Today’s customer is a local one.
But winning local business and local engagement are two factors that many multi-location brands struggle with — and for good reason.
Local competition from digitally savvy enterprises and small- and-medium sized businesses that know how to leverage their reviews is fierce.
So whether your business operates under one brand name (or several) or has 10 locations or 1,000, how do you ensure you are staying ahead of the local competition?
One of the best formulas for success combines listings management with online reputation management.
When done from one source of truth and at scale, you're likely to see positive results, such as:
Let’s look at three common challenges faced by our multi-location client LSL Property Services for three of their brands: Reeds Rains, Your Move and Embrace Financial Services.
Below, we’ll show you how the team wins at local marketing by ensuring listings are accurate and consistent and review management is a priority across hundreds of locations.
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Inaccurate business information such as incorrect or missing opening hours for your business can have a negative impact on your business locations and brand. While inconsistencies can lead to ranking lower in the search engines. This can also significantly affect your customer experience and retention goals.
Even the most savvy digital teams have deployed the “set it and forget it” attitude when it comes to listings. This opens the door to unofficial local listings profiles that you didn't create and duplicates of some that already exist which hurt your brand perception.
Harry Owen, SEO Manager at LSL Property Services, works within a team of four to manage the online and local presence for three brands: Reeds Rains, Your Move and Embrace Financial Services.
The small team not only doesn’t have the time to manually update information for hundreds business locations, but also wants to increase traffic and visibility in local search so that all their adviser and agent locations are showing up in Google’s local 3-pack.
To ensure hundreds of individual location profiles are updated centrally, in real-time, and as often as necessary, Harry uses Lookup Listings to do this automatically for him.
“One of our KPIs is to ensure all of our listings and citations are not only in sync and saying the same thing; but also that all our business listings are in the Google local 3-pack with the search terms we target,” explains Harry.
They do this for more than 250 branches. For example, if a customer is looking for an estate agent in York, UK and one of Your Move or Reeds Rains' branches shows up in the local pack, “then I’ve done my job for that branch,” he explains. While this may seem like a tall order, it’s important to remember that it’s a marathon and not a sprint.
By using a tool that automatically and consistently checks on the listings data to ensure the information is correct and untampered, Harry and team are reaching their KPIs. Let’s take a closer look with the three brands they're managing the online presence for.
1. Reeds Rains
Reeds Rains, established in 1868, is a predominantly northern based network of 56 owned branches and 49 independently owned franchised branches.
“For Reeds Rains: about 80% of our branches are in Google’s local 3-pack for the key terms we target — which is a massive success,” says Harry.
2. Your Move
With 91 owned branches and 77 independently owned franchised branches, Your Move is one of the largest estate agency brands in the UK. A slightly bigger brand than Reeds Rains, more than 60% of locations are already in the local pack for the key terms we target.
3. Embrace Financial Services
Embrace Financial Services employs financial consultants who deliver services to customers of the Group’s Estate Agencies and third party introducers.
“With Embrace Financial Services, we want to do it like we’ve done with Reeds Rains and Your Move: we want to give a presence to our 250+ financial advisers,” says Harry.
While it’s still early days (remember, marathon and not a sprint), the goal is to have their financial advisers ranking in the local 3-pack for the relevant terms: “York financial adviser,” “Manchester financial adviser,” etc. at locations across the UK.
“The Lookup platform helps us get traffic to the advisers. We’re also tracking clicks, as well as appointment bookings. Once the traffic is there (which is what we use Lookup to help us with) then our next step is to make sure that our site is best optimised to turn a website visitor into a lead,” he explains.
While accurate listings data is crucial for awareness for those that already know about your brand, it also gives them ease of access to find you and get in touch with you.
When it comes to reaching your prospective customers, the first place they’ll likely go to is Google.
Google’s review count and review score factor into local search ranking. More reviews and positive ratings can improve your business' local ranking.
“We want to make sure that we've got the biggest coverage possible for each location and adviser. Whether that's top of the blue links, top of the local 3-pack or the best Google reviews. So when we are showing up with two other competitors, we want to make sure we’re chosen. This is where reputation comes in. Better rating: better chance they’ll choose us,” says Harry.
The team’s philosophy is: Ensuring a good reputation for those customers that we already have, is a way to establish that trust with them. And for new and prospective customers, Harry says “reviews are how we stand out from what is quite a competitive crowd.”
A subpar brand experience on the location level can harm a brand’s broader reputation. These frustrations are often expressed through negative reviews — which can be a real problem for multi-location businesses. Not to mention, they’ll tarnish your acquisition and retention targets. Here, we can turn to local independent businesses for best practices.
Many are doing better than larger brands with multiple locations, simply because they respond fast and know to tap into reviews and leverage them to their advantage. “We're a national brand with a lot of branches, but it's very competitive locally. This means there are a lot of local independent brands that only concentrate in one area, so we’re up against them, as well as national brands. We’ve been focusing on making sure that we're competing in local areas and not just at the national level,” Harry explains.
Giving your local managers the ability to see and respond to reviews will not only help ensure you maintain a consistent brand reputation across all locations; but also their direct experience with local customers can help to strengthen the brand as a whole.
Of course, you still manage your online presence from head office; while at the same time giving your teams on the ground ownership of their local information — such as changes to opening hours and the authorization to reply to reviews and questions instantly from one place.
When you empower “ambassadors” within your company at the local level, you can make room for customisation and personalisation on the local level or more detailed feedback. Also team leads at the local level get insights right away on what they’re doing well or where to improve their service.
It’s important to remember that your local teams will not be as tech savvy as you though, so making it as easy as possible for your local managers to feed and review responses to reviews from one ‘single source of truth’ is critical for this two-way communication with customers to unfold.
Harry and his team have tapped into this and have set up team members from Reeds Rains and Your Move’s local branches to jump in and reply to reviews as soon as they come in. “We can always have a look and get an overview of the big picture; but it empowers them to handle it on their own,” he says.
Any business with offline locations or individual agents will struggle to succeed without an online presence However, many multi-location businesses are lacking a strong online presence for their offline locations.
To stand out from the local competition in a crowded market, offline information must be reflected online, which means getting the basics right: from precise map pins to opening hours.
Once locations and agents are found, the way to steer your prospective customers towards your site is to ensure listings are consistent, accurate and up-to-date and your teams on the ground are responding to reviews as fast as possible.
How does the Lookup platform make your job easier?
"The excellent performance of the Lookup platform was not in question when we were choosing a partner. What sets Lookup apart is the value they add via their superior service. Shasha is always at the end of the phone or email, responds quickly and this enables us to act quickly.
Because we are a small team, we’ve got a lot of work to do. But because we’re so small, we can also act fast. I mean, we do weekly updates with our sites, sometimes daily updates, if there is something wrong, we can update it instantly.
So, one of the most important things (that other listing providers couldn’t match), was the ability for us to replicate this for our branches with their online presence.
It’s about having Lookup as an extension of our team. In that, we can say, we’ve got a problem here and we get answers quickly. This is really important to us, because we can give our teams the answers they need right away.
And then there’s trust. There’s that trust in the platform, not just for me and my team, but in other areas of the business as well."
— Harry Owen, SEO Manager at LSL Property Services