When it comes to construction, the bottom line is simple; customers. Tracking down new projects is hard and time consuming, and is one of the main reasons contractors are coming online in droves. But what’s the best way to track down new clients? The solution might have more to do with looking back than looking forward.

Word of Mouth

Word of mouth recommendations have always carried a lot of weight. And today, with the rise of a globally connected, internet savvy population, public comments, recommendations, and reviews have become a lead influencer in which services and professionals attract new business. A recent BrightLocal study found that nearly 90% of people read customer reviews to help make decisions. Some industries are more heavily reviewed and searched than others, but the growth in online research is significant across the board.

Consumers Trust One Another

The level of trust clients place in online reviews is growing steadily. For a typical consumer today, a batch of good online reviews carries the same weight as a recommendation from an acquaintance. Compare this to people’s opinions on paid marketing or advertising, and you’ll see the real value of user reviews. BazaarVoice recently put out a great infographic showing that visitor reviews are 12x more trusted than advertisements or marketing info.

Build Reviews into Your Services

Good reviews are great. New reviews are even better. Your competitors haven’t stopped generating reviews, and neither should you. Think about how you can make it incredibly easy for customers to review your construction company without it being an inconvenience. Add a review link to invoice emails. Follow up with happy clients after-the-fact and solicit feedback. Then ask if they’d be willing to post something publicly. You can even develop a simple reviews section into your website using a free plugin like this. Reviews are a resource that compounds over time. Just like a savings account, make sure you’re adding to your body of reviews regularly and consistently.

Reviews as the Magic Mirror

Obviously, a solid body of client reviews, and an easy way to collect new ones, is vital to growing your contractor. But reviews are also a fantastic way to motivate yourself the people you work with. Reward and incentivize yourself and other employees who generate positive online feedback. Adorn your walls with highlights from real reviews. Reviews can help you see beyond the bubble, and understand more about what you need to do to succeed.

How to Handle Bad Reviews

You do your best for every single client you work with. But you can't make everyone happy all the time. What should you do when bad reviews pop-up on your social media, website, or Yelp page? After all, consumers are much more likely to post about a negative experience than a positive one. First step, relax. A lot of the time, all it takes to make a person happy is a little attention and effort. Get in touch, diagnose the problem, and do your best to make things right. You might well be able to change the person’s opinion and convert a negative to a positive. Even when you get a tough cookie that won’t budge, don’t chalk it up as a lost cause. Respond to the review politely and with real compassion, in the same place where the review originally appeared. It's your chance to let future clients see that you take their feedback seriously, and do everything you can to help. An unpleasant review is just another platform for you to highlight your business and brand.

Getting Started with Reviews

Here are some intuitive steps to start collecting and leveraging reviews from your clients, today. 1) Create a Yelp profile, and use social media icons to link to it from your website. 2) Use a simple survey to collect feedback from homeowners. 3) Feature longer testimonials on your website to provide ‘social proof’ about your construction company. 4) Collect reviews right on your website with an easy review collection tool like this. 5) Get to know your customers during your normal interactions, then expand the relationship to social media. Once you have a good online rapport, ask if they'd be able to write a short review or recommendation.

Do you use reviews as part of your larger business strategy? Tell us about it, in the public comment section on this page.