Morgan Cohen’s passion for homes led him to start a Boston area home inspection business in 2005. Today, with a little help from Yelp, he has reached the point where he so busy that he is turning away business. Morgan is getting 5-10 calls a week generated by his Yelp listing and he simply can’t handle the volume. This is a dream scenario for most small businesses. Below, Morgan was kind enough to share the three basic steps that he took to achieve this success.
Step 1 – Enter your business information in Yelp. Putting a basic business listing in Yelp is free and only takes a few minutes of your time (To do this, start by creating a business account). Making your customers create your business listing generates friction that may deter someone from posting that first review. Morgan decided to give it a try in the fall of 2009. Shortly after he put his listing up, he got his first review; a 5 star rating from a very satisfied customer.
Step 2 – Get some reviews. A business listing is not enough. The number and quality of the ratings that you receive in Yelp contribute to how high you appear in the search results when someone is looking for a product or service. Today, Morgan is up to 13 reviews – all five-star. He currently ranks #1 if you are looking for a home inspector in Boston. If you aren’t sure how you’re doing in online reviews you can search for your business in Yelp or Google Places.
Yelp prefers it if you don’t ask directly for reviews because they are worried that you will only ask the happy customers. Yelp has an aggressive filter to try to eliminate reviews that it thinks are of questionable quality. But, if you remind all of your customers that they can find your business on Yelp, that should be enough encouragement to get genuine unbiased feedback.
Morgan started emailing all of his past customers about three months after their inspection and including a reminder to check him out on Yelp. He also includes a link to his Yelp listing on his website and in the signature line of all of his emails. Making customers aware of his Yelp presence has really helped generate the reviews.
If you have any questions about what is and what is not appropriate when trying to get reviews on Yelp, check out their blog post that highlights best practices: Getting Yelp reviews.
Step 3 – Be brave enough to put yourself out there. Morgan was definitely nervous about opening himself up to the possibility of getting bad reviews on Yelp. But, at the end of the day, he is a standout home inspector; his 13 five star reviews are a testament to that. People are generally only going to write a review for your business if they have a really good or really bad experience. Make sure it is the former and not the latter. If you do get a negative review, don’t be discouraged; use it as an opportunity to improve.
Over the course of a year and a half, Morgan has gone from getting zero business from Yelp to taking 3-5 jobs a week from Yelp. The referrals have grown his business to the point where he is looking to hire an employee. By increasing his marketing footprint, measuring his marketing effort, and then focusing on what is working, Morgan is achieving the American dream.
Image Credit: Steve Rhodes