Guest author: Jordan Kniaziew runs a family business of 10 clinics across Southwestern Ontario that rely pretty heavily on their online reputation to attract new patients and talent. He’s also a Google Maps Level 6 Local Guide helping small businesses build their online presence.
Q: As a business owner with over 10 clinics across Southwestern Ontario, you’ve seen the impact a Google Review can make. How beneficial have Google Business Profiles and Reviews been for your clinics?
Google reviews are a lifeline for our family-run business. Over the past couple of years, we have seen more people leave large cities like Toronto for smaller communities like Petrolia. When someone moves to a new community and needs different services like a bakery or an optometrist, the first thing they tend to do is go to Google. In a way, Google Maps has become the new coffee shop, where you can learn about all of the great spots to check out in your community.
For Kniaziew Optometry, having 10 Google business profiles and being one of the largest independently-owned optometry clinics in Ontario, we see the impact of having all of our Google business information up to date. Every week, we hear from new patients who say they found us by Googling for an optometrist near them, and we popped up. For our locations, reviewing negative feedback that is authentic and legitimate can be a great opportunity to improve our business practices.
Q: Why do you think negative reviews are important and how have you handled them?
There is no easy way of saying it - negative reviews always sting. It's hard not to take it personally when you see someone take the time and give you a one-star review. Over time, we have learned that negative reviews lead to great learning opportunities for our team. Running a family business is not easy, and our goal is to constantly learn each day to better serve our communities. In my opinion, we have some of Canada's best optometrists working in our clinics.
Q: How do you think small businesses should integrate Google Business Profiles and Reviews into their online business plans?
Unfortunately, I don't think the majority of businesses in our area have even claimed their Google business profiles. I would say that’s a great place to start. The process is very easy and gives you access to a lot of great analytics. As the next step, business owners should look into business support programs like Digital Main Street. It's an amazing grant program that is supported by Google that will help give the business a lot of great nuggets on how to bring them into the digital age.
When it comes to the reviews they receive, I think it's important that the business always acknowledges them whether they’re positive or negative. I know it's not easy to deal with negative feedback, but they should treat these instances as learning opportunities to help improve their processes.
Q: You’ve been paying it forward, helping put local small businesses in your community on the map so to speak. Can you tell us about your journey? Why do you find it so important to leave a review for almost every business you’ve visited?
I spend the majority of my week driving between communities that include Windsor, Tecumseh, Essex, Leamington, Blenheim, Chatham, Dresden, Wallaceburg, Petrolia, and Corunna Ontario. When you visit these communities so often, you start to learn where the best coffee and pizza places are. It's always incredible to me when I see the passion other small businesses have for what they do. In an effort to give back to other small business owners, I’ve been leaving Google reviews of the places I visit whenever I can.
Since COVID, the majority of potential customers are spending more and more time online. When deciding where I want to eat, a lot of the time I look for really good photos of the food. If I see an amazing picture of a great meal, I'm more likely to check that spot out. Over the past several months, I've been adding pictures to my reviews and it's amazing to see the number of views that have come from a couple of recent pictures. I have just passed 1,300,000 views of pictures of local businesses.
Black Goose Grill - Wallaceburg, Ontario
When it comes to marketing, getting that amount of brand recognition would cost those businesses thousands of dollars. I think Southwestern Ontario is one of the best places to live in Canada. We have an amazing micro-climate surrounded by the Great Lakes and access to major markets that are within driving range. I think we can all do a little more to support the local businesses in our community.
Q: Besides attracting new customers, how else has your Google Maps presence helped your business?
When I think about marketing content and how to position our brand, it all centres around our Google business profile. It has been great for educating the community on the importance of regularly seeing an optometrist. Most people don't realize there are various eye conditions and eye diseases that can be detected by an optometrist, even if you have 20/20 vision. We’re grateful that our business profile helps get that message out to a larger audience.