7 Reasons You Need Reviews for Your Horse Business

7 Reasons You Need Reviews for Your Horse Business

And everything you need to know to make them all 5 star!

Reviews have become the new standard for pre-purchase decisions.  88% of customers looking to purchase a new product or service will check for internet reviews prior to making a decision, horse businesses included. 

“Online Reviews Are The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Small Businesses."

“In fact, if you run a small business today, the single most important thing you can do to attract new customers is to take control of your online reviews...”  Forbes Technology Council

Here’s some crazy statistics on customer reviews that may change your perspective on how much time you want to spend making them happen.

  1. Reviews are better than word of mouth.  88% of buyers trust online reviews more than word of mouth

Here’s the thing, reviews catch customers when they are looking for you, so they are paying close attention.  Your great customers have done a wonderful job of talking to those they come in contact with, but there may be hundreds of people searching in your area on the internet that never run across your customers.  If they find you on the internet, it only makes sense to also have your customer testimonials right there to vouch for you.

  1. 72% of buyers will only buy from companies with reviews

Up until now, I know the entire equine industry has functioned on word of mouth, but times and customers are changing.  If you can’t be found on the internet, you almost don’t exist as a credible business these days. Having a few customer reviews serves as validation that people have done business with you and had good experiences.  If others in your area have reviews and you don’t, customers will most always call the locations that have reviews first.

  1. 88% people check reviews before making a purchase

Even if your customer gets an initial referral from someone they know, studies show that 75% of them will immediately look for your internet listing and read your reviews.  It’s like they are contacting your best customers for backup on the conversation they just had. Plus your contact info is already there for them.

  1. Online reviews lead to 11.2% price hike on average

Horse people may not follow strict practices as far as surveying their local competition and raising prices on a regular basis.  A recent survey of facility owners showed that over 50% had NEVER raised their prices on services since owning the business. Your prices can be above market if you have rave reviews. People automatically assume the expense is well worth it!

  1. Reviews improve your SEO search placement on internet searches

When customers search for a business in your area, reviews are one of the ways that Google and other search engines prioritize your listing.  Most searchers don’t get past the top 3 choices so it’s important to be near the top. Plus they will gravitate toward listings that have been reviewed by other customers.

  1. Did you know that 68% of customers will leave a review if asked?

You don’t need to feel funny about asking your customers for a review, you just need to have a way to do it that feels good to you and allows them to help you promote your business.  Here are some guidelines on how to ask your customers in such a way that they will be happy to write you a 5 star review.

  1. And the best for last! 70% of customers will return after a poor review

Most businesses are intimidated by reviews because they are afraid they will receive a false or negative review from someone.  While it’s true that not having reviews might be better than a negative one, you can't prevent customers from leaving reviews if they really want to.  Google, Yelp and for equine industry specific GoHorse.com all allow customers to login and then leave a review. By far the best strategy is to accumulate lots of positives, then a lower one here and there just isn’t a big deal.

As for how to get these reviews on board and be happy with your line up, let’s talk about how to really stand out to your customer, how and when to ask for a review and even what you do if a poor review sneaks in.

It’s the Small Things that Can Deliver 5 Star Satisfaction

See if you can implement any of these simple practices into your routines, or come up with other little touches that can make a BIG difference to your customers.  

  1. After a month do a new customer check in call just to see how they are doing and how happy they are.  Make sure they are thrilled with everything. It’s amazing how few businesses ever think to ask!

  2. Small personal touches are what make customers want to compliment you

    • Ask for their birth month upon signup - send a birthday card once a year

    • Handwritten thank you notes

    • Drink cooler with free drinks

    • Other thoughtful touches such as flower boxes on property - or purchase a batch of carnations and give them out!  You’d be surprised at the magnitude of the response you get with a flower or a hotdog!

    • Have a policy that you state clearly and promote that says you will always respond to concerns and do your best to solve all issues promptly and make sure you do it.

  3. Customer Events - sometimes an annual event with nothing more than hotdogs being served is enough to really feel appreciated.  What sort of small gathering might make sense for your business?

  4. Create a social media Group page - If your customers have specific interests or things in common, give them a platform for sharing and give your expert advice on occasion.

There's Two Parts to Getting Great Reviews

Reviews are really all about the customer “expectations” when they purchased your product or service to begin with.  You either meet and exceed their expectations or you fall short.  Usually reviews are written when you hit either end of that spectrum.

There are two areas to think about when working on building a great review presence on the internet.  Both the setting of their expectations and what they ultimately write for you as a review are within your control.  You just need to have a strategy to get the results you desire.

  1. Communicating realistic expectations for your customers - It is really up to you as a business to be sure your customers understand what you do and do not offer.  It’s smart to have a routine set of questions and subjects that you discuss with each customer to be sure they come on board with reasonable assumptions.  Your marketing materials should be right in line, saying the same things and of course your contract if you use one. In this manner you have done your best to set expectations appropriately.  It’s never good when an upset customer says something like, “I didn’t expect my horse EVER to be injured here!” With an expectation like that it’s going to be very difficult for you NOT to end up with an upset client.

  2. Enlisting your customers to support your business - Every business has a few customers that just LOVE them!  They rave about your services to everyone they know and they are a delight to work with.  It’s appropriate to ask them to relay their experiences for you in an online review. Most will be happy to help, especially if you make it easy by sending them a direct link.

Here's How and When to Ask for Reviews From Your Customers

  • Social Media in response to posts or praise - on facebook or other media, it’s nice to reply with your comments and sign off with your link for adding a review to help you out.

  • When receiving in-person, compliments - when you work day to day with your customers, they most likely sing your praises.  It’s nice to say something like, “you know, I’d really like to have your comments recorded on my website.  It makes a huge difference for me in the confidence people have. Would you mind if I send you a link so you could add a quick overview of what you feel about us?”

  • Email to all your current and past great clients - For Example: "Hey everyone! Positive reviews from awesome customers like you help others to feel confident about choosing [your business] too. Could you take 60 seconds to go to [link on gohorse.com] and share your happy experiences?

  • Reviews Link” in your email signature line - For Example: "My email signature here, followed by “Please click here to review us!” (link to your gohorse.com URL)

  • Ask your business suppliers - This is an untapped resource for you as you are dealing with these people on a regular basis.  It’s a positive to have reviews from your peers and you can do one for them as well.

How to deal with negative reviews - They Can Actually Improve Your Reputation

A negative review doesn’t necessarily kill your business.  It’s a love hate thing for small businesses but really something you can’t avoid.  Positive reviews help promote and add credibility but a negative one can produce an undesirable impact ONLY if not handled well.  So the most important thing is how you handle the situation once your customer speaks up. 70% of customers are realistic and more than happy to give you another chance once they see you are trying to make things right.

Tips to turn a negative review into a positive for your business

  1. Respond promptly

  2. Be real and admit your mistakes

  3. Correct inaccuracies without “justifying” or making excuses

  4. Take it off line - call them or see them face to face. This is really an emotional issue so connecting with your customer is the fastest and more effective way for them to believe you want to make things right.  Email and text messaging just don’t work to decel emotionally charged issues.

  5. Provide a solution - what does the customer want?  Is it reasonable? It’s always a good policy to meet realistic expectations.  On the other hand though, some customers have unrealistic expectations that you can never meet such as “I don’t expect my horse EVER to be injured by a pasture mate!”

  6. **  Most Important! - Don’t shy away or ignore these negative comments!  Solve the problem and then enlist your customers to write supportive statements in new reviews on this topic.  This counteracts the negative review and actually shows customers that you take their satisfaction seriously and will do what it takes to achieve a good result.  Contrary to what you might first assume, having a negative review and then solving the problem makes people trust you more.

In conclusion, we can’t put the review option back in the box - so it’s important to embrace the feature and your customers’ expectations and learn to make this a priority and positive part of your business marketing efforts.  

Reviews are only a threat if you don’t take the time to understand them and what they can really do for your business.