How to be a 5-star broker with online reviews

by Timothy Inklebarger

A strong online presence is essential for helping you attract new clients and build a good reputation. In fact, potential clients frequently turn to websites like Google Business and Yelp to see reviews by past clients. Creating good profiles on these websites and updating them showcases your business and adds a level of legitimacy. Potential clients will be encouraged by a profile with many sincere reviews, even if they’re not all five stars.

“It’s been extremely helpful for our business to have a strong online platform,” according to Megan Lyons, Realtor at RE/MAX Around Atlanta “We have absolutely received referrals and clients through reviews. We can tell potential clients about ourselves all day long, but most people want to hear from someone who has actually had an experience with us to feel the most comfortable.”

She also emphasizes the importance of creating and maintaining your own personal profile. “I have been with three different brokers now, so it’s been helpful that I have directed past clients to personal pages of mine to leave reviews. This way they stick with me for life.”

In the home-buying process, asking clients to leave reviews can easily go by the wayside. Thomas LeCain, team leader at ZenTown Real Estate, RE/MAX At Around Atlanta, has a two-step process. “I let clients know up front how much we appreciate the opportunity to work with them and that I will be asking them to make a recommendation to other folks through a review. At closing I say that we’re glad we’ve had this experience and again as a reminder, this is how we build our business and we’d love to hear from you.”

When creating and building your profile, Ryan Graham, founder of Community and Council Realty of Keller Williams said to first “create a strong presence on Google Reviews because it links to your website and is the first space clients go to when they just do a Google search.” Lyons also added, “It’s important to have as much info on the profile as possible. Discuss your personal bio – how you got into real estate, why you enjoy it, etc. It’s also important to include your specialties (first-time home buyers, investors, luxury homes, etc.) and your areas of service.” To show you’re a real person, she suggests current headshots and/or logos.

Yelp in particular has a sponsored section where you can pay to have your profile moved to the top of the page and advertised, but agents are often wary of using this. Lyons said she doesn’t pay for ads, noting, “I know personally, as a consumer of other services, I immediately ignore any of the sponsored results. To me, I rather choose a company or service person based on actual organic reviews from real people.” However, she added that “unfortunately Yelp has started to push 5-star genuinely reviewed real estate agents down the line if they choose not to pay for Yelp services.” Graham has also become discouraged by Yelp.“That space has become so incredibly expensive and crowded that it’s very difficult,” he said. He recommends instead placing ads on other social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.

When handling bad reviews, Graham said to keep in mind that these often come from a difference of expectations: “In an honest and sensitive way, acknowledge the differences in opinion and expectations.” He also encouraged responding to these reviews because “the consumers will assume the worst if they don’t see the business addressing the concerns.” And if your profile has fake reviews or reviews not meant for your company, websites such as Yelp have a process for reporting and taking these down. For more on this, check out AgentEDU’s course, “4 Ways to Handle a Negative Yelp Review.”

So don’t be afraid to ask clients to leave reviews. It’s a small step in the home-buying process but a key way to improve your business and get new clients in the long run.

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