I am the CEO of Dreamstyle Remodeling, based in Albuquerque. We are one of the largest remodelers in the country, with more than 600 employees throughout the western United States.
Back in 2016, we developed a robust program around gaining reviews and it’s been very successful for us. The logistics of it are now handled by various people in our marketing department. We started out by taking a look at how many reviews we were getting from each of our main sources. These are: Google, Facebook, Angie’s List, HomeAdvisor, Houzz, and the Better Business Bureau. We developed the program around those platforms. We take reviews seriously, and put time and resources into gaining as many as possible. That attitude has paid off. We used see a handful of reviews, but now they are in the triple digits across all of the platforms we target. Last time I checked, we were at 4,100 total reviews.
What About Yelp?
We don’t pay attention to Yelp anymore. We’ve found that it’s a waste of our resources in terms of gaining reviews. This is because they often hide authentic reviews that we’ve worked to generate. We put effort into Yelp for a year, and even tried advertising on the site, but they still hid our reviews. At a certain point, we did a cost analysis, and decided that what we were putting into it wasn’t worth what we were getting out of it. Once that was clear, we decided to shift our focus to platforms that are equally—or more—popular, but where our reviews are always visible.
When it comes to the review industry, Yelp is like the mafia: We figured that we couldn’t combat it, so we moved in another direction. Interestingly, dropping Yelp from our program did not result in a dip in sales or referrals.
How The Program Works
Our system is based on utilizing our installers to gain a review from every project. We use all in-house labor, but I think this concept would work for a subcontractor as well.
One of the keys lies in training. We encourage every installer to generate a rapport with the client, and then ask for a review at the end of the project. Most homeowners are more inclined to give a positive review because of that relationship.
Getting the reviews isn’t usually a problem. People are spending a lot of money with us, and generally are willing to submit a review.
We don’t evaluate our installers based on their ability to gain reviews—it’s just a side thing we do—but we do incentivize them based on this. The training and incentive program are all thought through carefully.
We have a clear process in place to handle any negative review. First, we get additional background from the CRM and management. Often, the reviewer is confusing us with another company, and in that case we respond with something like, “Hi Joe, thank you for reaching out. We are having some difficulty finding you in our system; if you could please contact us on a private message, a manager will get in touch with you to resolve this.”
We do not accuse them of making up the fact that they are a customer; rather, the message is, “We can’t find you.” Sometimes the project is in the wife’s name but the husband wrote the review, or vice-versa.
We take legitimate negative reviews very seriously. In our response, we talk about what we did to alleviate their concerns. No matter what, we always remain cordial and never get into a shouting match online. Often the customer will change the review to a higher rating, and that helps our numbers.
On a side note, we generally respond to positive reviews as well to thank the customer and wish them the best.