You've Been Reviewed: Now Make Some Lemonade

Reviewed

Many real estate brokers are afraid of online reviews. Even those who serve their clients with outstanding professionalism have had a rough transaction at some point in their careers. Whether the sale turned sour because title, escrow, clients, brokers, or lenders caused a problem, one person usually bears the brunt of the client’s wrath: the broker. The fear of having that one client write a bad review causes many to hold back from seeking out online reviews altogether.

It doesn’t work, though. There are dozens of websites already promoting brokers’ profiles without any proactive action taken by the brokers. Some are franchise websites or portals like realtor.com that allow client input. Others, like Yelp, let anyone who knows a broker’s name start a review profile for them.

Even worse, there are broker rating algorithm websites that create “scores” for brokers based on past sales data, and the brokers have no input into the publicly-displayed ratings of their careers. They’re often wildly inaccurate. Whether you like it or not, you’ve been reviewed.

So proactive real estate brokers are making lemonade out of lemons. They’re leveraging the opportunities available to promote a positive image online. It’s not difficult. There are a number of simple ways to start promoting positive reviews, and there are some valuable tricks that will greatly enhance your efforts. Let’s start with the basics:

The big players: Zillow, realtor.com, Google, Facebook

Consumers are researching brokers online. Whether they’re searching for a broker, or gathering more information about their current broker, they’re looking for data on the biggest real estate review websites.

Zillow, Trulia, and realtor.com are straightforward websites where brokers can quickly set up their profile pages. Getting reviews on these websites is fairly simple—email your clients a link to your profile page and ask for a five-star review. What isn’t simple is getting the clients to follow through. Tell them during the transaction that you’ll be asking for a review at the end. Follow up a couple of times after closing. This will improve the rate of follow through immensely.

Google and Facebook allow you to get reviews if you create a business profile. You can email your clients a link to your Facebook business page or your Google Local Business profile and ask them to review it as well.

Pay-to-Play on Yelp

Yelp is one of the biggest review sites on the web. It’s not the primary location for real estate reviews, but some brokers do leverage it heavily. That being said, don’t expect to have ten clients review you on Yelp and immediately get business from it.

If you email your clients a link directly to your Yelp profile, the reviews they post won’t be visible to consumers. The client has to go to Yelp and search for your name.

More importantly, unless you pay for advertising on Yelp, most of your positive reviews won’t be visible. If you’re hoping to get visibility on Yelp, purchase at least the minimum advertising package before you start seeking out reviews. Is that fair? It doesn’t matter. It’s reality.

“Z”ecret Tips:

Brokers have a love/hate relationship with Zillow, but consumers just seem to love it. Leveraging that consumer traffic is important.

Zillow’s “Premier Agent” label makes some broker profiles stand out from others. It doesn’t signify a good broker. It merely identifies brokers that pay for advertising, but that’s not the consumer’s impression.

If you want to be a Premier Agent, just purchase the minimum monthly advertising. Whether that’s buying an inexpensive zip code or the $10/mo Zillow agent website, the Premier Agent badge will show up on your profile as a paid customer.

Another insider tip: respond to all reviews. On platforms that allow the broker to give feedback on reviews, always respond. Whether the review was positive or negative, writing a thoughtful, courteous response to your clients allows the public to see how you interact with people. It’s an opportunity to be both human and professional in the public spotlight.

Go The Extra Mile?

Some brokers, teams, and offices put into place a standardized review system for all of their clients. RealSatisfied and QSC are two companies that make reviews not just a marketing tactic, but a process improvement system.

Every client that comes in contact with these companies’ brokers will get an in-depth review, whether they close a transaction or not. Over time, the real estate company can see where their brokers are succeeding and where they need improvement. The process makes it easy to generate reviews as opposed to the system of one-off requests that most agents employ.

Focus on a Niche

There are many review platforms. Very few brokers are successful at creating a robust profile on all of them.

The review process is much like real estate in general. There’s plenty of business out there, but you’ll never get it all. So find the platform that works best for you, and focus your efforts on building an exceptional image in that location.

Put together a plan that asks clients for a review before and after the transaction. Build in an incentive or a “thank you” for their time—the review is a gift to you, after all.

Get past the fear of that one bad review. Research has shown that consumers trust a 4.7/5.0 score more than a 5.0/5.0. So go get five reviews, and don’t worry if one of them isn’t five stars. Start building a review profile that shows the breadth of your professional experience. By the time you’ve built that foundation, the fear of one bad review will be left in the past.

Sam DeBord



Sam DeBord is managing broker of Seattle Homes Group with Coldwell Banker Danforth and President-Elect of Seattle King County Realtors. You can find his team at SeattleHomes.com and BellevueHomes.com.

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