Dealing with emotions when your home improvement company gets a bad online review

Like many busy business owners, you may not have paid much attention to online review and rating sites until the eye-opening moment you discovered a damaging online review about your home improvement company.

When that day comes – and if you’re serving the public in volume, it inevitably will – you will probably go through some of the same feelings of frustration and anger that many other business owners have felt.

Like it or not, ratings and review sites, like Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor, are growing in popularity and reach. That means their influence on your prospecting efforts and your online reputation is unavoidable.

Our clients have expressed concerns and frustrations about these sites for years. In general, we’ve heard things like:

  • The online review system isn’t fair. Once you get a bad review, even if it’s not accurate, the cards are stacked against you. For example, if you disagree with a review and you reach out to the site administrators for help, chances are you may not even get a response.
  • Older, bad reviews rank higher than new positive reviews. Sites like Yelp have been known for showing old, outdated negative reviews above newer positive reviews. That’s because their display algorithm favors very active reviewers. That means a bad review posted last year from a one-time customer may show up above a great review from your loyal customer that was posted last week. Why? Because your loyal customer with the good review isn’t as “active” online.
  • These sites are making money on my good name. You’re right. They are. Review sites wouldn’t exist without small business owners like you. And while most consumers may see these sites as unbiased and objective, at their core, they are built as adverting companies. You know that. They know that. But your prospects and customers may not.
  • The reviewer isn’t even my customer! One of our clients – a bath remodeling company – had a negative review from someone that canceled before the first sales appointment. That means they were never even a customer! We’ve heard of other companies that were targeted by fake negative reviews, possibly as part of a campaign by their competitors.

All of these points – and your feelings of frustration and helplessness – are valid. But, you should resist the urge to fight back by posting an anger-fueled response.

There are more positive ways you can manage your online reputation, and we cover those tips & tactics in other blog posts.  But, this post is about controlling your emotions.

So, before you sit down at a computer to let the world know that this one bad review doesn’t paint an accurate picture of your business, take a moment. Breathe. Think. Be smart.

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Janet is FatCat's Founder & Managing Partner. She covers business ownership, including tips on how you can get your business off the ground and keep it running strong.

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