Stars and bars: How online reviews can benefit franchises

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No one likes to be called out in public, especially a business owner or manager

But whether online reviews are fair or not, they can help franchise owners further build their brand and provide valuable customer feedback. Just don’t take them personally – you can’t please 100 percent of your customers 100 percent of the time. But you should try.

Online reviews – termed by some as “online word-of-mouth” – are a valuable modern marketing tool in your digital toolbox.

Some research indicates that 90 percent of customers read online reviews before committing to a product or service. Most of them are as receptive to online reviews as they are to personal recommendations. But here’s the rub: Nearly 75 percent of potential customers will purchase your product or services only if there’s at least one positive review associated with your franchise. Nearly 85 percent will be turned off from a business with negative online reviews. And negative reviews can be costly: one poor review on Yelp can cut your customer base by 30 people. An increase in overall positive ratings, however, can generate nearly 10 percent in additional business.

But there’s a lot of good with the potential bad of a negative review, which should be addressed online in a respectful and honest manner. Here are four ways online reviews can help your business:

  1. Free advertising. Potential customers will see your brand and business offerings and locations.
  2. Improved SEO. One of multiple algorithms used by Google to determine page ranking is the number of times your company was reviewed or referenced.
  3. Recommendations: Nearly three-quarters of potential customers will trust online recommendations and positive reviews.
  4. Feedback: Online reviews can offer insight into your business practices and indicate areas that need improvement.
  5. Connections: When you respond to reviews, you establish a more intimate relationship with your customers. You can better build loyalty among your customer base if they see your business as a collection of individuals rather than a faceless monolith

For No. 5 to succeed, however, you need to carefully phrase and take a cautious approach to your response. Respond quickly and be cordial, regardless whether the review was negative or unfair. Don’t just delete reviews; the complainant might notice and take even greater offense and post even more negative reviews. You can correct inaccuracies in a review, but watch your tone. Remember — you are in a public domain. The most important aspect of responding to a negative review is to make the customer feel like their concerns are acknowledged, so make sure you offer their money back or a way to make things right.

Online reviews may seem like a minefield into which you don’t want to stray, but keep in mind the many positive attributes of the digital review system. Maybe you can turn that negativity into a star, instead.

At Tint World® we stay up to date on the latest trends in online reviews and work with our franchisees daily to ensure they are gaining the best reputation possible in their markets.

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