How does a large window company feel about Angie’s List? I know that we’re a better company because of the accountability that Angie’s List customers create. We know full well that if something doesn’t go right we’re going to see it in a review that the whole world can read. A decent portion of our business comes from Angie’s List members and we know that if we want to keep the phone ringing we need to keep our profiles filled up with great reviews.
When I’m talking about the business with folks who are interested in opening a franchise they sometimes think all we need to do in order to run a great business is to install windows well. In fact that’s far from the truth.
Here’s a small list of the tasks we need to accomplish to get a great review:
- Create advertisements that catch attention of potential customers leading them to call
- Answer the customers initial inquiry professionally and schedule an appointment to look at the windows
- Show up on time
- Professionally explain all of the options involved in custom windows including the benefits and the cost of each
- Answer customer questions and fend off misinformation often provided by competitors
- Complete all paperwork and make sure the customer is 100% clear on what they are ordering when the terminology can be unfamiliar
- Set appropriate expectations for how long the project will take in work time and in total lead time
- Accurately measure the openings noting all relevant details
- Order the products
- Answer any questions for manufacturers on order details
- Confirm products received are correct
- Schedule installation with the customer again confirming expectations for what happens in the case of unexpected delays or bad weather
- Installation team picks up products from warehouse
- Installation team installs windows and doors
- Installation team cleans up and hauls away debris
- Installation team recycles as much of the debris as possible and dumps the rest
- Complete any outstanding service requests
- Make sure customer is happy
- Collect final payment
- Send out final invoice and warranty information
That’s the basic process broken down into 20 steps. I could break it down into 50 steps too, but I suppose you probably get the idea. Remember, if any one of these steps is not completed perfectly we hear about it in reviews from Angie’s List members. Notice how “Install windows and doors” is step 14 and just one of the 20.
The processes we need to put in place to consistently accomplish these tasks without error day in and day out for hundreds of customers at a time make us a better business. If we were operating 20 years ago before the popularity of online review sites we probably wouldn’t have the focus on service that we do.
Can contractors pay to get good reviews on Angie’s List?
Nope. We do advertise on Angie’s List in many markets. We sometimes put ads in their newsletter and we almost always advertise on their website. We do this because we’re proud of the great reviews we have. We’ve worked hard for that and we want as many folks as possible to see it.
Does paying for advertising get us any reviews? Nope. All it does is increase the number of Angie’s List members who see our profile and that’s our goal.
Can contractors have bad reviews removed?
Nope. We’ve tried. We’re a pretty big advertiser with Angie’s List, were one of their top 100 advertising accounts, and we have absolutely no pull.
I remember a few years back we had a customer in Baltimore who had a service call related to her project. That kind of thing happens and we were happy to address it. We tried to schedule the appointment, but we didn’t hear back from her. We tried to reach her 10 times over the course of 2 or 3 weeks to no avail. Keep in mind our office is open over 70 hours per week and we do plenty of email too so we’re pretty easy to reach.
After 3 weeks without being able to reach her we sent an email stating that since we haven’t been able to schedule the appointment we’ll need her to pay her balance and whenever she is ready for a service call we’ll be glad to accommodate. This is our standard policy as we’re always glad to service our products (all of our customers have lifetime warranties), but we can’t wait months on end to receive payment if a customer won’t respond to us. This seems fair to us, but this customer did not like it.
She still never responded to us, but she promptly went online to write a very bad review about our company saying that we never completed the service call. I saw this review, investigated the situation and called Angie’s List to see if we could remove this review as we were actively trying to service the product. She still wouldn’t let us complete the service call(presumably because she didn’t want to pay her balance). Angie’s List even tried to call her and she would’t return their calls either.
I’m the one who writes the checks to Angie’s List for all of the advertising and when I asked to have this review removed due to the customers unresponsivness I was flatly told “no”. All we could do was write a response.
So for all of you skeptics out there who think the reviews are rigged, I can very clearly tell you that they’re really written by real people and the companies involved can only respond.
I would caution you to take an outlying reviews with a grain of salt as sometimes any company can run into a customer who just can’t be satisfied. Perhaps that’s a subject for another post.
So is Angie’s List worth the cost?
I’ll tell you there is no better way that I’m aware of to get a complete and unbiased look at how a company operates than Angie’s List. You can see what other members have to say, you can see how the company responds to great reviews and to not so great reviews. You can also get an idea of the company’s typical pricing as members report the price that they paid for their project.
Keep an eye out for future posts on how to evaluate companies based on their Angie’s List profiles and how to deal with a problem on a project with an Angie’s List contractor.
If you’re thinking abut joining you can find special promotional pricing here. Note: that the best deal is either the 2 or the 3 year membership as they give you a discount when you sign up and they’ll refund you 110% if you’re not satisfied. You can now use promo code WINDOWDOG30 for 30% off!