2021 and Your Online Reputation

2021 and Your Online Reputation

Episode 18 – JuvoHub Podcast

Join us as we discuss the importance of your online reputation and how to manage it effectively to grow your 5-star reviews.

Host(s): Jonathan Saar from Market Me Social and Mark Howell from Howl Creative Concepts

Our Special Guest(s): John Tolbert and Paul Moody from BlueJay Reviews

John Tolbert – John is currently the Reputation Management and PayFac Specialist for BlueJay Reviews. He has been an entrepreneur for over 22 years in several different industries. He has a passion for helping businesses effectively compete in the digital world that we find ourselves in today.

Paul Moody – Paul is the Marketing and Customer Experience Consultant for Bluejay Reviews. Over the past 16 years, Paul has been working professionally to help small business owners get creative in the way they gain new clients and increase profits.

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Show Highlights

Notes from Host:  

Online reputation is not a new topic but it is still a relevant one that is often overlooked.  How much effort and resources should you be investing in your online reputation? Why is this a continuing need in 2021?  John and Paul provided us with some stellar stats and best practices to digest and implement.  With average customer touchpoints increasing all of the time, your online reputation is a must to be managed.

Some questions we consider:

  • Why do you believe reviews are so important to consumers today?
  • What is the most important thing you should be watching and managing when it comes to your reviews?
  • Is there any proof that better online reviews will actually impact the bottom line?
  • When should you be soliciting reviews from your customers?
  • Why do most consumers only post negative reviews and how can you ensure 5 star ratings?

What one actionable tip could you share that has served you well as an educator?

Do not be afraid to ask for reviews. It will not hurt you. Don’t be so afraid of the negative reviews that you just don’t ask for them. Don’t be afraid of it. That’s my number one quote

Paul Moody

Control the controllable. The power of technology is now out there so that you don’t have to be afraid. So control the controllable and your online reputation is absolutely controllable, should you choose to do it. And you almost have to do it these days.

John Tolbert

If you enjoyed this episode be sure to check out :

Jonathan: Hello, everyone and welcome to the Juvo Hub Podcast, your helping hand in property management and an education tool for all of us, whether we're in college, all the way up to being a senior person in the industry, we all need education. That's the purpose behind this podcast. I'm very grateful to have you again today for episode 18. Yes, we are number 18. And today we're talking about 2021 and your online reputation, so a fantastic subject. And we're looking forward to talking to John and Paul from Blue Jay reviews and just a moment to get their take on online reputation and what are some things that we're to pay attention to. So my name is Jonathan Saar from marketing social, and I'd like to welcome, first of all, my esteemed co-host, Mark, how are you today, man?

Mark: I'm great, Jonathan, thanks for having me. I'm excited about this topic, so I'm glad to be here.

Jonathan: Yes, smart and esteemed industry trainer from Howl Creative Concepts, so glad to have you with us. And now let's introduce our guests. We have with us today, John Tolbert and Paul Moody from Blue Jay Reviews. They've been working together for over 15 years and they represent business development and making sure their clients have an amazing experience, so we're grateful to have both of you gentlemen on our show today. Welcome.

John Tolbert: Thank you. We appreciate that opportunity to be here. [crosstalk 00:01:41] Thanks so much.

Paul Moody: Thanks so much, yeah. Excited to be here.

Jonathan: Awesome. We're looking forward to this conversation. Online reputation is not a new topic, but it is still one that some people really struggle to embrace. Like how much effort should be put into it, why? So I can't wait to hear your insights and what how you're going to educate our community today on the benefits of really focusing and especially as everybody's in that mode, thinking of 2021 and what are some things we can think about, and how can we make some plans to make sure that's top of mind. So Mark, I turn it to you, man. Let's get this conversation rocking and rolling. Okay.

Mark: All right, I love it. I am so excited to have you guys on the show with me today. We've been talking a lot lately and I never thought that I would be one of those people that would care about reviews as a consumer until the last, I would say like five years, right? And especially being in this industry for over 20, the only kind of online review that I can remember was apartmentratings.com, right. And it was usually when people wanted to say nasty things about you. So it was always that, just sort of deflating of your tire when you would go on and look at apartmentratings.com reviews. And I never could understand, why don't any people want to say nice things about our products?

Mark: So I love that our world has changed, and I guess it is because of the generations bring more technology and they're more savvy. And what I do love about this though, is that most consumers will look at reviews and I have become one of those consumers that before I buy a product, I actually will go and look at a review now, which I never did before. So, I am fascinated to hear your answers and responses to how do you keep great star ratings? How do you control and generate better reviews? And so, thank you both for being here. And the first question John, that I'd like to ask of you is this, why do you believe that reviews are so important to consumers today?

John Tolbert: Well, Mark, I appreciate the question and again, I appreciate being here. And I think you hit on several things that has really changed over the last 20 years. If you think about it, the power has absolutely shifted to the consumer, right? With the advent of the internet, almost everyone, my mother's 85 years old. She, knows how to Google, and she Googles everything. So if my mom, who's 85, is Googling, I guarantee you everyone else is.

John Tolbert: What we say here is, your online reputation is really your new curb appeal, right? So if your online reputation isn't stellar, isn't being proactively managed, it can really set you back. S the importance of it is everyone has the internet available to them, and the power has absolutely shifted to the consumer. And I'll let Paul kind of give you a few of the statistics that can back up that general trend that we're seeing, but the vast majority of a buyer journey, a consumer's journey is now done online before they ever speak to a representative of that company. So, I'll turn it over to Paul and let him kind of throw some stats at you.

Paul Moody: Yeah, I'm steeped in statistical data right now because for Blue Jay, I'm actually writing our 2021 guide on four reviews, understanding all the data. So I'm doing all this research right now. There's a ton of studies out there, but there's 90% of consumers now read online reviews before making any buying decision. I can speak from personal experience, my wife and I won't want to go out to eat or see a movie without reading all the reviews and make sure we're going to get the best experience.

Paul Moody: So, when you think of that versus a more critical decision, like hey, where am I going to live? Those reviews have a huge impact. My wife and I just moved to Midtown Atlanta a few years ago. And we were in the market for a new apartment. Of course the first thing we did was say, how many bedrooms do we need? What's our price range? What are the amenities that we want? More research online, and the research we did was through the reviews and it was the online reviews that ultimately helped us narrow it down to just two properties. So we didn't have to waste time going back and forth to 10 different properties to decide on it. We knew it's either property A or property B, thanks to the online reviews. And, and that's ultimately how we ended up making our decision.

Paul Moody: It's absolutely true that consumers are doing their research online right now. I'm not sure if John mentioned this or not, but the other stat, 70% of research is done online by consumers now before they even approach a business, so it's critical. It's absolutely critical for multi-family housing, for an apartment complex, to not only have a robust review presence, but it needs to be current. They need to be getting reviews a lot.

Mark: Totally agreed. It's so funny John, you said your 85 year old mother is googling, I think you said 85. So mine's 86 and I just got her an iPhone last year. She said she never wanted to, she would watch me on mine and she was like, ah, I don't ever want to have one of those. And I was like, come on mom, we've got to bring you into the new technology era of the new technology and believe it or not, I have her on an iPhone now. And I'm teaching her how to Google and look up stuff even on her smartphone.

Mark: So what's fascinating about what both of you guys have said is that it is not just the younger generation that is becoming so savvy or I think they're just born savvy, but we in other generations are certainly starting to embrace, like how can I shop online and how can I look at these reviews? And I do it, Paul. I agree with you.

Mark: I think it's so critical that people pay attention to this statistics that 70% of people are researching your product before they even pick up the phone. And as an educator in property management, I say this all the time. If your phone is ringing, then your consumer's already done research on you. They've already vetted you out. So if you have the opportunity that your phone is ringing, that means that your online reviews or your marketing platforms are already working for you, but then it would be making sure that those reviews are good. So I love this. Paul, what would you say is one of the most important things that somebody should be watching for? Like, what challenges might they come across when it comes to the reviews?

Paul Moody: Yeah, absolutely. Nowadays, there's over 180 different review websites out there and counting. There's probably even more than that. So, if you're a property operator and you want to keep on top of your users, it's very challenging. There is not just the Googles and the Yelps of the world, but now, there's Zillow, apartmentratings.com, apartments.com, Better Business Bureau, Super Pages, I could go on and on and on. So, if you're trying to manage and monitor all of those reviews, you've got to log in to all those different sites say, Hey, did I get a review today? Did I respond to that review today? It definitely can be very challenging, but what they should be looking for with those, they definitely want to make sure they're paying attention to it because it is the critical feedback that they're getting from their clients.

Paul Moody: Your clients have the ability to make or break you these days. Your review sites can be weaponized, if you will unfortunately, and you need to be paying attention to that. One last thing I want to point out on this topic is really responding to the reviews. I always say that the review response is almost as important as the actual review itself. As a potential consumer for your product, I don't just want to see what other people are saying. I want to see how the business responded to that challenge. So, I don't expect a company to be perfect and no one expects the company to be perfect, but you do want to see, Hey, how would I be handled if I had something go wrong here? It's really critical that not only are you monitoring all this and that you really responding to it as well.

Mark: I do look at that. Sorry, John, go ahead.

John Tolbert: No, no, I was just going to say a couple things. Well, one of the things that we always tell our clients is obviously with 185 different review sites out there, all property managers and owners have enough on their plate besides spending all day long looking at the reviews, but you probably want to focus on the review sites that you know are applicable, and ones that people use most often. If you're going to have to do a manual process and probably break it down to at least once weekly, designate someone in your office to go out and look at google, at Facebook, at apartments.com, and see if you've gotten any reviews. And that again, in itself, if you narrow it down to six different review platforms, you want to be constantly monitoring those.

John Tolbert: And to Paul's point what we tell our, our clients is you want to practice the three P's when you're responding to these. You want to be professional, you want to be prompt and then you want to do it in a public manner. So, you still need to respond to those reviews because if I'm a potential resident and I see that you've got 20 reviews and nothing's been responded to, well, I internalize that, and I think to myself, well, is this the response rating or rate that I'm going to be getting from this property? So it's very important. I think a study that came out said that 56% of all consumers look at the responses and expect that every review is going to have a response to it. So it's not just enough to get them, but you also must respond to them.

Mark: Absolutely. I think Paul, you wanted to add something to that?

Paul Moody: I wanted to, but John beat me to it. It's all that statistical data that's roaming in my head, but that 56%. how incredible is that your response over 50% of the time honestly can influence whether someone's going to actually come visit your business? I just think it's fascinating.

Mark: And Jonathan, I know you wanted to say something before I had a comment too, but what did you have?

Jonathan: I love it. I think it's both some amazing points. And to not only the statistics, it used to be where people would just delete negative reviews. And I mean, in some platforms is not possible number one. And number two, it just completely ruins that those conversations that are held offline. So, I love the fact that, I used to get asked the question, well, how, how much time should I wait? It's like, as if it was a policy, we wait 24 hours before responding to a review and no, I mean, no, would you do that to someone who left you a voicemail, who wanted to rent an apartment? No, you pick up that phone and you respond, so same thing with review response. It's just such a critical. So anyway, kudos to that. I love the stats, and I love the impact of just making sure that we do respond, whether they're good or bad reviews, you got to respond.

Mark: And, like I even said, from the beginning of our conversation, I am what you would call a very average consumer. I didn't look at reviews before, but now that I am, I look to see the responses from the provider to see. Look, I get it. I think a lot of us as consumers, we understand that people are so willing to offer bad reviews when they're angry, but you never really get to see a lot of great reviews when people are really happy. So I look at reviews, then I toss them over my shoulder. And in most cases thinking, ah, this is just somebody that's upset about one or two little things, but I do look now to see how the company is responding, because that is what tells me about their customer service.

Mark: Just because we can all agree that when consumers are angry, they will go to your review sites. But your customer service, and my opinion now is you're showing me what your company's truly made of by the way you will respond to some of these negative ads. So I love that. And I, Paul, I'm sorry, John, maybe this is a question for you, but where's the proof? Is there proof that better online reviews will actually impact the bottom line?

John Tolbert: There is. Actually, one of the things I would say is companies can't afford not to be paying attention to their online reputation. A recent study came out and said if a company can raise their star rating up by one star. So let's say from three and a half to four and a half stars, it can mean as much as 5 to 9% on their revenue. So, it's incredibly powerful when you think about it that way, to go from a three and a half star at a four and a half star. And if you're a million dollar business, for example, it can be $90,000 to your bottom line.

John Tolbert: And to further reinforce that point, there was another study that said, if a company is utilizing a review and reputation management software, 94% of those businesses said that it justifies the ROI, because some of the points that we talked about earlier, it's very difficult for a company to manage their online reputation manually because there's so many different websites. And there's so much information being gathered out there with people that have an ax to grind. It's critically important I think, to choose to have an online reputation management software so that you can automate this, so that it will notify you when you're getting a review across all the different platforms that you can reply to them by having one place to log into. So, that makes it a whole lot easier. And there's also companies that will integrate in with the property management system.

Paul Moody: Every company has a certain amount of dollars set aside for advertising budget. Well, reviews now are considered the most authentic form of advertising as a consumer. I don't trust some corporate advertiser who's going to put together this fancy campaign. Yeah, those are nice to have. But I love Mad Men and want to see Don Draper, do his work there, but truthfully, what's more impactful is what are other people saying? Those online reviews are the new word of mouth, right? Word of mouth is all online nowadays, and that is the advertising.

Paul Moody: So, if you can boost your online reviews and boost the amount of conversation happening about your company online, you're going to boost revenue. No, there's no question about it. That stat, that John mentioned, 5 to 9% increase in revenue just by one star. That's huge. So you really can't afford not to be paying attention to this. Reviews are also a huge source of SEO. People spend so much money doing search engine optimization. And when you Google just about anything, what are the first sites that come up? A lot of times, it is the review sites are the first ones that come up. And the reason for that is, reviews are fresh content that are constantly being written. They're full of keywords for a specific industry. So Google absolutely prioritizes the review sites. There's an ROI just in the fact that it can lessen your advertising budget, and it can potentially increase your revenue when you get the higher star ratings.

Mark: Jonathan? I think you wanted to say something about it.

Jonathan: Paul, you just kind of took the words out of my mouth how you can really lessen your advertising budget. And I remember a statistic a few years ago at a session that I taught that highlighted how much money people spend on getting a new customer and spend so little on retaining the customer. And that's what to me reviews really help facilitate that, is when you're able to gather, I know you guys are going to talk about that in a minute, but when you're able to retain that customer. Now, again, you have saved money. You've really aided that bottom line, that ROI. And so ,word of mouth marketing, it's like 95% of all conversations about our brand happen offline. And so that's what reviews to me really drive those things that most of us never ever hear about our companies or about our brands. So, yeah, nice point about the ROI that I like that.

Mark: Yep. I've got an interesting question for you. So I think for our industry, we're always asking ourselves, when should we be soliciting to get new reviews? When is that great time? This last year of 2020, I don't know that many of us would ever have said, now is a really great time. Our residents, many of them are in a world of turmoil, they're really just hammering down the office about every little thing that goes on. And so I've had this conversation with, with friends, and clients in the industry, when should we be asking for reviews? Because right now everyone seems to be in such a bad mood all the time. So tell me, when is the best time to actually get someone to write a good review about yourself?

John Tolbert: Sure. One of the things that we always tell our clients is every customer interaction is a good time to be asking for a review. It's not just enough to have a sign up in your lobby that says, Hey, take a moment to give us a review. Your happy and satisfied customers are probably not going to do that. They can have the best intentions in the world, but as soon as they walk out of your lobby and the sun hits their face, that's out of sight, out of mind, very unlikely that they're going to take the time to write you a review. So you've got to make it simple and you got to make it easy for them. And you've got to ask them frequently. So there's some predefined triggers that we utilize in the multifamily space Mark, to answer your question specifically.

John Tolbert: So, on a move in, that would be a good time to ask them for a review. On a move out, that's also a good time to ask them for a review. When someone has a service request, lets say a toilet is clogged or something along those lines. That is a good time to ask them for review. The key thing is to ask them often, to ask them consistently and to make it extremely easy for them to respond. That's how you're going to get those positive reviews instead of being at the mercy of those people who maybe unfortunately, had that negative experience, because you want to be able to ask your happy and satisfied customers to get your star rating up. So you have to ask them frequently and you need to have a program in place that affords that possibility.

Mark: I agree. I teach a lot of my clients and people in our industry that you should be asking for reviews when you have your resident at their happiest. If you're doing a resident function or you guys are having engagement, having fun, certainly be asking then as well, because you are getting them in that moment that they're probably at their happiest, you're doing something nice for them. Or, when you know that a work order has been done promptly, sufficiently that they're happy about it. The move out gets me a little nervous because sometimes when our residents are moving out they're not always happy. But I do agree with you. I think that you should always be asking for reviews during your move in inspection, and your move out inspection. And look, if we were all doing our jobs, well in the right way, then our residents, whether they are moving in or moving out should be happy all the time. And so I agree with that.

John Tolbert: One thing I'll add to that, Mark, and I completely get where you're coming from on the move out. And you want to be careful. Well, there's a couple of things that I would say that you can't be afraid of the negative reviews because more than likely they're going to happen organically as what we say, someone, if they've had a bad experience, the review sites make it so easy for them to go out there and write one. The key though, is that it will help you. It may be tough medicine, but it will help you improve your systems and processes internally by asking for those reviews and getting that honest feedback.

John Tolbert: The other thing with these review and reputation management companies that are out there, you can ask or review, and if they have something negative or less than positive to say, there's a big red button for people to say if your experience wasn't great, we would like to hear about it. Once they push that, they get to say their peace, they get to get it off their chest. But instead of that going public, that comes back internally. So you're able to deal with that as a property management or a property owner internally, and make those corrections to your systems and processes and address those concerns. But it's not on apartments.com. It's not on the Googles of the world.

Mark: I love that. It's like a little safety net. That's awesome.

John Tolbert: That's right.

Paul Moody: Yeah, I was just going to add to that. I mean, it really is. Not to John's point, not to just rehash exactly what he just said, but it's really not being afraid of the negative feedback. It can all come down to how you ask for that feedback and providing an outlet for folks who have had a negative experience to potentially just email me back or, with the softwares click this big red button versus that big red button. I think it's a mistake to be so afraid of the potential negative feedback that you don't ask for reviews at all. I think that's a mistake.

Mark: I agreed. Go ahead.

John Tolbert: I would add one other thing to that is one of the reasons why a lot of companies are afraid of negative reviews is because they're not consistently, and ideally through an automated asking for positive reviews. When they're doing those events and when they're doing something nice, they're not consistently asking for those reviews that would drive up their star rating. And so they're at the mercy as Paul said earlier, they're at the mercy and they're scared to death. Because they know if I've only got 20 reviews overall for my company and I get that one negative review that's public, well, that's going to drive down my star rating. But if you have 150 reviews that are more positive because you've asked your happy and satisfied residents, then that one negative review is not the death knell to your business.

Paul Moody: Yeah, and to piggyback off of that, to get back on this statistical data, there was a recent study that found that 70% of clients, [inaudible 00:25:42]their experience, if they're asked to and it's made simple for them to. So that's the other key, making it simple for them to leave reviews. You can't just have a sign in your lobby, please leave us a review. People are lazy. They're going to walk out the door and they're not going to think about it unless they're upset. When people are upset, they're motivated and they'll move mountains. I got to say my peace. People who are happy, we're just lazy. It's not that we don't want to help out the property by leaving them a positive review. It's just, ah, I got to go online, I got to do that, I got to find their listing.

Paul Moody: So you got to make it simple for them. You need to know where your review links are and you need to be able to send them out via text and via email. Over half of consumers that were surveyed said they prefer getting review requests via text. So, know where your review links are. If you have a software reputation management software, it makes it very simple because it sends it out in a real nice way. But your URLs, you got to know where they are and you got to be able to easily text and email them to your customers on a point for when it makes sense to send them, and when those service requests are closed. Like John mentioned when they moved in, moved out that type of thing.

Mark: Yeah. This is all great advice. I love this. Thank you guys so much for coming on the show and offering advice. That last bit of advice, Paul, for me, if, if someone makes it easier for me to just click on a link and be able to go right into a review site, we have the technology that does that today. So I can remember back in my day, I used to try to create little business cards that had all the directions, go to this website and click on here, click that. Even that was a little cumbersome for the consumer, but you're right. Putting all of a link that takes them right to the review site makes it so easy for the consumer, especially when they're in that good mood to just go ahead and take care of it right then and there, but fascinating topic. I absolutely love it.

Mark: I can't wait to see what you guys do in the future with the industry and the product. I think that it is so, so important. And I know many people listening and my friends in the industry out there, we all need help with this. We're watching our reviews and it is something that we all need to be focused on, so thank you guys.

Jonathan: [crosstalk 00:28:07] Amazing conversation. And, to Mark's point, to me, it's not just up to the leasing agent or it's not just up to the marketing department. This is a culture thing that companies need to embrace when it comes to their online reputation. So it's not something that corporate can just kind of pass the buck off to a certain department, Hey, just manage this. Everybody needs to be involved and it really needs to matter. And especially since it takes seconds for a match to be lit and a reputation to be destroyed, when something goes wrong. So you have got to be very, very careful and make that part of your overall business process.

Jonathan: Thank you so much, guys. I can't wait to see how this conversation continues online and we're grateful to partners like you in the industry who really take the lead and help educate us on topics such as this as online reputation management and we look forward to having you back on a future episode. One thing I forgot to do before, when we were doing show prep. Usually, Mark and I like to hear your go-to tip, the one-liner quote, if you have one, by any chance, when you think of how you educate your consumers, your clients, and today coming here, what's your one-liner do you have one? Do you have one you can share with us today? Yeah, go ahead, Paul.

Paul Moody: I don't know that it's much of a one liner, necessarily. There was a go-to tip, just to drill it home again, do not be afraid to ask for reviews. It will not hurt you. Don't be so afraid of the negative reviews that you just don't ask for them. Don't be afraid of it. That's my number one.

Jonathan: Not be afraid to ask for reviews. Yeah, solid. Solid. John, you got anything?

John Tolbert: Yeah, I would just say control the controllables. The power of the technology now ,is out there so that you don't have to be afraid. So control the controllable and your online reputation is absolutely controllable, should you choose to do it. And you almost have to do it these days.

Jonathan: Excellent. Control the controllables. Beautiful. Those are great one-liners so thank you. Spur of the moment, you were able to pull that off.

Mark: Nothing like putting them on the fly there, but yeah, that was good.

Jonathan: Well done. I think a lot of us have always something in our head, like when it comes to our businesses, there's just that we hold to it, cause it's like our mantra to make sure that we get that message out there. So great to have you guys. So how can our audience connect with you? You know, can they connect and what's your website, social, give us an idea how people can connect with you, Paul.

Paul Moody: Yeah, absolutely. So we'd prefer for you to just feel free to reach out. Our website is www.Bluejay reviews.com. On that site you'll find demo videos of our program, you'll find ways to connect with us on our calendar if you want to actually see how our program could integrate with your program, how our review solicitation platform would work. We can schedule a one-on-one demo with you. You'll also see pricing and any education need. And we've got a blog out there as well that's attached to our website with a lot of educational materials. So bluejayreviews.com.

Jonathan: Beautiful.

Mark: Perfect. Yes. Well, thank you guys so much.

Jonathan: Yeah, John?

John Tolbert: Thanks for having us.

Jonathan: Yeah, thanks. So make sure you connect on LinkedIn too with all of us, and anybody who's listening to reach out and all those will be in the show notes for everyone who's paying attention to the show. Mark, great having you, wonderful conversation. How can people connect with you? What's your website, man. Remind everyone.

Mark: Yep. So you can just go to howl creative concepts, how will it spelled H O W L like howl at the moon, but howlcreativeconcepts.com. So, that's how you can reach out to me.

Jonathan: We got an animal themed podcast today. Blue Jays. Wolves. [crosstalk 00:32:29] It's absolutely spectacular. Yeah. Mark, industry trainer, make sure you guys check him out. My name is Jonathan Saar from market me social, marketmesocial.co. This has been episode 18, 2021, and you're online reputation. We thank everyone for being here. We'll see you on our next show. Take care everyone.

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