Today we’re talking about a topic that’s hugely important to your business – Reputation Marketing For Home Inspectors
What is reputation marketing?
Reputation marketing is using the words and reviews of your happy customers to get the attention and earn the trust of more potential customers; leveraging the kind words that your prior clients gave you to get more customers.
We have to really make sure those great reviews get out all over the internet. Do we still look for bad reviews in other places? Absolutely we do, and we manage those when they come up.
Let’s take a look what the reputation marketing involves.
- Monitoring what people say about you and your business.
- Responding in a positive manner to all reviews and encouraging positive reviews and testimonials.
What about a negative review?
Well, it does happen. It’s not that the home inspector’s necessarily done a bad thing, but maybe somebody came out, a contractor and threw you under the bus, never read the standards of practice.
Just lay out the facts and then get your initial response. Let somebody else read it in the firm, your spouse, or significant other. Then, rework it the way it should be.
We have to respond in a positive manner.
Coach William thinks that the problem is having a misconception about what a home inspection is and isn’t. He believes that most home buyers have unrealistic expectations and it’s something we have to manage. That’s where a lot of these complaints or negative reviews come from.
„It has to do with volume. The more you are, the bigger you become. Tall trees get hit by lightning. The odds are against you the more inspections that you do. I think some consumers, most consumers now especially the Millennial younger generation is really savvy on that kind of thing. To drive that home, if you’ve got, because I do, I’ve got a couple of competitors out there who have five start reviews. Well, when you look at that they’ve got three reviews. You pull somebody like us up who’s maintaining a 4.8, but we have 50 reviews, it’s a big difference. I think most consumers are smart about that. As they’re doing research, and you’re looking at all the other factors involved in making the choice, I think they expect to see that. I think, sometimes, five star review sends the message that maybe it’s not real.“
Consumers, whether they’re home buyers or not, recognize you can’t make everybody happy.
Reputation marketing is really way more than reputation management.
We’re not just managing reviews. Getting five star reviews published all across the web is your job.
Why should we care about it?
Coach William, not only is he a coach at The Savvy Inspector, but he and his wife own Certainty Home Inspections in southern Indiana and Louisville, Kentucky. They have nine inspectors and they’ve been very, very successful and managing their reputation is critical to them. Coach William gets an occasional negative review from his team, and that’s just the way it works.
What people say about your company online has become the single most important reflection of your company’s quality, reliability, and skill.
It’s critical that you collect five star reviews. Do that from not only clients, but referral sources as well.
There are three types of reputation online:
- a good reputation,
- a bad reputation,
- no reputation.
If your online reputation is the single most important reflection of your company’s quality, reliability, and skill and you have no reviews, what does that say?
It’s a shame that people won’t go to the effort to get self-noticed online, show up on the first page or wherever on Google and those kind of things.
If a company was really a good company and they said on their website they’d been around for many, many years, how come people aren’t willing to share any good reviews about them? Everybody in business today knows how important that is, so maybe this company’s not so good.
There was also a case where a lady had written a review for someone that said, “I called this company reluctantly because they had no reviews. After talking to them on the telephone I thought they were a great company. What happens is I booked with them. Now what I’m doing is I’m writing a review to let everybody else know this is a really good company, even though they didn’t have any reviews.”
If people are going to judge quality, reliability and skill from reviews and you don’t have any, or you have bad reviews, you can imagine how problematic that is to your marketing effort. Okay, all your marketing efforts will ultimately lead the consumer to learn more about you online. There, your less than sterling, or not existing reputation drives them away.
There’s another example – a man had a Google My Business, it used to be called Google Places, or Google Maps. He was number one in the old snack pack and he only had one review and it was negative. The person in that first position usually gets 53% or more of the clicks. All of the clicks he got people saw that negative review.
Just having one review’s bad enough, but any negative reviews you’ve got like that, that remain at the top, could be an issue.
Here’s another fact why you should care about it. If your potential customers are getting a negative vibe about your brand, think of your brand just as your business, when researching your company online you can almost guarantee this is negatively impacting your ability to generate new business.
Let us make this a little bit larger.
85% of consumers conduct online research before making a decision.
79% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
In the old days we used to ask our friends: “Who do you know for contractors?” or “Who do you know for this?” There wasn’t any of this online stuff. Now, almost 80% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. That’s a switch and that’s powerful.
21% of people don’t.
Let’s say you’re a home inspector in whatever city and you don’t have any reviews. 79% of people saying, “You’ve got no reviews. Are we even going to go any further in research?”
Even look at this, your name’s on the list at the real estate office. What happens is we know 78% of consumers that get that list from the real estate agent immediately go online and type your company name in. Since you don’t have any reviews, will they go any further? No.
There are two or three things that are critical for home inspectors to do to be able to get business from the public, and reputation is one of the most important. One star increase in Yelp rating leads to five to 9% increase in revenue.
73% of consumers say positive reviews make them trust a business more.
77% of consumers read less than six reviews before they form an opinion. That used to be seven to nine, so that’s gone down. The review system’s become more credible. It’s really harder to put up a fake review than it was in the past. All of the directories and Google and all have those systems done very well. Even on Amazon now when you look at the reviews it’ll say verified purchaser
78% of Americans age 18 to 44 agree that online reviews help them decide whether or not to purchase from a specific business.
90% of consumers trust recommendations from others.
100% of you reading this have either a personal or corporate reputation to protect.
If you’re a business owner protecting your company’s reputation is probably one of the most important things that you can do.
Here’s the bottom line – your home inspection firm will have an online brand reputation.
If you don’t choose to manage and market your online rep, the public will do it for you.
A woman in South Florida has got a restaurant down there. She’s got the best food in the world. It’s a cool place, and it’s Greek. All of her help is from Greece. You couldn’t have a more hospitable crowd, staff and the food’s good, but she’s got a ton of negative reviews on all kind of things. These trolls. You know what she said? “It’s not worth fooling with all these online reviews.” You know what happens today? She just went out of business. You just cannot afford to do that today.
Every home inspector, and every home inspection company in the country, if you aren’t engaged in reputation marketing, actively engaged in reputation marketing, you know what happens is you’re not going to get business from the public. If they type in “Home inspector Atlanta” and these negative reviews come up, you’re doomed. What about if they put you on the agents list, and the agent, we know 78% of them will immediately type your company name in. They see negative reviews, they going to use you?
The old saying “any publicity’s good publicity” was invented way before online reviews.
What happens is, if you’re losing business, real estate agent referrals, because you have a bad reputation or no reputation, you’re not getting business directly from the public and that can have a very negative impact.
Now, you’re probably asking what you need to do.
First, you need a plan.
When you have a plan you get peace of mind that your business shines in a positive light to potential customers, and that’s what you need. Then, by being proactive, by building a strong brand image before anything negative surfaces, you’re the winner. You get a ton of great reviews, okay, so we proactively go them. We have a system to get them. Then what happens a negative one creeps in, legitimate or not legitimate and it doesn’t hurt you that bad because you’ve got a strong brand image already. Then, clean up negative online reviews so that you can reverse the profit draining impacts of them.
The beautiful thing is our Done For You Services unit at The Savvy Inspector does your online marketing so you don’t have to worry about all this.
What you need to do each month is to type in your company’s name, your name and if you’re a multi-inspector firm type in inspectors’ names and see what comes up in Google.
You can do it manually, but it’s time consuming. You can type in Google Alerts and learn everything you want to know about it. But, Google Alerts will let you type in what your company name, your name, your home inspector’s name and you can tell it how often you want to receive the alert. It goes across the internet and scours the internet for those keywords, whatever you put in there. Then what happens is it’ll bring back a report.
Hootsuite will do the same thing. Hootsuite’s got some other benefits, too. There’s a free version and a paid version. It’s got some good tools in there you could use.
You should always check the Better Business Bureau. We’re not talking about websites and search engine optimization, but there are two good things about the Better Business Bureau, besides it’s great for your reputation. The Better Business Bureau, when you have that emblem on your website, and especially your checkout page, if you have your association links on there and icon, it increases confidence in the consumer, the home buyer.
The other thing is your link from the Better Business Bureau back to your main webpage is a very powerful back link for search engine optimization. There are a lot of benefits for being a BBB member.
Coach William says “they have added a new feature now and we’ve gotten a couple of quotes from the BBB. Whether they’re on your site, or wherever, they click and they go to your BBB page, they can actually contact you from there now and ask for a quote. There’s another great reason. Again, they trust that site.“
It’s not inexpensive, but it is very beneficial. At least in Atlanta, it’s based on the number of employees you have in your firm. It’s a good thing to have.
Here’s how we can determine our online reputation weekly or monthly – Google Alerts, Hootsuite and always check the Better Business Bureau.
If you have negative reviews, you need to push them down. We help clients with that. If you get a negative review, it’s right at the top of the list. What we need to do is get positive reviews on top of it so it pushes it off the page.
People just don’t always like the outcome. It wasn’t your fault, but they never mind going in there giving you a negative review even though it wasn’t your fault.
“The sad part is, the deal I’m going through, or just went through, not only the client who was the wife, her and her husband and then some other family member, all three go out there and give you one star reviews and not on just one site. They went to every site they could find, just really can do damage and drive you down. Driving your five star rating down. I think it was down to, almost down to 4.3 or something. We had to work diligently with Ken and the crew there to get that back up and we did. Yeah, I mean there’s always going to be something like that. It doesn’t necessarily have to be your client. We even had the seller of the home go out there and say negative things about us and it’s like, that’s not even our client. Anybody can go out there and post whatever they want to. “, says coach William.
Another example of pushing down negative reviews. Let’s say you got a negative review on MerchantCircle. What you would get your clients to do is saying, “We’re really trying to get more reviews on MerchantCircle to help us get more business in. So, what I’d like for you to do, if you feel like you could leave us a positive review, I’d like for you to leave it at MerchantCircle.” And we send them the link to do it. They go right in there and they put the review on. Their review sits on top of the bad one. Two or three people come in and do it, push the bad one down where folks don’t see it. That’s what we mean by that. We look at all directory listings and all of those places where reviews can be left to make sure that nobody’s causing harm to our clients.
It’s like if you have several different sites, MerchantCircle, or you have several Google My Business pages, Facebook. All of those sites need to be managed. By having that plan you want to direct people to those particular sites to keep your ratings up where you want them to be. Or to drive down if somebody gets a negative post. Having that plan together to attack that, if you’re turning it over to Done For You Services here, that’s something you have to think through and implement.
What we’re talking about here is being proactive by building a strong brand image.
That leads us into our next segment here, which is set up your review collection system.
It’s part of being proactive and it’s truly a system. Okay, so how should you collect reviews? If you don’t work with an agency like ours, you have to send a customer to the review site of your choice, but that’s risky.
What happens is if you let the customer go to the review site of their choice, or your choice and they’re giving you a bad review, it’s counterproductive to proactive building your brand and it causes negative drains on your income.
We can’t let these negative reviews get out there and certainly not get unresponded to.
When we started there was no computerized reporting systems, everything was paper, and even hand written. What happened was when we were there we had a small, punch card size. What we found was they wanted to tell more than we, they had space to write.
Surveys are another way you can do it. There’s a lot of survey fatigue. Every company in the business or industry wants you to give them a survey or fill out the survey. It only takes two minutes or whatever it is. We’ll sign you up for a little prize if you do it. Surveys can be somewhat effective. A lot of times you can’t get them filled out as much or as easily, but they do have their place.
If you use the ISN, the email that you’re asking for them, sending the report, here’s your report. But, follow up with them automatically through email, both the agent and the client.
Coach William advises to get the reviews that come from real estate agents out there on social media. “If you want to get in depth with them, we’re actually doing little videos with them and getting tremendous response on that. Utilizing those and using them as an endorsement to dig deeper within the office. Those are little gold nuggets when you get a nice testimonial from a real estate agent. If you’re marketing to agents you can definitely use that.“
One of the things positive about using the email, whatever email system you’re using, whether it’s an ISN or not, you can set up automatically a couple of follow up broadcasts if they didn’t get a response from them. That’s a little bit easier. The other one that you can use is what we call private review page. If you’re a Savvy Inspector, Done For You client, when we say Done For You, that means we do your online marketing for you while you’re out doing other things that we can’t help you with like CE classes and office presentations. Our team can’t come out and do that, but we can do these things behind the scenes on behalf of your company. We build our clients a private review page so that people come there.
What can you do with reviews if they’re collected by paper, survey, or email?
You can put them on your website. If you’re going to have to use a review like that on your website, put quotation marks around the review and put the person’s first name and last name, the date and the city and state. Say, “Ken Compton, 2/21/17, Salem, Indiana.” That gives consumers way more confidence. What also gives customers more confidence is putting the client’s photograph right there beside their testimonial.
“We’re doing video at this point but I’ll definitely recommend that, especially if you’ve got a nice little sign, “Inspected by …” and your company. They can hold the sign, snap a shot, put that with their testimonial. It just adds validity to that endorsement”, says coach William.
But, what happens on Facebook? Look how big your Facebook account is, and realtors and others. The downside of Facebook is it doesn’t last long.
You can use them in offline marketing campaigns. You’re using SendOutCards and DirectMail, or using flyers in office or however it happens to be.
If you collect these on paper, survey, or email here’s where you can’t put them: Google My Business, the Better Business Bureau, Yelp, MerchantCircle, Angie’s List.
You’ve got a couple of choices. You can send the home buyer after you’re finished to one of these properties, and pray that they say something good, or you can just use them in these other ways up here which don’t give you the full bang. Remember, we’re talking about reputation marketing. What we said over here in this module was that we had to get these reviews published all across the web. Any place somebody would look for a home inspector in your market, if they don’t see reviews you’re going to get ignored as a company. You can see this gets more and more complicated as we move along. You can collect reviews, but where can you use them? If you can’t get them to these online properties, that’s hurting your business.
“Just a couple of things that you can do that we’ve had pretty good success with. I remember on the paper form, and we used the one that you guys had shared with us forever. In small print under the where you sign, where the client would sign, if that’s her signature, there’s a little box that says, “Check this box if you do not want us to use this publicly.” Of course it’s small so there was a way around that”, says William.
When we got those, either that or even through the surveys because we’ve had really good luck with the surveys, although we’ve kind of switched that lately. But, even with the surveys you could take those, the comments back from that client, and make sure in your survey that you do have a question that asks about the real estate agent, their experience with the real estate agent. Then, collect that information when it’s good, of course, and we put that in an email that goes out to both the listing and buying agent that says, “Hey, we just got some … Sharing some great feedback.” as the headline. We get tons of great response back from the agents. “I love that. That’s what we’re after. You guys did a great job.” That’s one way to do it where you can reach out a little bit to both the agents and share that.
Then, the other thing is to send an email back to the clients, go in there and copy what they put in your survey, or copy what they had written in the paper into an email, and email that to them and say, “Hey, we really appreciate you saying this.” or doing whatever. Make it so that they can just copy that and then go to Google+ or wherever you want to drive them. Again – your marketing plan in order to make that happen, to boost those, or drive one down or whatever. That way it’s easy for them to say, “Okay, I’ll reach out and do that.” Then copy and paste and sign off on Google or wherever to get them to go online with that written testimony.
When we collected paper reviews we always photocopied the review, the paper review and we kept a photocopy and we sent the original to the agent and said, “Thanks for the referral for Mary Jones. We sincerely appreciate it. You got a lot of choices, you chose us. We’re honored. Here’s what Mary Jones thought about the work we did for her at the inspection.” And the original card was in there. That was a very powerful agent retention strategy as well. Leveraging that review to keep our referral sources.
Today, what happens is we’ve got to get way further than that because, the real estate agent market is changing and agents are slowly, but surely losing their grip on the home buyer. When they do, how are you going to get more home inspections? Going direct to the public and using reviews as one of the cornerstones of your effort is critical.
Let’s look and see what The Savvy Inspector does. We think we have a better solution for home inspectors.
You can outsource this game changing task.
You’ve got two options once you outsource it. A reputation marketing company that serves many industries. That’s one, and they’re out there. They do auto dealers and they do physicians and they do contractors. The Savvy Inspector, we exclusively do home inspectors, that’s it. Since we started the coaching practice in 2006 that’s all we’ve done is served home inspectors. We owned a very large home inspection company for many, many years in Atlanta and we know how to make reviews work for home inspectors and we have dozens and dozens of clients all over the US, Canada and other places as well.
We set up your private review page.
Now, if you’re a one man shop, that’s not too important. But, let’s say you’re a multi-inspector firm, you’ve got a lot of employees, and you’ve got them answering the phone. You’ve got them doing all these things, inspecting, you might want to have us do some training on how to get reviews. It really does help. We’re going to teach you how to respond to both good and bad reviews, responding to good reviews is a good thing.
Google really loves that. They think you have a viable business when you’re responding to good reviews. It’s called Review Velocity. We want to make sure you do that. Okay, we’ll place your positive reviews on the major directories where home buyers are looking for a home inspector including Google My Business.
One of the things about a private review page, it looks, the customer thinks they’re going to the internet. They come on your website, it’s all set up really nicely. We stream five star reviews from your prior clients on the right hand side so that they, if somebody is uncertain what to say they can read a couple of those and say, “Cool, I’m going to say something similar.” Okay, but what happens is if you get a three star rating or less review we think that’s negative. What happens is our system notifies you, whether you get a good review or bad review. Notifies the client and says, “Here’s what’s happened.”
What we’ve done now is we’ve added in three questions, who was involved in the problem, what was the problem and how could it have been prevented? They fill that out after they leave you the review. That comes back to you and us. That gives you an opportunity for unsatisfied customers to immediately get in there and work with them. If you let them go directly to the internet and say that, you don’t gain that advantage. What happens when they come to the private review page, that happens to be on The Savvy Inspector’s servers. We control that. That does not go to the internet, good or bad.
The good ones we place on the internet strategically and where you need them as the client, but if they’re bad they stay right on our servers and you’re trying to resolve the issue in the background.
That’s why that private review page is so, so powerful and it protects you as a home inspector.
We place your positive reviews all around the internet. We automatically send your positive reviews to the social media sites, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Foursquare and Flickr, others. You get positive reviews streamed on your website.
It’s so, just drives the point home when somebody lands there and it’s on every page. No matter where you go on the site, you got the streaming run of positive reviews. Even if somebody’s got something negative to say, they’re looking down this page, see all these other five star reviews makes them, hopefully makes them feel like an oddity.
We have some crafty software. No negative reviews ever show up on your website because we have a filter in there that allows us to block the reviews that are three star or less. Four or five star reviews are the only ones that come on your website.
Here’s the other thing, the reviews are pulled from the sites where we’ve submitted the reviews. It says on there the date of the review and where it came from Foursquare, Google, wherever it happens to be. When the consumer’s looking at that screen they’re seeing their reviews are relevant.
They need to stay fresh and current.
Consumers are really savvy about it. Okay, so the streaming reviews, and again on your private webpage we screen the reviews, so that if a client is uncertain what to say, they can read a half a dozen other ones on the right hand side of the page and get some ideas.
One of the things that we do, we also provide our clients a reputation commercial. This is really a commercial video shot by professional people, it’ll have your reviews in there. It’s got a lower third graphic like you see on the news each evening, with Certain Home Inspection’s company name in there, phone number, the whole thing. It lasts between a minute, and a minute 15, 13 seconds.
“Only good feedback about it. It just drives the point home that you got a lot of satisfied customers. I think the bigger you are, if you’re a multi-inspector firm, the bigger you become, the more important that is because, again, everybody expects to see some reviews good or bad.” Coach William confirms.
“They’re so professional. They might have their own little commercial and it’s just them in an inspection outfit like me. These folks are nice suit and tie, and lady in a nice dress and they’re actually reading the review right off of an iPad there in front of you. I think it just speaks volumes for us. And, they come up on Google quite a bit just in search.” he adds.
We said what is reputation marketing. Then we gave you reasons why you should care about it. We shared with you how to get started. We showed you if when you collect reviews in a certain way there’s only certain things you can do with them. We shared with you a better way to do it. Outsource it to someone who works exclusively with home inspectors.
Remember what people say about your company online has become the single most important reflection of your company’s skill, quality, and reliability. When you’re perceived to be the obvious expert in your market, you’ll book more jobs at a higher price.