Listings include your location, contact information, hours of operation, link to your website, and a star rating with a written review.
Here’s what your Google My Business listing looks like when someone performs a Google search.
The listing will appear directly below the pay-per-click Google Ads and directly above the organic search results in what’s referred to as the “three-pack” or “local pack”. The three-pack shows the top 3 most relevant listings for the search term entered.
In this example I searched for “HVAC contractors Calgary”.
If you click the listing, you’re taken to a different view where searchers can read your reviews and see an expanded selection of information about your business along with your location on a map.
(click the image to open a full size version)
So why are Google reviews so important for contractors?
In a study done by BrightLocal a leading SEO research company they determined that “88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.”
If you didn’t catch that, an online review is nearly as good as a referral from a trusted personal friend.
They also determined that “85% of consumers are satisfied once they have read up to 10 online reviews for a local business.”
So as you can see, not only is it critical to have positive reviews on your listing you also need at least 10 of them if you plan on making a good first impression.
If you haven’t already done that drop what your doing and get it done NOW.
Google will add businesses to their listings without an owner or administrator, and it’s up to the business owner to claim the listing if they want to manage it or make changes to it.
This means it’s open for someone else to grab.
So hurry up.
Once that’s complete you can proceed with setting up your profile.
Add your email and phone number, hours of operation, link to your website, images etc.
The final step is to get your profile verified, this is critical.
When you ask to confirm your listing, Google will send a postcard to your address with a 5-digit code to prove that the business is at the address you say it is.
All you need to do is enter that code online, and you’re ready to go.
Once this is all complete, you’re ready to start collecting reviews!
2. Offer an incentive
Let’s not beat around the bush.
The word “incentive” is just a politically correct way to say BRIBE.
Yes you heard me, I suggest you bribe your customers for reviews.
Humans are incentive (bribe) driven creatures, we rarely do something without reason and are much more likely to do something if there’s something in it for us.
A.k.a. a sweat bribe.
The key to getting a ton of quality reviews extends beyond doing good work.
Good work is just a prerequisite, and I shouldn’t have to say that.
But there’s a trick that makes it much easier.
The best ways to get a flood of reviews ASAP is to offer an incentive (bribe).
It could be 10% off their next service call, a free month on their maintenance contract, or a discount on their next big commercial quote.
You’ll know what makes the most sense to bribe your customers with.
Just make sure it’s something juicy that people actually want.
A $5 gift card to TGI Fridays isn’t a juicy bribe, think a little bigger OK?
Here’s why getting that review can be so hard:
People are naturally protective of their time.
They don’t feel like they owe you anything.
They paid you didn’t they? Shouldn’t that be enough?
It sucks but it’s just the way it is. You’re asking someone to take time out of their day to do YOU a favor.
And to be honest, that favor probably isn’t at the top of their mile long to do list.
So provide them with an incentive (Insert: BIG JUICY BRIBE) to get that review in ASAP.
Do this and it will be easier than ever to start building up your online reputation.
3. Create a review handout
Leaving a Google review isn’t rocket science but if your customers have never left one before they’ll appreciate some quick and easy instructions.
Remember, these people are busy as hell and YOU aren’t a priority to them.
Even if they loved the work, it’s still pretty easy to push this onto the “never gonna happen” list.
Therefore this process is all about removing friction.
Not knowing how to leave a review?
That’s some Titanic striking an iceberg in the middle of the night level friction.
BIG ASS FRICTION.
So to smooth over the process, I recommend providing a review guide in the form of a handout.
It will look like this:
(Click the image for a full size version or click here to view a PDF copy.)
The best way to generate one of these handouts is to visit White Spark and sign-up for a free account.
It takes a couple of seconds to produce one of these handouts, and you’ll only need to do it once.
The purpose of the handout is to make leaving a review friction free for your customer.
Not only are humans incentive driven, but they are also lazy as hell!
Big surprise right?
So make things as easy as possible for them and you’ll get that 5-star review in no time at all.
4. Email your customer list
This step is a real ninja hack.
Like top tier ninja hacker tactic but it’s so easy the Geico caveman could do it.
If you can generate a list of past and current customers.
You should be able to export a list of emails and names from your accounting software or somewhere else.
Shame on you if you don’t have a list like this ready to go at all times.
If you don’t you’re dropping the ball big time, get it together.
Once you have your list ready to go you can use an email service like MailChimp to email the entire list at once.
Or you can send emails one-by-one if you enjoy wasting hours of your precious time.
Totally up to you.
Look, it doesn’t matter how you do it; you just need to get it done.
It works like magic and you’ll kick yourself for not doing it sooner.
To make this even easier I’ve created an email template for you to use.
Also, don’t forget to attach your newly created review handout with instructions to said email!
Friction = bad.
Get rid of it by making this whole process toddler level easy.
5. Start attaching the handout + instructions to your email invoices
If you make this a habit, you’ll be able to collect fresh reviews as time goes on for minimal effort.
I think it was Einstein that said “work smarter, not hard” or maybe it was Bon Jovi?
Just get it done OK?
You can make this EVEN EASIER by placing a link in your email signature that says “Click here to get 10% off your next invoice” and link to your review handout + instructions.
You’ll need to host the document on your website, but once that’s done this is easily one of the best ways to generate quality reviews on autopilot.
I’m serious when I say I can’t make this process any easier for you.
Ah yes, everyone’s favorite sales activity.
But this type of follow up isn’t so bad.
If a customer said they’d leave you a review and they haven’t yet, it’s likely they’ve just forgotten.
Or their lazy.
Some people think the follow-up is pushy, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t mind a polite nudge.
Some even appreciate the reminder.
You did good work, they appreciate you for it, and they’re more than happy to leave a review, so don’t hesitate to send them a polite reminder in the form of an email or text message.
You can even get the customer to leave a review right there on site if they’re comfortable with it.
I’ve seen this technique work in person, and it’s typically very well received.
All you need to do is ask to see their smartphone, navigate to the review page for them; it shouldn’t take more than a minute for them to say something nice and leave you a 5-star rating.
I know of several residential companies that have their tech’s do this when they hand over paperwork at the end of a job.
Works like a charm.
7. Responding to reviews
Responding to reviews is critical.
It shows you care about your customers and the quality of their experience, good or bad.
Responding to a good review with a simple “Thank you!” shows customers that you’re engaged in the success of your projects and aren’t asleep at the wheel like some HVAC business owners.
Customers want to see that personal touch, and they want to work with someone that they like!
That said, bad reviews do happen from time to time.
If you’re in business long enough, it’s practically inevitable.
Responding to a bad review is as important if not MORE important than responding to a good one.
Leave the customer a quick note, offer to speak in person, or say that you’ll reach out ASAP, even if you think they’re in the wrong. Again, this is just the human thing to do.
Even if you didn’t screw up and the customer is being unfair, it demonstrates how much you care about making customers happy.
These are all things people take notice of when reading reviews.
Customers browsing your listing just want to see that you care and are invested in the success of your projects.
This is why responding to reviews is critical.
That’s how you get it done!
Once you’ve completed these steps you’re well on your way to getting 10+ quality Google reviews on your Google My Business listing in 7 days or less.
It doesn’t take much to setup and once you’re doing things like sending out review requests attached to email invoices or within your email signature the reviews will naturally start appearing on your listing.
Having a bounty of 5 star Google reviews is one of the best ways to get HVAC leads for free.
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