I can recall failing students on belt exams and moms literally yelling at me in the school front of students. Can you imagine the posts and reviews those moms would have unleashed?
Protecting your reputation is more important than ever. The leverage that a student’s family has to post a negative review because or a real or perceived slight against them is huge.
Because reviews are now one of the most important factors in local search results, it is your job to know how to keep them positive and deal with the negative.
Responding to reviews is a delicate art. You must calibrate your response to each of the six types of reviewer you are dealing with.
The First Time Reviewer
First-time reviewers place a lot of weight in their review. If something was so good at your school, it prompted them to post a great review, good for you! Conversely, if the experience was so bad it prompted their first review, it is like an open wound.
You should take a first-time reviewer seriously. Thank them for their positive review. However, negative reviews must be handled delicately with considerable thought given to the response.
Since it’s their first review, you probably will not get a response, but it’s still important that you acknowledge their post.
For negative reviews, the first question is, “How much of this is true?” Truth is a matter of perspective. When I fail a child, I’m upholding my standards. However, a parent may see it as my not preparing the child or being unreasonable in my expectations.
If there is truth to the review, acknowledge that and outline the steps you will take to avoid the issue happening again. For instance, if you do not teach a child a belt requirement and then he/she fails a belt exam, that’s a serious issue. Maybe the child was on vacation or missed class the day you taught that. That’s not entirely your fault. But, what if you never taught the skill? That’s all on you.
If you disagree with the reviewer’s claims, politely and professionally provide your side of the story. Resist the urge to play “Master” of all. Thank them for their feedback and resist the urge to use all CAPS or!!!!!! Just answer like an attorney would. Just that facts.
I’ve said for decades that no one cares what style you teach but you. There is no better proof of this than the proliferation of social media. If you are interested in enrolling more students, read this carefully.
The Review Economy
We live in a review economy. Search the web as I have and look for reviews of martial arts schools that say, “I was looking for XYZ-Style and glad I found this place. Five stars for teaching XYZ-Style!”
Real reviews reflect what the market is looking for and expecting. Real reviews read more like, “Sensei Ford has a tremendous amount of patience (more than I could ever have with a group of 6-9-year-olds!).”
That is from an actual review for a traditional school that has 45 five star reviews on Yelp. Check it out at the end of this article.
A Powerful Driver of New Students Today
If you are not focused on reviews, you are leaving one of the most powerful drivers of enrolling more students to chance. That is a dangerous path to tread.
Studies show that consumers will spend 20% more for a business that has a majority of 5 and 4-star reviews. Wouldn’t you?
How to Get Good Reviews without Penalty
Google, Bing and other search engines know that businesses will try to scam the reviews either by soliciting reviews or posting negative reviews on competitor’s sites. If you get caught, you get whacked. Google can stop ranking your site and any other Google properties your business uses.
The good news is that it’s not that hard to gain control of your reviews in a compliant process.
Bad Review Strategies
Writing fake reviews for your school
Paying a third party to post fake reviews, posing as a customer.
Getting too many reviews at once. They may trip filters at the review sites that will cause the reviews to be deleted.
Bribing 5-star reviews for a reward
Good Review Strategies
Link to your review sites from your website with a Review Us page.
Include listings for review sites in your printed material
Include a Review Us in your email signature
Here is a great tool to create professional looking review requests
The old adage is that if someone likes your business, they will tell a friend. If that person does NOT like your business, they will tell four friends.
That has changed BIG TIME. Today, the average person on Facebook has 200 friends. A negative post about your service is seen by a whole more than just four friends today.
This is why you must have a system in place for monitoring and managing your reputation.
Here are six quick tips to help you with your reputation management for your martial arts school.
1. Audit Directory Listings
It is a mistake to assume that all of the directories listing your school are accurate. Audit all of your current listings in legal and business directories. Profiles should create confidence and trust.
Secure your personal name and office name as a domain names. Protecting your name starts with gaining control of your name.com
3. Optimize Your Listings
Optimize all of your current listings in legal and business directories.
a. Label images with your keywords
b. Write a keyword rich description
c. Include as many videos and images as allowed.
d. Include links on your website and emails to these directories so students can post positive reviews.
e. If permitted, have a separate profile for location.
4. Monitor 24/7
a. Create a Google Alert with your name, your school’s name, your top competitor’s name, and your staff member’s names at http://www.google.com/alerts
5. Be Responsive
Respond asap to negative reviews and false reviews. Ideally, you could work something out that would satisfy the student and have the review removed or edited.
6. Try to Turn a Negative into a Positive
If you get a bad review, do your best to keep the emotions out of your response.
a. Keep your ethical parameters in mind at all times.
b. Be extra cautious not to reveal confidential case or student information in your response.
c. Keep your response brief and professional. The larger your response, the more creditability you are giving the review. Less is best.
d. Look at this as an opportunity. Assure the writer that you are concerned about the situation and have commenced an investigation or at the least, looking into it.
e. Make it clear that in order to protect your student’s confidentiality and the school, you are not comfortable discussing this on a public forum and invite them to contact you directly.
f. Make sure you do respond. Ignoring a bad review undermines your professionalism and image. If you don’t answer it seems you don’t care.
g. Make any response positive or neutral. Make sure it’s not negative and a counter attack against the writer.
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