Getting good reviews as a gardener (and why it matters)

Marketing and brand

14 January 2022

Reviews have become an extremely important part of business in every industry, but especially for those that provide a service. As a gardener, you may find that a lot of your business comes to you via word of mouth recommendations from existing customers. If prospective new clients don’t have someone they know personally to ask, they’ll often look for reviews before hiring you.

In 2019, Citizens Advice saw a 29% increase in complaints about gardeners, totaling to 8,860 issues. For people who have received substandard service, shoddy workmanship or delayed projects in the past, they’ll be looking for bona fide reviews before hiring again in the future. That means it’s important for you to have system in place for encouraging reviews, a trusted place to display those reviews, and an idea of how to manage negative ones.

Why reviews are important

The research around reviews shows pretty unanimously how important they are. For example, Search Engine Land found that close to 90% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations while Bright Local found that positive customer reviews make 73% of customers trust a business more, and HubSpot reports that 57% of customers visit a company's website after reading positive reviews.

Positive reviews are effective because they create social proof for your business. By showing that other people have used and enjoyed the gardening services you provide, it makes your business seem more credible and desirable. Reviews are considered to be extremely trustworthy and unbiased as well with over 79% of consumers trusting online reviews and considering overall star ratings to be the most important factor.

Considering that most consumers read at least 7 reviews before trusting a business, you’ll need to work hard to build up a good portfolio of positive reviews.

Common reasons gardeners get bad reviews

Of course, not all reviews are positive. As long as the majority of your reviews are positive, this shouldn’t be a major concern, but here’s a few of the top reasons gardeners get bad reviews and how you can try to avoid them:

Poor communication

One of the most common issues that has been mentioned for gardeners and landscapers is a lack of communication or generally poor communication. This can manifest in a number of ways: not showing up on time, issuing confusing invoices, having an unclear pricing strategies or carrying out unauthorised services are just a few examples.

Inconsistent service

Clients like to know what to expect week on week and want to feel comfortable that they receive great service every time you come by. This can mean grass cut at a consistent height from week to week or just having the same crew member assigned to a specific client so that work is carried out by someone familiar with the property and its needs. Consistency and continuity keep customers happy, while work that varies in quality will leave them frustrated.

Leaving a mess

Any debris left over from your gardening or landscaping work needs to be removed from the garden, whether that’s just you moving it to the client’s bin or obtaining a licence to carry the waste away yourself. It also means ensuring that gates are closed so pets don’t escape and that any accidents or mistakes are cleared up with the client. Owning up when you make a mess, literal or figurative, means you won’t leave your client with a hidden problem that they’re unprepared for.

What to do if you get a bad review

The first thing is not to panic. Bad reviews can be useful as long as there’s not too many of them. According to Speigel Research Centre’s 2017 Power Reviews Research, more than 80% of shoppers specifically seek out negative reviews. In fact, if a business has nothing but excellent reviews, it tends to lead to suspicion and the positive reviews seeming less credible.

Small Business Trends reports that the likelihood of purchase hits its peak when a company’s star rating is between 4.0 and 4.7, and that after a 4.7 rating the likelihood of purchase actually decreases as the rating gets closer to a 5.0.

So, a less than stellar review, on occasion, isn’t the end of the world. It also provides you with a great opportunity to win over the unhappy customer and show other prospective customers that you’re attentive to their needs. One of the best things that you can do when you see a negative review is to respond to it in an empathetic and customer service orientated way.

Almost 80% of consumers feel that a business cares about their consumers more if they respond to online reviews than if they do not and a similar amount said that they would use a retailer again if they responded to a negative review by addressing their concerns.

Wondering what to say in your responses to negative reviews? 70% of customers said retailers could win them back with the offer of a refund, discount or freebie.

How to get a good review as a gardener

Good communication

You and the client may not have the exact same vision for their garden and it’s important that you’re on the same page. When the client asks you to carryout work, you should repeat their request back to them as you understand it, that way it’s clear that you both have the same idea. If the client is home while you’re working, you can also check in with the client once while carrying out the project, just to ensure you’re on the right track.

Keep Notes

Given the complaints about consistency, try having notes on the work you carry out for each client. This will help you keep track of what service you’ve provided previously and exactly how it was done. Not only will this keep you right, but it also means that if another crew member has to come to the property, they can use your notes as a guide and not need to bother the client. Nothing irritates a client more than having to repeat themselves week after week, so keeping your own notes will ensure consistency without having to consult your client.

Make a checklist

If you’re prone to forgetting small clean up tasks at the end of a job, make a checklist that needs to be completed before you leave a property. You can personalize it to each client with reminders for things specific to their property, such as ensuring certain gates are closed or items are returned to their usual place. Add this checklist to your other notes about that property.

Ask for a review!

One of the best ways to get a good review is to simply ask for it. While it may feel awkward to do, if a client is happy with your work and knows that they can help you and your business out, they’ll likely do it. In fact, only about 74% of customers are asked to provide feedback to a company, but out of those customers 68% were willing to do it.

Managing your positive reviews

While you now know that negative reviews need to be managed and responded to, what you might not realise is that positive reviews need to be managed too! Getting a positive review is a great thing because customers tend to spend 31% more on a business with excellent reviews.

Your challenge as a business owner is making sure that potential customers see those reviews! If you have time to respond to positive reviews and thank the reviewer you should absolutely do that. Other steps you can take to showcase those positive reviews are to share them on your company website or social media channels, include them in any newsletters or email, and generally just try to promote them where possible.

Don’t be afraid to brag. You’ve earned those positive reviews, so share them with the world.

Where to aggregate reviews

Some review sites are geared more towards travel industry or the hospitality industry or companies that sell products instead of services, so be sure to check the focus of a review site before listing your business on it.

This list won’t cover every review service out there, but it’ll showcase a few options that may be good to use as someone that provides garden and landscaping services.

Google My Business

Having a verified Google My Business profile will ensure that you show up in localised searches but it also allows you to respond to any reviews you’re given directly on Google’s own platforms. Given that nearly 10% of Google's search algorithm is influenced by Google Reviews, it’s a good idea to start collecting some positive feedback so that you appear higher in the search results.

Facebook

If you have a Facebook page for your business (and you should) people can leave reviews on your page. Facebook has 2.89 billion active users each month and about 2/3 of users visit a business page each week, so it’s important that you’re active on this site. Customers can leave just a rating or a rating and a review when they leave you feedback on a Facebook page.

Yelp

This site is also free for businesses to list themselves, for customers to rank you on a 5-stair scale and for you to respond to reviews. There’s about 184 million monthly users worldwide and a good rating on Yelp can increase revenue by 5% - 9%.

Trustpilot

This website has a free version which allows you to create a profile and start collecting reviews. It’s one of the well-known review sites and it has over 500,000 businesses on it. Trustpilot also has paid versions where you can integrate it with your website or your MailChimp accounts.

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