A roster of positive reviews of your business can be as powerful as a word of mouth referrals. There’s perhaps nothing more important to potential customers in search of a general contractor in their area than feeling they’ve hired someone capable of quality work. As a business owner, it’s your job to prove your ability (and to cultivate first impressions). Just because customers rely upon referrals from platforms like Yelp and Google Reviews does not mean they’ll feel obligated to leave a review themselves, though. And if your business has a number of satisfied customers behind it— as we suspect it does — then securing a positive review for your business may be just a conversation away.
Engage with your homeowners from the beginning.
Having a sense of the folks who comprise your customer base is crucial to understanding how best to grow your business. Asking customers how they discovered your business, for example, can tell you about referral channels that are working in your business’s favor. Take care to understand their habits, too — is this the first time they’ve ever remodeled their home? Are they gradually remodeling the entirety of their home, or is this a strictly one-time job? These are important questions for any general contractor to ask, but the answers should help you lay the groundwork for asking for a review.
If you’re not getting the answers you hoped you would — the majority of customers tell you they were given a word-of-mouth referral, and aren’t looking at your Yelp page — all is not lost. Consider mentioning platforms like Yelp or Google Reviews anyway, especially if the homeowner may not be aware reviewing general contracting work is possible in the first place. (“That’s funny — most of my clients find me on Yelp!”)
Maintain consistent communication with homeowners.
If you plan to ask for a review of the work you’ve done at the end of the project, don’t neglect communication between yourself and the homeowner. You’ll want to be communicating constantly about the renovation or remodel anyway, of course, but ensure you’re going beyond the granular details. That might mean encouraging homeowners to give you feedback in order to maintain an open dialogue.
Once you do have a conversation about leaving a review, then, your request won’t seem out of place.
Establish a digital line of communication.
In-person interactions are valuable, of course, but don’t leave it up to the homeowner to stumble upon the reviewing platforms you’d like them to engage with. Make sure you have a way to send links — texting will do, for example, or emailing. Just don’t leave digital communication until the end of your project.
You might consider utilizing a home remodeling management app like Punch List, which provides contractors with a direct line of communication to homeowners. The app’s direct message function allows contractors to send texts as well as pictures of completed work. (Homeowners can actually pay for approved work in the app, too — it’s digital communication and digital payment all in one).
Utilize end-of-project paperwork.
If you’re still feeling unsure as to how to best engage with homeowners at the end of a remodel or renovation, consider putting it on paper. You might hand homeowners a punch list of your own, for example — a to-do list of final steps to take before the project can be considered finished. You might list outstanding payments, approvals needed for final touches — and also note where customers can leave a review for your business if they’re satisfied with the job. (Add a quick note about how reviews can help businesses grow).
Don’t overdo it.
You may find that some customers aren’t as privy to leaving reviews as you’d like them to be: they may be concerned for their privacy, or struggle generally with using technology.
Whatever the reason, it’s important that you read the room when it comes to homeowners who show a disinterest in leaving reviews. If you’ve asked the question outright — “would you have any interest in reviewing our business online?” — and received a no, leave it at that. It’s not worth leaving the project on a low note. … Curating your profiles on Yelp or other similar platforms can be tricky business — as a business owner, the whole process can feel unmanageable or otherwise out of your hands. Focus on the things you can control: doing your work well, and then engaging with your customers to ask for a review.