The Importance Of Google Reviews

I recently sat down with one of our clients Adam Sullivan to talk about his business and how important Google reviews have been for his business. The interview was recorded so you can listen below.

Also be sure to read all of our other posts on online reviews and Google My Business.

Jordan Caron:
Hey everyone, It’s Jordan Caron from Meaningful Marketing. I’m sitting down with one of our clients, Adam Sullivan, who’s a co-managing partner at Victoria Transmission & Auto Care. Adam, please say hi to everyone.

Adam Sullivan:
Hello, everybody.

Jordan Caron:
Adam, we’re going to get right into it here with a few questions about your partnership with Meaningful Marketing. A little bit of background about yourself and Victoria Transmission. How long ago did you take over the business?

Adam Sullivan:
Peter and I purchased the business in 2010 from my dad, and he’d actually bought it from his dad. We’re a third-generation business now that’s been fixing cars in Victoria since 1964, so I think that’s puts us at 54 years in town. Peter and I both worked at the company for many, many years. Peter had been here 25 years before we bought it, and I’d been here 15. And, we got wind that the owners wanted to sell. We really liked the direction the company was going and decided to make it a career for both of us.

Jordan Caron:
And, when you took over the business, they were just strictly doing transmission repair, correct?

Adam Sullivan:

Yeah. Probably all of 90% of the work that we did was just transmissions, clutches, driveline things. And, the general repair side of stuff, like the break jobs and oil changes. If a customer asked us to do that, we’d do it. But, it was not something that we ever advertised or put out to the city at all.

Jordan Caron:
Okay. So, you guys decided to switch that and become like, an all-care auto repair shop, then?

Adam Sullivan:
Well yeah, because the transmission industry had been declining. It peaked at around 1999, and then what started to happen was the manufacturers started to build better product that would last longer, and then they’d warranty it longer. And so, we were seeing a steady decline from transmission sales. So, you look down the road 10 years and think, well if we’re declining at 10% year over year, in 10 years we wouldn’t be left with almost anything. So, we had to make the decision to branch out, offer and advertise general repair just to stay alive, or the future looked really bleak.

Jordan Caron:
Ok, that brings up an interesting question. Before, they were just doing transmission repair. And, when you guys took it over, you obviously are doing all types of auto care repair. What types of marketing and advertising methods were being used when you took over the business?

Adam Sullivan:
Pretty old school stuff. Our biggest thing was the Yellow Pages. The Yellow Pages were king; we’d spend $50,000, $60,000 a year to be the category leader in transmissions, and even a two-page, full-color ad, it was a ridiculous amount of money. The previous ownership would do the odd, three-month radio ad. The Q, or local stations like that. We put the odd thing out in Times Colonist or in the black press. But, all old school kinds of marketing, and we were seeing a big drop-off on how effective it was being. The ROI coming from those forms of media – they couldn’t justify themselves, not even a little bit.

Jordan Caron:
Ok, so then, fast-forward to a couple of years after you purchased the business. You partner up with ourselves here at Meaningful Marketing. What made you focus on Internet marketing?

Adam Sullivan:
Well, Peter and I sat down and were looking at our advertising budget, which was about 6% to 7% of our revenue which, in our industry, is too high. We were finding that we were doing a great job of keeping existing customers and getting referrals, but as far as new customers, if they were coming in, we spent a few months analyzing, where did they come from? What made them choose us? And, what we were finding was, mostly word-of-mouth, which we already knew was good. And, almost none of it was coming from our massive advertising and marketing budget.

So, we sat down and thought, how do you decide which restaurant to go to? Because we both really like food. And he says, well I’ll go online and type in, if I’m in Seattle, Seattle’s best restaurants. Or, if I’m in Los Angeles and I want to go do something with my family, what’s the best family stuff that we can do in Los Angeles? You get a lot of information from that, and you get a lot of online reviews. What we found for ourselves personally is, we make most of our decisions based on – at first, a google search, and then reading reviews from other people that have been there and have done it.

And at that point, if someone has 20 or 30 reviews, some will be positive and some will be negative. But, at least you kind of get almost an insight of that business. And we thought, hey, for our business, if someone’s never been to us, and they have lots of decisions and options when it comes to getting your car repaired, there are a million auto shops out there. If we could have the Internet presence and get our reviews going, that’s what we used. That’s why we decided to really focus on the Internet-based marketing.

Jordan Caron:
So, you’ve kind of answered this question. But, how important are customer reviews for an auto repair shop like yours?

Adam Sullivan:
Honestly, we found that online customer reviews are probably the single biggest generator of new clients that we talk to. They’re able to find us organically through our web presence, or they’ll find us through some of our ads. But, we find that they make a final purchase decision based on the reviews that they’ve read about the company. That makes them feel that they can know us and they can trust us. I’m sure other industries vary a lot but really if you’re looking for a new mechanic in a town, reviews are going to be worth their weight in gold, and they have been. It automatically allows the customer to get an insight into your business that just your own website, because that will be biased most times – if they can read reviews, I think it just brings a lot more credibility to everything that we do.

Jordan Caron:
So, as of this interview, you have 59 google reviews, which is great because the competitors in the marketplace only have about 15 or 20 max.

Adam Sullivan:
If that, yeah.

Jordan Caron:
Now, what are you guys doing to get more reviews?

Adam Sullivan:
Well, that’s the toughest part. I’m sure we’ve all been there: we’ve been to a restaurant, or we’ve been to a business and we’ve had just great service, and we loved it. And, we’ve probably said the words, oh I’m going to write a review for you guys. Or, you’ve talked to a waiter and the waiter’s done an exceptional job, and you say, hey you know what? Thanks, I thought that was just incredible. And he’ll say, hey, can you write a review? Because this will help me when I’m talking to my boss about my next review. And at the time, you’ve maybe had a glass of wine and the dinner’s been great, and the lobster was perfect, or whatever it may be. And you say yeah, yeah. I’m going to do it.

But invariably, you never write that review. You go home, life gets in the way. You think, oh maybe I said that, but what difference will it make? We’re trying very, very hard to make it as easy as possible for our customers to review us online. We’ll ask questions like, do you have a Gmail account? And, if they say yes, well then great. You can just go to our site, sign in and make a review. It will take less than a minute. Or, if they say, well I don’t have a Gmail account; I don’t even know what you’re talking about, you say, hey, it’s getting an email address to start with Google, with Gmail. And then what we’re going to do is, we’re going to send you a follow-up, kind of how to get set up, how to create that Gmail if you don’t already have one, and really, make it as easy and as fast as possible for the customer to do it.

One thing that some other businesses in town in our industry do is, they pay for reviews. Or, they’ll give credit off or stuff like that. We’ve never done that, and I don’t think we ever want to do that. Morally, it just feels kind of wrong to pay people for reviews. So for us, it’s just doing a really, really good job. And then, the follow-up with the customer. Calling them a week later after they’ve been in and saying, hey, Mister Smith. We’ve worked on your car. How’s it still working? Were you happy with everything we did in the service? And they’ll say yeah. And then, you can kind of just remind them, we’d really like it if you could make that google review for us. We appreciate your business and we’d like to have you back. And at that point, at least it gives us a second chance to remind them about the Google reviews, and we’re finding that that’s what’s really started to increase the reviews that we’re getting.

Jordan Caron:
Perfect. One thing that Adam hasn’t mentioned here; in the follow-up email, what we do is send out a link to this person that goes to our website, which has a page that discusses and shows step-by-step instructions on how to write the reviews. So it makes it really easy for the person, if they’ve never written one, to go to that page and learn how to. And then, we also have a link that helps them find out how to sign up for a Google account, which obviously makes it easier for them to write a review.

So, that’s all of our time. I want to thank Adam for sitting down with us here, and hopefully everybody out there listening has gotten some knowledge on how to get reviews, and how important reviews are for each of their businesses. So yeah, Thanks, Adam.

Adam Sullivan:
No, thank you, Jordan.

How To Get More Google Reviews

ReviewsKnowing how to get more reviews for your Google My Business page is important for so many reasons. I won’t list them all but it helps your GMB pages’ rankings. And it helps people get an idea of what doing business with you is like.

Since Google changed their GMB search rankings a few weeks back, I’ve noticed many of the businesses in the top 3 have 20+ reviews.

I still get clients asking me for ways to get more reviews. I’ve talked about a few ways already. Today I’ll go cover another way to get more reviews.

Another way is to have a sheet at your front desk asking clients to review your business on Google. We’ve done this for all our clients who have a storefront and it’s worked great. The best news is it’s really simple to set in place.

Here’s what you need to do.

Create a introduction sheet which you can post at the front desk of your storefront. If you service clients at their location, you can mention to them that if they have a Gmail account, it would be greatly appreciated if they could write you a Google review. State that reviews are important for your local search rankings and that potential clients will find them useful in whether they will choose your business.

Once again you can post this at your front desk or checkout area.

Make It Easy

The next step is to create step by step instructions on how to write reviews. If your clients aren’t tech savvy, it’s important to make things really easy.

Here is an example of what our introduction and instruction sheet at Meaningful Marketing looks like. All you need to do is change the business name and create screenshots so you can replace our images with yours.

For those business who service clients at locations, simply print out the instructions and hand it to them. This would work well for any contractors.

If you want to turbo charge your reviews, implement the strategy below with caution.

Create A Draw

*UPDATE

I originally listed the idea of creating a draw with those who wrote you a review on your GMB page. After looking through Google’s GMB review guidelines for a second time, I didn’t see where it clearly says this is not allowed.

I then came across a post from one of the leading voices in local SEO, Mike Blumenthal, over at Get Five Stars. After reading his post which says incentivicing clients to writes reviews is against the TOC of all review sites like Yelp and Google. I wanted to get clarification about creating draws and know if that is deemed as incentiving. Mike confirmed that it was.

 

So there you have it. Don’t create a draw like I had originally suggeted. Simply read the other posts on getting reviews I’ve linked to in this post and you’re all good.

How To Get Google Places Page or Yelp Reviews

How to get more Google Places Page reviews“Why didn’t you just ask?”

How many times have your heard this? Too often I’m sure.

This is how you can get more reviews on your Google Places page.

Simply ask them too.

Yelp says you shouldn’t ask and that reviews should be up to the reviewer. So be wary of following my advice below when it comes to Yelp.

First Impression

Last week I explained how to setup and properly optimize your Google Places page. But I didn’t mention anywhere in the post how to get reviews and why they’re important.

Back in days of telephone books, we had no way to tell if the business was trustworthy. We just went through a page at a time and made our decision based on very few things.

So there was no first impression outside of a logo and advertisement.

However the internet has given everyone a voice. And with that voice people can say what they want about anyone. Including businesses.

When people find any Google Places business listing, they want to see what others have to say. Especially if they’re a first timer. It’s why Urbanspoon and Trip Advisor are so big.

Reviews are like a comment card. But everyone can see them. It’s not like the old days of comment cards when management were able to discard the bad reviews.

To sum it up, your reviews are your business’s first impression.

More the Merrier

Having just a few reviews is fine. But just about every Places page I see has 0-5 reviews. I believe the more reviews you have, the higher your social proof.

It also means that your business must be pretty remarkable. Especially if your competitors have very little reviews. If people love your business and take the time to write a review, you’re doing something right!

The more reviews you have the easier it is to stand out from the competition.

Getting More Reviews

I started this post off by saying all you have to do is ask. And that’s what I want you to do.

If you’ve been in business for over six months, chances are good you have repeat clients. Those are the ones who would be willing to write a review.

All you have to do is ask them.

There are only two ways we communicate (outside of body language) so here are the two methods you can ask for reviews:

1) After checkout (verbally)

If you have a physical storefront, you probably have a computer with a POS system. When they’re finished their checkout ask them how their visit was and if they have a Google or GMail account. If they enjoyed it (I’m sure they did) kindly ask them to write a review on the spot.

This might be hard for some of you to do. I suggest asking those repeat clients whom you’ve built a good rapport with.

When you do this, make it really easy for them. Have your browser on your Google Places page and be sure you’re logged out. Then all they have to do is click on the “Write a Review” button and they’ll be asked to sign into their Google/Gmail account.

Easy!

Some people might not know their password. But you can ask them to follow step two.

2) Send out an email (text)

If you’ve followed my advice on lead generation and retention, you’ve built an email list. Through that list you can send out an email asking for reviews.

I have embedded a line in my signature that states:

“Reviews are important for local search engine rankings. I was hoping you could write a quick review on my Google Places page.”

When it’s embedded in your signature, you won’t forget to put it in every email.

When doing so, make it really easy. So either screen record how to do that with a voiceover or use my method of taking screenshots for step by step instructions like I did in this post.

As I said be weary of doing this for Yelp. If you have an influx of reviews on Yelp, they filter them.

But Google Places pages don’t have filters. So get out there and ask for them reviews!

Update *** September 1st 2015

Here is another easy way for you to get more Google reviews.