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The HomeStars way


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May 23, 2012 by Robert Koci

HomeStar contractors learning the electronic ropes

You want to be a HomeStars contractor? All it takes to start is to sign up. And once you decide to go for the premium package and you can post video and pictures of your work, there is help to make sure your website and your HomeStars listing are doing what you want them to do.

I attended one of their regular workshops recently where a small group of contractors came together to get some one-on-one and small-group instruction on how to manage their HomeStars profiles.

The one challenge—that homeowners can post honest appraisals of your work—is something president Brian Sharwood says makes his job of selling you on using HomeStars a bit harder, but it also gives the site tremendous credibility with homeowners that use the site. And it’s not that hard to neutralize that kind of review, says HomeStars instructor Shannon Wong. “Reply to all of them,” she says. “If you get an eight from a homeowner, respond to them and ask how you can make that review a ten. What consumers want is a dialogue and they generally will improve their reviews of you if you will engage them.”

You can also write reviews on behalf of your customer. They still have to approve what you have written, but it gives you more control over what is being said about you and what you will score in the one-to-ten rating that every post has. It also gives you the chance to fend off potentially bad reviews. If you discover when you ask your customer that she is unhappy, you can deal with that before she posts a bad review unbidden.

HomeStars takes a lot of pride in the fact that they are diligent to make sure all reviews, good and bad, are honest. There is some cheating. “It happened that we had to place a banner on one of our contractor’s website saying, ‘This contractor has a habit of posting questionable reviews’,” says Wong. During the session I attended, one contractor said he was ranked top in his category until another contractor came along with incredibly strong reviews that looked suspicious. Without being asked, HomeStars investigated the situation and confirmed that the reviews were being generated falsely and restored him to his top ranking.

The most fun of the evening I attended was the back and forth among the contractors about the crazy bad reviews they have received. “When you get lemons, you need to make lemonade,” says one. “Too many tens is suspicious,” says another. “Customers actually don’t want to see them.” The key thing was, whenever any got a bad referral, they responded. One contractor claimed he made $7,000 when he responded to a bad review positively.

But here’s the irony of all things electronic: The conversation of the evening proved to me that all online information and services need a face-to-face component. The strongest participants in any online service, HomeStars included, are those who fight traffic, find lousy parking and sit around a table to gab about their lives with someone who understands exactly what they are talking about. After all the electronics, all the laptops, all the posting, we want to talk to human beings. Owner Sharwood says when things were tough at HomeStars and revenue was down, it was a box of beer and the willingness to invite contractors to come and talk face-to-face with them that saved the company and made them better.

 

 

 

 


Robert Koci

Robert Koci

Rob Koci is the publisher of Canadian Contractor magazine. rkoci@canadiancontractor.ca Tel. 647-407-0754
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6 Comments » for The HomeStars way
  1. What is your connection to homestars.com? Just wondering why you choose to promote them rather than the other 1000 directories presently in the market. Do you believe that spending time to build a profile in their system or purchase the augmented profile with photos etc is even worthwhile? What traffic are they seeing on their site?

    • Robert Koci says:

      The only connection I have with HomeStars is that they invited me to come to see their training and I accepted. If someone else wants me to come and visit, I am all ears.

  2. Alec Caldwell says:

    A great article Rob and I’d like to add CARAHS has members who are part of HomeStars and these members speak very highly of HomeStars. Our members constantly tell us that being part of HomeStars is growing their businesses.

    We recommend to ever contractor out there who’s looking for work, please go to the HomeStars web site today (www.homestars.com) check them out and sign up.

  3. Vitaly says:

    I am in Windows and Doors industry since 2003 and I know the market, customers and all my competitors pretty well. All reviews for companies with a big number of reviews on Homestars are generated by hired people. Usually customers get service and move further. They do not want to waste their time on reviews. Look for Total Home Windows and Doors on Homestars. All reviews are not fake. And we have between 50 to 100 customers every month.

  4. Chris H says:

    I think reviews are important but only one small part of finding and selecting a contractor. If you search the web there is a lot of negative reviews of how homestars gets their reviews. No website will remove 100% of the risk but I believe you need things like BBB ratings, Business License information, Years of operation, business certifications, reviews, photos, etc. I found a website called http://www.servicegems.com that I use that provides a lot more information than just a few reviews.

  5. Clair says:

    Dear Robert,
    What happens when Homestars is sabataging your company?
    Sure-Loc Interlocking does not want to be on Homestars but we don’t have a choice.
    If you check international Landscaping who has been in business for 28 years they don’t have a review??????
    This is not possible
    http://homestars.com/companies/2702086-international-landscaping-inc