In today’s expanded digital world, the importance of a business’s online reputation has become critical for brands looking to stand out in the marketplace. Most consumers investigate reviews about a brand’s product or service before they even contact the business, meaning your reputation is factoring into individuals’ decisions to work with you before you even have the chance to interact with them one-on-one.
The same is true for B2B transactions, where it is estimated that typical buyers are 50-70% of the way through their research process before contacting the sales team to initiate any purchasing.
No matter the business, the consequences of not paying attention to your franchised business’ reputation could result in misinformation spreading about your business, lost customers, and lost revenue potential. If you’re a franchisee, what role do you, the independent business owner, play in online brand reputation management? Why should you care about online reviews? Should you respond to bad reviews? We’ll answer all of these questions and more about online reputation management. Then, we’ll touch on some of the ways that franchisees can help shape their location’s online reputation to take their local presence - and their revenue goals - to the next level.
What Actively Managing Your Online Reputation Means
For any business, reputation management starts by ensuring that your business information and messaging is accurate and consistent across all relevant online forums. To achieve this, franchise owners must actively monitor all online profiles (paid or otherwise) to verify that the information about your business is accurate. Even something as seemingly small as making sure your business name, address, and phone number are up to date goes a long way toward maintaining a strong online presence and ensuring that potential customers can easily find your website. Adding as much information about your franchise, including photos, videos, and regular updates to your profile, helps potential customers decide that you’re a business worth working with.
Beyond simply updating your information, franchise businesses with a built-out online presence can better control their local brand image online by consistently sharing social media posts, video content, and more to the profile.
Outside of consistent brand identity and messaging, many franchisees manage their online reputation by engaging, in as close to real-time as possible, with people who are currently patronizing their business or have interacted with their business in the past. Whether it is responding to customer feedback via online reviews, starting a conversation with your core audience on social media, or good old-fashioned email communication, leveraging online feedback and acting on it is crucial. This feedback helps to refine what your business is doing well and allows you to work on improving in the areas in which it falls short. Online engagement is also a key component in building rapport with customers, which encourages repeat future visits to your business.
Consequences of Not Controlling Your Local Presence
With more franchise owners paying attention to reputation management to improve customer relationships, it’s essential to understand what happens if you don’t maximize your online presence. For example, if consumers find inaccuracies in the core information of your business, the user experience can suffer and result in the audience looking elsewhere for an experience that better fits their needs.
From a digital marketing standpoint, franchisees that don’t actively manage their online reviews and reputation don’t benefit from the SEO boost that comes from regular social media activity, updated profile content, and review responses. Every action you take in the name of online reputation management leaves a digital thumbprint. Every bit of information you update, or review you respond to, creates content that search engines index and consider when deciding whether or not to show your business as an answer to a search query about the services you offer.
Outdated content (or an overall lack of content) can result in your business not ranking as highly in search results and not getting in front of the people who may be looking for solutions that your business could provide. In short, your competition could beat you online without even trying!
As your reputation management activity makes your franchise more discoverable through digital channels, the process for maintaining a strong public image doesn’t stop. It’s important to promptly respond to customer feedback, even if it’s negative (especially if it’s negative!) so that your local community can see that you value customer feedback. Acknowledging a review lets the reviewer know you value this small investment of their time and effort in your business.
Furthermore, not acting on feedback when possible can damage your perception among your audiences and will quickly brand you as a business that’s unwilling to adapt and improve.
Beyond a damaged reputation due to review neglect, franchisees can also lose out on potential clients if they aren’t monitoring competitive information on their profile(s). Because anyone can write a review or respond to a question posed within a user Q&A and say what they want (within reasonable guidelines about profanity or hate speech), it’s possible someone could mention your competition as a better alternative! Responding graciously to mentions of your competition lets viewers know you are aware of others’ opinions but always strive to exceed expectations.
How Spherion Helps Franchisees Own Orange in Their Local Markets
We recognize that managing your reputation as a local business owner may seem like just one more task to add to your daily priorities. To respect our franchisees’ workload, Spherion has developed its reputation management framework to better support you as you build your reputation as a local staffing leader. Our comprehensive online reputation management strategy involves social media, online reviews, email, and SEO. Our goal is to help you amplify your location’s online presence and become more discoverable among employers and job seekers. Our tools for business owners like you include:
- Email templates
- Response guidance
- Consistent training
- Personal check-ins
The result of these tactics? Spherion has more than 27,000 reviews across its network in the last five years alone, 96% of which are positive.
We also help franchisees pay attention to communication surrounding their business and anticipate any trends or changes that may be affecting their business on a local or national level, which allows them to adapt their businesses to address any concerns from the local community. These practices further solidify our image as a franchisor who understands what it takes to become known as the local expert on staffing and recruiting within the communities in which our franchisees live and work.
As a franchise business owner, dominating your local market means owning your online reputation. Therefore, it’s important to set the tone for your business and cement your location’s standing as the leading source for staffing solutions in your community.
For more information about how Spherion assists its franchisees with online reputation management by offering customized training and guidance, standardized but flexible local reputation management resources, and ongoing expertise about how to manage your local business reputation, reach out to the franchising team to learn more.