Level Up Your Google Reviews


It’s no surprise people find most businesses these days just by searching “near me” in Google Maps. Google just adds “near me” to any business you look up — coffee near me, pharmacy near me, you name it. 

Google Maps has become so powerful in the search community that one Brandify survey reports over 77% of respondents use Google Maps to find “near me” business information well ahead of other sites (including traditional Google searches).


What this means is all the search engine optimization (SEO) efforts you have dumped thousands of dollars into over the past few years have been disrupted by a local map search with the term “near me” added to it. Your super-awesome SEO-optimized website is no longer winning business. 

You’re being beat by the new guy with a mediocre website and 4.9 stars on Google Maps. Customers don’t have time to read websites when they want food; they just look for an option “near me” with great reviews. 

Shooting ranges are currently experiencing the same phenomenon. If a customer has two hours free and is bored, a shooting range “near me” is a great cure. The good news is savvy range operators can catch up very quickly using a couple of easy tips and techniques we’ve discovered at Shoot Indoors franchise locations, which helped increase the number of Google reviews by sevenfold.

Make Sure You’re 5-Star Ready

Before I dive into some techniques that have worked extremely well for our franchise locations, I do need to preface this by saying your business will only get 5-star reviews if it’s deserving of 5-star reviews. If you have terrible customer service, these methods will just put a spotlight on the issue. If you have great customer service, however, these methods will help get it noticed … and quickly.

It’s also important to note you do need to overcome a few common challenges, the main one being some customers don’t know how to leave a Google review. Customers also may not be able to leave a review because they don’t have a Google Gmail account. Apart from the lack of a Gmail account, making it easier for customers to leave feedback is 80% of the battle.

Focus on these four areas:

1. Ask for reviews (the best way).

2. Make it easy to leave reviews.

3. Offer incentives to customers and staff.

4. Respond to reviews promptly and professionally.

The In-Person Ask

In this article, we’ll focus on the top two areas since these can make a huge difference. Asking for reviews may seem obvious, but it actually includes a few different methods including asking in person, with signage, via email or text and via social media. Asking definitely helps increase the likelihood of a review but, regardless of the customer’s best intentions, if leaving a review isn’t easy, it will not happen.

Asking for reviews in person is by far the easiest method to implement, but it’s crucial to do it in a fashion that converts to an actual review being posted. To get the highest number of conversions with the in-person ask, you need to both incentivize staff to ask and assist the customer with some coaching.

For example, you could say something like, “I saw you were using our awesome target cameras. If you liked them, could you please leave us a Google review so more customers know about them?” or “Was David helpful with clearing your jam? If you mention him in a Google review, he gets a Starbucks gift card!”

Now the customer is basically giving the range officer a Starbucks gift card at no expense besides clicking five stars and writing, “David was great.” The customer feels good knowing they helped someone else, and the range officer is rewarded for helping the customer. Both parties win in this deal.

Ask With Signage

Asking with signage is a bit easier (and less obtrusive) than asking in person, but it is not a replacement for the in-person ask — it’s in addition to it. Asking with signage nowadays means two things, either posting a QR code (think stickers or wall signs) that links directly to your Google Business Profile or the more fun and magical NFC tap-activated cards, which are popping up everywhere. 

QR codes can be printed directly in-store and laminated, or you can order them pre-printed from Amazon. Just Google “Google review QR code” and you’ll see multiple buying options.

NFC cards — which stands for Near-Field Communication — is a short-range wireless connectivity technology that lets NFC-enabled devices communicate with each other. Basically, the card emits a signal smartphones can understand. In this case, it links to your Google Business Profile to leave a review (same as the QR code). When used on a car dashboard, NFC cards are commonly used to pay tolls. Modern tap-to-pay smartphones all have this feature enabled, so it’s both fun and easy for customers to tap their phones to these little stands.

Remember half of the game is motivating your customers to leave reviews, so a magical tap they don’t understand is sure to draw some attention. You can even use NFC writer apps on a smartphone to repurpose used NFC cards and link them to your business. We have implemented NFC cards at two of our Denver ranges and saw a sevenfold increase in Google reviews the first month!

Ask Via Email

The other way we ask for reviews is via email. Once a customer leaves our range, they receive a short email thanking them for their visit and asking them to leave a Google review. These services fall under the category of “reputation management” and can automatically be triggered to send when a new customer is wrung up in your point-of-sale (POS) system. 

We found the easiest way to implement the emails was to run a daily POS report of new customers and email this list containing the names and emails to our reputation management service provider Opiniion.com (yes, with two i’s). We email the requests 24 hours after the visit; you can also text the request if you collect phone numbers.

One of my friends who operates a large range on the East Coast sees a very high conversion using text requests (around 10%) while email is around 5%. Either method produces excellent results; the key is to automate the process so it runs in the background without staff involvement.

Case Studies

Here are some actual case studies from two of our locations:

Shoot Indoors Buckley (Aurora, Colo.) implemented an “ask in person” strategy when it opened in July 2021. By June 2023, they had 127 reviews averaging 4.9 stars. Impressive! This equates to around one review per week — not a lot, but it adds up. In early January 2024, Shoot Indoors Buckley purchased some NFC cards and managed to increase its Google reviews to 15 per week. As of mid-February, it now has 258 Google reviews averaging 4.9 stars.

Shoot Indoors Central Park (Denver) used an “ask in person” and “ask via email” strategy. They opened in Dec. 2023. By mid-February, they had 82 reviews averaging 4.9 stars, an average of 10 reviews per week.

In summary, website SEO is becoming less relevant as more and more people search in Google Maps. The number-one way to increase your appeal in Maps is by fostering a healthy number of 5-star reviews. Most customers will make their visit decision based solely on proximity and Google rating.

Overall, it’s much easier to stay on top rather than catch up — so find a strategy now that works for your unique setup. Remember, the best way to maintain a high rating is to have a culture deserving of one in the first place.  

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