The question has been asked many times, is Web 2.0 helping people make money? I wanted to share a process I went through this week with a dentist. Hopefully from this experience, you can relate it to your business as a real estate professional.
My mom has given me many great things in this world, but unfortunately I also inherited her bad teeth. My huge sweet tooth doesn't help either. But I recently woke up one morning only to realize that I had cracked a tooth. I called up dentist to make an appointment and found out that they no longer accept my dental insurance. I needed to find a new dentist and fast.
Step 1- Logged on to http://www.deltadental.com/ to find a service provider in my area on my plan.
Step 2- Opened another browser window and typed in http://www.yelp.com/. Searched dentists in zip code 60622.
Step 3- Looked at the dentist list on Yelp to see which ones have the most reviews and the best reviews. I want to know exactly what other people are saying, not what dentists are saying about themselves! I narrowed it down to one dentist who had 33 positive reviews. This dentist had also taken the time to enhance his listing on Yelp (which is free) to include pictures of his facilities and had written a review of himself with a message as to what he is all about. I liked that he was familiar enough with technology to do this. Signaled to me that he would also be up on technology as it related to dental care.
Step 4- Cross checked dentist with website from Step 1. Bingo! We have a match. I filled out the new patient request form on the dentist's website site (I found the URL on Yelp) and someone from his office calls me within the hour.
Today people are placing so much value on what the general public is saying- maybe even more so than what the experts say and certainly more than what the service providers themselves are saying! When I need to buy a new electric toothbrush, I read the user reviews on Amazon. When I go on a trip, I read the user reviews on TripAdvisor. When I eat at a new restaurant, I read the user reviews on Yelp.
You need make sure you at least have a presence on sites like Yelp and then work to build a good reputation.
Some homework for the holidays- If you are good agent and think your past clients will say good things about you (if you answer no to this, you have bigger problems to worry about than web 2.0) why don't you send them an email and ask them for their endorsement on a site like Yelp. If you provided stellar service, I am sure your clients would be happy to spend a few minutes doing something that can help you gain more business.
Once you have this reputation built, you can make statements like this on a listing presentation- "Past clients have been very satisfied with my service. If you would like to hear from them for yourself, simply look me up on Yelp and you'll see exactly what they had to say."
Building a reputation is so important in the online world we live in today. As people move around the country and not know who to ask for referrals for professional service providers, they rely on sites like Yelp to get referrals from their online peers. It is important that you are well-represented as the public is going through these decision making processes.