At this point, almost everyone has used Yelp, or another online review site to look up information for places like restaurants and auto shops. Consumer-driven reviews have become a powerful tool for businesses to show demonstrate their worth to potential customers without having to spend any extra money on advertising. But for plumbing contractors, are prospective clients using these types of sites to get details on plumbing businesses before picking up the phone to get a quote?
Plumbing Perspective Magazine talked with Justin Guinn, a market researcher at Software Advice, an online resource that offers comparisons on field service software to plumbers and other service providers. We asked Justin to discuss the findings of his recent study that looked into this exact topic.
Most plumbers probably don’t focus or understand the “online” reputation of their business. Are online reviews on sites like Yelp really that important to their bottom line?
“In short, absolutely! Online reviews sites can definitely have direct impacts on the bottom line of a plumbing business. Our recent survey looked at how consumers use online reviews and found that 86% of customers will pay more for a service provider with higher reviews and ratings on these sites. The work needed to just get a basic profile established on Yelp or another one of these sites is minimal. So using these online review sites as a revenue driver is invaluable for a plumbing business, not to mention the exposure that can come from properly managing their online reviews profile.”
If online reviews have the ability to bring in more revenue, what are the kinds of things current and potential customers might want to read when researching plumbers online?
“It’s clear that online reviews sites have the potential to increase revenue for plumbing businesses. Thus, it’s important to optimize profiles on sites like Yelp, Angie’s List or Google+ Local. And again, if you don’t have one yet, they don’t take long to set up. Once that’s in place, plumbers need to ensure their profile contains the information that consumers are looking for most: our study found that quality of service provided (87%) and service costs (78%) are the top requested pieces of information that people look for. If your profile doesn’t have this type of info, you might get passed over by prospective clients.”
You just mentioned a few online review sites… Did you discover which site(s) might be best for plumbing contractors to focus on to build up an online review profile?
“In terms of what review sites plumbing contractors should focus on, Yelp is the overall leader. In all, 74% of respondents consulting online review sites for general service businesses consulted Yelp. Specifically for plumbing businesses though, the numbers drop a little bit, but Yelp still comes out on top with 55% of consumers consulting Yelp for information on plumbers. Not too far behind Yelp is Angie’s List with 46% of customers using this service when researching plumbers. These are two great places to set up your online profile. It’s worth keeping in mind that customers must pay to subscribe and see profiles on Angie’s List, where Yelp is free for the public to access.”
Realistically, would you say that devoting time and energy to this is a big undertaking? Perhaps one that the average plumbing business owner doesn’t have time for?
“As more and more consumers turn to online reviews sites for information on service businesses, I don’t think companies can afford not to be represented there. It’s just not an option anymore. These online review sites feature an impactful platform for consumers to review, compare and choose businesses that provide a service. In terms of the time and energy needed for getting one of these up and running, it can simply be taken care of in one afternoon. The revenue return is potentially so great that time must be made (or even hired) to manage, at least, a Yelp profile. Our study found that 96% of consumers find online review sites for service businesses “moderately,” “very” or “extremely” valuable. Aside from the potential increases in revenue, plumbing business owners have to take advantage of such meaningful tools that consumers find so valuable in deciding which plumbing contractor they will use. Iyou’re delivering consistently positive customer experiences, you’ll have a much greater chance of seeing positive reviews being posted for your business, with typically brings in more business and revenue.”
For plumbers who have a profile set up with an online review site, what is the one big tip you would give on how plumbers can get positive online reviews?
“The best way to get positive reviews and increase rankings on review sites is to consistently deliver positive customer experiences and encourage customers to leave a review. It’s that simple. But without doing both consistently, your rankings are unlikely to move up.”
Special note: Our research also found that another key way to make the job easier for a plumber or technician in the field is through field service software. By simplifying mundane business processes, these types of solutions can actually give a plumber the time to focus more on the customer experience. We talk to many plumbing businesses who are struggling to keep everything organized because they’re doing all their accounting and work orders manually or in endless spreadsheets. Field service management software provides the tools necessary to keep track of workers, optimize back office workflows, and free up their people in the field. It’s just another step in the process of building a better business experience for your customers. And a better customer experience brings better online reviews, more business and more revenue”