Trending Content

Negative review? Your response could turn things around

By Connie Lannan

April 3, 2024

A renter is angry and writes a bad review on social media about your rental operation. What do you do?

“Definitely do not stay off social media,” says David McBee, internet marketing consultant with, based in Olathe, Kan. “You can stay off social media all day long, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t people bad-talking you. It is better to be in the space to have a voice than to step out of it and let people bash you.”

The key is not to think of a bad review as a terrible thing, McBee notes. “Bad reviews point out that you are human and show that your positive reviews are authentic. If you show up with 100 five-star reviews, people will start to wonder whether those reviews are real. A bad review gives you the opportunity to tell future readers about yourself.”

Here are a few of McBee’s do’s and don’ts when it comes to dealing with bad reviews:

Don’t become defensive. “Let’s say someone broke your piece of equipment or didn’t bring it back on time. It was clear from the original contract that this renter was wrong. Even so, this renter decides to write a negative review. The normal reaction is for the rental operator to respond by defending himself, saying something like, ‘You knew what the deal was. You broke it.’ The response becomes adversarial. What the rental operator doesn’t realize is they are creating a defensive persona that future readers will see. What you have to remember is that every time you are writing a response, you are not writing back to the reviewer. You are writing to future readers,” McBee says.

Be kind, gentle and apologetic in your response. “It doesn’t matter whether you were in the right, you have to appear to want to make things right with this reviewer. You can say things like, ‘I am so sorry we let you down. Come into the store and we will make it right,’” McBee adds.

Write a clever or funny response. “I have known rental business owners who have written a clever or funny response. It can improve their online presence and result in something positive,” McBee says, adding that this is not the time for sarcastic humor.

Try to gain more positive reviews. “The best way to deal with negative reviews is to get more positive reviews. Get five or 10 positive reviews and the bad one will be buried,” he says.

“It is OK to get some negative reviews. You just need to know how to handle them and balance them with more positive reviews,” McBee says.