Ratings-oriented websites such as Angie’s List and Yelp are driving consumer decisions more than ever, and glass shops around the country are making the necessary business adjustments at varying paces.
Count Drexler Shower Door & Custom Glass in Atlanta as one company that sees the online trend as an opportunity and is reaping the benefits. It considers those services, in fact, as part of the same universe as its fairly expansive social media efforts, particularly given the interactive nature of such ratings sites.
Davis Glass & Mirror in Las Vegas is equally enthusiastic of the brave new world created by interactive sites. Accepting of the fact that “You’re not going to make everyone happy,” as one representative put it, the company can boast about Super Service Awards garnered from Angie’s List and its presence on Yelp as well as such social-media sites such as Google+ and Facebook.
“My opinion is that the other glass shops that think those things are not useful, then that’s good,” Drexler vice president David Drexler says with a laugh. “If they’re not going to take care of their social media, then they’re not going to do as well. Those things are used by a lot of our customers.”
Drexler says his glass shop takes such sites as Angie’s List and Yelp “very seriously” but noted the company is probably a step or two ahead of most of his competitors when it comes to the interactive world in general. No question, the glass-shop vice president can rattle off the various sites that are relevant to his market and the ones to which his company pays close attention. Yelp, he says, is used more for restaurants in Atlanta. Kudzu.com is popular in the region, as is Houzz.com. As for social media, Drexler Shower Door is not only on Facebook, it’s on Pinterest as well.
“I know we get work from Angie’s List and Kudzu, and we get a lot of exposure from Pinterest,” says Drexler.
Other companies, meanwhile, may be warming up to the notion of the interactive world. Chattahoochee Shower Door & Glass, which also serves the Atlanta-area market, has yet to create an account on Angie’s List, but it’s not necessarily leery of such sites.
“We’re kind of neutral on it,” chief operating officer Ryan Compton says of the ratings-site trend. “We don’t get a whole lot of negative feedback.”
Such websites, of course, have caused much anxiety for members of just about any business-to-consumer industry, particularly in the earlier days of the Angie’s Lists of the world. One ranting customer, they feared, could harm their reputation. But even among those who have yet to embrace the services acknowledge that the offerings themselves may have matured, just as businesses’ attitudes toward them continue to evolve.
“It seems like in the past, if people were going to put something up on [a website], they were fired-up angry,” says Compton. “But it does seem like it’s changed.”
Today, Compton explains, customers are more aware that it’s just as important to share positive feedback as it is negative information. After all, they, the customers are the ones using the sites, so they want the sum total of posts to be accurate.
With that evolution, “People look at [the sites] and say, ‘This is something I can get valuable information from,” says Compton. For that reason, Chattahoochee is “more open” to tapping into the opportunity provided by such sites.
That doesn’t mean Angie’s List and other sites don’t still cause anxiety, particularly for people on the ground. The culture of Angie’s List in particular can be unforgiving and even unreasonable, some say.
“They’re very picky,” Andy Fers, an estimator with Alexandria, Va.-based Ultra Glass, says of Angie’s List customers. “They know they’re going to write a review, so they keep pushing the limit.”
Fers explains there are situations in which customers aggressively pit one price quote against another, or occasions when his team calls ahead to say they will be 30 minutes late for an appointment because of the infamously bad Washington, D.C., and northern Virginia traffic—only to get severely criticized on Angie’s List shortly thereafter for the relatively brief delay.
Nevertheless, for every pitfall, the wily online world seems to present at least as many opportunities. Regardless, everyone agrees it’s here to stay.
“We’re in the process of reevaluating [overall marketing],” says Compton. “[A greater online focus] hasn’t been brought up yet, but it wouldn’t be a bad thing to look at.”