Best Practices in Reading Online Reviews

It’s no secret that the best way to learn about a company’s standing within its community is to check out online reviews. Seeing what others in your local area have to say about a company can be the difference between a legit deal and a scam.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of companies out there that like to exploit the community without offering any honest customer service. Even if you have heard about someone through word of mouth, even if your neighbor used this company at some point in time, it is still best to not finalize your choice until you’ve had the chance to look at online reviews.

But reading just a few reviews is still not enough to help you feel confident that the company you’re looking at is legitimate, honest, and perfect for your needs. Whether you are looking for a contractor, a painter, a repairman, or somebody else, it’s vital that you get your eyes on as many online reviews as possible in order to get a better understanding of who you’re working with.

So, how exactly do you go about reading online reviews? What key factors should you be looking for? With these top 10 tips, you’ll be able to invest in this free, peer-based resource that will end up giving you a lot more insight than you might have thought. Check out these 10 best practices in reading online reviews to give you the upper hand in narrowing down your choice of contractors and companies.


Best Practices in Reading Online Reviews

1. Look for Comparisons

When starting out with online reviews, it might be useful to take a look at the way some reviewers compare the company with another company. For example, if you are reading online reviews about a contractor, pay particular attention to the reviews that praise the contractor’s services in contrast with someone else in the area.

Are customers saying that Contractor A has better customer service and pricing than Contractor B? Are people more likely to trust Contractor A or Contractor B? This is important to pay attention to so that you can better gauge that company’s clout within the local industry.

All reviews are important to pay attention to, but you want to be sure to note when a customer uses another local company to compare with. Comparative reviews are a good sign that the reviewer is more reliable than average since they have so much experience within the industry.

Best Practices in Reading Online Reviews

2. Purposely Seek Out Bad Reviews

If you’re struggling to discern whether a review is more positive or negative, there’s a way you can see some truly bad notes. If you are looking for reviews of a contractor on the popular review website Yelp, make sure you know how to use the filters. Yelp famously has a number of filters you can use during your search for a company in order to narrow down your choices and preferences.

Unfortunately, Yelp is sometimes known to filter out real reviews that were written by real people, whether they are good or bad. When performing your search, make sure to click on the “Not Currently Recommended” filter. Applying this filter and reading all of the reviews about the contractor can be truly eye-opening. It is most often the case that Yelp hides these reviews because they reflect poorly on the company. But, these are the reviews that you need to see the most!

Best Practices in Reading Online Reviews

3. Look for Companies with a Lot of Reviews

In almost every case, the more reviews a company has, the better it looks for that company. Having tons of reviews shows that many people are using this service and have a lot to say about the contractor in question. Most of the time, these numerous amounts of reviews will be positive. However, it’s definitely worth it to browse through them to see what comes up.

The more reviews a company has, the more likely it is that the company is legitimate, honest, and reliable. When real customers write real words about a company, it truly shows that the company made a lasting impact. You definitely want to gravitate towards companies with large amounts of reviews like this.

Best Practices in Reading Online Reviews

4. Stay Away from Companies with No Reviews

Similarly, you should not gravitate towards companies that have little to no reviews. If you were to look up the name of a contractor or company online, only to find that they have a total of 2 reviews, you might not want to pick them. Seeing just a couple reviews – or none at all – should send up a huge red flag that something is wrong.

It’s not very good rapport for a company to only have a couple of reviews. And, upon reading those reviews, you may find out that the company cannot really be trusted. Without any customer confidence, you have nothing to go on, and therefore you cannot make a reliable judgment about the company. You won’t feel comfortable trusting them to complete your project, so it might be time to move on to another choice.

Best Practices in Reading Online Reviews

5. Look for Photos and Visual Proof of Quality

A contractor will certainly earn bonus points in your favor if the reviewers take the time to post photos of their completed projects. This can give you an immense boost to your confidence, giving them the reliability and satisfaction that you are looking for.

Imagine trying to find any kind of contracting service that fails to post before and after pictures. Have you ever been on a car dealership website that doesn’t have pictures of the automobiles for sale? How are you supposed to know what condition it’s in, what the quality of the vehicle is like, or what its specifications are? Likewise with contractors; when you are looking to put your faith in someone, you want to be sure that they can actually do the job the right way. Take a look at some before and after photos for proof of quality and service.

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Best Practices in Reading Online Reviews

6. Find a Commonality Between the Reviews

There’s a strategy to finding the best online reviews. When scanning information that other customers have written, try to look for a common theme. Are they all saying the same kind of thing about a particular product? Do they all share an opinion about a specific contractor? Being able to see a number of different reviewers saying the same thing about a contractor can give you more confidence that the contractor can be relied upon.

Plus, a shared opinion has a lot more validity than an individual opinion. Having multiple people to back the claims that the company offers quality, reliable services will help you become more eager to jump on the train. Perhaps you’ll make that contractor your next choice for any project you are looking to get done.

Best Practices in Reading Online Reviews

7. Don’t Hire a Company with No Online Presence

Some companies are truly stuck in the past, with absolutely no online presence at all. These companies might not be as easily trusted as those who have taken the time to establish themselves online and gain a great presence that can be trusted. In this day and age, having online reviews is vital to establishing a good connection and rapport with your clientele. Any smart contractor will pay attention to how they are being discussed online, adding contributions to make them a staple presence in the community and local industry.

So if you can’t find a single review for a certain company, don’t hire them. Reputable companies are already doing the right thing by being online – those who aren’t online are not worth your time.

Best Practices in Reading Online Reviews

8. Know that Negative Feedback Can Be Positive

Negative comments are usually a sign that the company may not be able to stand up to the level of quality and professionalism you are looking for. However, you shouldn’t completely disregard negative commentary right off the bat; in fact, this can be an even more valuable learning experience than the positive comments.

It’s important to look at how the company responds to bad reviews. Negative feedback is always feared by a company, but those who are able to respond to it in a positive and professional manner are more likely to keep that client and regain favor within the community. If a client gave bad feedback, how did the company respond? Did they reply with an apology and an opportunity to correct their mistake? Or, did they offer harsh, victimizing words? Or, perhaps they did not offer a reply at all?

Knowing how the company responds (if they even do), and what kind of impression this gives can be really telling about the kind of company it is. Even if there are some occasional bad reviews, if the company responds with maturity and offers a higher level of quality to make up for it, they can still be considered on your list.

Best Practices in Reading Online Reviews

9. Look at Quantity Vs. Quality with Many Reviews

There are many reliable websites to look for when seeking out legitimate reviews of a company online. Some of the most popular websites to take a look at include:

  • Yelp
  • Houzz
  • Google
  • Yellowpages
  • Facebook

Some of these websites, particularly Houzz, will most likely have a lot of positive reviews. This website is known for its mostly positive reviews, so in this case it’s more important to pay attention to the number of reviews received, rather than the content of the review itself. Since you can already expect them to be positive, you might find more value in counting the sheer number of reviews a company has.

Having a great number of reviews can speak volumes about how reputable a company really is within the community. With so many people having so many good things to say about the company or contractor, it’s a sure-fire bet that this one will make it on your list of top considerations for your project.

Best Practices in Reading Online Reviews

10. Look for the Most Influential People and Procedures

In a lot of cases, a specific person or process will be mentioned by the reviewer. For example, if you are looking up a local hair salon in your area, you may read a lot of reviews that speak positively about one single stylist in particular. While the entire salon might be great, there is a specific individual that most reviewers will recommend over others because of the unique quality and fantastic service given.

You can definitely apply this same idea to contractor and company reviews. When reading the online reviews, is there any particular name, process, or system that stuck out to you? For example, reviewers might be saying, “Ask for John – he’s the best in the business!”, or perhaps you will read something along the lines of, “Their new automated mapping system gives the best quality results each time!”. Looking for specific mentions like this can indicate how good a person really is. And, when you reach out to this contractor, be sure to ask about that specific person or process to add even more points of reliability to your list.

Best Practices in Reading Online Reviews

Write Your Own Reviews!

If you’ve recently worked with a company or contractor that you enjoy, don’t forget to write your own review! You will be providing invaluable help to your neighbors and community members by giving as much information as you can about the experience you had with someone. Did you recently invest in a roofing company? Did you hire a contractor to paint your exterior house? Tell us about it! Who did you work with? Did you enjoy the quality of the service? Were they fast and reliable? Your friends and peers want to know!

Best Practices in Reading Online Reviews

Look for More Resources!

There are plenty of online resources at your disposal when searching for the best contractor in the area. When you are satisfied with the amount and quality of online reviews a company has received, where do you go next?

The key is to do as much research as possible, even beyond reading reviews. The more resources, information, and positive statements a company has about them online, the more likely they are to be trustworthy investments. And the more you know, the more you can avoid getting stuck with an unreliable contractor.

For more information, assistance, and research tips for finding the best contractor, check out our free remodeling eBook: Remodeling 101.

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