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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.

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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

10 must-listen-to podcasts for business owners

(MARKETING) If you’re a business owner and want to learn something…anything…give one (or all) these podcasts a listen.

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headphones listen podcasts

As podcasts grow more and more popular, it has become increasingly difficult to sort through the sea of excellent options out there.

From interviews with business leaders to industry-specific advice from experts, podcasts are an incredible free and convenient way to get a small dose of inspiration and knowledge.

This short list offers just a taste of the myriad of business podcasts available. Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur looking for some tips on breaking into a new industry or a seasoned vet hoping to get some new inspiration, we hope you’ll find something here worth listening to.

How I Built This, hosted by Guy Raz.

Podcast fans will recognize Guy Raz’s name (and voice) from TED Radio Hour. While that show can be a great source of inspiration for businesses, one of the most consistently inspiring shows is his new project that shares stories and insight from some of the biggest business leaders in the world. In just four months, Guy has talked to everyone from Richard Branson and Mark Cuban to L.A. Reid and Suroosh Alvi. While there are plenty of excellent interview-driven shows with entrepreneurs, if you want to hear about the world’s best known companies, this is your best bet.

The Art of Charm, hosted by Jordan and AJ Harbinger.

The Art of Charm is a business podcast by definition, but the advice it provides will definitely help you in other parts of your day-to-day life as well. With over three million listens a month, the incredibly popular show provides advice, strategies and insight into how to network effectively and advance your career and personal life.

StartUp, hosted by Alex Blumberg and Lisa Chow.

If you’re an entrepreneur, there is no excuse not to be listening to StartUp, the award-winning business podcast from Gimlet Media. The show’s talented hosts come from incredible radio shows like Planet Money and This American Life and bring a top-notch level of storytelling to the show, which provides behind the scenes looks at what it is actually like to start a company. Now on the fourth season, StartUp is one of those business podcasts that even people not interested in business will get a kick out of.

The Whole Whale Podcast, hosted by George Weiner.

One of the best things about podcasts is the wide variety of niche shows available that go in-depth into fascinating topics. One of those shows is the Whole Whale Podcast, which shares stories about data and technology in the non-profit sector. You’ll get detailed analysis, expert knowledge and can hear from a long list of social impact leaders from Greenpeace, Change.org, Kiva, Teach For America, and more.

Social Pros Podcast, hosted by Jay Baer and Adam Brown.

Navigating the surplus of social media guides online can be a nightmare, so look no further than Social Pros. Recent episodes talk about reaching college students on social media, the rise of messaging apps, and making better video content for Facebook. Plus, there are great case-studies with companies doing social right, like Kellogg’s, Coca Cola and Lenscrafters.

Entrepreneur on Fire, hosted by John Lee Dumas.

One of the original entrepreneurship shows, Entrepreneur on Fire has logged over 1,500 episodes with successful business leaders sharing tips, lessons and advice learned from their worst entrepreneurial moments. Sometimes humorous, sometimes heartbreaking, always inspiring, this show is sure to have at least one interview with someone you can learn from.

The $100 MBA, hosted by Omar Zenhom.

Think of The $100 MBA as a full-fledged business program in snack-sized portions. The daily ten minute business lessons are based on real-world applications and cover everything from marketing to technology and more. Cue this show up on your commute to or from work and watch your knowledge grow.

This Week in Startups, hosted by Jason Calacanis.

This is your audio version of TechCrunch, Gizmodo, or dare we say The American Genius. Each week, a guest entrepreneur joins the show to talk about what is happening in tech right now. You’ll get news about companies with buzz, updates on big tech news and even some insider gossip.

The Side Hustle Show, hosted by Nick Loper.

This is the show if you want answers for the big question so many entrepreneurs face. How do I turn my part-time hustle into a real job? Featuring topics such as passive income ideas, niche sites, and self-publishing, host Nick Loper is upfront and honest about the tough world of side hustles. The show features actionable tips and an engaging energy, and may just be that final push you need to grow your gig.

Back To Work, hosted by Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin.
Focused on the basics that you don’t think about, Back To Work looks deep into our working lives by analyzing things like workflow, email habits and personal motivation. Somewhere between self-help, and business advice, Back To Work takes on a new topic relating to productivity each week.

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Business Marketing

Why your coworkers are not your ‘family’ [unpopular opinion]

(MARKETING) “I just want you to think of us as family,” they say. If this were true, I could fire my uncle for always bringing up “that” topic on Thanksgiving…

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family coworkers

The well-known season 10 opener of “Undercover Boss” featured Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar. Brandon Landry, owner, went to the Lafayette location where he worked undercover with Jessica Comeaux, an assistant manager. Comeaux came across as a dedicated employee of the company, and she was given a well-deserved reward for her work. But I rolled my eyes as the show described the team as a “family.” I take offense at combining business and family, unless you’re really family. Why shouldn’t this work dynamic be used?

Employers don’t have loyalty to employees.

One of the biggest reasons work isn’t family is that loyalty doesn’t go both ways. Employers who act as though employees are family wouldn’t hesitate to fire someone if it came down to it. In most families, you support each other during tough times, but that wouldn’t be the case in a business. If you’ve ever thought that you can’t ask for a raise or vacation, you’ve probably bought into the theory that “work is a family.” No, work is a contract.

Would the roles be okay if the genders were reversed?

At Walks-Ons, Comeaux is referred to as “Mama Jess,” by “some of the girls.” I have to wonder how that would come across if Comeaux were a man being called “Daddy Jess” by younger team members? See any problem with that? What happens when the boss is a 30-year-old and the employee is senior? Using family terminology to describe work relationships is just wrong.

Families’ roles are complex.

You’ll spend over 2,000 hours with your co-workers every year. It’s human nature to want to belong. But when you think of your job like a family, you may bring dysfunction into the workplace.

What if you never had a mom, or if your dad was abusive? Professional relationships don’t need the added complexity of “family” norms. Seeing your boss as “mom” or “dad” completely skews the roles of boss/employee. When your mom asks you to do more, it’s hard to say no. If your “work mom or dad” wants you to stay late, it’s going to be hard to set boundaries when you buy into the bogus theory that work is family. Stop thinking of work this way.

Check your business culture to make sure that your team has healthy boundaries and teamwork. Having a great work culture doesn’t have to mean you think of your team as family. It means that you appreciate your team, let them have good work-life balance and understand professionalism.

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Business Marketing

Market your side hustle with these 6 tips

(BUSINESS MARKETING) It can be hard to stand out from the crowd when you’re starting a new side hustle. Here are some easy ways to make your marketing efforts more effective.

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side hustle paperwork and technology

Side hustles have become the name of the game, and especially during these turbulent times, we have to get extra creative when it comes to making money. With so many of us making moves and so much noise, it can be hard to get the word out and stand out when sharing your side hustle.

Reuben Jackson of Big Think shared five ways that you can market your side hustle (we added a sixth tip for good measure), and comment with your thoughts and ideas on the subject:

  1. Referrals: Don’t Be Afraid to Ask!
    If you’re going to make a splash, you have to be willing to ask for favors. Reach out to your network and ask them to help spread the word on your new venture. This can be as simple as asking your friends to share a Facebook post with information that refers them to your page or website. Word of mouth is still important and incredibly effective.
  2. Start Where You Are
    Immediately running an expensive ad right out of the gate may not be the most effective use of your (likely) limited funds. Use the resources you do have to your advantage – especially if you’re just testing things out to see how the side hustle goes in the real world. You can do this by creating a simple, informational landing page for a small fee. Or, if you’re not looking to put any money into it right away, create an enticing email signature that explains what you do in a concise and eye-catching way. Check out these tools to create a kickin’ email signature.
  3. Gather Positive Reviews
    If you’ve performed a service or sold a product, ask your customers to write a review on the experience. Never underestimate how many potential customers read reviews before choosing where to spend their money, so this is an incredibly important asset. Once a service is completed or a product is sold, send a thank you note to your customer and kindly ask them to write a review. Be sure to provide them with links to easily drop a line on Yelp or your company’s Facebook page.
  4. Be Strategic With Social
    It’s common to think that you have to have a presence on all channels right away. Start smaller. Think about your demographic and do some research on which platforms reach that demographic most effectively. From there, put your time and energy into building a presence on one or two channels. Post consistently and engage with followers. After you’ve developed a solid following, you can then expand to other platforms.
  5. Give Paid Marketing A Shot
    Once you’ve made a dollar or two, try experimenting with some Facebook or Twitter ads. They’re relatively cheap to run and can attract people you may not have otherwise had a chance to reach out to. Again, the key is to start small and don’t get discouraged if these don’t have people knocking your door down; it may take trial and error to create the perfect ad for your hustle.
  6. Go Local
    Local newspapers and magazines are always looking for news on what local residents are doing. Send an email to your town/city’s journal or local Patch affiliate. Let them know what you’re up to, offer yourself for an interview, and give enticing information. The key is doing this in a way that your hustle is seen as beneficial to the public, and is not just an ad.

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