If you’ve been paying attention to The Charter Fishing Business Kit or to our helpful blog posts over the years, you should know that online reviews can make or break your Charter Fishing Business. It is extremely important to ask each and every customer to leave a positive review on sites like Google My Business, Trip Advisor and Yelp.
We live in a world where potential customers view your website but then go straight to the online reviews to evaluate your charter operation. This takes place without your ever being aware that it’s happening. If a negative review makes its way into the mix, a potential client may look elsewhere without ever calling you or sending an e-mail. You basically lost a client before ever getting a chance.
STRIKE WHILE THE IRON IS HOT
When you’ve just finished a fantastic fishing trip with your clients, THAT is the time to ask the clients to post a review. Everyone is in a great mood and giddy after catching all of those fish that you put them on. You are planting a seed. This is the “Honeymoon Period.” However, don’t be pushy. Let the clients know that they can post the review AT THEIR CONVENIENCE.
You can then follow-up with the client later that evening or the following morning to thank them for the wonderful trip and, hopefully, for the generous trip. Typically, I like to text this to the client. This will also give me the opportunity to text the Trip Advisor, Google Business and Yelp review links to the client. THIS IS KEY! If you make it easy for the client to leave a review, not only will your client leave you a review but they will also leave a positive review. While you’re at it, ask the client to send any photos that they took of the fish that you caught during the trip. When clients think that their photos may be posted on your website, they are more inclined to leave a glowing review. Trust me on this.
LEARN TO BE SELECTIVE
If you’ve been at this as long as I have, you know that the fish don’t cooperate sometimes. A slow bite and/or miserable weather can lead to disappointed or disgruntled anglers. Feel out your clients to determine whether they may blame YOU for the tough trip. If they do, don’t bother asking the clients for a review unless you’re sure that the review will be stellar despite the challenging conditions.
If you asked your client for a review but don’t see it published within a day or two, send the client a text or e-mail with a reminder to leave the review and provide the link again. While you’re at it, ask the client to send an pictures of the fish that were caught. This gets the client engaged and brings back the euphoria of two days ago. This is exactly what will lead to a great review.
RESPOND TO REVIEWS
Once you see that a review has been published by the client, be sure to respond to the review by thanking the client and let them know how much you appreciated the charter. Be sure to include a detail or two to personalize the response, such as how big the fish was or something memorable that happened during the trip.
HOW DO I HANDLE NEGATIVE REVIEWS?
Everything that I’ve described thus far is designed to AVOID negative reviews. However, reviews are out of your control and a negative review might appear despite your best efforts. A negative review speaks louder than 100 positive reviews so you need to act. If a negative review does appear, the first thing you need to do is TAKE A DEEP BREATH. You are going to be angry and grumpy when you read a negative review and you are going to be tempted to give the client “both barrels.” Don’t do it. Calm down.
The first thing you need to do is contact the client to find out what led to the negative review. Perhaps there was a misunderstanding. Perhaps expectations were not properly set when the trip was booked. Regardless, find out what went wrong and then how you can make things right. It could be as simple as an apology (swallow hard on this one) or maybe send a t-shirt or hat to make them happy. Do what you need to do to clear things up and to ask the client to change the review to a more favorable review. ONLY THE CLIENT CAN CHANGE THE REVIEW. YOU CANNOT.
In the rare event that you cannot make the client happy or otherwise convince them to change the review, respond to the negative review in a professional and kind manner and request that the client contact you to discuss further. This lets the world see that you are a professional, reasonable charter captain who simply wants the client to be happy. This also makes the negative review look unreasonable and a bit of a crazy rant. Always try to keep the “high road.”
WHERE TO LEAVE REVIEWS?
- Google My Business
As you can see, positive reviews can and will lead to more clients and more booked trips. When the occasional negative review appears, be diligent and act accordingly to diffuse the situation and get the review changed to a more favorable review.