The Fear of the Bad Review
Come on, this can’t just be me? Forgive me if this post is a little self-indulgent, but I’ve been reflecting on a couple of situations I have found myself in, and how my fear of that negative review has made me respond to those situations, and what I can take away from the whole process (one of which is ongoing) and hopefully I can help anyone else avoid getting into these situations in the first place!
My First 1* Review
Ugh, I felt sick when I saw this notification appear on Facebook. This is a relatively long story so please bear with me! I had been approached at a Wedding Fayre by a bride and her sister who was about to turn 21. We had been talking, and the girl whose birthday it was about to be (let’s call her Amy…not her real name) left having been promised by her sister (let’s call her Brenda…also not her real name) that she would pay for me to go and do glitter at her 21st birthday for her and 3 friends. I was happy because I hadn’t moved up to Sheffield yet, and it was a booking in the bag! A couple of days later I had an email through from Brenda and I sent her my booking form and invoice for the deposit.
Time went on, I FINALLY moved to a new house, and then it got to about a week before the event was due to happen and I hadn’t had a reply from Brenda, so I emailed her to check that the event would still be going ahead and would she still like me there. A few days later an email lands in my inbox saying that the event had been postponed due to an issue with the venue and that she would let me know when it had been rescheduled. So, I went about my day and thought nothing else of it. Until I logged onto Facebook and saw that 1-star review from Amy. She couldn’t believe that I had pulled out after looking forward to me being at her birthday for several months, because there wouldn’t be enough people for me to glitter. She also thought I was overpriced.
Now, I didn’t have a clue where this had come from (and it took me a minute to realize it was Brenda’s sister as they had different surnames) and that is just not what happened, but it gave me the fear! I had moved up to Sheffield about 2 weeks before, and after about a year and a half, this was my first review on Facebook and it was 1* and it wasn’t even true! I messaged Amy and explained that I had been told that there had been an issue with the venue and that the event wasn’t going ahead as planned, at which point she wasn’t sure whether she believed me and asked to see proof, so I sent her screenshots of the conversation I had had with her sister. She then went off to speak to her sister and it turned out that Brenda had told us each different stories to get out of paying me, but didn’t stop to think about the damage she could have done to my business. I was then approached by Amy’s friend and was asked if I would still go out just to do Amy. Now, under any normal circumstances, no, I would not go out to apply glitter to one person for a rate I had quoted per person with a minimum uptake, but I had the fear! Being new to the area, I couldn’t; afford any negative feeling towards me and my business, so I went out, did her glitter, she removed her negative review and replaced it with a 5* review and all was well with the world.
This was a horrendous experience for me, and really made me see the importance of the review. I’m not very good at sending follow up emails and asking for a review on Facebook. When your booked through other websites I think they automatically send the client a prompt to leave you a review but going forward this is definitely something I need to start doing! It made me feel sick that for those few hours while I was dealing with that situation, anyone that came across my Facebook page would see that review and leave immediately, just as a result of one person not realizing the impact she could have on my business.
The Unpaid Gig
Time went on, I got myself set up and thankfully I didn’t have any more situations like this. In September I had been asked via a well-known booking site about doing a Halloween event, my quote was accepted, and I asked for the email address to send the booking form and deposit invoice off to. For me, sending off a booking form allows me to collect any information about the event and the client I might need to fulfil the event, for example where the event will be taking place and where to park. I didn’t hear back until about 1 week before Halloween, but I hadn’t had any conflicting bookings (it was for the Monday rather than the weekend) so I sent off my booking form and invoice for the deposit and heard nothing back. I still didn’t know where the event was taking place and who the client was. On the day of the event I had to look up the email address I had been sent to find out the company who was trying to book me to find a phone number to check if they were expecting me (as no deposit had been paid) and to find out where they were expecting me to be.
So, I turned up at the gig and was told to send an invoice for the full amount rather than the remaining balance and was assured that it would be paid the next day. The next day I received an email informing me I had been left a 5-star review via the booking site, and felt assured that my invoice would in fact get paid. It got to 3 weeks after the event and I decided to send a follow up via the site I had been booked through to thank them for their lovely review and as a gentle reminder that I hadn’t been paid, and could they just let me know when I might expect payment? Nothing. At the end of the 30 days I sent an email to their head office. Nothing. This is 7 weeks ago now, and aside from that review, I have had no contact from the client to confirm receipt of my invoice (which has now been sent 3 times) or to confirm when my invoice might be paid. It was a student hall of residence, and I am going to persist with them, but we are now in the Christmas season where nothing seems to happen, and student halls of residences aren’t always open over this period.
So, what can we take from this? Going forward I am going to have a notice on my invoices saying that any payments not made within 30 days will incur a late payment fee, unless an alternatively payment schedule has been agreed. Depending on the client I will also insist that I cannot unpack my kit until the full payment is made. This unfortunately isn’t always possible, especially when you’re dealing with corporate clients, but for birthday parties and weddings etc, I will now always make sure that first a deposit is taken, and then that full payment is made either by bank transfer before the event, or that cash is paid on arrival.
I’ve more or less resigned myself to the fact that this probably won’t get paid. I do have evidence that the job happened in case anyone from their head office tries to say it didn’t. Firstly, I have the review, and secondly, I have a photo of one of the staff members I painted with a branded lanyard around her neck. I knew really early on that this was going to be a pain in the ass job, and I really didn’t want to go because of the lack of information I had, had but was worried about the potential negative impact it might have on my business reputation, and now I’m suffering from the negative financial impact on my business. It was a complete lose, lose situation.
The Fear of the negative review is real, and sometimes it makes us do things that don’t make business sense. People are weird, and you do hear stories of people going around leaving negative reviews of their competitors pages to make their own business look better. I once saw a makeup artist receive a torrent of bad reviews because she was doing a giveaway that included non-cruelty free products, and as much as I try and use cruelty free products as much as I can, it’s not always possible, and it’s not something that should affect your business reputation!
I know I have a lot to improve on in the business aspect, and it’s situations like these that make you learn the hard way. Until recently I didn’t have any terms and conditions, or anything more official than details of the event on my booking form. I now have a set of terms and conditions on my booking form that need to be signed by the client before I confirm a booking, it means that everything is in black and white and there is no arguing at any point, and I have also adapted it for the hair and makeup side of my business.
I hope this has been useful to you. If you have found yourself in either of these situations, I would love to know how you handled it and what your outcomes were! If you do have any questions, please let me know!
The Pixie Tribe