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Having a Great Reputation Online is Key to Landing More Referral Deals

It's no secret with my clients and anyone that has read anything I have written in the past few years that getting an online reputation is massively important to building a quality remodeling business. It plays such a vital role in several key ways that it can really be the difference between surviving and thriving in your local market. It's not really even an option any longer for local businesses to have no reputation online or a poor web presence. Not having this is risky to your business and those that depend on your success. 

Today we are going to focus on why it's so important to helping you land/capture more offline referral deals and why it's foolish to assume that you are capturing every referral that is generated offline without working on your online reputation. 

How Important Are Having Reviews Online and How Do You Manage Them?

The reality is that local businesses face high stakes when it comes to online reviews, and according to a Bright Local study conducted last year:

  • 72% of consumers surveyed said they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
  • 52% said that positive online reviews make them more likely to use a local business

When businesses look to engage with their clients and prospects online, social media is overwhelmingly the avenue they pursue. While social media is an excellent way to develop a relationship with clients, it is extremely hard to build a big, loyal following for most remodeling businesses.

Also, most people just don't go to Facebook or Twitter to consult with their friends on who they hired for their latest remodeling project. Referrals just aren't happening like that for most remodeling contractors. Social media is still an important part of your overall marketing strategy, but having reviews online is more important.

Generating lots of quality reviews on sites like Yelp, Google + (Places), Yahoo Local, Bing Local, Citysearch, Angies List is much easier to do for a remodeling business than build 1,000 followers on Facebook. Not only are these reviews vital to validating your top prospects decision to hire you, but they are largely considered "social signals" and can play a big role in how you rank in organic and local search. 

Actively managing online reviews and implementing a "reputation marketing" strategy is often overlooked and much more sales-targeted method of prompting engagement. Not only will having lots of quality reviews push your online prospects to contact you vs your top competitor, it will help you close more deals from all your marketing, especially your referrals. 

Who would you do business with if two friends referred you to two different businesses?

The local business with 25 reviews and an overall 4 out 5 rating on a variety of review sites, or the business with ZERO reviews and little information about the quality of the service they deliver from their past clients. It's clear how important this is, so why aren't more remodeling businesses doing this?

Offline Clients and Referral Prospects Go Online!

I have consulted with countless business owners who claim that they don't need a great online presence because 95% of their business comes from offline referrals (past clients, friends, family, community members, associates, etc). The biggest mistake most remodeling businesses make is depending on referrals alone to fuel their business, but that's a story for another day.

The point I want you to realize here is that your offline referrals, those who were referred to you by someone that knows you, 90% of them go online to research your business. If you don't have awesome information on the 1st page of Google, you risk planting a seed of doubt in that prospects mind. Or worse, your competitors are on page 1 and their information/reviews look better than yours. 

You are losing referral business if you don't have a great reputation and online presence. That I can guarantee. If you depend on referrals to survive, one of the smartest decisions you can make this year and into the future is implementing a reputation marketing strategy and getting a quality web presence beyond just your website. If your website is bad. Fix it! If you have no reviews. Get some!  If you have no information about your company on other websites. Get it done! One of the best ways to get more business is by having a business that people can actually learn about online. 

Need more help growing your remodeling business? Take advantage of all the FREE resources I have on www.RyanPaulAdams.com and download my "3 Killer Ways to Grow Your Remodeling Business" today. 

“Contractor and Remodeling Marketing? Good Luck With That!”

The other day I was mentioning to someone that I help power growth for remodeling contractors and home improvement businesses. This person was also in the marketing industry and had done a lot of B2B consulting at some big companies. Very smart guy and you could tell he was passionate about his clients.

So when I mentioned to him why I do what I do and that I am just really passionate about the remodeling industry and helping those types of businesses, he kind of laughed at me or what I was saying (same difference right) and interrupted me...

"You work with remodeling contractors? Good luck with that! I have been burned several times by contractors and they aren't the type of people I would choose to help if I was you. In my opinion, contractors are beneath lawyers on the todem pole of professions people love to hate on."

This wasn't news to me and I handled it well and at that end of the conversation he could see why I continue to work in the remodeling industry. And if I had more time I would scour Google for some statistics to share with you on how many people distrust remodeling contractors, plumbers, HVAC contractors, general contractors, roofers, etc. It's a large amount, we all know this.

Some contractors are terrible at what they do. And some aren't even in the business to actually do the work, they use this industry as a means to scam others. It happens in every industry including mine. If I had a dollar for every horrible company that calls themselves an "SEO provider" or "guarantees first page ranking on Google", I would be retired. The point is, your so called competitors make it harder for you, but if you do the right things, it's actually pretty easy to stand above the crowd.

Bad businesses make it harder on those who aren't doing the right things, and easier on those who are.

This statement I bolded and I made it really big for you so you wouldn't miss it.  It is really important to understand this! 

Bad contractors are something I had spent a lot of time thinking about and why I feel so strongly about having a solid reputation online is so important for quality remodeling businesses to have. And the fact that most of society doesn't trust you is another reason why your prospects abuse your time, ask for all this free information and free estimates, and then hire someone else without so much as a phone call/email/thank you or box of cookies. Time isn't valuable right? Spending 1 hour with a prospect or even an entire week on something and not getting anything in return stinks.

Contractors are not held in high regard in our society. You arent on the same level as some other professions, but you are right there. Is that fair? No, its not, but you can thank all the shady contractors who rip people off and do lousy work for this.

What Are You Going to do About It? 

It is what it is and you need to work 10x's as hard in your market to overcome it, or you can just work smarter than everyone else. You cant just show up and expect to give an estimate and land the project unless you have what I call "positioning" or "credibility". Remember, your best prospects are dead scared to make the wrong hiring decision for their next project. Your image and reputation are everything and having a poor reputation is as bad as having NO reputation.

Be the clear leader in your local market. This is the only way to beat your true competitors and the scammers and win over the hearts of your prospects. And hint, hint....have an awesome reputationa and proof that you do things the right way allows you to charge more and stop chasing time wasters.

  • Develop a Unique Guarantee - show your prospects you will go to the end of the earth for them and stand behind what you do
  • Develop a List of Unique Benefits - what makes you better than your competitors. List it out for the world to see.
  • Develop an FAQ Section - your prospects are afraid to make the wrong choice. Think like they do and write out a detailed list of the top 10-15 fears and questions that are going through their mind and answer them on your website and in your marketing material. Everything from cleaning up a job, to contract, payment terms, what makes you different, and what to do if a mistake is made.
  • Develop an Awesome Website - you need a great website to really compete. It has to be well made, super fast, and mobile responsive. It needs quality content and a strong offer. Poorly thrown together Godaddy sites or a site developed by your 12 year old son aren't going to cut it anymore. Your website should be a lead producing machine and your #1 marketing asset. If its treated like an expense, you are missing the boat.
  • Reputation and Reviews - you have to have awesome information out there beyond just your site. You need to get found on at least the top 20 local and social sites for a long list of reasons I will cover later. And you need reviews. You don't need 100's but you need at least 20 solid reviews left online at sites like Google + Local, Bing, Yahoo, Yelp, and even Angies List (which I am not a big fan of, another discussion for another day).

    I am also not talking about simply copying and pasting testimonials to your site. I am talking about reviews left by clients on other sites. This won't happen by itself you need to actively engage your past clients and ask them to do this. Having lots of great authentic reviews is one of the best ways to show your dead scared prospect that hiring you is the best decision they will ever make.

  • Referral List - most smart consumers will ask for a list of referrals before they hire you, especially if its a big remodeling project. Don't give it to them, at least not until you have an agreement in place to move forward. If your prospect asks for a referral list to contact, tell them you would be happy to do that but you don't allow prospects to contact your past clients until you are in agreement that you are moving forward. This shows you are dead serious about what you do and you don't bug your past clients for just anyone.
  • Stop Doing Free Estimates - this is a bit outside of what this list is really about, but instead of an Estimate, call it a consultation and outline exactly what the person will get in that consultation. Listen, if you selling a new roof or window package, you will have to give an estimate, but you can position the estimate and pre-qualify the prospect on the phone before you go driving all around town and waste your time.

    Make sure they are the right fit before you do anything else and develop a detailed phone intervie consultation before taking the next step. Your prospect won't know what hit them and you will automatically be cast in a different light. And if you are selling a big ticket remodel, charge for every second of your time especially for the estimate!

Be the Clear Market Leader. Competition Doesn't Exist If You Do.

You can set the precedent in your market, stop chasing lousy prospects, earn more money in less time and actually get to take a vacation once in awhile if you invest in becoming the clear market leader. Competition does not exist when you invest in your reputation because so few remodeling businesses do any of this the right way or at all.

So I say to all those out there who have been burned by a remodeling contractor, shame on you. You didn't do your homework if you got burned. I have never been burned when hiring a contractor and I have personally managed over 50 projects myself. Invest some time online reviewing your choices, narrow it down to the top 3 and start contacting those businesses. May the best remodeling contractor win!

Need more help growing your remodeling business? Take advantage of all the FREE resources I have on www.RyanPaulAdams.com and my download my "3 Killer Ways to Grow Your Remodeling Business" today. 

3 Strategies to Generate and Measure Growth in Your Remodeling Business – Part 2

Part 2 of 3 - 3 Strategies to Generate and Measure Growth in Your Business

2) Be Everywhere Your Best Prospects Are to Attract and Faciliate Remodeling Leads

Think about how you start your research process online to find companies you potentially want to work with or products you want to buy? If you are like most people, you start off with a general idea of what you are looking for. Let’s take an example of looking for a siding contractor: Most would start a search online at Google (80% of your market on average) with “siding contractor + area they live” or “siding installer” “siding company”.

You are going to get a variety of results and different listings that appear in the search results. Some searches will generate organic search results only, and others Google + Pages results (near the top), paid listings (top and sides), local directory listings, reviews, social media results, articles, blog posts, videos, and of course - actual company sites that install siding.

The search engines #1 goal is to provide a great experience for its users. The best way to do that is to provide relevant information related to your search + a variety of content for you to gather information from. That’s why you rarely see one site dominate the entire 1st page of Google for a term like the one above, but it can happen.

Your customers are everywhere online and they don’t rely on one site to find a company or one source to make a final decision. Google is the #1 search engine on the planet and where 80% of your market will start their research, but not necessarily where they make a buying decision. Once they narrow down their list of potential companies to work with, they begin the process of making sure the business is reputable and has some information online about the who, what, where, when, why, and how of a business.

You need to have a web presence beyond just your main website.

At any stage of this research and vetting process you can lose a prospect for a multitude of reasons. Don’t give them any reasons! Be everywhere they are, provide great information and a variety of content, and make it easy for them to say YES to take the next steps with you (Free Estimate, Consultation, Project Review, etc.). Consciously or not we are all disqualifying potential businesses at a speed never before seen in the history of man-kind. You only get a few seconds to make a great first impression and even after that you better have updated content in your blog, new posts on your Facebook Fan Page, 10+ additional web properties that mention your company, and at least a couple of reviews and testimonials somewhere online.

If you don't, you can kiss about 70% of your interested visitors goodbye. Gone forever.

How much is that costing your business?

Every business  needs at least 10 sites that they are actively marketing on to build their “Rivers of Information” (source: Scott Kilosky). 

The foundational core of your marketing should come in the form of:

  • A Quality Website That Loads Fast
  • Uses CSS
  • Mobile Friendly and Responsive
  • Tracks and Measures, and Converts!
  • Has a Blog (companies who blog and auto publish get 55% more business than companies who don’t - Source: Hubspot)
  • Local Directories
  • Review Sites
  • Press Releases
  • Social Media
  • Web 2.0 Properties for Article Promotion
  • Videos
  • Quality Links from Reputable Sources

Within each of these core ideas is potentially a full-time job for someone, so pick your battles and don’t get lost in the gigantic sea of sites and resources you can market on. The #1 best return on your online marketing investment is to get ranked in Google Places/Local/Maps (whatever you want to call it!). This is where every business needs to be great and be everywhere their customers are. Providing a good mix of these marketing strategies should bring you a combination of instant traffic and long term traffic and new leads.

But what about pay per click? Instant traffic? Display? Facebook ads?

Paid search, display ads, and Facebook ads are also very important for most businesses as a piece of your overall marketing strategy, but again, without your core "rivers of information" in place, you are going to lose a large portion of your prospects who are just in the initial research phase. Once they land on your site from a paid ad, most are not quite ready to request more information or buy from you just yet. They will go back to the search engine and search for “your company name + reviews” or “your company name + complaints” and a hundred variations of this. Try this out right now and do a search for your company name.

  • What would a prospect see?
  • Is there enough good information about your business to have the prospect want to take the next steps?
  • Do you have social sites that haven’t been updated in months, years?
  • Does your company look like it could be out of business?
  • Are competitors listed on page 1 for your company name?
  • You should be dominating page 1 from lots of different sources with updated information, good content, and offers to help drive new business and absolutely NO competitors should be listed until at least page 3-4.

If you want to waste your marketing dollars, implement a paid search strategy before you have your rivers of information in place. I have seen this mistake made time and time again and this is a mistake I have made with my own clients in the past. Those who had great information online from a variety of sources, and then implemented a paid search campaign, had campaigns that out performed those who had no web presence. Part 3 of my 3 part series coming soon.... Read Part 1 of 3 - Track and Measure Growth

Need more help growing your remodeling business? Take advantage of all the FREE resources I have on www.RyanPaulAdams.com and my download my "3 Killer Ways to Grow Your Remodeling Business" today.