When you think about building your residential painting company, there’s one thing that comes to mind above all else; jobs. New jobs are your lifeblood, and finding ways to acquire them is the top reason contractors turn to the internet for marketing and advertising. But with so many tools and options around, how do you know where to focus your efforts? The solution might surprise you.

Word of Mouth, on Steroids

Recommendations from real people carry a lot of credibility. And recently, as marketing and advertising budgets have grown, more and more people are turning to online reviews and discussion forums to help them make informed decisions. According to a a 2014 study by BrightLocal, up to 88% of people read customer reviews when researching a business or service. These numbers vary somewhat by industry, but are growing fast across all sectors.

People Trust People

The amount of faith people have in online comments and forums is growing every year. 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 shopper reviews are 12x more trusted than advertisements or marketing info.

Make Reviews Part of the Plan

Good reviews are important. But a steady stream of new reviews is even more so. Your competitors haven’t stopped acquiring reviews, and neither should you. Think about how you can make it easy for clients to review your residential painting business without it being an inconvenience. Include links for clients to review their experience in your email communications. Get in touch with clients a week or two after the fact and ask them about their experience. Then see whether or not they would be interested in posting something online. You can even build 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 are For You, Too

Obviously, a solid body of home owner reviews, and an easy way to collect new ones, is vital to growing your house painting business. But the value of reviews doesn't end with building your professional image and brand. They're also great inspirational material. 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.

The Good, The Bad, The Bizaare

You do your best for every single customer 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? Keep in mind, a sour taste is more memorable than a sweet one, and people are much more likely to post reviews about a bad experience than a good one. First off, don’t panic. A lot of the time, all it takes to make a person happy is a little attention and effort. Reach out, find out what the problem was, and then make a real and concerted effort to resolve it. Many people are willing to change not just their opinion, but also their public reviews, if you meet them halfway. 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 opportunity 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

If you’re looking to meet more clients and boost your house painting operation with home owner reviews, here are some quick steps to get you started. 1) Get on Yelp! Create a profile for you house painting business. And link to if from your website with some pretty social media icons. 2) Use a simple survey to collect feedback from home owners. 3) Include your best reviews publicly on your homepage as part of the first impression for new clients. 4) Collect reviews right on your website with an easy review collection tool like this. 5) Get to know your home owners 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.

How have reviews and public comments impacted your business? We’d love to hear about it, in our own public comments section!