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What Do a Real Estate Agent and a Locksmith Have in Common?

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Online Reviews Real Estate Agents
Image courtesy of Lola Dalle


Survey Says…

A recent study released by market research firm, Opinion Research Corporation, reveals that 61% of surveyed consumers are browsing for online reviews of companies and services before making final purchase decisions.  This doesn’t come as a huge surprise for me, since I am one consumer who tends to research heavily before making a decision… sometimes too much.  It often sends me down a rabbit-hole exploring review sites in order to make sure that I am absolutely sure I am making the right choice.  I recently came to the conclusion that this is even more true for services used ‘once in a blue moon’.

Searching for a Locksmith.

I needed a locksmith to do a very specific type of job… an ignition replacement.  Obviously, I don’t call locksmiths very often… and have no loyalty to any particular “brand”.  I naturally did a Google search for “locksmiths” in my area.  At the top of the results were quite a few local business directories such as Yahoo Local and CitySearch.  AAA Locksmith is now staring me in the face, along with A&A Locksmith, ABC Locksmith, and a few dozen more on page one.  What I also noticed was the reviews column.  Who to call?  Well AAA had 0 reviews and grayed out stars, yet A&A had 4 out of 5 stars and 3 reviews.  needless to say I couldn’t resist seeing what my neighbors had to say.  I ultimately skipped the no-review listing and went for the stars.  And I also ended up choosing a great Locksmith (they were, but who knows without a comparison?).

Wow, Reviews are More Important Than I Thought.

It occurred to me later that the types of businesses that could really benefit from online consumer reviews are the ones that rely very little on repeat business.  How often do we hire plumbers, roofers, a locksmith, or a real estate agent?  How much more important is it to hire a reputable agent than it would be to research a locksmith?

Although IncredibleAgent.com started out as a blog platform vendor, it seems it’s purpose has become real estate agent ranking and reviews (#1 in SERPS for real estate agent reviews)… But the activity on places like Yelp.com and Citysearch is heavy, and the growth of these up-and-coming household names is nothing to ignore. What would you conclude when reading this page as a consumer?

The Next Generation of Word-of-Mouth.

This is the new-school of good ‘ol fashioned word-of-mouth.  No longer do we totally rely on Aunt Patti’s recommendation for an Agent.  How objective is her opinion, really?  She may have had a good experience, but how will she really know the consistency of this level of service.  I would rather look into a half-dozen detailed reviews and let that weigh in on my decision in addition to Aunt Patti’s.  This of course is very disruptive news for an agent so used to the friend of a friend marketing word-of-mouth approach.  Creating customer evangelists is important, and the power of an online review can have the same effect over and over again.

Rather than debate on which is more important, online or “real-life” testimonials, we can focus on enhancing the online side while also maintaining the traditional method of obtaining valuable word-of-mouth referrals… it’s great service and relationships any way you slice it.

Reviewer Motives.

But to motivate a client to not only pass out your card to their friends and family, but to also log in to Yelp.com and write a positive recommendation, may take an extra bit of effort.  When I have a terrible experience with a service provider, my first thought is: “How can I stop their reign of terror…  I’m going to write a scathing review and make sure everyone knows… they will be sorry… oh yes mwa ha ha ha ha!” But for some reason, after a pleasant experience I think: “That was great, I really hope they do well, Let’s go to that new restaurant I’m starving!”  Am I alone in this thinking?

A Diamond is Forever.

So, to motivate a happy client to write a good online testimonial, simply ask.  Shoot an email out with a link to your page on the third-party review site.  Make it really easy for them.  You might even send a snail mail (It’s back by the way) thank-you card with gentle request and a gift-card.  You want that review.  A 5 star review, like a diamond, is forever and very valuable.  And like a diamond, crushing a bad review is next to impossible without the proper methods.

For more on the subject check out the fanatics at The Society for Word of Mouth.

Writer for national real estate opinion column AgentGenius.com, focusing on the improvement of the real estate industry by educating peers about technology, real estate legislation, ethics, practices and brokerage with the end result being that consumers have a better experience.

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15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Glenn fm Naples

    July 15, 2008 at 5:54 am

    Carson – positive testimonials have always been a good way to get business. We might post them on our websites – but how many really have their clients post on the Internet? Probably not many, but at least your post may start a trend for some of us.

  2. Matt Wilkins

    July 15, 2008 at 5:58 am

    I partialy agree with you ideas. I think the reason why past clients or prospects do not come back or refer business is our lack of contact so our name is in front of their face.

    I send a monthly email newletter to everyone in my contact list (past clicnets, current clients, prospects) and find it has been very effective in keeping people “know” that I am around and read yto provide them the real estate services they need.

  3. Frank Jewett

    July 15, 2008 at 7:12 am

    Many consumers don’t trust online recommendations because there are a lot of shills on the internet. Knowing the person doing the recommending is important for establishing the credibility of the recommendation.

  4. Jennifer in Louisville

    July 15, 2008 at 8:00 am

    While I think a glowing review on the internet can make the difference if all other considerations are equal – its certainly not the end all be all. Internet customers are becoming fairly savvy and recognize the ease of manipulation and bogus reviews by friends (or enemies). If you can get legit glowing reviews by shooting out a 1 time email to clients, great. But I wouldn’t lose too much sleep over it.

  5. Holly White

    July 15, 2008 at 8:24 am

    Having glowing reviews looks much better than not having any at all though. As a consumer myself, I am much more likely to do business with someone who has something going on in the way of third party reviews or testimonials and I would guess that “most” consumer’s are still much like me (even if the reviews we are reading are not real). It wouldn’t take long for someone who had a bunch of really good bogus reviews to get some really bad “real” ones if they are not as good as those reviews say they are.

  6. Carson Coots

    July 15, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    Glenn – Thanks, I just hope that when put into practice it is not like pulling teeth to get them to create an account and actually write one up.

    Matt, I think your method is very effective… it is a great way to 2nd-degree word of mouth flowing. The online reviews help you gain a level of credibility with people outside of that sphere.

    Frank – I agree, there are a lot of posers out there, but 10 out of 10 reviewers being shills is very hard to believe… If the page contains a nice cross-section of realistic reviews, it may be more believable to the reader… and the method I proposed would create real-life testimonials that are public and archived on third-party sites. Would an on-site testimonial be any more believable? Who would publish a bad review of their service on their own website? At least 3rd party sites appear to be unfiltered. I am not suggesting it is a better substitute… only a supplement.

    Jennifer – I’m hoping a little email would be enough to at least plant a seed… No begging would be in order. But if you have problems like this guy-> https://www.incredibleagents.org/ It might be a good idea to start diluting those negatives with some good feedback. He lost a lot of sleep making that crazy website.

    Holly – I agree. A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall not escape. – Proverbs 19:5

  7. Paula Henry

    July 15, 2008 at 9:16 pm

    Carson – I use Angie’s List when searching for specific services, for this very reason – I can see the reviews, how many satisfied clients and their ranking.

  8. Bob Locksmith

    August 5, 2010 at 10:07 am

    The trouble with these reviews on Google local business listings is they are too easy to fabricate

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Business Marketing

Bite-sized retail: Macy’s plans to move out of malls

(BUSINESS MARKETING) While Macy’s shares have recently climbed, the department store chain is making a change in regards to big retail shopping malls.

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Macy's retail storefront, which may look different as they scale to smaller stores.

I was recently listening to a podcast on Barstool Sports, and was surprised to hear that their presenting sponsor was Macy’s. This struck me as odd considering the demographic for the show is women in their twenties to thirties, and Macy’s typically doesn’t cater to that crowd. Furthermore, department retail stores are becoming a bit antiquated as is.

The sponsorship made more sense once I learned that Macy’s is restructuring their operation, and now allowing their brand to go the way of the ghost. They feel that while malls will remain in operation, only the best (AKA the malls with the most foot traffic) will stand the test of changes in the shopping experience.

As we’ve seen a gigantic rise this year in online shopping, stores like Macy’s and JC Penney are working hard to keep themselves afloat. There is so much changing in brick and mortar retail that major shifts need to be made.

So, what is Macy’s proposing to do?

The upscale department store chain is going to be testing smaller stores in locations outside of major shopping malls. Bloomingdale’s stores will be doing the same. “We continue to believe that the best malls in the country will thrive,” CEO Jeff Gennette told CNBC analysts. “However, we also know that Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s have high potential [off]-mall and in smaller formats.”

While the pandemic assuredly plays a role in this, the need for change came even before the hit in March. Macy’s had announced in February their plans to close 125 stores in the next three years. This is in conjunction with Macy’s expansion of Macy’s Backstage, which offers more affordable options.

Gennette also stated that while those original plans are still in place, Macy’s has been closely monitoring the competition in the event that they need to adjust the store closure timeline. At the end of the second quarter, Macy’s had 771 stores, including Bloomingdale’s and Bluemercury.

Last week, Macy’s shares climbed 3 percent, after the retailer reported a more narrow loss than originally expected, along with stronger sales due to an uptick in their online business. So they’re already doing well in that regard. But will smaller stores be the change they need to survive?

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Business Marketing

Why you must nix MLM experience from your resume

(BUSINESS MARKETING) MLMs prey on people without much choice, but once you try to switch to something more stable, don’t use the MLM as experience.

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Discussing including MLM experience on a resume.

MLM experience… Is it worth keeping on your resume?

Are you or someone you know looking for a job after a stint in an MLM? Well, first off, congratulations for pursuing a real job that will provide a steady salary! But I also know that transition can be hard. The job market is already tight and if you don’t have much other work experience on your resume, is it worth trying to leverage your MLM experience?

The short answer? Heck no.

As Ask the Manager puts it, there’s a “strong stigma against [MLMs],” meaning your work experience might very well put a bad taste in the mouth of anyone looking through resumes. And looking past the sketchy products many offer, when nearly half of people in MLMs lose money and another quarter barely break even, it sure doesn’t paint you in a good light to be involved.

(Not to mention, many who do turn a profit only do so by recruiting more people, not actually by selling many products.)

“But I wouldn’t say I worked for an MLM,” you or your friend might say, “I was a small business owner!”

It’s a common selling point for MLMs, that often throw around pseudo-feminist feel good slang like “Boss Babe” or a “Momtrepreneur,” to tell women joining that they’re now business women! Except, as you might have guessed, that’s not actually the case, unless by “Boss Babe” you mean “Babe Who Goes Bankrupt or Tries to Bankrupt Her Friends.”

A more accurate title for the job you did at an MLM would be Sales Rep, because you have no stake in the creation of the product, or setting the prices, or any of the myriad of tasks that a real entrepreneur has to face.

Okay, that doesn’t sound nearly as impressive as “small business owner.” And I know it’s tempting to talk up your experience on a resume, but that can fall apart pretty quickly if you can’t actually speak to actual entrepreneur experience. It makes you look like you don’t know what you’re talking about…which is also not a good look for the job hunt.

That said… Depending on your situation, it might be difficult to leave any potential work experience off your resume. I get it. MLMs often target people who don’t have options for other work opportunities – and it’s possible you’re one of the unlucky ones who doesn’t have much else to put on paper.

In this case, you’ll want to do it carefully. Use the sales representative title (or something similar) and, if you’re like the roughly 50% of people who lose money from MLMs, highlight your soft skills. Did you do cold calls? Tailor events to the people who would be attending? Get creative, just make sure to do it within reason.

It’s not ideal to use your MLM experience on a resume, but sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures. Still, congratulations to you, or anyone you know, who has decided to pursue something that will actually help pay the bills.

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Business Marketing

This smart card manages employee spending with ease

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Clever credit cards make it easier for companies to set spending policies and help alleviate expense problems for both them and their employees.

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Spendesk showing off its company credit cards.

Company credit cards are a wonderful solution to managing business expenses. They work almost exactly like debit cards, which we all know how to use, am I right? It is the twenty-first century after all. Simply swipe, dip, or tap, and a transaction is complete.

However, keeping up with invoices and receipts is a nightmare. I know I’ve had my fair share of hunting down wrinkled pieces of paper after organizing work events. Filling out endless expense reports is tedious. Plus, the back and forth communication with the finance team to justify purchases can cause a headache on both ends.

Company credit cards make it easier for companies to keep track of who’s spending money and how much. However, they aren’t able to see final numbers until expense reports are submitted. This makes monitoring spending a challenge. Also, reviewing all the paperwork to reimburse employees is time-consuming.

But Spendesk is here to combat those downsides! This all-in-one corporate expense and spend management service provides a promising alternative to internal management. The French startup “combines spend approvals, company cards, and automated accounting into one refreshingly easy spend management solution.”

Their clever company cards are what companies and employees have all been waiting for! With increasing remote workforces, this new form of payment comes at just the right moment to help companies simplify their expenditures.

These smart cards remove limitations regular company cards have today. Spendesk’s employee debit cards offer companies options to monitor budgets, customize settings, and set specific authorizations. For instance, companies can set predefined budgets and spending category limitations on flights, hotels, restaurants, etc. Then they don’t have to worry about an employee taking advantage of their card by booking a first-class flight or eating at a high-end steakhouse.

All transactions are tracked in real time so finance and accounting can see purchases right as they happen. Increasing visibility is important, especially when your employee is working remotely.

And for employees, this new form of payment is more convenient and easier on the pocket. “These are smart employee company cards with built-in spending policies. Employees can pay for business expenses when they need to without ever having to spend their own money,” the company demonstrated in a company video.

Not having to dip into your checking account is a plus in my book! And for remote employees who just need to make a single purchase, Spendesk has single-use virtual debit cards, too.

Now, that’s a smart card!

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