5 Tips to Getting Better Testimonials

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In the last six months, I’ve encountered several contractors who have admitted that they don’t have a lot of good testimonials. Believe me, it isn’t because of their work; they are fine craftsman. It’s simply because they don’t have a system in place to get testimonials.

Testimonials are great because they market your business through the eyes of your clients – not you. You can tout all you want about how wonderful you are, but when someone else shares how much they’ve enjoyed working with you, it carries 100 times more weight. It personalizes and lends credibility to your business.

First, let’s look at what isn’t a great testimonial: “John built our addition last fall, and it was a pleasant experience.”

The testimonial above is plain; it’s vanilla. A better testimonial will reveal more about the experience they had with you. Why was it a good experience? What would they tell a friend about your business? What makes you different from others? You want a meaningful testimonial.

Here’s an example of a better testimonial: “Last fall, John build our addition for us, and we can’t adequately express how wonderful it feels to have the additional space. While we only added 300 square feet, John reconfigured our existing space to open up the kitchen, add a breakfast nook and expand our family room. This was a much-needed renovation – especially when our three teenagers have their friends over. Thank you, John!”

It is better because it provides just enough detail for someone to recognize the scope of the project, the solution John’s company provided and the result (why they are so darn happy).

Here are five tips to getting better testimonials.

  1. Recognize that not all clients are going to be good testimonial clients, so choose your testimonials carefully. Not all projects are with your ideal customer, and that’s okay (I call these KLO clients – Keeping the Lights On clients). However, when you do have great clients, make it a priority get a testimonial from them because these are the clients that will attract similar projects for you.
  2. When you have a project that went well and the client has expressed that they are pleased with the outcome, ask them if they’d provide you with a testimonial. Don’t wait. The best time to ask for a testimonial is immediately following the project. This is when they are the most pleased and enthusiastic about your work. They want to tell everyone!
  3. Sometimes you’ll encounter a client who is shy about writing a testimonial. This is often because they don’t think they are a good writer. That’s understandable. You can respect their feelings and still get a glowing testimonial by offering to put a few of their words (that they already shared with you) down on paper for their review. That way, you still get a better testimonial.
  4. Include a testimonial section in your end-of-project survey. Simply ask these questions: “What did you like about working with us?” and “What would you tell a friend about ABC Contractors?” Make a notation at the bottom of your survey that you may use these answers for marketing your business.
  5. Testimonials do not have to be grandiose to be effective. Keep it simple. The deck contractor I hired last spring didn’t have a fancy website or system. When he met with me, he showed me a 3-ring binder portfolio of projects and surveys from customers. Many customers wrote several paragraphs about how wonderful and trustworthy he is.

Do you need help setting up a system to request testimonials? Do you have testimonials that could be expanded into customer success stories? If so, contact me.


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