The internet era makes it increasingly difficult to determine truth from inaccuracy – despite the plethora of information it contains. Protecting your online reputation is one aspect of your business you cannot afford to neglect.
Follow these four tips to keep your business in good favor online.
Beware of Online Scams
There are many people who will try and take advantage of independent business owners. So much so that the Federal Trade Commission provides resources to help businesses like yours avoid being scammed.
Along with harassing calls to try and get contractors to pay for supplies they didn’t order, one of the most prevalent scams is the overpayment scam. A prospective customer will pay for services in full but overpay the quoted amount. They will then ask for a refund of the overpayment in cash before the original transaction is cleared. Their original form of payment will be declined or cancelled and you will be out the money you refunded the customer in good faith.
Other scams include asking for donations to fake charities or causes, cyber fraud, and winning an award that requires the contractor to pay for it.
If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Ask for references, do a credit check or request a signed contract before doing business with someone who seems less than honest. If they decline any of these options, they are likely trying to deceive you.
Protect Yourself from Nonpayment
With all of the payment options available to clients, it is easy for contractors to get taken advantage of when it comes time for the project to be paid for. These situations can be frustrating, time consuming and expensive.
To ensure your clients pay for your services in time, establish a payment timeline upfront. Outline the timeline in writing and designate late fees associated with overdue payments. Be sure to communicate that these requirements are nonnegotiable.
You can also request partial or full upfront payments. Some contractors request full payment at a certain point in the project and will pause work until it is received.
Offering financing for your customer is also and option to ensure you are paid for your work. Partnering with a consumer finance company like Foundation Finance takes a lot of the hassle out of getting paid for your hard work and customer can benefit from monthly payments as opposed to paying their bill in full.
Keep your communication with the client persistent but friendly when attempting to collect payment so as not to damage your relationship to the customer.
Find Qualified Employees and Quality Materials
Buying in bulk to receive wholesale prices online is generally a good business decision. However, buying online always leaves the door open for fraud. Avoid buying from companies without reviews and a good online reputation. If you haven’t heard of it, it may not be a reputable company to buy materials from. Reach out to the company’s customer service department and get all your questions answered before making a purchase.
When hiring employees, listing your jobs online opens you up to a pool of prospective candidates. It does also mean that job seekers have an opportunity to mislead you. Make sure that you always check references and do an in-person interview of someone you are interested in hiring. Completing a background check can give you another piece of mind that the person is who they say they are.
Mind Your Customer Reviews
Consumers are reliant on company reviews more than ever. That makes it important to know how your business rates online and among your competitors. There are a variety of reputable and unverified review sites that your customers may use to review your business so it is important to know how to manage the reviews you receive – positive or negative.
- Add a call to action on social media and on your email signature for customers to review your business and recommend you.
- Respond to all your reviews. Keep your responses simple and informational. If they are poor – empathize with the customer and request they contact you to resolve the issue. Make all attempts to take the conversation offline.
- Reach out to websites with false or slanderous reviews of your company and request they be removed. Keep in mind that they have no obligation to do this.
- Consult a lawyer or hire a mediator if there is a particularly damaging review that you wish to resolve.
Managing your reviews in all places they appear helps your overall online reputation. Even if there are bad reviews, showing you care by responding to all of them gives you a good over-all appearance in the customer’s eyes.
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