A well-written online review is the most effective way to share your experience with other homeowners and help them make an informed hiring decision. It empowers you to have a voice by ensuring that lousy work does not go unnoticed, while also helping the best service professionals earn new business through praise from their past clients.

With hundreds of thousands of reviews on HomeStars, we’ve seen the power that a well-written review can have. If you’re considering writing your own review, here are some tips that all of our best reviews have in common.

Keep Your Cool

Emotions can run high with home improvements, especially when you’ve had a negative experience. Posting a review when you’re at the peak of your frustrations won’t be good for anyone.

Don’t: Be Emotional

When tempers have reached a boiling point, many homeowners choose to write an online review to relieve their frustrations. This is the worst time to write a review. At these times, we tend to exaggerate, or worse, slander the service professional and open yourself up to a lawsuit. It will also cause other homeowners take you less seriously, which defeats the point of the review in the first place.

Do: Wait Before You Write

If you’re angry, go for a walk, watch a movie, or better yet, sleep on it. Do not write a review at this point. There’s no urgency to post a review right away, and your submission will need to go through moderation, so it won’t be published immediately anyway.

Be Fair

There are two sides to every story, and your review will naturally favour your version of events. Be careful not to let this twist what happened into a narrative that doesn’t adequately represent what actually happened.

Don’t: Be Defamatory

We all know that it’s better to take the high road, and that’s especially true for online reviews. Never call a service pro rude, unprofessional, a cheat or any other defamatory word. These may feel very real to you, but they don’t tell other readers what made you come to that conclusion. Harmful words like these may also prompt a contractor to take legal action (and can be used against you), which you definitely want to avoid.

Do: Take the High Road

Let the facts and their work speak for themselves. Be detailed, show pictures, and explain precisely what happened. There’s no need to stoop to name calling. Keeping a level head also increases your credibility as a rational and trustworthy writer, making your review more persuasive.

Be Detailed

The more complete of a picture you’re able to paint for readers, the better of an understanding they’ll have of what happened and be more confident in making their hiring decision.

Don’t: Exaggerate

Saying “they’re unprofessional and made a mess of my house” may all be true but doesn’t tell the reader anything. It’s also not fair to make one event seem much more severe than it actually was. The same can also be said of positive reviews. “They’re the best” is nice, but doesn’t say anything either. What made them great? Were they on time? Cheaper than the competition? Friendly?

Do: Be Specific

It’s much harder to argue against the facts than vague exaggerations. Tell readers exactly what happened, for example, “they came two hours late, gave me a final bill that was $1,000 more than the contract stated, and left three scratches on my wall without claiming responsibility for them.” This also goes for positive reviews. Tell people exactly what made the experience so positive so readers understand why they should hire this company.

Don’t Try to Persuade

The point of a review is to let others know what happened during your experience — not to tell them what to do.

Don’t: Be Malicious

In a negative review, many reviewers will tack on something like “DO NOT HIRE” at the end. Just delete this sentence altogether. If a contractor is considering pursuing legal action because your review is costing them business, harmful statements like these will significantly help them. Plus, maybe the things that bothered you don’t matter as much to other customers. Approach the review as an opportunity to share your experience, not to ruin someone’s business. Being malicious will cause a lot of stress not just for the service pro, but for yourself as well. Just write the facts, post and move on.

Do: Focus On You, Not Them

Rather than telling others what to do, shift the attention inward. Statements like “I would not hire again” or “I would not feel comfortable recommending them to a friend or family member” allows you to share your opinion while making it clear that it is just your opinion.

Review Every Experience

The way to be as helpful as possible is by reviewing every experience, whether good, bad or average.

Don’t: Wait For Something Bad

Unfortunately, many people treat an online review as a way to voice their frustrations after a negative experience. While that may be true, it is, more importantly, a way for you to help the good businesses out there shine.

Do: Praise Great Work

Many of the top-rated businesses listed on HomeStars are proactive about asking their customers to review them, but this is far from the norm. Most of the time, after a job is completed and money exchanges hands, that’s the end. If you want others to have the same great experience you just had, take the extra step and write a review. An extra few minutes out of your day could help a service professional earn thousands of dollars in new business. Plus, a big component of a company’s Star Score is how well they’ve been rated by its customers, so every review counts.

Posted by Michael Keshen