Monday, October 17, 2016

Do You Really Know Your Small Business’s Image?

Written & Created by Kimberly Kline, API

When you have a Small Business, image and brand mean everything.  
A positive image will help you draw in the much desired “new” customer.  It will also help you keep your existing ones.

That is why it is important to build the most positive image you can…and also so crucial to protect it!

And the best way to do that is to really know what is “out there” about your Small Business! 

Have you checked your online reviews?  Do you know the impression visitors get from your social media sites?  

How about your Better Business Bureau rating?  Or how your company would fare during a civil court record check?

If not, you should!

Other companies are always vying for the business you want. Knowing what image your company is really portraying both online and off is critical to landing those customers and to your ultimate success. 

You need to realize that anyone thinking of hiring you or using your services will look.

They will “google” your business.  
They will check your social sites.  
They may even check with the BBB.

This is especially true if they are thinking of hiring you to work in their home.  Babysitters and nannies, home health care providers, and even home contractors will be scrutinized.

Many are increasingly using background checks to feel safer about hiring these types of companies.  You can find out more about this in “The Top 6 People You Should Run a Background Check On!”.

But even if your company is not on this list, it is still likely that anyone thinking of doing business with you will check.  It is only natural.

That is why you need to know all you can about how your company will fare if you go under the microscope.

Taking these 3 steps will help!

3 Steps to Take Now to Protect Your Small Biz Image!  “Tweet This"

Protecting Your Company Image

3 Steps to Help You Protect Your Company’s Image:

  1. Check Your Online Presence
  2. Check with the Better Business Bureau
  3. Run a Civil Court Record Check

Check Your Online Presence

This should be your first and most important step.  Start with taking a look at your social sites.  Be sure to include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or anywhere else you have a profile.

Do your sites look professional?  Are they up to date?  Do they all look cohesive and represent your brand?   

If you find any errors during this search, fix them.  Make sure that everything listed is correct and all your links work.

Presenting a unified online “front” is a great way to convey your company’s image and brand.       

Next you should search for any online comments and reviews mentioning your small business.  This includes any posts made on your social sites.  

Word of caution, while it may be tempting, blocking comments or reviews on your sites is never good business. The whole idea of social is to be “social”.  Establishing a positive give and take connection with your customers, and potential customers, is key.    

Now is the time to look at how you respond to these comments and reviews.  Do you do it in a timely fashion?  Are you professional and courteous, especially if the comment is negative?  Do you make any necessary changes or address concerns with action?

Acting fast, and apologizing if necessary, is good for your brand and your business!

If you have a blog, then you should take a look at this also.  Do you add to it regularly?  Is it relevant?  Does it add to and complement your other social sites?  

You should also make sure that you allow and respond to comments here too.  

Blogging is a fantastic way to build your brand and image.  It gives your existing and potential customers a chance to know more about you and your mission.

Learn more about the benefits to your brand of having a small business blog in “Have You ever Considered Starting a Blog?  If Not, You Should!”.

Check the Better Business Bureau

It is easy for anyone thinking of doing business with your company to do a quick search on the BBB site.  Simply by typing in your company name, they can see your listed contact information, your rating (from A+ to F), and a customer complaint and review summary.

It will also show any Government Actions that may have been taken against your business and an Advertising Review.  This review shows any complaints or conflicts with the BBB’s policy of “truth in advertising”.

If you don’t have a BBB profile, establish one.  If you do, make sure that it reflects the most current and complete information for your business.  Any thing that is outdated, incorrect, or no longer relevant should be changed.

Run a Civil Court Record Check on Your Small Business

It is obvious, or at least it should be, whether your company has ever been sued or if you have sued others.  So, if you have, this step should not be ignored.  Knowing exactly what the records say is your goal.

Many civil court records are online.  Do a simple search and pull up any reports that mention you or your company.  Read through them and pay special attention to cause of action and judgments.

There will nothing you can do to change these court reports if they are correct.  However, if there are errors, or the records do not pertain to you or your company, then you need to take action. 

If you find mistakes, your only real recourse is to contact the court(s) involved and request the errors be corrected.  You will then need to follow up and make sure the necessary changes have been made.

Following these steps is not a “one and done”. 
You need to make this a part of your regularly scheduled brand maintenance.  Your goal should be to protect the image you have worked hard to build ~ and correct anything that is contrary to that goal. 

While it is certainly possible for you to do the work and “screen” your company yourself, hiring an impartial 3rd party makes sense.  

A professional background check company will be able to look at anything discovered with a fresh eye.  They will have no vested interest in the social sites you have developed and post to every day or in the outcome of a company search.

They will also know what information your customers will see as a “red flag”.  

But, most importantly, a good background check company will do more than help you identify what you can change, they will help you fix them!

Hiring a background check company that will work WITH you and not just FOR you is key.  Find out more in “5 Tips to Help You Choose the Best Background Check Company for You”!

Savvy consumers recognize the importance of knowing everything they can about those they do business with.  They will choose a company that has an active online presence, good reviews, and a history of strong customer service.

Will your company pass the test?  

Do you have questions or want to know how your company will fare during a background check?

I can help!  I will work with you 
to check your online presence and 
make sure it meshes with the image and brand 
you want to portray. 

Remember, Your Company Image is 
the key to Your Success!

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