Terry Powell of The Entrepreneur’s Source Discusses Online Reputation Management and the Power of the Internet in Amplifying Voices
A positive online reputation can create opportunities, warrant respect and open doors for businesses and individuals. A reputation is like a badge earned from years of trusted relationships, hard work and high standards. However, reputations are also shaped from opinion, and the age of the Internet has allowed the opinions of few to be seen by the eyes of many.
If an individual truly wishes to damage your reputation online, there are few things standing in their way. Once a negative opinion, whether in the form of a complaint, review or social media posting has been published online, the damaging effects to a hard-earned reputation are instant and powerful.
However, it is important to remember that although the Internet gives a large and powerful voice to even one disgruntled individual, the power still lies just as equally in the hands of the majority who have helped to build and maintain the strong reputation that stood before.
It Starts with a Search
The Internet can pose as a double-edged sword, especially in terms of reputation management. Although the Internet provides a platform to publish and share information about a business, the anonymity it provides means false or misleading information is sometimes difficult to distinguish from more reputable sources.
Google search has become the first step in research for potential clients, customers, business partners and industry professionals seeking information about a company or individual. If search results yield negative content, the effect on a business can be immense in the form of lost opportunities and revenues.
Those facing a negative online reputation may struggle to not only form new professional relationships, but also to keep the trust and respect of those relationships already established. Even if the content published is outdated, obsolete or outright false, the damage remains in the form of high-ranking articles, reviews, social media posts or blogs.
Finding the Positive in Negative Search Results
Terry Powell of The Entrepreneur’s Source (E-Source), has experienced the frustration of seeing the opinions of a small number of E-Source franchisees published on the Internet. Powell, Founder of The Entrepreneur’s Source, said the effect of that negative content on the reputation of his business, which had succeeded over a span of nearly 30 years, was significant.
“The Entrepreneur’s Source was built from the ground up on one foundational value statement: Your Success is Our Only Business. To have that business nearly destroyed because we did the right thing for the majority of our franchisees is beyond the scope of my imagination, even today,” Powell said.
However, Powell now looks back on this experience with an appreciation for the positive reinforcement received by the majority of his franchisees.
“In an overwhelming show of support from The Entrepreneur’s Source family, more than 100 letters were written and sent by happy franchisees and regional developers who protested the idea of class action arbitration. They made it abundantly clear that this small group did not represent the interests of our franchisees as a whole,” Powell said.
A Strong Reputation Built Offline Survives the Test
Efforts to combat the negative online content have lasted for several years and cost the E-Source business a significant amount of time, resources and money. But, Powell says he has walked away from the experience with a valuable amount of insight. He has more knowledge in not only how to maintain a strong reputation outwardly, but also how to improve communication and company moral internally as well.
“We have realized the need to be proactive, as well as in synch with our franchisees. We have continuously improved our processes and work collaboratively to maintain the interdependent relationship between the franchisor and franchisees,” Powell said.
Today, there are more than 100 new E-Source franchisees and the business continues to grow, despite the negative online content that can still be found online. And, the company’s coaching network works with 10,000 individuals each month to help them find the right franchise opportunities. After nearly 30 years of business, E-Source has built and earned a positive reputation that could not be broken from an experience with negative content online.