There’s no doubt that word-of-mouth referrals have always played a huge role for pro woodworkers –they usually spread over a small area slowly, and with luck, will result in a trickle of new business. However, with the marked increase in online service reviews as a way modern consumers chose their provider, it’s become essential that you present yourself well on the web.
88% of consumers now do their homework on various review sites before picking up the phone to contact a pro, so making sure they can A) find you, and B) read good things about you and your work will be most important when considering how to reach these consumers. A winning online presence isn’t built over night, however there are simple steps that you can take to bring more potential business your way.
Identify your options
There are a growing number of review sites available to consumers (and therefore pros), and different sites will be popular with different regions and different demographics. A quick internet search will yield a number of choices; the top few listed will often be the ones most used by consumers. Nationwide the most frequently used sites for service provider information are Google, Craigslist, and Yelp.
Also, consider the offerings of each service and which will work best for you. A service like Yelp will be bigger in more populous regions. Angie’s List is good for customers who are skeptical about online reviews and feel that if they pay for access to the reviews, they’ll receive more trustworthy information. There are also industry-specific options like Pro.com, which offer not only verified customer reviews, but also the ability for customers to pre-price the cost of the project labor, and puts them directly in touch with you.
Provide great info
Whichever site you choose, the information you provide for your online profile can make or break how potential customers evaluate you. Encourage previous happy customers to take a few moments to write about their experience working with you – your great online reputation will be built upon those first few reviews.
Other points to keep in mind are:
• Provide as much information about you, your areas of expertise, and your business as possible, including all relevant licensing, bonding, and insurance information
• Bonus points if you can include PHOTOS – web users are seriously visually driven, so uploading examples from your portfolio will no doubt pay off.
• Be sure to link to your business’s website (a must!).
• And, be triple-sure that all contact information is correct; there’d be nothing worse than having customers interested in you but not able to reach you.
According to a Pro.com survey, 77% of consumers indicated that licensing, bonding, and insurance information were a “must have” for profiles. 74% said it would be “must have” or “nice to have” information on how many years the pro had been in business.
Let’s hope this is never something you have to deal with, but negative reviews are common. Sometimes customers are unhappy about little things, but some criticism can actually be constructive and great feedback for your business. The most important thing to remember when dealing with negative reviews is to address them. Ignoring negative reviews – or worse, responding with a snarky tone – is never a good idea.
As much as the particular site allows, be diligent about responding to the unhappy customer with a sincere apology and some dialogue about how you’re going to make it right for them – whether that be offering some kind of discount or perk, or simply repairing or redoing the part of work they’re dissatisfied with.
Using a tool such as the FeedbackPro app to survey your customers and respond to concerns before customers post negative feedback on public sites can help you stay ahead of issues.
Follow these basic guidelines and you’ll be well on your way to reaching the huge source of business online reviews can be for you and your craft.
Matt Williams is co-founder and CEO of Pro.com, the online service that allows customers to price out the labor costs of a home project, plus recommends and puts customers in contact with local pros to get the job done. To learn more about becoming a Pro.com-Certified Pro, visit www.pro.com
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