SF Business Times: Broadly makes customer online reviews easy for small businesses

As summarized in an article by Nathan Falstreau with the San Francisco Business Times:

For small businesses, navigating social media and online review sites can seem daunting. Broadly aims to bridge the gap via an online and mobile app that helps streamline customer reviews and communication through webchats.

“We help with getting customer reviews online after a job or service is complete and then work to get that next customer for the business,” said Broadly co-founder and CEO Josh Melick.

The inspiration for the company comes from growing up “in the field swinging hammers” with his father, who owns a contracting business, he said.

Today, small businesses often lack the technology to properly compete, Melick argues. “Customer communication has moved online,” he said.

Additionally, Melick said that small businesses “have to compete with larger companies and still meet the needs of the customers in the age of smartphones” where goods and services can be delivered “within a couple of days.”

The product’s webchat function allows businesses to instantly qualify a customer when they visit its website.

“A quick message can be sent to a customer with a quote, for example,” Melick said. “And the customer can ask questions like, ‘Are you free tomorrow to work on my car?’ and “Are you available to work on my taxes next week?’” Through the Broadly mobile app, employees can respond to customer’s questions and requests.

Once a job or service has been completed, Broadly sends an email or text message to ask if the customer would like to recommend the business in what is billed as a “one-click process.”

If a customer responds “yes,” Broadly directs them to online review sites they’re already active on and an automated review is posted. If the customer is unsatisfied with the service and they respond in the negative, they may leave a private message to the business, which allows for the issue to be addressed before negative reviews are published online.

Broadly’s clients include contractors, salon owners, carpet cleaners, dentists and attorneys, among others. The company earns revenue through monthly and yearly subscriptions, which average roughly $300 per month. Add-on services such as promotion on social media sites, an email marketing program, and website hosting and design are available for an additional charge.

“Broadly is probably the biggest, most effective marketing tactic we use and it’s really easy for business owners who don’t have time,” said Wesley Bloeme, owner of WiseGuys Pro-Wash in Atlanta. “In the first 60 days, we got 45 five-star, authentic reviews from our customers and it took me no extra time because Broadly was integrated with our (customer review management).”

Broadly hit $4.7 million in 2017 revenue and has seen a 3,500 percent increase in revenue over the three years prior.

Looking forward, Melick said that Broadly’s next version of its mobile app will include new tools for customers to communicate directly with a business’ employees when on a job site, for example.

“Phone calls are hard for both parties,” he said. “Because people are in meetings, or on a roof working, or in a car. Messages are both fast and asynchronous.”

LESSONS LEARNED:

Sell the dream internally and externally: “Businesses are made of people and you’ve got to solve for that,” said Melick. “Sell the things that people believe in, the mission of the company and the product. There has to be a reason why people should want to come into work every day.”

Be rigorous as well as casual with hiring: “We have two components to our hiring practice, one rigorous and one casual,” Melick said. “We like to end an interview by grabbing a beer or attending a light happy hour. One side is to learn about their skills and the other is to determine if we could hang out with them a little bit.”

Media Contact: Leslie Hobbs, pr@broadly.com