testimonials. If possible, make several sites and link them together to strengthen your online presence.
If you offer good service and build a long-term relationship with the homeowners you do jobs for, you can turn those people into passionate brand advocates who’ll recommend you to their friends and family, share your social profiles like modern-day business cards, and help you build a reputation in your area.
Managing Your Reputation Online
One of the challenges of online reputation management is that anyone can publish their thoughts on their own social media profiles, leave reviews on public directories and review sites, or comment on your social posts. Your online portfolio is in the public domain.
This means that when you put yourself out there online, you’re leaving yourself open to positive and negative comments. How you respond to that content will make a big difference in how prospective customers see you.
Responding to reviews and questions is one of the most important parts of online reputation management. Take the time to respond to all reviews and comments, positive or negative.
Saying “thank you” to the people who left positive reviews shows those reviewers you appreciate them taking the time to share their experience. This makes them feel valued and could mean they’ll choose your services again next time they need a contractor.
Responding to questions and negative reviews shows you’re truly engaged with people on social platforms and reinforces people’s opinion of you as professional, calm, and attentive.
Retaining Trust When Things Go Wrong
As a contractor, you take pride in what you do, and it can be heartbreaking to read negative feedback, whether or not it’s warranted. How you respond to that feedback, however, affects whether others view you as trustworthy.
If the negative feedback is true, reply to the reviewer thanking them for taking the time to share their experience. Explain what went wrong, and offer to make things right. Provide your contact details so the reviewer can discuss the situation in more detail. Stick to the facts, and be polite and friendly.
If the feedback is untrue or unwarranted, it’s still worth responding. Stay calm and thank the reviewer for their feedback. Say that you like to make sure all customers are as happy as possible with the service you provide and you’re disappointed to hear how unhappy they are. Word your reply carefully so that you don’t share private information in a public reply, but make it clear you’d like to address the customer’s concerns.
Many customers who are unhappy with something just want to feel heard and are happy to revise their reviews once they’ve received a response and had their issue fixed. Some people who leave negative reviews can never be satisfied, however. Those reviewers may come across as hostile and angry in their posts.
Prospective customers who are unsure about whether they’d like to buy from you will pay attention to both negative and positive reviews, as well as your attitude when you respond to them. If you’re always polite, friendly, and reasonable, that could be the thing that makes them willing to buy from you.
If managing your reviews and online reputation is too stressful or time-consuming, consider using CraftJack’s Reputation Manager to reduce your workload. We can save you time and help you build trust and positive engagement while you focus on the rest of your business.