If you are anything like me, when considering a major purchase, you ask friends and family for a recommendation. According to a 2013 study by Cisco, 49 percent of today’s buying decisions are still influenced by one’s closest circles. Word of mouth can’t be underestimated. Yet, who consumers ask and how they ask has changed. Social media and online reviews have replaced many of the over-the-fence conversations of the past. What’s the bottom line? As a business owner, you can’t rely solely on word of mouth to grow your business.
Today you need online consumer reviews to capture the attention of connected, on-the-go homeowners. Case in point, recently when I was hunting for a trustworthy plumber, I scrolled through Google+ reviews of local companies. Which one did I select? The plumber with the most positive reviews – he’d garnered 19 as of the time I last looked!
I am not alone. In a recent survey, 88 percent of respondents said they use online reviews to assess the quality of a business. (http://searchengineland.com/88-consumers-trust-online-reivews-much-perosnal-recommednations-195803) Before they make it to your website or dial your number, your potential customers are increasingly judging your business based on the consumer reviews they find online.
Your reputation – fair or not – can be determined in those crucial review moments. A lack of positive online reviews or even a limited number can cost you leads and future business like it did for the rest of the plumbers in my search example. I only called the plumber with the most positive reviews, ignoring all the rest. Why? I trusted the reviews other consumers had written about this plumber. Seventy-two percent of all consumers think this way. When a business has positive reviews their level of trust increases. (http://searchengineland.com/88-consumers-trust-online-reivews-much-perosnal-recommednations-195803)
For home improvement and remodeling businesses, it is essential to strategically give online reviews the attention they deserve. Dedicate resources to collecting and managing reviews, especially on the most popular review sites, such as Google, Yelp, Home Advisor and Angie’s List. Make it easy for your customers to post positive reviews. Online software like ReviewInc (http://www.reviewinc.com/) makes it easy and affordable for you to send a link to a satisfied homeowner at the completion of a project and for homeowners to post a review.
I have a word of caution: Don’t be tempted to manipulate a review. Potential customers see right through phony postings. In the long run, inauthentic reviews do harm to a business’ reputation. Commit your organization to offering a complete solution to all potential customers that includes not only stellar service and superior products, but an easy way to pay for the project with consumer financing, like the unbeatable choice of loans offered by EnerBank USA.(http://enerbank.com/contractors) Follow this best practice and you’ll increase sales with more leads, higher close rates and bigger jobs. Plus, more satisfied customers will be anxious to refer their friends and family.