Asking a friend’s advice on a specific contractor or doctor is a natural way to research such big decisions, which is why review sites compiling hundreds of opinions on local professionals are so imperative to building a strong reputation as a small business owner. Hence, Angie’s List—a review site catering to over 1.5 million members with over 550 categories of local service professionals—is a marketing tool you can’t afford to ignore.

The site works by allowing members to rate businesses on a report card scale, and allowing only A-rated and B-rated businesses the opportunity to advertise or offer coupons, both of which can, of course, boost your business. Non-members can also submit reviews with limited access to the site.

The households using Angie’s List to search for such service and health care professionals are all paid members, which means that they are all actively invested in finding the right person for their job. For businesses, however, it is free to create a profile, and impossible to pay for higher ratings, which means that building out an optimized profile is an important step to harnessing the full power of Angie’s List.

Once you’ve claimed your profile, make sure that your business description helps you to make a positive impression. Take this first opportunity to present yourself and your business as friendly and helpful by keeping your description concise and to the point while highlighting what makes you stand out from your competitors. Showcase your industry experience and the products and services you offer to let potential customers see at a glance why you’re the best choice.

Including photos of your work also provides an appealing visual of your business’ offerings. Angie’s List allows business owners to upload a few select photos to their profiles, which gives potential customers an instant insight into what you do.

Don’t forget to also indicate your service area, full contact information, and links to any of your relevant social media sites. Ensuring that you’ve given the customer as much pertinent information as possible not only makes it easy for the customer to understand your business, but also shows him or her that you care about what you do enough to fully explain it.

Procuring positive reviews will, of course, depend mainly on providing high quality service, but it’s also helpful to take steps to request reviews from past customers. If you provide them with a direct link to your review form (Angie’s List also offers a written form and phone number for alternative options) shortly after the service was completed, customers are much more likely to recount their experience and leave helpful feedback than if you leave them to their own devices. It’s important to avoid being pushy, but a quick request for your customers’ thoughts on your service shows that you are invested in ensuring the best experience for past and future customers.

Finally, responding to reviewers is a key component of maintaining a successful Angie’s List profile. Since the reviews themselves carry the most weight in such a site, it’s important that you do all you can to present your business as engaged and caring. Stay on top of your reviews to be sure you don’t miss any new customer comments, and respond swiftly while still taking time to consider your approach. Responding to positive reviews can be as simple as providing a personalized thank you, while replying to negative reviews can be a little trickier.

Never respond out of anger—potential customers can be quick to judge, and you want to avoid being labeled as a hothead or an uncaring service provider. Take the time to consider the complaint and respond courteously to let them you know you appreciate their feedback and will contact them to try to come to a resolution. Then, be sure to investigate the situation to get all the facts and determine what reparations can be made. Reply to the reviewer with a report of what steps have been or will be taken to rectify the situation, or explain in a professional way why a resolution can’t be reached while sticking to objective facts.

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