Tuesday, 21st May 2019 | Marketing,Management

Google reviews: Why you should request reviews from your customers (and how to make the ask)

Google is by far the largest search engine on Earth so you want to be prominent in their listings. Showing up on Google’s results pages is important but there’s another Google tool being used to attract customers: Google reviews. Read on to discover why Google reviews are the new marketing must-do for small businesses.

Google is by far the largest search engine on Earth so you want to be prominent in their listings. Showing up on Google’s results pages is important but there’s another Google tool being used to attract customers: Google reviews. Reviews are a way for potential buyers to determine if they want to do business with you. If you aren't currently asking every customer to review you on Google, you’re missing out on a valuable marketing tool. Read on to discover why Google reviews are the new marketing must-do for small businesses, and to learn how to request and manage them to strengthen your business.

Why you should ask for Google reviews

Customer reviews on Google may just be the most undervalued marketing tool out there. They’re free to obtain and post, and their benefit is threefold:

Google reviews act as unbiased third-party testimonials

Your website and marketing materials may be expertly written and persuasive but potential customers know they’re biased. Google reviews come from real customers whose only opinion comes from their experience with your business. This is more valuable that you might expect. A recent study of online reviews showed 40% of consumers read one to three reviews to form an opinion about a business, and 23% visit the business premises after the reading positive reviews.

Reviews help guide you in identifying what is and is not working in your business

Nobody likes receiving a lukewarm or negative review but remember that all feedback is business intelligence. For example, if you’re seeing great comments on your products but complaints about customer service, you know where to focus your energies. Additionally, these reviews can actually lend credibility (consumers overwhelmingly suspect fake reviews or censorship if they see no bad scores) and offer an opportunity to build trust with a well-handled response.

Google reviews boost your brand and encourage clicks on the world’s most popular search engine.

When people need to find a business they Google it. Reviews will help increase your profile on the popular search engine and encourage visitors. Businesses with star ratings have shown an increased click-through rate (CTR) of as much as 20%.

All customer reviews—even the negative ones—are an opportunity to raise your profile and grow your business. You should be asking each and every one of your customers to leave a Google review.

How-tos of requesting reviews

Before approaching anyone for a review, make sure your Google My Business (GMB) account is properly set up. GMB is free from Google, but priceless in terms of its benefits. Google My Business increases your visibility, serves you valuable analytics, and helps you connect with customers. It’s also where Google displays your customer reviews.

Once you’re ready to start, these tips will help increase your chances of successfully building a robust Google review portfolio.

  • Ask. Customers will certainly leave reviews of their own accord but you could increase your online feedback exponentially by simply asking. Increase your chances by crafting personalized emails to long-time customers, and leave a sign at your cash register or at the exit.
  • Simplify. Make the process of leaving a review as simple as possible. Create a Google review link that takes users directly to the review interface for your business. Put this link on your website, in your email signatures, and in your social media profiles. To get it, click “write a review” from your Google My Business profile and copy the URL.
  • Educate. If a customer doesn’t know how to leave a review on Google, they are less likely to do so. Educate them on the process in person, in email, and online. (All they have to do is click the link you give them, choose a star rating and enter their comments—it’s easy.)
  • Plan. Timing is everything. Find the sweet spot between when a customer has had the chance to try your products or service and when their experience has faded from memory. Once you’ve figured the optimal window, train your staff on when and how to ask. Use reminder apps, your CRM or organizational calendar.
  • Integrate. Use your existing campaigns like emails to ask for reviews by embedding a link and a call-to-action.
  • Managing your reviews. Congratulations! You’ve got Google reviews. Now you’ll need to know how to manage them. Follow these tips to maximize their power.
  • Respond regularly. Make a habit of responding to all customer feedback, positive and negative. The practice makes reviewers feel that their opinions are important, and encourages others to leave their reviews. It also shows potential customers that you’re a company that’s engaged with its customer base. A full 26% of respondents to a recent survey said that it’s important that local businesses respond to reviews.
  • Keep it simple. Keep your responses brief, polite, and positive. Thank all reviewers for their feedback.
  • Turn negatives into positives. Dealing with negative reviews can be tricky but done right, it can actually improve your reputation. Best practices include inviting one-to-one contact via email or business phone, offering to investigate, maintaining honesty, and apologizing for mistakes. Be courteous, calm, and helpful, and strive to offer a personal touch by signing off with a name or initials. Customers who had negative experiences but a positive customer service follow-up will sometimes leave a follow-up review. From a business perspective, this is gold. It shows that your company can be trusted when it comes to customer care.

Google reviews are a free and easy way to strengthen your company’s reputation, drive traffic, and monitor your services. Dedicating just a little bit of attention to your reviews can translate into massive business gains.  Learn the art of the ask (and the art of the follow-up) for the best results.

Read Also

5 important considerations when applying for a business loan

Managing money is one of the key tasks of running a small business. Changes in facilities or staff, acquiring inventory, or just the natural ebb and flow of your industry can all affect your cash flow. This is why business loans are commonplace. They play an important role in financial viability. This said, deciding to take a loan—and selecting the institution to take it from — shouldn’t be done lightly. Before you decide, here are five things you should consider.

1. What do you need the loan for?

This is a question to ask yourself, not to justify that decision to take out a loan, but to clarify the best products and terms for your needs.  Once you’ve determined the purpose of your loan you can pinpoint your best option.

2. How much do you need?

While carrying debt is not, in and of itself, a bad business practice, taking as much as you can get is risky. Your debt load can affect everything from day-to-day operations to your credit score, so after you identify what you need the loan for, put a realistic number on your project.

3. How much time do you have?

If you need funding quickly, you’re going to want to work with a lender that’s equipped to meet your timeline. Traditional bank loan applications are cumbersome to complete, and it can take a long time before you’ll have access to the funds. Private lenders simplify their application process and can get your funding, fast—sometimes as soon as 48 hours, however, the rates tend to be higher than with the big banks.

4. Do you need a lump sum or are incremental amounts better?

Your answer to this question will help you decide the type of loan that’s best for you. Traditional banks offer lines of credit where you can take out payments on an as-needed basis, but if you need your money upfront, you’ll probably want to apply for a term loan. This is a loan that granted in a lump sum with regular repayments until the balance is paid.

5. What is your existing debt load?

Before applying for a loan you’ll need to inventory your current debt load. If you’re already carrying debt, you must first calculate how much more you can afford. Taking on debt is normal—but taking on too much debt will put the company in a precarious financial situation. At iCapital, we’ve helped dozens of small business owners make this calculation. It’s surprising how many people apply for additional funding when it would be the business is an extremely precarious position. Ensure that you are on the path to success rather than bankruptcy by doing the math before submitting your financing application.

In the end, selecting the right institution to borrow from, and amount to ask for, comes down to identifying what you need, what you can get approved for, and what you can realistically pay back. With this approach, you’ll be taking on healthy, planned debt rather than putting your company at risk.


Small business financing Canada ,Accounting

Food Trends in Canada

Is there a secret to success in the restaurant business? We’re not sure, but if you have it, we’d like to chat.

Until then, it helps for you to stay informed about the ongoing changes in the marketplace. The sooner you identify and take advantage of new trends, the more you will benefit and the easier it will be to adapt to future changes.

Below are five trends worth watching:

  • Fewer Menu Items - With customers valuing the ‘experience’ of dining out, more restaurants will stop trying to cater to every taste. Instead they will look at menu themes or focus on a few dishes that they do exceptionally well.
  • Now You Need to Satisfy Both Boomers and Millennials - One wants healthier options and the other wants to deal with more connected and responsible businesses. And both of them have money to spend. Boomers will appreciate more gluten-free, low-salt and vegetarian options. Millennials will need to hear about you on Instagram or other social media, and they want to know that you offer socially responsible foods, like free-range chicken.
  • Beverages Refined - While different, more exotic dishes have been an ongoing trend, in 2015 that trend will shift to your beverage menu. You will see a wider variety of teas and coffees (even Tim Horton’s now has its Dark Roast option), exotic juices and alcoholic options that include ciders (gluten-free), low-alcohol choices and oil-infused cocktails.
  • More Hybrids - It started when chef Dominique Ansel combined croissant and donut pastry dough to create the Cronut in 2013. In 2015, the hybrid trend will grow to include dishes like ramen burgers, brioche/souffle mix (another mash-up from Ansel) and dessert pizza.
  • Localization & Personalization - In 2015, local restaurants will continue to battle their big-box cousins for the hearts and tastes of diners. Two powerful weapons in that fight will be menu items made from local foods and offering customers more ‘choose your items/ingredients’ options.

Remember, no matter how hot the trend, what works for one restaurant doesn’t always work for another. Stay informed, talk to your customers and find out what works best for your business.

Source: https://blogs.technomic.com/technomic-spots-five-2015-food-trends-for-canadian-restaurants/

Marketing ,Management

What to do if a bank won't give you a business loan

It’s the nature of business to need funding on occasion. Renovations, new hires, inventory purchases, and slow days can send business owners in search of a loan. But what if the bank won’t approve you, or you don’t have time to go through their cumbersome application process? Suddenly, “business as usual” is a much bigger, more stressful problem. This is why private lenders are a go-to for Canadian small businesses—they present fewer hurdles and get money into your hands faster. 

Private lenders vs banks

When considering lenders, it’s a mistake to think of banks and nobody else. While banks enjoy name recognition and a reputation for longevity, there are other, modern options. Private lenders like iCapital are an excellent alternative for small business owners, in many cases exceeding what’s on offer from the big banks.

Banks tend to be extremely risk-averse, even refusing to loan to businesses in riskier sectors like restaurants and retail. And, even if they will consider your company, their application processes are onerous and slow, causing an additional time burden while you wait for an answer. Private lenders like iCapital operate very differently. Using a simple, less restrictive, online application, we strive to make the process easy and fast. Applicants can expect their approval within 24 hours and funding the day after. And, private lenders’ standards are less strict and more inclusive, so we lend to more businesses—even people with low credit scores.

What are the different types of business financing?

If you’re approaching a private bank for a business loan, the first decision you’ll want to make is what kind of funding product is best for you and your situation. The three most common funding options are:

  • Merchant cash advance - Companies that do a lot of debit or credit transactions might benefit from this kind of lending option because repayment is on a percentage of the day's sales. If your business has a quiet day (or even season), you won’t be stuck trying to come up with repayment while you have no money coming in.
  • Term loan - This is a very standard kind of loan where you receive a certain amount of funding and repay a set amount on a set schedule until your loan is discharged. This works well for those who want to know exactly how much they owe and when payments are due.
  • Secured loan - With the pledge of an asset, you can take out a secured loan. In general, you can get a better rate with a secured loan, but unsecured loans can be the way to go for small amounts as they are uncomplicated to negotiate. Your decision between secured or unsecured funds will depend on your specific situation.

Taking out a loan shouldn’t be a job in and of itself. If a bank turns you down, or if you need money quickly, consider a private lender. Their faster, simpler application process means you can put your energy where it belongs—back into your business.

Small business financing Canada ,Business loans for bad credit

Efficiency sparks joy: How to Marie Kondo your business processes

Though unlikely, it is possible that you’ve somehow missed the surprising success and sustained popularity of Marie Kondo, the woman who built an empire on the concept of tidying up. Even if you’ve failed to read any of the self-styled organizational guru’s books on the subject or to binge on the Netflix series, you’ve almost certainly heard people using the now-ubiquitous phrase, “spark joy”. In the past several years, we’ve learned to question whether objects, relationships, or even life choices spark joy, and to do away with anything that fails to meet this criterion. One thing is for sure: Marie Kondo has led the way in thinking about decluttering and organization—two real-world ways to improve efficiency. And efficiency, in the business world, is about as joy-sparking as you can get. Read on to learn more about how to Marie Kondo your business processes for a leaner, more cost-efficient organization going into the new year.

Step 1: Start with gratitude

Especially important if you’re working with a team but helpful even for solo ventures, start by acknowledging your strengths and successes. Decluttering should not be an indictment but rather an evolution. There is always room for improvement.

Step 2: Tackle one area or process at a time

Every business has numerous processes to meet their organizational goals, each with its own peculiarities. Although they may be linked, it is better to begin with one and see those changes through before tackling another. If your supporting processes like accounting or recruitment are most inefficient, start there. If the biggest difference would be made with a change in operational processes, that’s the best place to begin. These are changes that will spark the most joy in terms of employee satisfaction, customer service, or even your bottom line. Having a success story from the start will encourage your team to continue..

Step 3: Perform an audit

On her show, Kondo always begins by laying out all of the contents of an area or room in one place. Her thinking is that you can visualize everything and take stock. For your business process, this could be done with your team during a brainstorm session. On a whiteboard, map out the process from start to finish. Consider everything from the employee perspective and from the customer perspective. Next, mark which steps are working well (in green marker), which are satisfactory (yellow), and which need improvement (red).

Step 4: Time to tidy up

Make a plan of attack for the improvements. Determine who will take responsibility for each piece of work. Set a deadline to come back together to gather feedback on the process changes. Working in pairs or teams can make the work go faster.

Organizational clutter is the natural result of work. Over time, processes degenerate or fall behind current knowledge or technologies. Plan for regular clean-ups, whether they’re once a quarter or once per year, and let your joy be sparked by your business’ efficiency, as tidy as Marie Kondo’s famous drawers of perfectly folded clothes.


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