Word of mouth has always been important to growing a fitness business. People are always talking about where they work out and what they like and don’t like about it. Reviews are the online equivalent to in-person word of mouth. In some ways, online reviews are even more important than what someone says in person because one review could be read by hundreds or even thousands of potential customers.
Reviews are powerful because it’s a way that curious, potential customers can see what actual customers have to say about your business. It’s one thing for you to say that you’ve got the biggest and best gym, but prospective customers will wonder if it’s true. As customers start to tell the world how great you are, it makes a compelling case. The value in those reviews only builds over time as you consistently get more and more reviews, all telling the same story.
That doesn’t mean you should expect 100% perfect 5-star reviews. You’ll get an occasional 1- or 2-star review, that’s normal. As long as the majority of your reviews are positive, people will discern the truth about your business. But you can’t just wait around and hope that your best customers will write reviews about your business. You need a strategy for gathering reviews and it can’t be a one-time thing. Review gathering should be an ongoing part of how your operate you interact with customers.
Here are a few pointers to help you take your review game to the next level:
- Ask for Reviews – There’s no shame in asking for a review. In fact, your best customers will eagerly jump at the chance to write a review about your business. The only reason they haven’t already done it is because they didn’t think to do it. Often all it takes is to ask them to do it and they’ll be all over it. That doesn’t mean you automatically send every single customer over to write a review. Part of your strategy should be identifying the happy customers and asking them for reviews. As much as possible, you want to gather feedback from any unhappy customers and address their concerns, and hopefully turn things around before they go out and complain publicly.
- Make it Stupid Simple – You’ll lose people who are willing to write a review if you don’t send them to the review page. Don’t just ask them to write a review on Facebook or Google and expect them to know where to go. Send them a text with a direct link so they can go straight in and write the review with a single tap. No searching around, no getting lost in the details. The easier it is for the customer to write the review, the more likely they will be to follow through and write the review.
- Respond to Reviews – You should monitor all new reviews as they come in and respond to each one–good or bad. As you respond to each new review, it shows that you are listening and that you care about what people are saying about their experience with your company. People like to know that their voice is heard. It also allows you to address any customer service issues as they arise. Be careful not to be rude or defensive in your responses to reviews, even if the customer attacks your company. This is an opportunity to take the high road and show everyone who sees the review and your response that you are professional and considerate.
- Build a Review Culture – Gathering reviews isn’t the job of just one person. Everyone in your organization should understand why reviews are important. Each person plays a role in making the customer experience great, and they can also contribute to gathering reviews, following up, or responding to reviews. If it’s built into the culture of your company, you will always have a steady stream of new reviews coming in, strengthening your online reputation and boosting your local search visibility.
- Automate the Process – It can be a tedious process to send a review link to each customer. Use technology to streamline the process. You can automate the sending of text messages and emails with the review links, as well as tracking the outcome of those requests. It’s worth the small investment in a solution that can help manage this stuff in a simple, logical way. The right tool will save you a ton of time, so you can have the review machine cranking while you focus most of your time on other things.
JJUMPP is a marketing platform that can help automate the review monitoring and collection process. Our centralized dashboard also allows you to manage your directory listings and manage your social posts across various channels. To see if you could use some help, we created a tool that shows you how strong (or weak) your online presence is. To find out where your business stands, request your free JJUMPP SCORE.