Few things in a pest control operator’s life will ruin his or her day as much as a one-star review. To be completely honest, one of my weaknesses is having thin skin, so a bad review hurts me more than watching Pierce Brosnan sing in “Mamma Mia!”
I’ve been in business for 13-and-a-half years, but we really didn’t start keeping track of reviews until a few years ago. In a short period of time, we have amassed nearly 600 reviews from Home Advisor, Angie’s List, Yelp, Google Reviews and Facebook. Our average score is 4.79 out of 5.00. Of that total, only 1.8 percent are less than a four-star review.
Recently, Schopen Pest Solutions got its first one-star write-up — and it stung pretty bad.
I say our “first” one-star review, but it’s actually our fourth. Two of our one-star reviews were from people I call “professional Yelpers.” They were trying to get free services out of us. These two ladies actually use reviews as a way to extort free treatments. I refused to be intimidated by either of them, and they promptly bashed us on Yelp and Google.
Another one-star review came from a gentleman who thought I was rude. I went to his home for a bald-faced Hornet nest, which was two feet above his front door. I went to his service entrance and knocked but he still came out of the front door! I told him to go back inside and wait for me. I finished the job, collected the money and left. The next day, he left a scathing review of our company stating how rude and condescending I was to him. After a quick phone call explaining to him that I was only trying to look out for his safety, he amended his review to a 4.0.
We even received a zero-star review, but at least it was temporary: If you remember my July 2016 column — “Going from hero to zero (and back again)” — I was able to work things out with the customer, and she took down her nasty review.
PLAN FOR GOOD REVIEWS
With poor reviews, it’s not a matter of if it will happen, but when will it happen. Kind of like my Chicago Bears: I know someday they will beat Aaron Rodgers before he retires, I just don’t know when it will happen.
How you prepare for and respond to bad reviews can set you apart as an owner. At Schopen Pest Solutions, we do everything in our power to avoid bad reviews. Among the many tactics we employ is passively selling our clients on the idea of a five-star review during the initial phone call, “Thanks for calling, Mrs. Jones, and if you ever need to reach out to us with a question, concern or a five-star compliment, feel free to call us anytime or leave a review for us online!” That’s planting the seed.
Next, our technicians will perform the service and then ask the client, “Did I do everything the office staff said I would?” They will follow this up with, “Did I meet or exceed your expectations?”
Ninety-nine percent of the time, the answer is “yes.” But occasionally, the client will have questions about something the tech did or didn’t do. After fixing the issue, our tech will ask again whether he handled all their concerns. If the answer is “yes,” then our tech will kindly ask the client to go online and give us a nice word or two.
The day after our initial visit, the tech’s programmer will call the client to thank him or her for using our company. During this follow-up call, our programmer/scheduler will remind the client of the next appointment date and ask whether the tech met all expectations. If the answer is “no,” the programmer will try to get more details from the customer. At this point, the office staff will again ask the client to go online and give us a review.
As a company, we make a big deal out of every five-star review.
I send a picture of the review to our company group text and we hang the review on our Wall of Fame. My office assistant, Wendy, keeps all of the reviews and puts them in a binder. At the end of the month, the techs get points for every five-star review they garner. Each tech is graded every month, and five-star reviews are a big portion of their grade. We also show many of our reviews on our Facebook page.
A one-star review doesn’t need to define our company, but not responding to it in a professional manner speaks volumes on how we run our business.
Schopen is owner and founder of Schopen Pest Solutions, McHenry, Ill. You can email him at email@example.com or reach him via Twitter: @schopenpest; Instagram: @peteschopen; or Facebook: Schopen Pest Solutions, Inc.