Transferring testimonials from a past business into my new one.
December 16, 2019 2:18 PM   Subscribe

I’m starting my own painting and roofing business. I’m putting together a website, and I want to have a testimonial section. The only problem is that I don’t yet have any testimonials for my business. Before I go on, I want to share a little bit of background.

I’m living in the Austin, Texas area, but I spent most my life in Fort Worth. I worked for my father’s home remodeling company, which won many awards. And in 2006, I started my own remodeling business, and I won many awards for the work I did in this business as well. I was even written up in remodeling magazines. Unfortunately, my clients were the very people affected by the 2008 recession, so when it hit, my business went under. After moving to Austin and figuring out my footing, I started working for a well-respected painting and roofing business, and I’ve been working for them for a few years. I’m branching out on my own and creating my own business again because I believe that I can make more money.

Basically, I have a pretty great pool of places I can draw from to get testimonials, except there are some problems. The testimonials from my time in Fort Worth aren’t local, and I know that people want to work with local businesses. And the testimonials I could get from the business I currently work for don’t apply to my new business. It wasn’t my new business that found and offered services to these clients.

But it is me and my crew who did the actual work. My question is, would it be ethical to ask some of my past clients that I’ve worked with under this current business (not my new one) to provide some testimonials about the work that I did? The only thing this current business provided me was the lead. I had to sell the jobs, keep an open dialog with the customer, oversee the job, and I was responsible for anything that went wrong.
posted by ggp88 to Work & Money (5 answers total)
I don’t see a problem as long as they say “ggp88 did great work at our house!” Or even “ggp88 was awesome when they worked for us under OtherBiz”. You’ll have to kind of ask for the testimonials in one of those formats if you want to quote verbatim.

Also I think people in ATX will be happy to see testimonials from Fort Worth a while back, shows you’ve been doing this work for a long time and in multiple places, giving you broader experience. I’ve moved around a good amount and I wouldn’t balk at all seeing references from another town in the past, as part of a portfolio.
posted by SaltySalticid at 2:44 PM on December 16, 2019

I think it's fine to use testimonials that aren't local! Are you talking about providing this on your website? You don't necessarily need to include the full name and city of people; you could quote them and sign it as something like "Fred and Ginger R." with a brief description of the kind of work you did. You could say something like, "References available upon request" and then line up the same or other folks to do that. If potential customers ask to speak with them, you could explain they're in Fort Worth.

You could also explain this by giving a bio along the lines of "ggp88 started in home remodeling in YEAR while working for their father's award-winning company in Fort Worth. In 2006, they started their own business and started winning their own awards, including AWARD and AWARD, featured in Magazine [link to article]. gggp88 moved to Austin in YEAR and worked for LOCAL BUSINESS for NUMBER years. They again run their own business, offering..."

You asked is it ethical, and you've also raised the possibility of people preferring local folks. First, it is certainly ethical to ask your former clients to give you a testimonial. Next, you'll build up local folks soon enough.
posted by bluedaisy at 2:46 PM on December 16, 2019

Your recent customers were clients of the company you work for, so it would only be ethical to seek their recommendation if you had permission of the company.

On the other hand, no harm no foul. IMHO as ethical lapses go it would be a pretty small one.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 2:47 PM on December 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

I think it's important to label/head the testimonials with a sentence indicating that they are for your previous business and crew. The crew members are important, and your new crew will be different. They are not interchangeable cogs, especially in the home remodeling business! So, I, as a potential client, would be put off if you seemed to imply that I would be getting exactly the same people as in the testimonials, when it's actually totally different.

There are probably other aspects of your previous business that will be a little different/better/worse.

That said, it sounds like the testimonials are awesome enough that it will be great for you either way, and I'd also, as a client, appreciate your transparency (a LOT) in disclosing that they were for a previous/different business. Plus, you are the main ingredient in both businesses, and I'd know that.
posted by amtho at 2:52 PM on December 16, 2019

Who believes “testimonials” published by a business about themselves anyway? A huge number of those are made up.

The only testimonials that matter to the business you’re in are found in HomeAdviser or AngiesList or google or yelp reviews (taken with mounds and mounds of salt knowing how often they’re fake too). I’m actually at a stage in life (new house) where I’m hiring contractors to do stuff. No way would I believe testimonials the contractor published themselves.

To be clear I’m sure you could get away with it, but why?

*References* would a whole other thing. Of any of your previous clients is willing, list them as references and invite your new clients to get in touch with them.
posted by spitbull at 4:47 AM on December 17, 2019

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