Jimmy Russell, owner of Windco/Sideco, in Arkansas, says he liked the days when people sought opinions from their neighbors about local contractors. Now, he concedes, they’re more likely to read online reviews.

Studies show that more people are reading reviews. A 2011 BrightLocal survey of more than 2,000 consumers found that 27% (up from 22% the year before) are “regularly” and 49% are “occasionally” scanning reviews.

Daily Site Checks

Many home improvement companies monitor online reviews every day. Marci Karales, marketing director at Woburn, Mass., window company Newpro, says that the websites of the Better Business Bureau, Angie’s List, GuildQuality, Kudzu, Google Reviews, Insider Pages, and Yelp, in addition to “any online community review site,” all get a daily look.

The company uses Google Alerts and HubSpot to notify it when reviews are posted and “we communicate feedback companywide,” Karales says. Scott Barr, owner of Southwest Exteriors, in San Antonio, spends 15 to 30 minutes reading reviews each day, paying particular attention to Angie’s List, widely influential since setting up shop there in 2006.

Rapid Response

Barr says he reacts right away to negative reviews. If he discovers a dissatisfied customer, he makes sure the situation is quickly and happily resolved, as happened recently with a door client. Newpro owner Nick Cogliani invites reviewers to contact him directly via personal email or cell phone.

Scott Holtzauer, owner of Prince William Home Improvement, in Virginia, says that all feedback — “the good and the ugly” — is important because “everybody tends to have a great opinion of his own company and not put himself into the homeowner’s shoes.” And a preponderance of good reviews counterweighs the bad.

Windco/Sideco’s site links to its list of 140 GuildQuality reviews, and Russell uses that happy customer feedback to award incentive pay. —Jim Cory, editor, REPLACEMENT CONTRACTOR.