AshleyB

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I've asked this question before, in other forums, but I want to get an up to date opinion on what Google would consider 100% legitimate for GMB. We work with Service Area Businesses that are interested in having more than one location. Their main location houses all of their inventory, staff during the day, operations and customer service team, etc.

They are proposing that their additional locations would operate as follows:
-They fully own the location
-It would have permanent signage
-It would be set up as a showroom location to display the products they install
-They would see customers upon request, by appointment only, since the same staff that go to customer homes would walk the customer through their showroom and answer questions about the product and give them a quote.
-Calls to this location will be answered at their main location, since it is staffed with a customer service team.

My first question is, would this pass a stringent Google My Business review? Is it 100% within guidelines? With all the spam in the service industry, they do not want to look like or be considered a spammer. Is there anything else they should be doing or shouldn't be doing?

Second, they should show their address in this case, correct?

Third, should they also show their service area for each of these locations?

Fourth, should they display their hours that appointments are available as their business hours?

Google doesn't clearly address this scenario in their guidelines. The closest they come to this is, "Service-area businesses—businesses that serve customers at their locations—should have one page for the central office or location and a designated service area. Service-area businesses can't list a "virtual" office unless that office is staffed during business hours."
 

Tim Colling

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I would not include business hours in those listings, if you want to avoid problems.

It's pretty clear from a wide range of sources that "by appointment only" businesses should not indicate in their GMB profile that they open in the manner that you are proposing.

If I were doing spam patrol for a competitor and found out that you were doing this, I'd report this in a heartbeat.
 

AshleyB

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@Tim Colling - are you just saying they should not display business hours? Or they should not do anything "by appointment only."
 

Tim Colling

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As I understand it, the 'rules' say that if you show business hours, the location should be open and available for the public to visit.

Now, if you want to be "aggressive" and show business hours when the location isn't really open to the public, you can do so but you have to realize that you're taking a calculated risk.

Would I do it? Well, it depends.

For some clients, I would do so. For others, I would not. Just yesterday I advised a client that we should not show business hours for Saturdays when their showroom is not actually open, but they are available "by appointment". In their case, though, that's what all of their competitors do, with respect to Saturdays. If my client didn't follow suit, I am certain that soon one of their competitors would suggest an edit to change it (or worse, file a redressal form alleging heinous disregard for Google's rules).

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JoyHawkins

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I would suggest showing the address, adding tons of the photos of their signage to the listing, and putting the hours as the hours they have staff there. I've never found adding service areas to impact ranking so you could include them or leave them off.
 

AshleyB

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@JoyHawkins If it is by appointment only, you recommend leaving hours out of the listing all together and nothing that in the description?

Do you think Google would review a service area business, with several "by appointment only" showrooms and feel this is spam? I just want to make sure these businesses don't resemble spam in GMB eyes and get their listings wiped out. We are trying to come up with a strategy that meets the business needs and passes a thorough GMB audit with flying colors. Too many bad players out there and I don't want my customers to look like any of them.
 

JoyHawkins

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The problem with leaving hours out is that the system is designed to prompt users to add them. It's really quite stupid. So I'd add them in.

There is nothing spammy about a showroom. I think you're totally fine as long as it's a staffed location.
 

AshleyB

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And staffed "by appointment only" is okay? For hours we would display the hours that an appointment can be scheduled, even though there isn't always someone there during those hours unless requested?
 

JoyHawkins

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For hours we would display the hours that an appointment can be scheduled, even though there isn't always someone there during those hours unless requested?

That's tricky. If no one is there, the listing likely isn't allowed. For example, you need an appointment to book a massage but there is always a staff member at the front desk when you drop in so it's totally fine to have a listing. What industry is this?
 

AshleyB

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Garage doors, which is known for spam, so I really want to be careful.

In this case, the business is proposing that they would send their staff there for the scheduled appointments, but the doors would not be open unless an appointment was scheduled.
 

AshleyB

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Okay, got it. If they set up their showroom and staffed it Monday - Friday 10 AM - 3 PM for walk ins and appointments, that would be 100% allowed though, correct?

Even if they have a main office for customer service with their address hidden and a service area showing?
 

AshleyB

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And by staffed all the time you mean during stated business hours?

Sorry for all the questions, just want to be thorough and clear.
 

AshleyB

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Okay, makes sense. Greatly appreciate the feedback! GMB guidelines don't dive into all of this as thoroughly as I'd like, so customers always seem to ask questions that fall into gray areas. With the current climate, I agree they need to be super careful about staffing.
 

AshleyB

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Is there a recommended software to use when making 360 tours for Google?
 
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