Reviews: Harnessing the Power
For Mike DelaCruz, vice president of sales at ELITE Worldwide, there is an intrinsic reward in helping shop owners reach their sales goals.
This helps DelaCruz when training shop owners to manage their online presences. His work includes working with shops to quickly boost reputations through online reviews.
“The best way to boost a shop’s reputation is to give them an effective system for getting more online reviews,” DelaCruz says. “Working with shops in this capacity created many relationships, these relationships eventually formed friendships, and they keep me energized in the industry.”
DelaCruz says that focusing on how owners can boost online reviews is the best way to expand your quick lube and outperform your competitors. But what does this process look like?
Fish for reviews.
Getting people to leave reviews can be a daunting task. Simply asking people to go home and leave you a review will yield limited results. This is because people generally think about leaving a review as out of sight, out of mind—once they’ve left your shop, the customer experience might feel finished.
So, what is the secret?
DelaCruz says that online communications systems that integrate with shop management software can be a time-saver. When a repair order is closed out of the system, a text message could be automatically sent to the customer thanking them for their service and leaving a link for a review.
This is where the process goes deeper.
Some review systems can identify the habits of social media users, when they’re most active on the sites and when customer contact is maximized. Most times, these platforms are focused on Google, Yelp, Nextdoor, and Facebook.
“Having access to this information allows the system to craft a unique thank you message that contains a review link to whichever platform they are logged into,” says DelaCruz.
This process maximizes the potential for each customer to leave an honest online review, while also providing a large online presence for the shop. This streamlined approach helps to automate the review process for the customer but maximize reach to the potential platforms that are being used.
Balance positive and negative reviews.
Some organizations may use a process called “review gating” to ensure that only happy customers leave reviews while disgruntled customers are filtered out.
DelaCruz says that this isn’t a good approach for businesses and could run afoul of regulatory bodies.
“Anti-gating regulations try to prevent companies from only posting positive reviews,” DelaCruz says.
The best way for shops to guarantee positive reviews is through continuous training, he says. That includes ongoing “how-to” training and support webinars. These sessions focus on best practices for the shop to adhere to if they want to see mostly positive reviews.
Respond to bad reviews.
Shops need to be equipped to respond to bad reviews, DelaCruz says. It’s not enough to just leave the post up on the platform, either.
“Potential customers look upon a shop more favorably if they take the time to respond to a bad review,” DelaCruz says.
After working with many shops, DelaCruz has found that potential customers like seeing that a shop cares enough to respond to negative reviews. This is because responding to bad reviews says more about a shop’s character than a shop that only has five star reviews, he says.
“For this reason, it is better to be a shop with a majority of five-star reviews and some negative reviews that were quickly handled,” DelaCruz says.
Take a moment to breathe.
Customers will be suspicious of a page that only has positive reviews. Everybody knows that no shop is perfect, what they really want to see is how they handle the imperfections, DelaCruz says.
However, he says that shop managers should take 24 hours before responding to a bad review to stay objective in the response.
“When responding to bad reviews, managers should thank the customer for their business, ensure that their concern is being taken seriously, and then affirm that they are looking into the issue,” DelaCruz says.
Benefit from reviews.
Operators put a lot of time and money into signage, storefront cleanliness, landscaping and other curb appeal items. Nowadays, is that the first impression that most customers are getting of your facility?
“A lot of shop owners talk about curb appeal and how their shop needs to stand out, but not nearly as many talk about online curb appeal,” DelaCruz says.
When it comes to an online presence, it is just as important for shops to stand out from the rest. Having a large amount of online reviews will really take a shop far. It distinguishes your shop from competitors and makes your operation look favorable to customers.
DelaCruz explains that a shop with a small number of ratings is sure to turn potential customers toward your competitors.
“The amount of reviews you have is absolutely critical,” DelaCruz says, “and since a small review count turns customers away, having more reviews than your competitors is also critical.”
Find a review increasing system.
DelaCruz says that using some basic principles, shops can lead to an increase in positive reviews left each month for a shop.
Determining the ROI can begin with car counts. Working mostly in the repair shop segment, DelaCruz says that a shop that sees 200 monthly cars might see an increase of 25 to 30 positive reviews by focusing on this initiative.
The bottom line is that having a larger online presence and more reviews makes you the easy choice for future customers.