Encouraging Good ReviewsBetween 60 and 75 per cent of all businesses fail to ask for a ‘sale,’ according to market researchers, so how many ever ask for a review? For most salons, managing online reviews consists of researching which reviews sites to target, monitoring them and dealing with negative comments. But how many of you have thought about actively seeking positive reviews? Building a solid online reputation may just come down to asking for honest feedback.

If you never ask your clients for online reviews and don’t even run regular surveys, it tells them a few things: you don’t care, you don’t have the time or the inkling to improve your service or you aren’t confident about receiving feedback in the first place. All poor messages to convey to your clients.

If you have a policy for handling less than sparkly reviews, you should also have a policy of encouraging good ones. A continuous stream of reviews published online will boost your profile, leading to a more robust rating on the various networks.

So stop focusing on the negative and get proactive.

· Send your clients an email or text message asking them to review you.  Do this soon after their appointment so their experience is still fresh.

· Keep your surveys short and sweet – no more than five key questions.

· Ask them to leave you a review on important networks like Google Places or Yelp! or use a service that pushes reviews to networks that are open. Yelpers have to review directly, but other review sites will share reviews.

· Encourage your stylists to ask their clients to review them online and offer them incentives for being mentioned in reviews.

· Post positive reviews from various networks on your social pages to share the love, then ask your followers to review you, too.

· Give deals and offers on local review sites to attract active members from those communities into the salon so they can review you and help you bring in more clients.

There are loads of ways to pump up the volume on online review sites, but be prepared to embrace the honest, genuine feedback along with the occasional crazy, inexplicable one. All of them will be bundled up into one package and it’s your job to get them skewed toward the positive and handle them all so you can continue to grow in this review-crazy world.

Paul Tate is CEO of Shortcuts Smarter Business Technology, which provides intuitive online and offline support to salons and spas across the world, offering  solutions in nine languages to more than 13,000 clients in 46 countries. For more information, visit www.shortcuts.net.

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