Many factors determine your company’s valuation. While most of these considerations are numbers-driven, such as your P&L, cash flow, and debt, there are also intangible considerations that play a vital role in your company’s worth. Chief among them is your business’s reputation.
A positive business reputation is precious; it’s an asset that small business owners want to cultivate, maintain, and defend. And while a lesser reputation may indicate problematic areas within the business, there are steps that small business owners can take to restore and enhance good will.
Know Your Starting Point
You can’t bolster your reputation without knowing what it is in the first place. It’s important to understand how your marketspace is perceiving your company today. Start by Googling your business to assess your digital reputation. What are customers saying about you? Ask yourself: If a prospect were to research your company online, would these search results make them more or less likely to buy from you?
The most important search results are on page one of Google. You want to make sure that the top mentions are positive and timely. You are able to control the messaging by creating and publishing digital content. This includes social media posts, website blog articles, and press releases. If you find that there are search Google search entries that do not paint your business in a positive light, you may be able to push these mentions off of the first page by publishing your own online content. The more content you create, the more you are able to control the messaging about your company.
When it comes time to sell your company, you can count on prospective buyers performing a thorough search for mentions and perceptions of your company as part of their due diligence process. The strength of your reputation will be a determining factor in the final sale price – and if the buyer even remains interested. We’ve seen deals fall apart due to negative online reviews (yes, they were valid). No one wants to buy problems.
Monitor Online Reviews
It’s essential that you or an employee monitor comments made my customers on online review sites. This gives you an opportunity to identify both positive and negative experiences with your company. While a one-time mention of a particular aspect of your company could be an aberration, multiple similar comments likely indicate true strengths and weaknesses. This is your cue to modify business practices where needed and to double down on your strengths.
Whenever possible, respond to comments left by customers. This shows your commitment to exceptional customer service and your willingness to be engaged. Also, make sure your profiles are up to date on review sites.
Be a Good Neighbor
Supporting your local community is not only good for your neighbors; it’s also good for business. By maintaining an active presence in local business and community organizations, you are showing your customers that your company is focused on more than just the bottom line. Sponsoring or contributing to local initiatives, fundraisers, and causes goes a long way in generating good will.
Your social media presence can be used for more than just a platform to broadcast your latest promotions. Many customers reach out to businesses via social media to ask questions, lodge complaints, and discuss their experiences. Monitor your mentions and search for your business name on social media to be sure you are in touch and engaged.
Ask for It
A testimonial from a delighted customer can serve as social proof that your business provides the value you promise. The next time a customer expresses their satisfaction in the product or service you offer, ask if they would mind putting it in writing. Testimonials and recommendations make customers and prospect feel that they are in good hands.
Build a Customer-First Culture
Ultimately, your business reputation depends on customer satisfaction. Building a business with a mission that is centered on a customer-first philosophy will set the tone for a positive experience. It’s important that you set this tone from the top of the organization. When your employees see you living this philosophy, then they are more likely to follow suit.
Get the Complete Picture
Of course, obtaining an accurate valuation of your company can only be attained by a comprehensive analysis that takes into account both tangible and intangible factors. At Peek Advisory Group, we conduct detailed financial assessments to help entrepreneurs understand the true value of their businesses.
You can also get insights into your company’s worth by taking a free online assessment. In five minutes or less, answer 9 questions and receive a 15+ page report on the areas in which your business excels and where it can be improved.