When you’re thinking of buying something, or looking for a service provider, what’s the first thing you do? If you’re anything like me, you do a quick Google search, then start reading reviews.
Depending on the size of the purchase, sometimes I like to go straight to the negative reviews to see if there’s a pattern, and see how the company responds to those, if at all. But overall if I’m trying to find a local service provider, like a plumber or electrician, I tend to at least start by checking out the company with the most positive reviews. If a company has no reviews, I don’t even consider them.
The Search for Collision Repair Begins Online
And I’m not alone - over 80% of consumers begin their search for products and services online. That doesn’t mean they are all completed online, just that they begin there. So when someone gets into an accident or fender bender, what do they do?
After their panic has died down, they get on their phone and search for a combination of their city name and “auto body shop” or “collision repair”. They are presented with a mini map with several shops in the area, and then they - consciously or unconsciously - look at the star ratings.
There are tons of these review sites, like YellowPages.com, Yelp, SuperPages, CitySearch, etc., There are even some that are specific to body shops or mechanics, such as Carwise.com, but the truth is, you really only need to focus on a couple.
Start with Google My Business
Google My Business (GMB) is arguably the single most important place that your business should be listed. When people review your business via GMB, those reviews show up in Google Search results, and on Google Maps. When people do a search from their phone, as I mentioned above, this is what they’re most likely going to see first.
There’s a good chance that a page for your business already exists, whether you created it or not. If so, you simply need to “claim” it. If there isn’t a page yet, you should create one. To do that, visit the Google My Business website and create an account, or sign in if you have one.
From there you will create your listing, by adding your business name, contact info, service area, hours, website address, services, logo, photos, and more. Be sure to set your primary category to “Auto body shop” and then you can also add secondary ones afterwards.
To verify that you do actually own or work at the business, Google will verify by sending you a postcard in the mail. When you receive the postcard, it contains a code, which you’ll enter on the GMB website. Sometimes you’re given the option of verifying by phone or email, so choose the fastest option that you’re presented with.
Optionally, Add a Facebook Business Page
Regardless of whether you love Facebook or hate it, or somewhere in between - it’s incredibly useful for your business to be listed there.
If you don’t have a company page on Facebook, consider creating one, so you can respond to your reviews! To create a Facebook Business Page, you do have to have a personal Facebook account. Similar to GMB, you’ll enter your business info, logo, pictures, etc.
Set your categories to “Automotive Body Shop”, “Automotive Repair Shop” and anything else that applies. I recommend completing as many of the business info fields as you can, including adding your website address. You can add links to your other social media business accounts if you have them, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.
How Do I Get Reviews for My Collision Repair Business?
Google makes this really simple - on your GMB home screen, there’s a link titled “Share your Business Profile”. Clicking that opens a box that shows a link to your business profile. You can copy the link, and include it on your website, in your email signature, on your social media sites, in an email newsletter, or anywhere else you can think of.
To get reviews on Facebook you can share a link liKE the Google example above, but the link will be in the format “https://www.facebook.com/YOUR-PAGE-NAME/reviews”.
Of course, simply sharing the links isn’t always enough. Some shops use reputation management software or their primary shop software to actively solicit reviews after every completed job. In this case, your customers might get an email asking them to review you on Google, Facebook, or other sites like Yelp.
One other option here is to create a page on your website, such as www.YOUR-SITE.com/reviews and have links or buttons to various review sites shown there.
There are also tools you can use to embed your reviews from other sites into your website, so you can compile them all in one place, and show off how much your customers love your shop.
Uh-Oh, We Got a Bad Review, Now What?
These platforms don’t let you remove bad reviews, so if you get one, the best thing you can do is to respond to it rationally and politely.
For example, if someone leaves a 1-star review, but it’s talking about how they’re mad at their insurance company, you can respond and mention that you understand their frustration, but have no control over what their insurance company covers. Or if their comment does reflect that your shop did something wrong, it’s best to apologize and offer to make it right if possible. This shows other prospects that you care, and can demonstrate your customer service approach.
One important note here - never fire back an angry response in the heat of the moment. You will get some irrational, incorrect comments and accusations, but responding in anger will only make it worse. If you need to, sleep on it, and think of a good way to respond.
Remember, the general public will see your response, so this is a way to demonstrate your customer service skills. Your response may impact whether or not people take a chance on your shop, so give it some thought!
Since you can’t remove negative reviews, your goal is to get lots of positive ones, which effectively drowns out the negative comments, so they fade into the background.
Reviews play a far larger role in your marketing than you may have realized. If you think about how many people start their research online and look at reviews, it only makes sense to make this an important part of your overall marketing plan. You can ignore reviews, but prospects might ignore your business.
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