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Which Marketing Tactics Drive Results?

April 10, 2018 • As a small service business, it’s likely that you (intentionally) overlook one of the most important aspects of growing your business. Marketing. When you’re in the field 12+ hours per day, the last thing you’re likely to do is come home and put together a solid marketing plan. It’s also likely that you’ve been approached almost daily by marketing gurus with unique systems full of promises and proven results. How do you weed through the scams to find marketing that actually works, is affordable and represents your business the right way at the right stage of the game? The truth is, everything works. Every type of marketing out there, no matter how ludicrous, will generate results. The more money you dump into it, the better short-term results you see. That’s the basis of many marketing schemes… show a quick return for a high investment to prove the system works. You’ll initially see high Return On Investment (ROI) numbers and feel like things are working great. (Hint: when you first start marketing, almost anything will generate high ROI numbers.) Consider a post-card campaign where the card says “Your mother would be ashamed of you! Clean those disgusting carpets today!” I suspect most of you wouldn’t embrace a marketing campaign that insults your customers, but there’s no question that a campaign like this would get results. There’s some small percentage of the customer base that will react and book a job based on just about any type of message you send out. What’s dangerous about that, is businesses often see these quick responses/results without considering the customers that they’re permanently alienating with their message. If you need immediate results, people are more likely to respond to bold aggressive messages. If you want better long-term results, you’ll see far better returns when you use a respectful and more professional message. You’ll notice that those bold aggressive campaigns will gradually produce lower and lower ROI. Most marketing companies will focus on the lifetime ROI of an aggressive campaign, knowing that the initial good results will help keep the average high even after the campaign stops producing decent results. You should evaluate aggressive campaigns individually and drop them when they stop producing. As a small start-up company with no customers yet, you’ll likely need to be more aggressive with your marketing message to get those small pockets of people to respond. You may need to use door-hangers, knock on doors, hand out business cards, and push specials to get your foot in the door. You might find that some of the click-bait style email campaigns get a few people to call, or some really bold aggressive Facebook ads. You’re essentially targeting whoever you can get in the door right now at the expense of a larger number of people you could get later. The goal right now is to keep your head above water, impress every customer you can get, generate some 5-star reviews, start building a referral network and make a good enough impression on people that they’ll give you repeat business. As you grow to the point where your business has steady work, you’ll find that referrals and word-of-mouth take care of a lot of your advertising for you. This is when you should back off the aggressive messages and focus on building rapport with a larger segment of your customer base. Focus less on discounts and pricing and focus more on quality. Tailor your message not necessarily for getting immediate results, but on creating a solid professional image in your community.  Be respectful of your customers and their time. Don’t knock on their door at 7:00 am, don’t cold call them during dinner. Don’t rely on click-bait, tricks or asterisks and fine print. Craft a professional message meant to work over time… you’re no longer running an ad campaign to get jobs, but a public relations campaign to get advocates for your brand. Lastly, ask every single customer where they heard about you, and track the results. For short-term aggressive campaigns, track the ROI of each campaign individually. For long-term brand-building campaigns, track the lifetime ROI of the campaign. If you're doing it right, the long-term respectful campaigns will gradually outpace the short-term pushy aggressive campaigns, and that's where you'll generate the best growth year-over-year.

Sam Robinson, Sales Development Representative

Marketing Guru

What's New

April 3, 2018 • November 2018 - Launched Recurring Service Agreements to all users- Added ability to add multiple phone numbers to a customer- Added ability to link existing jobs to a service agreement- Bug fix: Updated all instances where indefinite service agreements were showing as 5 years - Added ability to see available subscription credits- Added ability to see service agreement report if the feature has been added to plan- Bug fix: Service agreements not loading for users on Internet Explorer on Windows 10 - Added ability to edit the subject line when emailing individual estimates and invoices - Bug fix: Instant Payouts list not loading- Added ability to try failed Instant Payouts on the My Money and Payouts page - Added ability to add tax rates to a service agreement- Bug fix: Job details page not loading for some users on Safari and Edge internet browsers- Added ability to add and edit additional emails on app (Android)- Added ability to add and edit additional phone numbers on the app (Android)- Added ability to restore deleted jobs October 2018 - Added ability to create an indefinite plan- Added ability to delete existing agreements- Added ability to cancel existing agreements- Added ability to filter agreements by status and type of plan- Added email notification for both Pro and customer when agreement is accepted - Bug fix: Disallowed clicking multiple times on save job to prevent duplicate jobs from being created- Added ability to see that a job is part of a service agreement on iOS and Android apps- Added ability to see that a customer's address has a service agreement on iOS and Android apps- Bug fix: 'Indefinite' service agreement plans were showing as 5 years- Updated add customer flow for new accounts- Bug fix: Prefilled business hour options in setup flow September 2018 - Added ability to filter jobs by schedule date on customer details page- Added lifetime value of customer - Added license number to the bottom of the invoice- Launched Alpha test of service agreements August 2018 - Added security notifications when account information is updated- Added ability to choose payment speed settings on iOS and Android- Added ability to download .csv file of report directly from dashboard - Bug fix: Removed phantom QBO errors from appearing- Launched new customer details page. Open for beta testing until August 30th.- Added ability to see event notes on iOS and Android- Added ability to copy existing attachments to a new segment or job- Added ability to link a customer to a task- Added ability to select which columns show up on the jobs and history table July 2018 7/25/2018- Added ability to text invoices from mobile apps- Added ability to customize message when emailing an invoice from mobile app 7/23/2018- Added ability for Superpros to use ACH 7/20/2018- Added ability to see event notes on Android app- Added ability to send a preview of an email campaign email 7/11/2018- Added ability to restore cancelled jobs7/2/2018- Updated look and feel of invoice settings  June 2018 6/29/2018 - Added ability to filter customer list by tags 6/28/2018- Added ability to assign and view tasks on mobile apps 6/27/2018- Updated look and feel of invoice settings  6/20/2018- Added My Money page and ability to view pending credit card transactions 6/19/2018Bug Fix: Removed ability to pay online for jobs that have been cancelled or deleted 6/15/2018- Updated log in page 6/8/2018- Added auto-save function on tasks 6/5/2018Bug Fix: Duplicate tags preventing estimates to be converted May 2018 5/30/2018- Launched Instapay to all users 5/25/2018- Added task feature 5/23/2018- Bug fix: updated performance of recurring jobs 5/22/2018- Add ability to add and view attachments from mobile app 5/9/2018- Add ability to see cancelled jobs in customer history5/8/2018Bug fix: Credit card fee correction in exported reportsBug fix: Updated employee permissions5/6/2018: - Add ability to add attachments on customer records5/5/2018- Add ability to drag and drop reports on dashboard5/1/2018- Add ability to print estimates from Android app April 2018 4/26/2018- Beta release of Instapay for Superpros- Add ability for users to sync an invoice from HCP to QBO4/19/2018 - Beta release for InstaPay to select users- Add ability to dismiss QBO errors4/18/2018- Add ability to sync invoices from HCP to QBO4/17/2018Bug fix: Displaying previous date on invoices 4/13/18- Add ability for users to pull a payment from Quickbooks Online- Add ability for users self serve and add individual features4/12/2018Bug fix: Email display issues on email preview receipts4/11/2018 Bug fix: Uploading blank photos on iOS4/5/2018- Add ability to view sent and received jobs and accept or deny a job within the app4/3/2018Bug fix: invoices sent from mobile will recognize "pay online" option selected from web portal March 2018 3/29/18- Add ability to pull payment from Quickbooks Online- Populate customer name when adding a new customer in if they don't exist in the customer list 3/16/18- New add job beta released for users to testIncludes: view tags and customer details while scheduling, ability to add discount when creating invoice3/15/18- Updated invoice due and receipt emails that are sent to customersBug fix: remove materials from invoice if they aren't being used 3/13/18- Add ability to mark job paid locally in HCP without pushing payment to QBO 3/9/18- Customers can now tip when sent an invoice via text message or email3/8/18- Match employee color on web portal and iPhone3/6/18- Match employee color on web portal and Android3/2/18- Restrict customer list export to admin users3/1/18- Allow Housecall Customer App users to receive email invoices in iOS and Android- Display invoice status on Android February 2018 2/26/18- Access blue chat bubble from Android app- Send receipt email when enrolling in a plan- Add ability to sort customer list2/13/18- Choose which columns display on customer list2/6/18- New add customer dialog- Customer list toolbar update2/5/18- Mark all messages read on iOS- Bug fix: invoices sent from iPhone now show saved due text instead of "due upon receipt"2/2/18- Mark all messages read on Android January 2018 1/26/18- Add bank for payouts by logging in with online banking credentials1/24/18- Undo changes to line items on the job details page1/19/18- Change billing to sign up date for new users instead of first of the month1/15/18- New customer list layout- Import customer list and connect to Quickbooks Online during sign up process1/10/18- Access blue chat bubble from iPhone app- Bug fix: invoice email subject line was showing with USD for Canadian pros1/3/18- Bug fix: message on invoice preview on the job details page now wraps correctly

Christy Billings, Product Manager

Coding On Laptop

Attracting Great Employees to Your Company

March 26, 2018 • OK, things seem to be going pretty well. You've got a great team, customers are happy, equipment is in excellent shape, and there's more business than you can handle. But what happens when Larry or Linda gives their two-week notice or simply doesn't show up? When employees leave, it can throw your entire business into chaos and set back all the great things you've accomplished while you scramble to find, train, and deploy a quality employee back into the field. So, how do you avoid the hassle and pain of losing a quality employee? The answer would be to keep them happy in their jobs in the first place so they don't think about leaving. Employee retention is more than just a management hassle. Your employees do far more than just deliver services. They are the face of your company and the most valuable assets you have. With your technicians in the field taking care of customers, they are not just engaging in revenue-generating activity, but also helping cement a brand into the minds of your customers so you get repeat business. When you've built a team of qualified people, you can work on building your business and doing the things necessary to grow. Easier said than done, especially in a strong labor market with high demand for many field services types of jobs. The market for field services is expected to grow at a rate of almost 17% year over year until 2022, and job prospects are bright. Just the need for new HVAC technicians, for example, will increase 14% between 2014 and 2024, and overall, in just the next three years, an overwhelming 60% of workers in the home energy field will need to be replaced. This is all excellent news for individual workers, but as an employer, you'll have to come to terms that the people on your staff have a lot of options. You can no longer hope to keep workers for decades; we are now operating in a highly competitive environment and expectations among employees are high. The employers who meet and beat those expectations are the ones who will ultimately win by keeping their staff and ensuring they are happy. Creating a desirable work environment so workers stick around is not done just through a series of items you can check off your list. Sure, they want to be paid well and benefit from perks, but there are also cultural dynamics at work that give people a reason to stay. Let's look at some things you can do to be a desirable employer and keep your employees from leaving: Make it their company Your name may be on the trucks and you pay the bills, but you have to create an environment where everyone feels like they are owners. With ownership comes a sense of responsibility; just like how you might drive a rental car differently from your own car, you treat the things you are invested in with greater care. An employee who feels like just a number may show up on time and do the job, but there's a good chance they will do the bare minimum. However, if they feel like they are valued and they actually contribute to the company's success, then they are going to do things that aren't in their job description because they care about the company being successful. They see that they are part of the brand and want to take the extra step to make it shine. It is critical that you spend a significant part of your attention implementing ways to ensure employees feel tied to the place they work. At the end of the day, having people who feel responsible for the success of the business are worth a fortune, but you have to create an environment that fosters this kind of mindset. Give employees a financial stake One significant way to extend the idea of ownership is with financial incentives and actually giving employees ownership in the company, usually through something called an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP). This generally requires some re-structuring of your company as a legal entity and you will need to consult with an attorney to do it correctly. But it entails rewarding employees for sticking around by granting them shares in the company that vest over a certain time period. Those shares become more valuable if the company is successful; a stake in a company valued at $3 million is better than one valued at $500,000, and naturally, people will work towards creating bigger and better upside. This requires you to give up some equity in your company, but you still retain decision-making control and there are tax incentives that can help your bottom line. Employees also have to stay with the company to get the full financial benefit of their equity which creates one of the best retention incentives. Offer competitive benefits Employees want to know that you value them, and benefits is one of the most effective ways you can demonstrate that. When you offer health benefits, life insurance discounts, retirement planning, or other perks that relate to their life events, it communicates to them that you are investing in them. Especially in today's environment where health insurance, especially, is expensive and complex, people will go to great lengths to stay at a place that offers it. In fact, a survey found that 6 out of 10 employees would rather spend a night in prison than lose health insurance. So, for an employer who provides this, the sense of loyalty among employees is huge. Additionally, benefits like flextime or getting a day off on your birthday go a long way towards reminding employees that they are valued and don't cost you much. Provide small perks that carry big value Would you want to work in an environment where people just show up, do their jobs, collect a paycheck, and leave? That would get old real fast. Instead, use small perks to make people happy and feel tied to the business and their co-workers. This may sound like small potatoes, but the impact is huge. I'm talking about picking up bagels or donuts on the way in to work and providing them in the break room every now and then. Monthly birthday celebrations, holiday parties, or team-building activities where people can take their brain out of work mode and just enjoy their co-workers creates a feeling of belonging. People are inclined to want to maintain that and stick around at a place that knows how to have fun. And these types of activities don't have to cost a lot, but they are a reminder to employees that they've got a pretty good gig. For those who might think about leaving, they will have to consider if it's possible to replicate that kind of feeling in a new job. Be a great communicator No one appreciates being left in the dark, but most employers are lousy communicators. This is a huge problem because workers don't know what is expected of them and miscommunication can create big problems down the road. It also prevents employees from feeling like they can have a real relationship with you and that they aren't truly a part of the company. This may be one of the easiest things for you to fix because it costs so little. It will take dedication on your part, but you will find that staying connected with employees gives them a sense of being integral to what is happening, which makes them feel tied to the business. So, make sure that you have company meetings every quarter or a few times each year. Tell employees about the status of the company and what your expectations are. But also follow up with 1:1 texts and emails...ask employees questions...solicit their advice. Every time you do these things, you'll learn more about the people you employ and it will give you insight into your customers and market as well. Business leaders have a tendency to focus outside what’s going on in their own company. They seek growth and look to market forces and competitors as ways to formulate their strategies. But if they don’t also take care of what’s happening at the home office and ensure their employees are happy, they may lose employees who seek better working conditions elsewhere. While this is an inevitable aspect of every business, when it happens too often it can kill all the growth efforts you’ve spent so much time building. Remember, employees are people, and people like being treated well. When you invest in them, they are far more inclined to invest their own time right back into the company. Employees will stick around when they feel valued and that they can enjoy the time they spend at work. A happy workforce will save you money, avoid headaches, and it will actually even make your own work life a lot more enjoyable too.

Pat F

Attract Employees Magnet

Strategies to Create an Exceptional Team in Your Field Service Business

March 26, 2018 • Being an effective business manager means you have to develop and use a wide range of skills. You clearly have to know your business and your people, but you also have to manage your time, the time of your employees, understand when to say "no" and when to say "yes," how to change course when needed, and about a million other things that can come up when you least expect them. It's not easy, but when done right, you'll develop an environment with happy employees, raving customers, and you'll see solid business growth. In a field service business, there are particular challenges around hiring and managing employees. For one thing, the field service environment is distributed and requires employees to work independently most of the time. They act as agents and ambassadors of your business, and unless they have the right training and incentives, their inability to perform to your expectations could lead to negative results for your business. There are some key management strategies that will help you create a high-performance staff and one that is not only loyal to you but delivers maximum effort to help your brand awareness and perception. It requires a combination of communication, tactical, and organizational skills, as well as the ability to trust your gut and operate with some flexibility. That gut piece is really important; while some things can be ticked off your checklist, most things require you to work on them to make sure they are baked into the fabric of your company. Every time one of your trucks leaves the yard, or one of your technicians visits a customer, they represent a part of your business, and what they do can have a major impact on how customers feel about you. Showing up on time, being courteous, and adhering to your company policies and guidelines will make them look good, and by extension, customers will look upon your whole company favorably. If they show up late or appear unprepared, you can bet that you'll lose out on repeat business and might take a hit through word of mouth talk among potential customers. Because your employees are probably the most important components of your brand, you need to prepare them to be successful. It starts with onboarding and extensive preparation and never stops; continuous education and training are key to maintaining a workforce that knows what's expected of them. No business has the perfect team. People are human and bring to the job their own style and behaviors. Your job is to bring all those people together and create a professional, awesome team that is going to always improve. Great employees aren't always great when you hire them, but you can make them great. According to a recent study, companies with engaged employees outperform those without by up to 202%. It clearly makes sense to create an environment where employees pay attention to what's going on and want to perform well for you. Your job as a leader is to get the best out of them. Here is a list of things you need to build into your business management practices in order to create highly engaged employees who are prepared to make your business thrive: Hire for skills, train for perfection Your employees need to be technically competent; there's no question about that. During the hiring process, find ways to see them in action, and watch how they demonstrate their skills. Now, they may not have everything in order to be 100% capable of handling everything on Day 1, so you also need to assess their coachability. Can they learn new things, are they prepared to try things they may not be totally comfortable with? These people don't have to be masters at their craft right now, so you need to invest in training to help them. Maybe you have a mentoring program where more experienced workers train the younger ones. Or perhaps you find courses they can attend. Showing that you're investing in them will keep them motivated to do a good job for you. According to the Association for Talent Development (ATD), companies that offer comprehensive training programs have 218% higher income per employee than companies without formalized training. But it doesn’t stop there. When you build a culture where training and ongoing education is valued, employees won’t get complacent. If you have a team that provides the most cutting-edge services and functionality to customers, it will be noticed and appreciated through repeat business. Set people up for success The fact is, the world is made up of different types of people, and your workforce will be no different. As a business leader, however, your challenge is to fit people into roles where they feel comfortable but can also do their best work. Some people are natural salesmen; they would be a natural fit to bid jobs and be in roles that require a lot of customer interaction. Others like grinding away at tasks to see them through to completion. Those people would be a good fit for the key work your business is responsible for. Assigning employees in roles where they can shine shows that you respect them. It also indicates that you're actually paying attention and rewarding them for their value. Emphasize the importance of relationships All the talent in the world won't do much for you if someone is rude or arrogant. You need employees who are comfortable with customers and who have the ability to connect with people. They don't need to be back-slapping best buddies, but they need to be polite, respectful, and earnest in their approach. It can be surprising how some have had very little training in this, but that's okay. It's your job to create an environment where they are given the instruction and help so when they go out on their own, they can deal effectively with people. It's not fair to send an employee out without an understanding of how to approach people, deal with unhappy customers, and deal with tough situations on the spot. Employees will take a page out of your book, so don’t forget to model what you want them to do. Be respectful but be firm, and demonstrate to employees that building relationships can help create and sustain business for the long term. Give them the tools they need Even a top-notch team can't do their best work without the necessary tools. That may mean, well, actually tools like wrenches and clamps, but it also means other things, some of which are intangible. And those tools need to be in good shape; that's a cost to you to keep saws sharpened and machines calibrated. Tools that aren't taken care of will cause more work for the employee; it could even cause a job to take longer which could cost you in terms of additional staffing hours you need to pay and jobs that don't come in on deadline. Think through every step of every job an employee might perform, and then ensure you are providing the corresponding stuff that will help them. That includes things like rags and breathing filters and other things that may not be necessary just for the job, but make the experience easier for the employee. Being in the field, your employees will need a smartphone and access to whatever apps and other tools you use that will keep them updated and informed. Use incentives to reward A study of employee loyalty indicates that 77% of employees would work harder if they were recognized by their manager. That shouldn't be news to anyone, but using incentives and making the effort to appreciate employees is too easily forgotten and neglected by employers. Think about using incentives in two ways: Gifts: Everybody likes a gift. For a job well done, and for an employee who's been working especially hard and has been away from his or her family doing work, maybe you spring for them to take their spouse to a nice dinner. Or great tickets to a local sporting event. There are a million ways to gift someone as a reminder that you appreciate them and their work. Think about the individual and what would surprise them and make them feel recognized. The monetary piece will be way worth it in the long run. Perks: It may seem like small potatoes, but things like free food and great coffee in the break room, company parties on holidays, and the unexpected free lunch go a long way in creating happy employees. Invest in good benefits for your employees, too - doing so shows that you are committed to them. A recent survey shows that the top three most important benefits in the eyes of employees are: health insurance, vacation, and performance bonuses. Culture: Employees spend a lot of time at work, so it behooves you to make work a place they like and appreciate. But creating a positive team culture requires more than just high-fiving your employees. You should create expectations about how people treat one another and model that for them. Also, it would not be the worst thing to abide by the great maxim, "Take your business seriously, but don't take yourself seriously." Think about that with your company culture and consider how you present yourself and demonstrate your culture in the ways you communicate and interact with the team. It has to start from their first engagement with the company and continue throughout every step of them being part of the team. Every business must decide what they want to be and how they want to treat employees. The Golden State Warriors and the New England Patriots don't win championships solely because they execute on the court or field. They like what they do, they look out for their teammates, and they have leaders who believe in them. As a manager, you have not only created a great business but now you can create a business that is a model for the rest of your industry. Once you build and lead an exceptional team, you will see happier customers, more repeat business, and growth in revenue

Pat F

Human pyramid using teamwork

Why People Buy Stuff

March 13, 2018 • When it comes to acquiring more business there are a number of theories on the best way to go about doing so. Where should you be marketing, and how? Should you focus on gaining new customers or retaining your current customers? How much should you be spending? All of these questions are important to determining the best process to grow your business. However, the first step to answering all of them is understanding how your customers think. Once you can understand what drives the buyer's decision-making process you’ll be able to reach them easier and know how to approach your potential customers in a way that both provides a valuable service while beginning a rewarding, long-term relationship. The professionals who often land jobs more frequently follow Dr. Robert Cialdini's "Six Principles of Persuasion" to entice and engage with both new and returning customers. Following these principles can help anyone to secure a loyal customer base while growing their business at the same time. 6 principles to follow These principles can be viewed through two lenses, one that examines why the customer decides to buy, and one that examines how the customer looks at their potential service professional. To attract a potential new client, every business must understand what motivates that person to engage with them in the first place. Reciprocity Offering a gift or token as the relationship gets started often triggers a reciprocal action from the potential customer. Costco excels at this by providing free food samples throughout their warehouses. For most, when someone offers something for free, the customer feels an obligation to return the favor and buy something. For a service-based business, you might offer a T-shirt or mouse pad when a new client books their first service. By offering them a small token like this you’re building a loyalty with them, staying top-of-mind to keep them coming back. Likeability  Cialdini's theory suggests that people engage better with someone when they already know they like them. This tends to be those that are similar to them in some way, those who happily cooperate with them, and those who are complimentary of them. Sharing a relatable story can help open new opportunities. You’ll be able to encourage potential clients to engage on social media with your followers, adding them to an established community of people with similar tastes and preferences. Amazon exemplifies this principle with their upsell strategy. When a customer clicks on an item that they’re interested, Amazon recommends additional items that were bought by "customers who bought this item." This recommendation further encourages the potential customer to purchase additional products based solely on the similar buying habits of a stranger. As a home service business, some ways to make your customers like you are through personal stories, testimonials from your customers, and sharing photos of work you’ve done. Your potential customers will likely relate to your personal story, the customers that you’ve had before, or feel that their home is similar to the homes you’ve worked on. Social Proof Similar to the principle of likeability, social proof creates a connection based on the opinions of others. Social media offers the opportunity to show that potential customers that others already like your service. Whenever a new customer books a job with you, they’re taking a risk. By presenting them with some social proof you’re taking some of that risk away, making them feel more confident that you’ll do a good job. Customer testimonials can bolster a company's likability and credibility - if other customers like this company, your potential customer will probably like them, too. In order to exhibit more social proof you should encourage your customers to give testimonials, write reviews, and share your social content. Commitment and Consistency For many people, veering from an already established course can indicate failure or dissatisfaction. Consequently, many people work even harder to maintain their original choice and affirm their commitment by talking about it openly.   In order to make the sale using the principle of commitment and consistency, you have to lock in a commitment with your customer. A good way to ensure this commitment is by having them book you online or by sending confirmations texts. Scarcity One factor that wields enormous influence on people is the notion of scarcity. A limited supply of anything frequently spurs an increased demand for it. This principle holds true for service providers, too. When you offer a special service or a discount that’s only available during a certain time, your customers feel pressured to take the offer for fear of missing the opportunity. Businesses that offer special deals for limited periods of time are encouraging both old and new clients to sign up fast. Authority The principle of authority says that consumers are more driven to make a purchase if someone of higher authority recommends it. This could be a doctor, a professor, or even just a specialist.  Research shows that potential customers respond best to businesses that clearly demonstrate their authority in their field. Certificates and diplomas declare authority, as do newspaper write-ups and magazine articles. These days, a high ranking on Google's search pages is also an indicator of authority. Remarkably, what people see can be as persuasive as what they hear. Hanging achievement documents within view of the customer waiting spaces display that credibility and ensure comprehension of industry expertise. The potential client receives substantial information before any conversation starts. Understanding why people make purchase decisions gives business owners the information they need to focus on those triggers. When potential customers feel respected and appreciated, they often respond by hiring the contractors they've come to trust. The resulting relationship can result in years of steady and profitable work for any home services contractor.

Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator

Illuminated brain in girls head

The Trick to Combating Negative Reviews

March 5, 2018 • Building a business can be nerve-wracking for many reasons. Often, it feels like you’re putting yourself out there and building a great business, brand and online reputation, which really takes a lot out of you. So when you receive a bad or negative review, it often feels personal. While great reviews offer an amazing opportunity to grow your presence online, leading to more website visitors, leads and customers, negative reviews can be disastrous if not dealt with properly. As much as 54% of Americans who read online reviews indicate that they pay more attention to extremely negative reviews when trying to make decisions. At some point though, there is going to be someone who is unhappy enough to leave a less than stellar review. It’s not even because you necessarily did a bad job either, they could just be having a bad day and decide to unfortunately take that anger out on you. It doesn’t have to be the end of the world. Done right, responding to a negative review can turn a bad situation into one that can actually boost your reputation even more. People aren’t looking for perfection, they’re looking for confirmation that you’re a real, genuine and authentic business. Showing your future prospects how you deal with both the positives and negatives of doing business gives them more confidence that you’re the right person for the job. In fact, as much as 30% of people think online reviews are fake if there are no negative reviews. Here’s how to take advantage of the opportunity and respond to negative reviews: 1. Almost always respond. It’s only on very rare occasions that no response is the best response. For the majority of less than perfect reviews submitted online, the default should be to respond. That being said, not every negative review is going to be something you can fix. Sometimes, you could be putting yourself in the line of fire for more negative attention. Determine if engagement is the right course of action. Was it a genuine mistake on your end or the rants of someone angry at life. Or worse yet, the ramblings of trolls? If it was a mistake, it’s usually best to simply own up to it, apologize, and try to remedy the situation, and, if appropriate, perhaps with a discount or some other value added onto your service. If it’s trolls, it’s often best to ignore the situation. (Pro-tip: On Facebook, you can ban trolls from your business page.) 2. Be Concise When providing a response to a negative review, be brief, apologize, and get to the point. Steer the customer towards having a conversation and take it offline briefly. Once resolved, return to the original online conversation and thank them for the chance to fix the issue, and their business. This allows you to deal with what should be a private matter privately, while being publicly recognized for having resolved it.   3. Don’t act impulsively. Negative reviews can often feel personal but responding to reviews when angry or tempers are running high is the worst thing you can do. Take some time to simmer down if needed before tackling that review. The last thing you want to do is to get personal and blast off an angry rant to a negative review, even if the customer did. How you respond matters. You’re not just replying to an individual, but to everyone that might see your response in the future. For many consumers, how you respond to an angry or dissatisfied customer can influence their decision to choose your business too. 4. Don’t wait too long. The sooner you tackle that negative review and respond, the sooner you can turn things around. Having a system to help manage your reviews in one place helps you stay on top of them all. The NiceJob dashboard is perfect for this. It’s best to not put it off. In fact, most consumers expect a reply within the same day. Be quick about responding to negative reviews, it can help to resolve the issue when you’re able to address the situation in a timely manner. To be able to do so, you need to monitor reviews often so that you’re aware of any situations where an unhappy customer has left a negative review. 5. Think ahead. Have a plan on how to deal with negative reviews before they ever make it to Google or Facebook. This way you’re ready to get to work to make things right the minute that review pops up and aren’t left scrambling. It also removes a lot of the emotion from your response, see above. Think about having a script that fits with your brand and style and takes into account how your future prospects will view it. At least have the following components but keep it short and sweet too: An apology for the situation. You might not be in the wrong but this isn’t about assigning blame, it’s about protecting your reputation. Apologise for the situation at hand and having missed the mark with your customer. Include contact information for the customer to reach out to you and offer to make things right. This also has the added benefit of taking the conversation offline. Crisis Management There are times when a negative sentiment can cause others to jump on the bandwagon and a bad situation gets worse. Staying silent can be a bad idea, but every situation is different and can require an intervention. Avoid being confrontational or overly excuse laden and tackle the issue head on. Situations like these are usually best to take the conversation offline, or at least private. 6. Be genuine. Customer feedback is crucial to any business, and since most business revolves around building relationships with people, negative reviews give you a chance to learn, grow and even strengthen your relationship with your customers. They’re often opportunities in disguise. Start by addressing the individual by their name. Be apologetic, address the situation, and offer to take care of the customer’s concerns.   To help you start thinking about how to incorporate each of these pieces into your response, here is are two sample scripts to work from:   Thanks [their name] for taking the time to leave a review. I am so sorry to hear that you had a bad experience. My name is [name] and I am the [Owner / Manager]. If you’d like to discuss this further, please contact me at [phone number / email].   Hi there [their name], thanks for taking the time to give us feedback. We’re usually known for our customer service, so I am sorry to hear we missed the mark here. My name is [name] and I am the [Owner / Manager]. If you’d like to discuss this further, please contact me at [phone number / email].   You should not use canned responses for negative or positive reviews. Take the time to personalize each and avoid using a review response template. However, having a guideline is always helpful, and we’ve provided an overview on the method you might use, along with examples fornegative review responses. About 78% of consumers say that seeing management respond to online reviews makes them believe that the business cares more about them. Also consider that when trying to resolve a situation, it’s probably better to have management involved as they’re in more of a position to make decisions on the spot when communicating with a customer. The last thing you would want to do is have a long drawn out process when trying to make a dissatisfied customer happy. It was found in one study (Harris Interactive) that when a company replied to negative reviews on social media and online ratings sites, about a third of customers either deleted their original negative review or replaced it with a positive review. Additionally, about a fifth went on to become loyal customers and made another purchase. Keep in mind that less than five percent of dissatisfied customers ever take the time to mention why they’re unhappy, they simply disappear. So the ones that are sharing are actually doing you a favor, so you can fix things, avoid future issues and potentially even keep their business.   A couple extra points to keep in mind when responding to negative reviews: Don’t mention your business name or location in your reply. This helps keep the review out of search engine results as much as possible, and follow up with the customer as much as possible and once the situation is resolved, politely ask them to update their review. Then be sure to respond to that too. Benefits of Negative Reviews The optimal rating is between 4.2 stars and 4.5 stars. As the rating gets closer to 5 stars, the likelihood of purchase often declines. Bad reviews are a part of life, since you can’t please all of them all of the time. But these are opportunities when you think about it. You won’t build loyalty with point-based programs or discounts, but you do through treating customers with respect and solving their problems. How you go about responding to negative reviews is also a way to demonstrate that you want to earn the business of your customers. If there aren’t any rating less than 5 stars, it leads many consumers to be suspicious you’re either suppressing feedback, or no one’s bought anything. Preventing Negative Reviews While having a small fraction of your reviews being bad can be a good thing for your business, having too many bad reviews can seriously hurt it. The best way to prevent negative reviews is obviously to simply provide a great customer experience, but even when you do this you’ll still occasionally get a bad review. It would be better to deal with complaints privately, rather than in a public review that everyone and their friends can see, but how can you direct people who wish to leave you angry or negative feedback privately?   You can use software like NiceJob to send customers a link that is pressed when they get a review invite via NiceJob that sends them to a page where they are asked if they would recommend you. If they say no, these are typically the people who intend to leave you a negative review. These people are then directed to a private feedback form for you to deal with them privately. If they say yes they are directed to leaving a positive and public review on any of the important review sites. Why You Should Ask Everyone for a Review Even if you don’t have an effective system in place to help prevent negative reviews, it’s still a best practice to ask everyone you serve for a review. The benefits are clear for asking someone who is happy with your service for a review, but why would you ask someone who was unhappy? The answer is that not only you may never know what you did wrong, and may make the same mistake (if you did make one) in the future, but you won’t be able to address the issue with the customer and try and remedy the situation for them.   Both positive and negative reviews provide a constant feedback loop for your team that enables you to learn and grow as a business. Being fearful of asking for reviews because you might get a negative review will only make you learn less, respond to customers worse, and be more deserving of negative reviews. Why you Should also Respond to Positive Reviews Here’s why you should think about replying to every glowing five star review, too. 1. Reviews are so public that it’s important to treat them as if everyone is watching! So thank your customer for taking the time. It’s the polite thing to do, and it helps more people see them. 2. It gives you a chance to include your location and business name in the reply to help boost that particular review in the search rankings. 3. This is the perfect chance to introduce your latest service offering or mention an upcoming promo but depending on your business, keep the tone conversational and informal, as if you’re replying to a friend.

Connor Wilson, Director of Growth at NiceJob

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