In 2013, engineers Josh Melick and Assaf Arkin founded Broadly, a company that facilitates businesses’ success online through Facebook, Yelp, Google and NextDoor, while living in Oakland, CA.
According to Broadly’s website, after years of watching his father’s roofing business struggle to find an effective, simple and affordable solution to market itself, Melick recognized a need in the local business community. He and Arkin set out to find an impactful way for businesses to engage with today’s consumers and thus, Broadly was born.
Autobody News recently sat down with Melick to find out how his company is helping auto body shops all over the country grow organically online and bring more business through the door.
Q: If the majority of the work comes from the insurance companies, why should shops care about their online presence and online feedback?
A: In the collision repair industry … the consumer writes the check, either to the insurer or the shop itself … in the end, the customer makes the ultimate decision.
In today’s modern world, more and more consumers like to look online, and they want to know that their cars are being fixed properly. They have the family mini-van, for example, and they want to make sure that it’s repaired perfectly after an accident before they put the kids back in it. That’s where word-of-mouth comes in. Word-of-mouth is always present—there is nothing new about that—but what has changed in our modern world is how we access it and where we go to find it.
It’s not just people talking to people anymore. Although I might talk to my neighbor, they’re more likely looking on NextDoor or Facebook to see where their friends had their cars repaired. I might use my cell phone to search using Google to find shops near me or by my office. This is the modern world we live in, so shops have to care about it in a way they didn’t before.
Ultimately, the insurance company cares about the shop’s online presence too because they want to look reputable and don’t want blowback from consumers. What you do with online reviews can seal the deal. But if they’re done incorrectly, they can also kill the deal. If consumers start seeing one-star reviews on Yelp, for instance, the consumer might rebel and say I don’t want to take my car to that shop because I don’t think that they can do a good job on my car.
Every business today needs to figure out how to get word-of-mouth happening. That’s where online reviews enter the picture, whether it’s Yelp, Facebook, Google, NextDoor or others. That’s why shops need simple ways to follow their customers, ask for feedback and get it posted in the right spot. That’s why we started Broadly.
Q: How do you get people to review a shop after the repair?
A: Every business owner wants feedback; that’s always been a good business practice. That’s a great starting point, but you need to do more than just ask the customer for feedback. If you simply ask them to write about the car or the experience, that feedback is helpful for you to know, but it can do so much more for your business if it goes online.
At Broadly, we’ve done the hard work by figuring out how to integrate with the social networks—to email, text message and communicate with your customers. We enable businesses to follow up with their customers automatically. We make it easy for them to capture that feedback and leave that feedback in places that matter, like Google, NextDoor, Yelp, etc.
It’s all about doing everything you can to make it easy, because it’s a lot of work to tell someone to go online and write a review about your shop. But if it’s done automatically, it’s much more likely that the consumer will actually do it. Most customers, to their credit, are willing to do that, especially if you’ve done a good job for them, but they will only go so far. Helping them by simplifying the process is the key. At Broadly, we can integrate with the shop’s management system in many cases, making it even simpler.
Q: If a shop gets a one-star review, should the shop respond either online or in person?
A: Yes, but your response should always be short and sweet. You’re not going to win any public relations battles by responding to a one-star review online, because in most cases a bad review is caused by a breakdown in communications somewhere. The best way to avoid that is to prevent it from happening in the first place, so that’s why our tools, such as automatic feedback, can catch problems sooner.
If you can catch it before it goes online, it’s better for both parties. Once a negative review is out there, it’s not easy to fix, so communicating with the customer during every stage of the repair is the best way to go. If consumers can see that a business responds quickly to a bad review and tries to make it better, that will resonate with them and they will usually be willing to accept that.
Secondly, once the one-star review is out there, you should definitely respond promptly with a short response. Consumers like to see that because it shows you care. But the best way to deal with it is by picking up the phone to apologize personally and try to find out a way to fix it. Every business wants to make things right, but stuff happens. In the end, it all comes down to volume because if you have one bad review, but most of them are positive, it won’t be a problem.
Q: Is it wise to pay for a high position on Google?
A: In collision repair, if you have a great presence online and you’ve done it organically, you’re going to get more business through the door whether you pay for advertising or not. First, you should make sure that you have a good image online before you think about advertising. Advertising is the icing on the cake, but not the cake itself, so you need that core organic presence first, and that comes from reviews.
By Ed Attanasio