Is it worth it to auto repair shops to participate with Angie’s List? This is a question recently posed in one of our forums, and one our members at the Automotive Management Network have had experience with.
Angie’s List is a website founded to help people find quality service providers (of any number of services, often home repair) within their geographical area. Since Angie’s List does not allow anonymous reviews and will let service providers respond to negative reviews and clarify what happened from their point of view, participating, at least negligibly, with Angie’s List is important for reputation management.
The way Angie’s List operates is similar to word-of-mouth advertising with local people contributing their own experiences to their database. Every auto shop repair manager benefits from knowing what is being said about his shop. Bad online reviews are worse even than vocal disgruntled customers because they are available 24/7 to a potentially infinite audience, whereas a person with a grudge can only be in one place at a time and has to sleep sometimes. We have covered how to handle negative reviews online previously, and this would apply to Angie’s List reviews as well. Angie’s List claims to offer more honest reviews because they only input the reviews of members into their business ratings. Fake reviews are everywhere, and there is some comfort in the idea that this list is weeding them out and offering true, useful information.
In addition to offering information on customer experiences, Angie’s List also sells advertising which targets potential customers in your area. Since Angie’s List is a subscription service, people must register and pay a modest price to participate. This bit of hoop jumping means that the referrals your shop may get from Angie’s List will likely be from more discriminating and likely higher income customers.
Will you get referrals from advertising with Angie’s List? Yes, it’s likely that you will get at least a few. How many, and whether it would be worth it for your geographical area varies from location to location. Some auto shop managers claim to get half of their business from their referrals. Others see only a trickle of new business from Angie’s List. The website does allow for ways of generating more positive reviews, offering targeted discounts, and interacting with customers directly. Direct mail marketing strategies can also be used in tandem with Angie’s List information for more effect.
Ultimately, it is a judgement call on the part of every auto repair shop manager whether Angie’s List is a good target for scarce marketing time and money. It would be wise to talk to other professionals in your area to see what their experience with Angie’s List is before focusing your efforts too much in this direction.