Canadian Contractor

How to manage your online reputation: Interview with Brian Sharwood, HomeStars

It's a listing you never asked for and don't want and there are bad reviews from angry customers attached. What can you do? HomeStars president Brian Sharwood tells us why the listing is there and how to protect your reputation.

July 16, 2013
By Robert Koci

It doesn’t seem right that you can be listed where you don’t want to be and that your customers can say bad things about you online. But that’s the new reality for renovation contractors everywhere. But there are rules to what people can say about you and ways to protect your reputation. In Part 1 of our interview with HomeStars President Brian Sharwood, we find out what they are. Click here to view the interview.

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14 Comments » for How to manage your online reputation: Interview with Brian Sharwood, HomeStars
  1. Robert, I’m surprised that you think it’s a violation of a companies privacy to be rated by customers. We should be transparent. It helps everyone make an educated choice as to who we trust with our most valuable asset, our home.
    Review sites have created a wealth of information to help others make an educated, researched and safe choice.
    Are there fictitious reviews? Yes, and we can respond or have them removed.
    When removed a caption will read,” this review was removed by this member”.
    It will also read, “why am I seeing this”. There isn’t, but it should have an option for the member to have a posted response as to why it was removed.
    Reviews are written by our customers, our competitors and even those that do so for incentives like free home show tickets.
    Homestars have increased awarness, traffic to our sites and most importantly sales. As a company that takes pride in what we do, Contracting By Us

    • Steve Payne says:

      Marcel, thanks for your comment. In our forthcoming issue of (print version) of Canadian Contractor, you will meet a contractor who got a zero rating on HomeStars in spite of having done really good work for his clients. Brian says a contractor in such a position is not going to very concerned about that negative review, they know they do good work. I notice that you have a superb rating on HomeStars. How would you react if you got dumped on, unjustifiably, by a client, on HomeStars and you weren’t even a willing participant on that site. Would “transparency” still be something you were in favour of, or would you feel hard done by? Thanks again for writing.

  2. Thanks Steve,
    Yes I would not be happy. That is why there should be a space for a response even when flagged and removed by members. I have heard of blackmail, fake reviews by members themselves, reviews for promotions and unreasonable clients. Homestars is a great place if used properly and with safe guards. They could improve their filters. Perhaps a list could be created of recommendations how to help safeguard us form the above mentioned.

  3. A great interview Robert.

    We have been listed on Homestars for quite some time now and as Brian explains in your interview that there are several steps the review goes through before being published. We agree. We have contacted Homestars about 10 point reviews that we know we did not earn, and false reviews too. We are quite happy with the customer service the Homestars staff provides, no matter if you are a consumer or a contractor.
    Homestars is a great place for consumers, as a contractor, we get valuable feedback on our home cleaning service and thus, this helps us maintain our high

    • Robert Koci says:

      This is turning into a HomeStars love in. Does anyone have listings on other sites?

      • Yes, we are also listed on the Better Business Bureau website, Yelp, Google reviews.
        The difference between them and Homestars on is that the others do not investigate reviews no matter what the review score, 10 or a 0.

  4. I found this and thought of sharing it. It’s from Manta
    Combat negative publicity with an honest and professional response. If due to a mistake or error, acknowledge it and offer to make amends. Engaging dissatisfied customers can demonstrate your commitment to delivering good service. Go a step further by using the experience to teach others how to avoid their own mistakes.

  5. Lets face it, no system is perfect and the only way to protect your reputation is to professionally & courteously reply to negative reviews in a timely manner, regardless of whether you have signed your company up on a review site or not.
    In respect to your comparison (Canadian Contractor July/August issue) of a restaurant vs. a contractor, it is not a fair comparison simply due to the mass differences in the volume of reviews & the type of sevice each provides. Percentage wise it is fair to say you’d be looking at a far greater negative value if a contractor had 10 reviews with 3 negative & 7 positive over a restaurant with 100 reviews & 30 of them negative. The percentage ratio would still be the same for both companies, however the contractor would look far worse at first glance – mainly because of the lower number of reviews as opposed to the actual ratio of satisfaction rate between the two companies. On a site specifically designed to rate contractors in specific categories (plumbers, electricians, etc.), you would be comparing apples to apples, not restaurants to contractors, thus garnering the prospective client with a fair ratings comparison situation. At the end of the day it should be the company’s honesty & integrity that wins over the client. That is often the crux of a past client’s review process in my experience.

  6. David Viper says:

    I agree with you Robert. It doesn’t seem right to me that homestars is buying reviews from homeowners (ie. write 2 reviews to get $10 off your next movie ticket purchase). So essentially a homeowner can add a business to the listing write a review so they can get their gift certification, then the only way for that business to respond to the review is to purchase a membership for minimum $150/mth? Doesn’t feel right to me.

    • Darren says:

      Your absolutely right David, a very good point.
      We had a few unknown reviews (10’s) from homeowners in the past.
      Homeowners we know we did not do work for.
      We wondered why someone would write a review when we did not earn it.
      Now it makes sense!
      If we had not been members we could not respond nor request that the reviews be investigated to be false.
      It demonstrates that the review verification is flawed before it goes public.

  7. lucas cheesborn says:

    What is really needed is a contractor version of homestars. One where those who are cheap, unreasonable, possibly mentally ill, scammers, tenants posing as landlords to get free work , high strung, over the shoulder types or any other potential pains in the you know where are avoided by the contractor. scammers are a two way street in the construction industry and you would be surprised at how some customers rake you over the coals and basically attempt to extort you for free work .everyone seems to be an expert on everything now because of the internet.

  8. Tyler D. Barrington says:

    And what is the frequency of by contractors scams vs client scams. I am willing to bet that it squares on the side of the client more often then not. Not to say that it does not happen but many of these guys make there money through anonymity and being able to change the service name.

    Just like the million moving services in Canada that are disreputable. Sites like Yelp shine a light on them. And their business depends on them not being acknowledged.

  9. Shawn says:

    it is unfortunate that we have been in business for 21 years and for some reason with Home stars we have three horrible reviews. I tried to contact Home stars and a guy named David contacted me and he was rude from the get go as soon as I explained what was going on. Anyways he told me that if I signed on with Home stars that I could actually give a rebuttal to these reviews. So I clicked on owning the business and still I cannot give any rebuttal. He also told me that if I pay between $200 and $250 a month that I could get much better reviews. I will never pay for reviews like he suggested. So if you could please direct me as to where I could give a rebuttal to these slanderous claims I would truly appreciate it.

    • Steve Payne says:

      Hi Shawn:
      We have heard from lots of contractors negatively reviewed by homeowners – and objecting to the fact that they aren’t even members of HomeStars. It is a major, major pain in the you-know-where, yes. But in actual fact, that’s unfortunately the way the world is now. Restaurants don’t “ask” to be on restaurant review sites, doctors don’t ask to be on, no one asks to be on any of the myriad online review sites, in any industry. The suggestion that if you advertise, or, I guess, join, you’ll get better reviews is not the way HomeStars publicly promotes itself. I think if you if you feel you were told that, you ought to get ahold of the president/CEO of HomeStars, Nancy Peterson, and sort it out. Because I’m sure there is a misunderstanding there somewhere. Will they – or other online review sites – counsel you on ways to get better reviews? Probably yes. Will you be able to BUY a better review? Absolutely this is not the way this firm operates to our knowledge, and if you can prove that it has operated this way, I’d be surprised. Get on the phone the HomeStars, or email them, and good luck. Let us know how you make out, please, right here. Our readers would appreciate it.

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