How Should Contractors Respond To Poor Reviews?

Posted by David Chism | Wed, Apr 20, 2022

 How Should Contractors Respond To Poor Reviews?

We’ve all been there… The dread­ed 1‑star review.

The bad review now and then is inevitable. Frus­trat­ing, but inevitable. I’ve helped con­trac­tors deal with them on many occa­sions, often talk­ing them down from writ­ing some­thing emo­tion­al and reac­tive, rather than cal­cu­lat­ed and considered. 

Here’s my rec­om­mend­ed approach:

  1. Take a deep breath. The client could be com­plete­ly wrong, or maybe they aren’t and there’s some­thing you need to deal with inter­nal­ly. Either way, take a minute.

  2. Look into it. Ask your team what hap­pened before respond­ing to get a bet­ter sense of all the fac­tors at play. 

  3. Reach out. Can you con­tact the upset cus­tomer direct­ly and make things right? If so, awe­some. If not, con­tin­ue on to Step 4

  4. Write a pro­fes­sion­al reply. I know how tempt­ing it is to lay it all out there, espe­cial­ly if you’re deal­ing with a total­ly unrea­son­able client. But here’s the thing: your response should be writ­ten with oth­er prospects in mind. Peo­ple who will be perus­ing these reviews while con­sid­er­ing your ser­vices. Take the high ground, be calm, and explain the sit­u­a­tion in broad terms (nobody wants to read a nov­el about what hap­pened), invit­ing the per­son to reach out to you direct­ly. This posi­tions you as the more rea­son­able per­son in the situation.

The per­fect response to a poor Google review

I have to give a shout-out here to Frank, Gen­er­al Man­ag­er at Chism Broth­ers Paint­ing. After receiv­ing a frus­trat­ing review, Frank fol­lowed the steps above perfectly. 

  1. Frank looked into the sit­u­a­tion and what hap­pened. It turns out that there was an under­ly­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion issue: a mix­up with the appoint­ment time and home address caused the esti­ma­tor to miss the appoint­ment. Rather than com­mu­ni­cate, the home­own­er decid­ed to vent on Google. 

  2. Next, Frank picked up the phone and called the home­own­er direct­ly. He didn’t make excus­es or jus­ti­fy any­thing, but took full respon­si­bil­i­ty and apol­o­gized. The con­ver­sa­tion went very well — it’s amaz­ing how peo­ple change their tone when they’re talk­ing with you direct­ly. Frank deesca­lat­ed the situation. 

  3. After the call, we craft­ed a response for those future read­ers too. See below…

This approach requires patience and time, but it pays off in the end. Will every sit­u­a­tion turn out well? No, but at least you know that you hon­est­ly did what you could. Any­thing else is out­side of your con­trol, and you can only choose your response.

About David Chism

David Chism started his business out of a passion for helping small contracting businesses grow, be more profitable and become better known to their target clients. One lifelong hobby of David is using techie gadgets. So this blog is a place where he writes about technology, marketing ideas, just for fun (humor), personal thoughts on small business and more.


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