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Contractors-Who Owns Your Reviews?

Contractors who are smart actively solicit testimonials and reviews from their clients and customers. Sites like Google and Yelp, Merchant Circle and others all vie for the attention of the home improvement contractor to call their sites home for reviews.

Now, if you have spent even a second cruising the halls here at Darren’s, you know I want YOUR reviews on YOUR site first. Which leads me to this question…Once you place a review on one of these sites, who owns that review?

You might be surprised to find out you don’t!

7 responses to “Contractors-Who Owns Your Reviews?”

  1. Don Goddard Avatar
    Don Goddard

    I think that if websites such as Yelp want contractors to use their site, they should allow review content to be owned by the contractor. If one of these sites pitches a hissy over me using my own review on my own website to promote my own company, then I’ll be moving on from using that site. And I will also be warning all of my contractor friends about it as well.

    These sites are built to help the homeowner find a contractor. Without the contractors, these sites would be pretty much worthless. So I feel they should make sure that the contractors don’t feel abused.

    1. Darren Avatar

      I agree Don! These sites utilize user generated content (and really, depend on it) for their existence, so to me, it should be shared.

  2. Geoff Graham Avatar
    Geoff Graham

    This is a great topic. Thanks for raising it. A review platform won’t endure without content, legitimacy, and a healthy relationship with both contractors and the contractors’ customers.

    Those customers are the authors and beneficiaries of the content, and ultimately, I think both the contractor and the platform need to prioritize the customers’ objectives if they want to succeed. The review platform and the contractor can debate about who should own the content, but the healthiest discussion would center around what is in keeping with the customer/author’s expectations and what helps prospective customers make the most informed decision about who to buy from/hire.

    The ownership discussion is certainly important, but if you are going to seriously explore that, then you absolutely have to consider whether and to what degree the content’s author is a candidate for ownership.

    1. Darren Avatar

      Thanks Geoff for stopping by and commenting! I appreciate your opinion and I know you have a dog in this fight (metaphorically speaking of course), and I agree to a degree with your statement that it is up to the author. The question then becomes, (having not read all of the the TOS for all of the sites mentioned) do they waive ownership of the review? I also think it is important to mention most contractors push homeowners to their favorite review site anyway. I would imagine most homeowners don’t just happen to crash into sites like yours, they are led there by the contractor themselves.

      And finally, it is the preverbal chicken or the egg don’t you agree? I mean, no one gets the review if the work sucks, so to me, if I am the contractor and it was the sweat off of my brow, I think I should have some skin in the game when it comes to that review. Looking forward to your response!

  3. Lou Curley Avatar
    Lou Curley

    At the end of my reviews on my site, I give a citation to the site that the review came from:
    “Mr. X, posted on Yelp”, or “an Angies List Member”
    It makes the reviews seem more real when they’re posted on a 3rd party site. That being said, they’re my reviews.

    When a book is a New York Times best seller, the publishers advertise it all over the place. I can’t imagine the New York Times getting mad that an author is using “their list” to promote a book.

  4. Brian Sharwood Avatar
    Brian Sharwood

    Hey Darren,
    Thanks for the comments, and sorry it’s taken me a while to catch up on this post.

    One of the key factors which I think plays into this which is important is the legitimacy of the review. Yes, the contractor got the review through their hard work, but there’s a big difference in the perception of a review posted on a company’s own website and one posted on a 3rd party site – especially a site like ours where we do spend time validating reviews. I believe homeowners are somewhat distrustful of things that are posted on a contractor’s own website, because obviously they are going to cherry pick the nice things.
    We created a site widget (and I believe Yelp followed our lead a few years ago) where a contractor can place the code on their site, and it automatically updates their reviews on their site. An example would be this site for 1-800-Rid-of-It where the sidebar has their reviews. It allows the content on the contractors page, but gives it legitimacy because it’s on a 3rd party site (and one we work hard to maintain the legitimacy of).
    This is a way of trying to create the best of both worlds where the contractor can showcase the review.
    It’s really less about the ownership of the review, than building the perception that that review is from a real homeowner about a real job.

    1. Darren Avatar

      Hey Brian,

      No worries! I think this is a great topic from all sides of the fence! Everyone has skin in the game, and there needs to be dialogue to keep everyone happy!