The value of your reputation

Your reputation. So much depends on it and businesses rise and fall based on their reputations.


The Case Study

My former brother-in-law, Joe, worked as a self-employed handyman. He performed all manner of tasks in his town in North Carolina, including painting, power washing, light construction and repairs, and similar tasks.

His business changed when he was listed on Home Advisor as a “screened and approved” vendor. The number and quality of leads increased  and he started earning more per job.

It was a real boon to his business and a string of five-star reviews followed.

One day, he received a one star review and was accused of not completing the work for which he was hired while still taking the money. Joe wears his heart on his sleeve and this negative review hurt him personally. More than that, it caused fear for his business. 

Would a negative review tank his Home Advisor stream of business?


The first thing Joe did – and it was smart – was to call someone to discuss the issue. That someone happened to be me.

I advised him to remain clam and don’t fly off the handle in anger, fear, or hurt. First, we reviewed the job for which he was hired and the work he did. We talked through it.

Then we crafted a response.

The response focused on a sympathetic approach that made it clear he was sorry the client was unhappy. He also outlined the work he performed, and pointed out the additional problems he uncovered, which the client did not pay to repair. The problems could cause a leak in the same area where he was hired to repair a specific item. 

The closest thing to an emotion he showed happened to be the empathy he showed for the client.

The Result

There was no hiccup. Home Advisor did not change Joe’s status nor did they require him to refund the fees for the work he did. He continued to get clients steadily – including one who said he hired Joe based on his response – for several years until he passed away from cancer. 

In fact, having a bad review and his response, may have actually added to his credibility. 

How you handle a criticism is an important part of the response. 

Take Away

Joe did two things correctly right off the bat. First, he didn’t respond right away, giving his feelings time to calm down. Second, he perceived a serious problem (it probably wasn’t as serious as he though) and so sought help.

When you get a bad review and you think your reputation is going to take a hit, do a few things.

  1. Chill. Just relax and let your emotions settle down.
  2. Think about the review after you’ve chilled. Is there something to it.
  3. TOS violation? Was the review by someone you can prove has never been in your business or purchased from you? A disgruntled ex-employee? Getting a review removed is difficult with most legitimate review sites, but you can get them taken down for Terms of Service violations.
  4. Multiple reviews saying the same thing? Is there something to them?
  5. Respond maturely, thoroughly and without accusation. 
  6. Move on.


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