Red Flag Series: Reviews

\ ‘red- ‘flag \ (noun): a warning signal or sign; something that indicates or draws attention to a problem, danger, or irregularity 

The problem with red flags is that we usually don’t see them until it’s too late. They aren’t always recognizable at first – which is what can make them so dangerous. Left to their own devices, these issues will grow bigger and more problematic over time.

The intention of this series is to put the spotlight on the red flags in hopes of avoiding regrettable decisions in the future.

Two Thumbs Up

Growing up I was obsessed with a little show called “At the Movies”. Hosted by Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, the two reviewers would rate upcoming films with either a thumbs up or thumbs down. If a film had two thumbs up, I HAD to see it. The following Friday, my dad would take me to Blockbuster Video where I’d grab some Buncha Crunch and peruse the aisles of VHS tapes, reading the accolades printed on the movie sleeves: “a marvel…”, “cinematic masterpiece…”, and the one I really cared about, “two thumbs WAY up”.

Fast forward to today and reviews have become an increasingly important part of our culture. From Amazon items to your Uber Eats delivery person, reviews power how we choose which products or services to use. In fact, a recent survey found that around 84% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. This is not surprising, given the convenience and accessibility of reading reviews online before making a purchase.

However, there are some red flags to consider when relying on reviews for services (like which cleaning company to hire), and believe it or not, not everyone provides iron-clad advice like Siskel and Ebert.

Red Flag #1: The Pendulum Reviews

When considering any service, online reviews can help. Unfortunately in the world of commercial cleaning and property restoration, many reviews are fake, deceptive, manipulated – or in some cases non-existent.

Under-reviewed or too-good-to-be-true companies should always raise a red flag. Many times ratings have been scrubbed to raise their rating or have been padded to give a false sense of proficiency. If the pendulum swings too far in either direction, it may be cause for concern. 

The dangers of making a review-based decision mean that the source may not be authentic. It is not uncommon for businesses to pay for fake reviews or for people to write fake reviews in exchange for compensation. This can skew the overall rating of a business, leading consumers to make decisions based on inaccurate information.  

If you’re trying to make a decision on what company to hire based on your needs, consider the source of the information and where you’re finding it. Is there a short burst of positive reviews? Can you only find recommendations on the company website while coming up with nothing on their google page? Worse yet, does it seem like no one has ever used their services ever?

While reviews can help, you may need to do some sleuthing to decide if what you’re finding is truthful and beneficial to your needs. 

Bottom Line: overly positive or non-existent reviews may point to inauthentic companies. 

Red Flag #2: The Employee Review

If you’ve ever looked for a new job, you might have used a platform like Glassdoor or Fishbowl. These services, unlike LinkedIn, gather information from current and past employees and give you a glimpse of how they’re treated, compensated, and everything in between. 

In the world of commercial cleaning and property restoration, checking employee reviews will be worth your while. While services may seem great from the outside and your smooth-talking sales representative appears charming and likable, it’s the employees that will be inside your home or business. 

Instead of relying on service reviews, look at how the employees view the company they work for. Happy employees generate a higher quality product while discontent staff tend to try and “stick it to the man” by slacking off or doing the bare minimum. 

While employee reviews are rarely objective (you’ll ALWAYS find one or two negative reviews), you should take the average consensus into consideration. If most employees seem to hate the environment, the leadership, the compensation, the workload, etc., that should signal a major red flag. You want happy employees working for you. Not those who are treated like a number. 

Bottom line: If a company treats its “own” poorly, just imagine how they’ll treat you.

Red Flag #3: The Verbal Review

When meeting with a prospective service provider, ask them this hard-hitting question: “Can you tell me about some of the accounts that got away”?

In any service business, clients come and go. Sometimes it’s mutual. Sometimes it’s budget-focused. And sometimes it’s an ugly, divorce-style “try and get sole custody of the kids” kind of split. 

If you’re looking to hire a commercial cleaning company or someone to help with your property damage needs, asking a question like this will unearth the sort of moral character you’ll be dealing with. Because let’s face it: losing an account is never easy. There are feelings and pain points around it. Most likely, it’s a sore subject and you’ve poured salt in the wound.

If the response you get is a bitter diatribe on how they were wronged by Company XYZ, take that as your red flag. Any service that cannot admit to mutual failings, the way things could have been improved, or at least speak wholesomely about a former client, is shedding light on what future value you may hold in their eyes. 

Nobody likes a sore loser, whether they tried their best or not. 

Bottom line: The verbal review you receive about someone else might be the same one they give about you later on. 

Reviews are a great tool and valuable resource when shopping for a new service, whether that be cleaning, property restoration, or something else entirely. However, instead of relying on recommendations that might be biased or falsified, It is always a good idea to do your own research and gather as much information as possible before making a commitment. 

If you’re currently in the market for new services, we encourage you to apply the above tips to Zoë Facility Services’ offerings. We never scrub or falsify our reviews and many employees have called us “the best job ever”…

…and red flags or not, with 98% of consumers stating that reviews are an essential resource when making a decision, wouldn’t you want those grades to be authentic?