I have this pair of flip flops that I totally love. It’s my third pair of the exact same ones. I wear them all summer long, and, while they last for ages, my current pair is finally getting a little worn out.

The other day, I decided to order another pair. Just as I was about to click the “Buy Now” button, I scrolled down to the customer reviews. Sure enough, there were lots of other people like me who had worn these flip flops for years and ordered them repeatedly.

What I found out from reading the reviews was that the company had changed the flip flops – they were cheaper quality, not nearly as comfortable, and less stylish. The reviews ranged from disappointment to outright anger. How dare they!

Needless to say, I didn’t buy the flip flops.

It’s no secret most people read online reviews of a product or service before making a purchase. How many times have you read customer reviews on Amazon or Yelp that influenced your decision?

A study from the Pew Research Center indicated that “Fully 82% of U.S. adults say they at least sometimes read online customer ratings or reviews before purchasing items for the first time, including 40% who say they always or almost always do so.”

In a research study conducted by Moz, they asked participants how important online reviews are in decision-making when making a major purchase, such as an appliance, smart phone, or a car. The results revealed that online reviews impact 67.7% of respondents’ purchasing decisions.

Buying a franchise isn’t the same as choosing which restaurant to eat at (or flip flops), but it doesn’t change the fact that people do research online, they are influenced by what other buyers say, and they want their choices validated before they make a purchase.

While most franchisors expect and encourage franchise candidates to contact their existing franchisees as part of the validation process, more and more are starting to realize they need to have reviews of their system online to grab candidates’ interest in the first place.

Companies like MaidPro, Signal 88 Security, and Sport Clips prominently showcase franchisee testimonials on their candidate websites, which is a smart marketing strategy. In addition, companies like Wild Birds Unlimited and Visiting Angels actually provide candidates with access to a report from a third-party research firm on their franchisee satisfaction. The only thing more powerful than peer reviews are reviews from a trusted, independent source.

If you’re not highlighting your franchisee satisfaction online, you’re missing out on a valuable opportunity to influence buyers and impact your franchise sales.

Not sure how to get started? Contact Franchise Business Review to find out you can start measuring franchisee satisfaction and sharing the results with prospective buyers.