Google+ Local for Franchise based service business with Call center


Maria

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Hi Everyone,
I am sure everyone says this but oh how happy I am to find this place.
I just inherited a Universal Business Program and trying to ensure we have the most effective set up for success with all business listings including Google Plus Local.
Let me run through at a high level a little about us:
- We are a home service franchise company and have one head office with over 170 locations across three countries.
- Our franchises do not have a "store front" instead service customers at their homes. We are locally owned and operated. We adhere to Google Policy of hiding our location and targeting by service area only.
- Our customers reach us through a national sales call center only. We do not endorse calls directly to our franchise partners.


Google states that for all of Google + Local listings We must use a local phone number and cannot use a national 1-800 number for multiple listings. We have tested on this change through verification calls and many listings have been flagged and are in review ? in some cases the review process has taken months. Aside from this issue you should be aware that multiple listings have been affected by the ?we currently do not support this location? bug also.

We have been working towards a solution through our Google AdWords team who have contacted Google + Local on our behalf but there seems to be no solution evident to anyone we have spoken to.

Can you suggest any solutions for our situation? Is there a smarter way to list our multiple franchises with a 1-800 number?

I really appreciate any advice.
 

Linda Buquet

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Hi Everyone,
I am sure everyone says this but oh how happy I am to find this place.
Thanks Maria. Yes we hear that a lot and are just so happy we can offer a refuge from the storm. :p

Aside from this issue you should be aware that multiple listings have been affected by the ?we currently do not support this location? bug also.
FYI, often in fact with service area business, USUALLY "do not support" is not a bug, but indicates the listing has been deleted for guideline violations. Most often for not hiding address. (Or Google thinking you didn't, even if you did.)

I'm not aware of a good way to get around the 800# issue. Another problem with using the same 800 # for all the listings is potential merging of listings.
 
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Hmmmmm. Linda, is there any way that a franchise like that could set up a local phone number for each franchisee, then forward that number to their 800 number? I understand that doing that for 170 clients could get costly, but I don't see another way around it. The franchise wants to make sure that all calls are routed to them. So creating local numbers and forwarding them all to the 800 number would still allow all calls to be routed to their headquarters, and it could also be a way to track leads. The franchise, of course, would have to be the one that actually purchases and controls the numbers, for obvious reasons. But as far as their Local listings go, each franchisee would have a unique address (hidden, of course) and a unique phone number.

I don't know if things could be set up like this, but I was just brainstorming.
 

Colan Nielsen

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David, that was the only work around that came to my mind as well.

However, I think it falls into a grey area because of this quality guideline:

Website & Phone: Provide a phone number that connects to your individual business location as directly as possible, and provide one website that represents your individual business location.

  • Use a local phone number instead of a call center number whenever possible.
  • Do not provide phone numbers or URLs that redirect or ?refer? users to landing pages or phone numbers other than those of the actual business.


 
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Ah, I see. Thanks for posting that, Colan. Although when Google uses expressions such as "as directly as possible" or "whenever possible", many people will take that to mean that they can justify their situation as the exception to the rule. But yes, if taken in the strictest sense, then call-forwarding is now allowed. "Whenever possible". lol

So if a local franchise owner cannot have their own local phone number, then I don't see how they could create a Local page or rank in local results. They would have to target organic rankings.
 

Colan Nielsen

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Ah, I see. Thanks for posting that, Colan. Although when Google uses expressions such as "as directly as possible" or "whenever possible", many people will take that to mean that they can justify their situation as the exception to the rule. But yes, if taken in the strictest sense, then call-forwarding is now allowed. "Whenever possible". lol
Agreed. I think that Google tends to be pretty vague with their quality guidelines. Most likely on purpose.
 

Linda Buquet

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Yep I agree with you both in that local #s forward is the only way I can see to do it.
PLUS agree with Colan that it's technically prohibited and could cause major problems.

However having said all that, I don't believe 800# are expressly prohibited and the guidelines say "Use a local phone number instead of a call center number whenever possible."

Has support directly told you, you can't use the 800#?

Maria I know what franchise this is and have a serious concern for you.

I just spot checked on maps and a lot of the locations ARE showing address, instead of having address hidden. I grabbed the 1st location that I saw. It was a HOME ADDRESS and needs to be hidden. (Can't remember which one. Did it last night, half asleep, ODed on Vday candy!)

Google has deleted HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of listings (IMPO) for violating this guideline.

And the HUGE problem you have is if you have all these listings in one account or many broken up into a few accounts... all it takes is one or 2 violations and Google will SUSPEND the entire account. That means every listing in that account is suspended, even the ones that are compliant.

Same concern goes for the forwarded phone#s. IF G moderators catch a couple listings, flag them and they get suspended the whole account can go down.

Last point is that since the name is well branded and 800# is right in the name, I bet LOTS of consumers will just call the 800# in the name and won't really pay that much attention to the local #. So if I were you I'd just get local #s to play it safe I think.
 

Maria

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Thank you all so much for the input!

I had the same concern over the forwarded numbers. I will try and get an answer on how strict the rules re. that are.

It seems like if this can be arranged, it would be the way to go.

There are definitely some listings that show their address, but they are managed by franchisees and some do not have their log-ins and we can't get access into them. Those listings will need to be deleted and re-created.

Another solution would probably be cleaning up all of the listings and manage it from one account...but that is a whole different story.
 

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