Power of Reviews: Why They Matter for Home Service Business Owners

Discover the importance of reviews for home service businesses and learn how to use them to your advantage. Build trust, create context, and provide additional information for potential customers with unbiased opinions. 

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Online reputation management is something contractors often neglect, but it's essential to the long-term growth and sustainability of a business. Building up an extensive list of positive reviews can help make your company appear more trustworthy to potential customers. But how can you maximize the impact of positive reviews, and what should you do about negative ones?

CraftJack is here to help businesses track their online presence. Contact us today to find out how our reputation management can help your business.

Why Reviews Matter for Home Service Business Owners

Whether shopping for a new kitchen or a simple household appliance, it's unlikely the average person is going to go into the purchase blind. Today, it's possible to find reviews of almost any product online, and 90% of shoppers say they read at least one review before they choose to shop with a business.

The content of online reviews can be incredibly influential, too, with 94% of shoppers claiming they've avoided a business because of a negative review. It's easier than ever before for shoppers to look up businesses before deciding to buy from them, and with star ratings appearing on Google without users even having to read the reviews, the impact of a couple of negative reviews shouldn't be underestimated.

Even people who aren't proactively searching review aggregator sites and delving deep into a company's history are likely to be subtly influenced by reviews. If there are two joiners serving a local area and one has a rating of three stars and the other four and a half, how many customers will click on the better-rated business without even stopping to think about what's influenced their choice?

With bigger purchases or major projects, such as building a conservatory or having a fitted kitchen installed, it's standard for customers to get at least two or three quotes and to evaluate the service providers as they go. If two businesses are offering similar prices and there's not a lot of difference between them in other areas, reviews could make all the difference.

Prospective customers can glean a lot from the content of recent reviews, such as:

  • Whether the contractor was punctual
  • Whether the work was completed on time
  • How any issues were dealt with
  • The quality and frequency of communication throughout the job
  • Whether the contractor cleaned up after completing the work
  • The behavior of any tradespeople while they were at the customer's property
  • The standard of the work that was completed

Some customers may be particularly concerned about having work completed on time. Others may see a comment such as "The apprentice swore frequently, and my children overheard it" and see that as a dealbreaker.

Reviews carry a lot of weight with some consumers and can provide additional context for people who are looking to decide about whether to choose you when they hire a contractor. It's not enough to simply state on your website that you're professional, punctual, and polite. Any business can make that claim. If you have happy customers who are willing to say the same thing publicly, however, your customers are more likely to believe it.

How To Make Reviews Part of Your Business Strategy

The challenge many contractors have is getting those positive reviews. As a contractor, it's likely your calendar is full of bookings, and you enjoy the trade you do. If you wanted to work on a computer all day in an office, you would have chosen a different vocation.

Even so, it's useful to devote some time to building a robust online presence. At a minimum, consider listing your business on the following platforms:

  • Google My Business
  • Yelp
  • HomeAdvisor
  • Nextdoor
  • Any specific local business directories

Do some market research to find out what sites people in your area use when they're looking for contractors and prioritize those websites. The more reviews you can get, the better. According to one survey, a business that has more than nine recent reviews earns 52% more revenue than average, and businesses with more than 25 recent reviews can earn as much as 108% more revenue than average.

Encourage customers to leave a review after you complete a job for them. You can do this in person if the customer seems very happy with the work or as part of an email follow-up. Keep in mind that it's against the rules of many review platforms to provide incentives for positive reviews, but asking for feedback in a broader sense is acceptable.

When a customer leaves a review, take a moment to respond to them. It's good practice to respond to all reviews, whether they're positive or negative. Thank the customer for their feedback, and if possible, single out something in the review to comment on so it's clear you've read it properly.

With negative reviews, try to address the complaint the customer has. Many shoppers will read the exchange and evaluate your business based on how you handle negative feedback. It's not always easy for a small business owner to remain calm when someone criticizes their business, especially if the comments from the customer are unfair. However, it's essential to do so.

By remaining calm and polite, you have the chance to de-escalate the situation. Thank the customer for their feedback, highlight any measures you've taken to fix the issue already, apologize for any issues that the customer is raising that are true, and ask the customer to contact you privately to resolve the issue. Be sure to follow up with the customer privately, and if you promise to do something for them, do it.

Anyone who reads the review will see that you've tried to help the customer and will have the opportunity to evaluate the negative feedback more accurately within the context of your response.

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How To Use Reviews to Your Advantage

After a few months of asking customers for reviews, you'll hopefully have a large collection of positive reviews to share. Take some of these reviews and showcase them on your website or social media profiles. Be sure to thank everyone for their feedback, too.

Ask the customers who leave the most positive reviews if you can use their comments, along with photos of the work, as part of your marketing materials. If you tend to work on large jobs where people are likely to want to speak to previous customers or even see examples of your work in person, ask those customers if they'd be willing to be used as case studies or testimonials.

Over time, you'll most likely get some negative reviews. Even the most successful businesses will have the occasional dissatisfied customer. Treat these reviews as a learning opportunity. If several customers complain about the same thing, this could be a sign there's an issue with the service you provide. Take the feedback on board and make changes so other customers don't experience the same issues.

If you feel the feedback isn't valid, simply respond politely to the comments and invite the customer to contact you privately. Don't get into an argument with the customer, and don't try to get the review removed from the website. Simply leave the review up with your comments alongside it and trust that future visitors will look at the bigger picture and place more weight on the dozens of positive reviews you have than the occasional unfair complaint.

Why Customers Value Reviews

It's easy to get hung up on the idea of chasing high review scores when you're building your online profile as a contractor. Remember, the number of reviews and the review score are just two of the metrics you should be thinking about.

The important thing is the content of the reviews. As a contractor, it's likely people will be inviting you into your home, and they could be spending a lot of money on the project they're bringing you in for. Building trust is essential for contractors looking to grow their businesses.

Word of mouth is a common way of attracting business and one of the main ways a contractor can get over the "trust hurdle" and persuade a new customer to spend money with them. Reviews are also useful, offering people who don't have the benefit of word-of-mouth recommendations a chance to evaluate your business.

According to Dimensional Research, online reviews influence the buying decisions of around 90% of the people they surveyed. Consumers use platforms such as Yelp when choosing a home services provider and are swayed by factors such as the number of reviews and their content.

Consumers look at the overall rating and the content of the reviews to see what sort of complaints people have and make a more informed decision about whether they want to work with that company. Having too few positive reviews or too many negative ones can put off a customer from choosing a specific service provider.

Suspected review-bombing can also be an issue. If a company has hundreds of positive reviews on one platform but very few on others, and the reviews were all left around the same time or look suspicious in other ways, this could be viewed as a red flag by savvy consumers.

That's why it's so important to attract organic, honest reviews from real customers and manage your online presence carefully.

Final Thoughts

Asking your customers to leave a review if they were happy with your service is an incredibly useful and high-impact marketing tool. Reviews can be almost as powerful as word of mouth when it comes to building trust among your target audience, and many customers will be happy to help a small business if they're given a gentle reminder to do so.

Responding to online reviews can have a positive impact on your bottom line, too. If you're struggling to find the time to do this, using a reputation manager like CraftJack's could be a good investment.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Impact of Having No Reviews or Negative Reviews on My Business? 

Having no reviews at all could leave customers questioning whether you're reputable. Having negative reviews could also deter prospective customers from choosing your business.

Can I Delete or Hide Negative Reviews?

Most review platforms won't allow business owners to delete or hide negative reviews. Even where it's possible to do so, it's generally not advisable to ask for reviews to be removed unless they're obviously falsified or abusive.

How Can I Respond to Negative Reviews in a Way That Benefits My Business?

Responding to negative reviews politely and calmly can benefit your business. Polite responses show readers that you're a professional and you care about your customers.

What Can I Do If I Suspect a Review is Fake or Unfair?

If you suspect that a review is fake, contact the platform that the review is on and ask them to review it. Many review sites have sophisticated systems to identify fake reviews and will be happy to remove a review if they determine the review in question was not from a genuine customer.

CraftJack is here to help manage your online reviews. Contact us today to find out how our reputation management can help your business.