Everything you need to succeed as a Home Services company in a digital world.
January 8, 2019 • The home service business is trending big time right now. Valued at roughly $600 billion, the US online on-demand home services sector is growing rapidly. According to The New York Times, the on-demand home services industry is expected to post a compound annual growth rate of nearly 49% by 2021. What’s happening here? Part of the answer: it’s generational. We’ve got a huge contingent of consumers who now live on the internet, coupled with busy lifestyles that prefer their services on-demand through that medium. Another part of the equation: mobile accessibility. Smartphones bridge the worlds between real world services and instant online services. If you can order that new toothbrush to your door, why not schedule a plumber to fix the sink too? The two go hand-in-hand for most consumers these days. This nascent dynamic creates a new context for consumers and service providers. High-quality service becomes essential as customer loyalty is vital to survival for businesses in the sector. Beyond quality, there are other keys to the home service business kingdom. To help you navigate this increasingly competitive landscape, we walk through the top home service business trends here. Changes to the Home Service Business Market Understanding how the home service business market is changing is key to your success. Who are the customers? What does the talent pool look like these days? How tight or fragmented is the market? The following trends provide important insights that begin to answer these critical questions about the industry: 1. Older Demographic Drives Spending Older homeowners are still driving the market with both the size of their market share as well as their overall spending power. In 2015, they constituted just over 51% of home improvement spending with that number expected to reached 54% by 2020. This age group is growing and reaching them therefore becomes even more critical. Facebook is a vital venue for connecting with this customer segment given that 72% of 50-64 year-olds and 62% of those over the age of 65 use the social media platform regularly. 2. Tighter Talent Pool As is the case with many industries, finding the best talent is a major pain point in the home service industry. For example, a third of remodelers (via Qualified Remodelers Top 500 Remodelers) surveyed in 2016 noted that recruiting and retaining talent was their biggest challenge. This also dovetails with millennials pushing workplace cultural changes as they become a bigger part of the workforce. This generation demands a better work environment, so consider focusing on better defined career pathways, more learning opportunities, and improving the employee experience with enhanced communication tools. 3. A Highly Fragmented Market Meets Aggregation One thing that won’t change in the home services market is that it is highly fragmented. There’s a low barrier to entry and lots of poor service providers persist within the market. At the same time, aggregators that offer customers access to all sorts of home services will continue to appeal to customers with local providers offering flexible schedules and low prices, regardless of the quality of their services. This means that providers have to offer, at a minimum, all of those benefits along with superior service to stay ahead in the game. Customer aren’t always weighing all of those criteria equally, so make sure you’re ticking all of their boxes because they all will affect your bottom line. Current Shifts in How Home Service Are Being Offered After looking at customers and providers in the market, it’s important to assess the new ways in which services are being offered within the market itself. These shifts are occurring, in part, due to economic and technological macro-trends and they have very specific implications for the home service market. 4. Greater Commoditization of Services With the merger of HomeAdvisor and Angie’s List as well as the rise of services like Amazon Home Services and Local Services by Google, consumers have more and better options at their fingertips. This means that they are beginning to look at home services as more of a commodity, with a deeper focus on reviews, response time, and pricing. Looking forward, consider revamping your paid search strategy, streamlining how you manage your leads, and optimize your reviews so you’re better able to stand out from the crowd. So what does this mean for your home service business? In short, low pricing is no longer enough. Greg Villafana and Tyler Rasmussen, owners of Brothers Pool Service and creators of the Pool Chasers podcast, know the market extremely well and have an idea about why this is the case. They argue that customer demographics are shifting and that people have a Google/Amazon mindset. This translates into customers who default to what Google suggests or whatever comes cheap and fast via Amazon. For service providers who offer quality services--even those with a solid existing book of business--this can be devastating. The move here is for companies to use these growing platforms as tools to market their quality services rather than seeing them as obstacles standing between them and existing (or potential) customers. In short, adapt or watch your customers go elsewhere. 5. Online, on-demand home service market + bundling As Matthew Kanas at Intuit Canada noted, “If Amazon can deliver a package within 24 hours or the same day, why can’t home service businesses deliver on the same time frame? This is the mindset the home service industry will need to take. In other words, get ready for the home services market to become completely “Uberized.” Consumers not only want services on-demand, they seek simplified ways to book related services. For example, when you book a flight through United and you’re checking out your reservation, the airline offers an option to also book a car to airport via Uber. This is called “bundling” and consumers love it. The tip here for providers is to find ways to bundle your services in with relevant, related services customers are already purchasing as a way to drive business your way. Time is of the essence for consumers more and more, so help them save those precious hours by putting your business in front of them before they know they need it. 6. Technology is changing the home service industry, rapidly Think about how consumers now deal with their unwanted household items. They take a picture of it using an app like OfferUp or Letgo and list it for other consumers to purchase. These apps use artificial intelligence to identify the item and show a potential price for the goods pictured. A customer can just click “Accept,” whereas before they had to type everything out themselves. Now think about how that impacts the home service industry. Customers will soon be able to use voice recognition technology to request a home service provider for a specific problem and get an instant quote. They will soon be empowered to take a picture of a household fix they need and get a quick estimate from a local provider scrolling through customer requests on her phone. New visualization technologies now allow consumers to measure every detail with one click. Adaptation of applications through the explosion of smartphones and mobile broadband has created emergent, consumer-facing sites and mobile apps. Customers seeking home services are now more likely to trust these apps and use them to secure the home services they seek than ever before. Home service providers who embrace the opportunities technology is bringing into the market will produce faster and more accurate quotes for customers, stronger leads for their businesses, and ultimately a bigger bottom line for their companies. 7. Luxuries become necessities Two important generational phenomenon are happening here. First, millennials increasingly run their homes like a business, thinking of time as a more precious commodity. Second, the on-demand economy has created a new class of workers that function between working for a specific company (often remotely) and self-employed individuals and freelancers. Taken together, this creates greater demand for speed and convenience when it comes to home services as these new roles themselves were created out of previously-existing inefficiencies. This new class of workers has increased spending capacity in many cases and they’re prepared to spend it on home services that were previously seen as luxuries. Their time is simply more valuable and they want the home services to meet this new demand. It should also be noted that this trend makes pricing much more volatile in the home services market. Pricing continues to a be a central challenge facing home service providers. With no standardized approach and the industry as nascent as it is, this can add instability to the prices consumers face and home service providers must compete with. There seems to be a growing trend of discounts and companies are geared towards consumer acquisition and retention through pricing methods. The generational shift in how consumers think about home services and the ensuing changes to how those services are priced represents a wave that providers will have to catch if they want to succeed in a changing market. Framing their services as home necessities with flexible and attractive pricing options for consumers will be the key to surviving and thriving amidst these shifts. 8. Client communication channels are evolving The frequency and ways in which home service businesses stay in touch with their clients is changing--fast. Recent studies show that 56% of people would rather message a business (on a social media platform or website) than call them for customer service. At the same time, many home service businesses are not equipped to receive messages across multiple platforms such as SMS or Facebook Messenger. If one out of every two customers wants to reach out to you in this way and you’re not set up for it, you’re missing a huge segment of your potential customer base. Home service businesses across the board are developing and deploying great content to build their audiences--even through video on platforms like Facebook and Instagram. With consumers searching for everything online these days, having professional-looking, ready-made content showcasing your skills as a home service professional will be the first point of contact for many new customers. Think about it: A helpful tutorial video that helps a customer diagnose a problem they’re having might make them more likely to purchase your services for that problem or another issues they’re facing down the line. Home service providers who want to win in their markets today and in the future must recognize: customers will find and judge your business on your appearance on these platforms regardless of the quality of your work. It’s a new reality to cope with, but also an opportunity to showcase your skills and the quality of your work.
January 7, 2019 • This weeks feature focus is about setting up and optimizing your online booking with the Four P's. The Four P's are: Pricing, Pictures, Personability, and Promotion. 1. Transparent Pricing Don't be afraid to show your prices. Today’s consumers like to shop around, and don’t like to guess. Listing your prices gives you the upper hand and shows transparency. 2. Use Pictures When it comes to pictures I cannot stress this enough, do not use stock photos. There’s nothing more in-genuine, than a model in an unworn polo and a fake tool belt. 3. Be Personal You also have to make sure your online booking pictures are personable. Get your phone out on the job and start snapping. Capture working, lifting, smiling, and just being yourself. 4. Good Promotion Finally you need to promote your online booking. There are a lot of great ways to do this, like running Facebook and Google ads, notifying customers through your voicemail, or setting up an auto-text. In Housecall Pro, you can send email and postcard campaigns with directions on how to book online.You can also advertise your online booking on your business cards and truck wrap. So remember: Pricing, Pictures, Personability, and Promotion. By optimizing your online booking, you’ll start to see those numbers increase, while building trust with the homeowners. And that’s the key. I challenge you to implement these 4 Ps into your online booking.
Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator
January 3, 2019 • Cassie & Oscar Pound, Quality Heating & Cooling Ordinary people, extraordinary courage. This is how we do the work. OUR STORY Built on the foundation of integrity, determination, and passion, Cassie and Oscar Pound are revolutionizing the home services industry. The owners of what was once a one-truck operation, have now built a multi-million dollar heating and air company that dominates the Oklahoma market. “It’s been a lot of trial and error, and we had no clue what we were doing. We’ve definitely made mistakes, and worked hard for our victories.” - Cassie If you were to meet a thousand Pros in a day, Cassie is the one Pro whose name you won’t forget. A true hustler, she is boldly confident and being told ‘no’ is her strongest motivation. Oscar on the other hand is a man of few words, but has eyes filled with stories. When he chooses to speak, everybody stops what they are doing and listens. A family man, he will stop at nothing to provide for his loved ones. Together, they are Oklahoma’s power Pros. Cassie and Oscar are the kind of business owners that have built a unique and strong company culture. Even after a long day’s work, you will find their technicians staying late to have a bowl of Oscar’s homemade gumbo, drinking a beer, or simply looking for things to help out with around the office because they feel like they are a part of the family. “We care for our techs like we care for our kids. There were times if we couldn’t take a paycheck, we made sure our employees did.” - Oscar BACKGROUND Growing up, Oscar knew he was never going to go to college. He enjoyed working with his hands and found fulfillment in building something out of nothing. Even at the age of 17, Oscar was a forward-thinker and job security was most important to him. He wanted a skill set that he could take with him anywhere he lived. Recognizing that heating and air conditioning is a necessity to our livelihood, he knew this was his destiny and jumped right into doing the work. Oscar started out doing maintenance for commercial buildings, and with hard work and intellect, he was quickly promoted through the ranks. It wasn’t long before Oscar realized he could do this on his own, but better. Oscar ran a successful one-truck operation for 5 years, but was working crazy hours running the entire business on his own. Working 18 hours a day, he was spending more time with his customers than his own family. Raising six kids, Oscar and Cassie felt immense pressure to succeed. It was time for Oscar to grow his team, and he needed a work horse. Cassie didn’t waste any time getting to work. Jumping right into the position of VP and Operations Manager, Cassie described her days as mass chaos. Buried in paper invoices, struggling with dropped calls and miscommunication with customers, she knew they would not be able to scale their business using pen and paper. “Our guys would leave for the day with a schedule that looked like a kindergarten art project. We had no real scheduling system and no real tracking.” - Cassie Quality Heating and Cooling was up and running on Housecall Pro in under a week. Finally having an easy operating system in place, Oscar was able to switch his focus from working in his business to working on his business. OUR TEAM Even though it wasn’t an obvious fit, they made a bet on one of their first technicians and hired their landscaper, Brent. Brent had no experience in HVAC, but that didn’t matter to Oscar and Cassie. They saw in him what they look for in all of their new employees - strong work ethic, attention to detail, and good communication skills. They believe that the quality of their business is only as good as the technicians you send to your customers’ homes. If you look for personalities that are a good culture fit, the rest can be taught. “We prefer hiring guys with no experience. We want to build and train them so they don’t have bad habits, and are receptive to learn.” - Oscar All of their technicians have worked alongside Oscar at some point. Oscar operates at a high level and that’s how he sets the standard. True leaders are the pinnacle of what they expect from the people around them, and leading by example encourages his people to aim for that. The Pounds do bi-weekly one-on-one meetings with each of their employees to maintain good relationships with their employees, and help them stay on track to hit their goals. Their teams’ personal lives are just as important to them as the work they do day-in and day-out. As business owners and leaders, they want their techs to feel valued and supported in all aspects of their life. “Transparency is what it takes to be a good leader. You have to be invested in their personal life, and also be available to them at all times. You can’t just care about them as an employee, but a human being.” - Cassie The biggest lesson Oscar learned in his early days of working for other companies was how important giving and receiving verbal confirmations are. He knew he was doing good at his job because he was always getting raises and promotions, but he never received compliments from his boss letting him know how great he was doing. “You would be surprised how loyal they will be to you if they think they are getting your approval. I try and verbally let my guys know how they’re doing because I know that ultimately they want me happy and they get satisfaction from knowing they’re doing a good job.” - Oscar Providing his team with positive affirmations lifts the overall morale, encourages his techs to grow, and also makes it easier on Oscar when he may need to come down on them a bit harder for making mistakes or doing lazy work. No day is perfect, but if the positive outweighs the negative, that means his team goes home feeling good about the work they achieved and that’s what’s most important to Oscar. OUR CUSTOMERS There is a reason why Quality Heating and Cooling is the highest rated HVAC company in their area. Cassie and Oscar understand it’s not about them, it’s all about their customers. Every moment of every job is of critical matter. The value of their company and the value of their brand they have worked so hard to build completely depends on the experience and quality of service that they provide to their customers. There is no doubt that Quality Heating & Cooling sets the industry standard when it comes to customer satisfaction. If you were to shadow them on a job site, you will never find a tech walking around - but running from task to task. “Our techs run on the job site because of the sense of urgency we have created in them. From the moment they arrive, the customer is their priority.” - Oscar For Quality Heating and Cooling, the year of 2019 is all about their customers. By giving their customer the option to book online, they have opened up a market for new customers - the younger generation that is primed to book services online just like they would book a flight, or a dinner reservation. “Housecall Pro has been a gamechanger for our business. Our goal for 2019 is to hit $3.5 million in revenue, and Housecall Pro will help us get there.” - Cassie They plan on using Housecall Pro to close 500 Service Agreements this next year. This will allow them to set their customer up for success by extending the lifetime of their AC/Heating units while guaranteeing their repeat business to combat for their slow season. OUR COMMUNITY Cassie and Oscar are very active within their community, and are always looking for ways to help others. They do annual paper and food drives for their public schools, and are also members of their Chamber of Commerce. This holiday season, when their customers visit their website to book their services online, they have the option to donate a toy to a child in need and in turn they get $20 off their diagnostic fee. Identifying themselves as community leaders in Oklahoma, they are looking to share their knowledge with all companies in the home service industry - even HVAC companies. “Working together with other Pros gives more value to the industry and the market. Working against each other, constantly undercutting each other, devalues what we’re all doing.” - Cassie Cassie and Oscar host monthly Pro Meetups in both Tulsa and Oklahoma City to grow the Housecall Pro community, learn from each other, send each other referral jobs, and bring value back into the home service industry so customers will be more trusting for Pros to enter their homes, and willing to pay the price you deserve - no questions asked. Quality Heating & Cooling is setting the new industry standard. Allowing their customers to book online, earning their trust by delivering great work, and investing in their community to help other Pros go from good to great, Cassie and Oscar Pound are true Superpros.
Alyssa Bennett, Director of Growth
December 19, 2018 • If you run a small business, then you already know how important it is to establish a strong brand presence in your community. When customers are looking for services like plumbing, HVAC, electricians, or other home services, they search the internet to find them. Having a website that ranks well on search engines like Google ensures that it's your services they turn to. But to get your website to show up at the top of search engine results, you will need to develop a strategy that uses appropriate content, backlinks, and more. That's where do it yourself search engine optimization tools come into play - they can help you find successful keywords and monitor your progress, even if you aren’t an SEO expert. Like any software or tools, the hard part is finding the right tool for your business needs. That’s why we’ve reviewed some of the top tools out there. Check them out below and see which one makes the most sense for your business. Moz Pro Cost: Free 30-Day Trial | $99/mo Moz Pro is a software product that allows you to manage most aspects of your site's SEO. This tool isn’t too technical and allows small to large businesses to boost their organic website traffic. They have a pretty user friendly interface that’s nice for those new to SEO Key features: Tracks your ranking efficiently Keyword research and analysis On-page optimization Visualizes your data Search engine results page (SERP) analysis On-page grader Compares links and competitors Overall this software has features that are user friendly, with easy to read metric charts letting you know how you rank, how your competitors rank, what SEO techniques are working and where you can improve. Ahrefs Cost: 7-day trial for $7 | $99/mo If you’re serious about improving your SEO and out-ranking your competition , Ahrefs might be the tool for you. With a website check for over 100 pre-defined SEO issues, their comprehensive competitive tools, and visual SEO progress reports, you can stop guessing and find out exactly what’s holding your website back from ranking. Key features: Site Explorer Gives an in-depth look at the organic search traffic and backlink profile of any website or URL See what keywords your competitors are ranking & which pages bring in the most traffic See which website are linking to your competitors and gauge the quality of their backlink profile Keywords Explorer Discover thousands of great keywords to rank for, analyse their ranking difficulty, calculate traffic potential Accurate “search volume” Keyword difficulty score Content Explorer Discover the most popular content for any topic (by backlinks, organic traffic and social shares) Research top content and discover new content opportunities Filter by: Language, social shares, domain rating, backlinks, traffic, word count Rank Tracker Monitor your rankings over time and chart your performance against your competitors’. Site audit to see under the hood of your website's on-page SEO performance. Alerts for new & lost backlinks, web mentions, and new keywords. Overall, Ahrefs has the tools that will give you an extensive look at your SEO standings and what keywords you can use to improve. SEMRush Cost: $99.95/mo SEMRush is another comprehensive SEO monitoring tool that really stands out for bloggers and businesses . In addition to the expected SEO guidance, this tool also helps you manage your social media, PR, and paid ad strategies with a hub where you can schedule posts, analyze your traffic, and identify the best opportunities to reach your target market. Key features: Site Audit Tool Check your site’s SEO health Domain vs. Domain comparisons Analyze Google ranking factors affecting your website’s performance Track SEO optimization progress Ensure the security of your website with HTTPS checks Keyword research Find the right keywords for your SEO campaign Find keywords with less competition Use keyword grouping to segment your keywords by topic Keywords position tracking Backlink Audit Tools Find all your backlinks using SEMRush’s search console integration Check backlinks’ types Spot your links’ geolocation Organic Traffic Insights Unlock the ‘not provided‘ keywords Merge analytics and search console data Analyze keyword potential You can use these tools together and take a holistic look at the results of each report to create an complete digital marketing plan that helps form your SEO strategy. Screaming Frog Cost: Free (With Limitations) / £149.00 per-year Screaming Frog developed the SEO Spider Tool , which is one of the most popular SEO tools on the market today. The free version is a great option for technical SEO audits . When you’re ready to dive into your websites’ SEO health you can opt for the paid version that includes features like unlimited crawling , integration with other SEO tools, and much more. Key features: Crawl your full site and lists Audit redirects Crawl path reports Plug into APIs Custom extractions and configurations Analyze internal linking Find orphaned and broken pages Identify missing & duplicate titles Identify missing & duplicate meta descriptions Find images missing alt text Housecall Pro Seo Grader Cost: Free Housecall Pro is known for helping field service professionals go from good to great. That’s why we built our SEO grader specifically for small service businesses to help customers easily find them when searching for a home service. Key Features: Instant score for: Keywords SEO Mobile Social Comprehensive report Actionable recommendations Competitive comparison Industry specific Keyword analysis BuzzSumo Cost: Free 7-Day Trial | $79/mo If you are looking for a tool that is easy to use and gives you a visual look at your site's SEO progress, BuzzSumo is a good option. The program gives you intuitive content insights that you can use to determine what content is working and what isn't by seeing which keywords are showing up in search engines. It also gives you an inside look into the performance of successful influencers and companies in your field. Key features: Discover the most shared content across social networks Find influencers for any topic Setup keyword mention alerts Track your competitor’s content performance Get up to 12 months of data Discover interesting and trending content Export data Overall, this software has tools that look at influencers and competitors in your industry to find the keywords that are drawing in visitors for them, so you can find new strategies that are going to work for you as well. Google Analytics Cost: Free If you are familiar with SEO then you’ve probably heard of Google Analytics. While Google offers an entire suite of SEO tools, Google Analytics is their original one, and it's one of the most popular because of everything it analyzes . Key features: Measure traffic by device type Sitespeed by page Setup conversions / goals Identify your user’s demographics Look at new & returning visitors Real-time reporting Group traffic by channels Campaign tracking Add custom alerts Add annotations Automate reporting Build conversion funnels Use regular expressions (REGEX) Calculated metrics Site search Google Analytics has a lot of tools to help drive your SEO strategy. It can be overwhelming in the beginning so If you’re new to digital marketing you’ll want to start off by prioritizing the key metrics that are important to your business. This SEO tools list features just a few of the many programs that are available to help you track your site's visibility online. As a home service professional, you can leverage your website to gain new customers and build brand recognition in your area. With the help of these DIY tools, you can start managing your site’s SEO presence on your own.
Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator
December 18, 2018 • Running every aspect of your HVAC business is a tall order. The busier you get with new clients and jobs, the less time you have to focus on paperwork. So, it’s not surprising that some of the administrative stuff like invoicing might fall through the cracks. Fortunately, HVAC invoicing doesn’t have to be complicated. We put together this list of common mistakes to avoid – so you can get paid faster, cut back on paperwork, and make invoicing a breeze. What NOT to Do: 11 HVAC Invoicing Mistakes to Avoid Mistake #1: Not Generating an Invoice On-Site Are you slowing down the payment process by mailing your customers paper invoices? One of the biggest invoicing mistakes HVAC professionals make is not giving customers an invoice before they leave the job site. If you can generate an invoice right then and there, there’s no need mail one out after the fact. This saves you money on stamps, envelopes, and ink – and helps you bill more accurately since there’s more room for clerical error once you leave the job site. Plus, showing the customer your invoice before you leave their property ensures that there are no surprises in store for either party. The customer can confirm that they understand the charges and you can clarify when payment is due and how they can pay. Furthermore, it allows you to get paid on-site through your home services app – that is, as long as you’re not making this next mistake. Mistake #2: Turning Down Credit Cards The number one rule of HVAC invoicing? Don’t make it hard for people to pay you. Unfortunately, some HVAC professionals break this rule by not accepting credit cards. The thing is, there’s really no good reason to turn down credit card payments these days. By refusing to take credit card payments, you’re creating an unnecessary roadblock between you and your payday. Especially because, with a smartphone in your pocket, you can easily collect payments on-site. Your home service business software can turn your phone into a card reader on-demand. The HouseCall Pro app helps you get paid on-site by scanning a customer’s card on the spot. No more chasing down payments after the fact, pestering customers with follow-up emails, or driving around picking up checks. This frees you up to spend more time working on other billable jobs or, better yet, generating new opportunities for your business. Mistake #3: Not Being Prepared for Cash Payments Even though we just talked about how amazingly convenient online payments are for you and your customers, why limit yourself to one payment method? While many of your customers will love that you accept credit cards, some might insist on paying cash. HVAC professionals serve a wide range of demographics – which means you should still be willing to accept cash from any customers who prefer it. So, for the convenience of everyone involved, make sure your technicians always have enough change on them to break a bill. Mistake #4: A Poorly Organized Filing System This goes for both paper and digital invoices. If you don’t properly label and organize your invoices, you’ll have a hard time keeping track of all your sales, payments, and customer information. Ideally, you should use software that organizes customer data all in one place, including invoices and payments. This gets even more important as your business grows because not only do you have more jobs and invoices to keep track of, but you’ll also have more employees creating, sending, and following up on invoices. Mistake #5: Storing Outdated Customer Data You should save customer details in your home services or billing software so it’s easy to generate a new invoice. When you land a new customer, collect and verify their contact information before putting together their first invoice. This should include the customer’s full name, home address, phone number, and email address (so you can send them a copy of their receipt). For repeat customers, you should ensure their data is up-to-date when they call to book their next appointment. To streamline your billing practices even further, securely store your customers’ payment information on your home services app. This way, you can process the payment as soon as they review the invoice. Because hey, if you have an opportunity to make billing easier for your customers and get paid faster, why not take it? Mistake #6: Incomplete Maintenance Records Your invoicing process should involve taking notes about the work that was done, including when the job was completed, how long it took, what parts were used, and any relevant details. If your maintenance records are missing data, you risk running into trouble down the road. These records allow you to include a list of goods and services rendered on your invoice. Otherwise, the customer may be confused about where certain costs are coming from. For instance, if something unusual comes up during a routine installation, you want to have a record of it in case the customer questions the extra charges. Mistake #7: Not Including a Detailed Cost Breakdown On top of getting you paid, an invoice ensures the customer understands exactly what they’re paying for. That’s why it’s helpful to include a detailed breakdown of individual costs as well as the subtotal and the total after tax (if applicable). For instance, say you offer 10% off for first-time customers. That 10% discount needs to be represented as a line item on your invoice. Otherwise, the customer might not realize a discount was applied and expect the same lower rate on future work. Mistake #8: Inconsistent Documentation If your team is any bigger than just you, then you need to lay down some guidelines for documentation. Make sure your techs understand what needs to be included on their invoices, how much detail you require for each line item, and how specific types of work need to be recorded. If you include any acronyms or short forms on your invoices, you should aim to use them consistently. Every invoice should follow the same template and guidelines, regardless of which technician completed the job. Mistake #9: Missing Any of These Crucial HVAC Invoice Elements It’s important that you’re able to keep track of your invoices – and these key details will help you do so. Here are four main elements every invoice needs to have: A clear header: Include a header with the word ‘Invoice’ displayed prominently. This might sound obvious, but it’s important to ensure your customers can instantly tell exactly what they’re looking at. Contact information: Include your business name and contact information on every invoice, as well as the customer’s name and contact details. Date issued: This is valuable for record keeping and accounting purposes as well as making sure you get paid on time. Invoice number: Every invoice should have a unique number or billing code. Mistake #10: Skipping Over the Legal Stuff An invoice is a record of services provided, but it can also act as an agreement between your business and the customer. For instance, if you have specific payments terms you want customers to agree, it’s important to outline those on the invoice itself. This might include how long they have to pay the bill and accepted payment methods, along with any other preferences you might have. In this case, you should also include a spot for the customer’s signature. Mistake #11: Not Offering a Service Contract to Secure Future Work With the right approach, an invoice can do more than get you paid for the current job – it can help you secure future cash flow, too. By allowing customers to opt into a service agreement right on the invoice, you can increase your revenue with repeat business. Consider offering a service contract as an optional add-on and make it possible to add that cost directly to the invoice. If you want to learn more about the value of service contracts, keep an eye out for our upcoming article on this very topic!
December 17, 2018 • Online reviews play a huge role in building a successful home service business. After all, homeowners want to hire professionals they can trust to come into their home and get the job done right. Whatever your field of expertise, every home service business owner needs to think about where and how to get customer reviews that matter. That’s why it’s so important to establish a presence on popular review sites. The more reviews you get, the more people will discover your business online and read reviews that convince them to hire you. Which sites should you start with? While it’s good to diversify, there are a few key players that deserve your focus. But before we talk about which specific websites matter most for your home service business, let’s talk about why you should care about online reviews in the first place. Why Online Reviews Matter So Much for Your Business 1. Reviews Help Customers Find You Online Reviews help build your online presence. The more customer reviews you get on popular websites, the more visibility you receive and the easier it is for new customers to discover your business online. 2. Reviews Build Trust Customer reviews are the ultimate form of social proof. It always sends the right message when your customers are willing to publicly vouch for the quality of your work and professionalism. In fact, 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as recommendations from friends and family. 3. Reviews Drive Sales By the time someone is checking out your customer reviews, they’re actively looking to hire a home service business. BrightLocal found that 92% of customers read online reviews when researching local businesses and 68% trust your business more after reading positive reviews. 4. Even Bad Reviews Have Benefits It’s always a bummer to get a negative review. But here’s a silver lining: people view positive reviews as more believable when there’s a negative comment in the mix. Leaving up bad reviews shows readers that your reviews are unbiased, which instills a greater sense of trust in potential customers. The Top 4 Trusted Review Sites for Home Service Businesses There are tons of places to ask for reviews online, so how do you decide where to focus your efforts? Start with these four review sites that matter most for home service businesses. (Note that these are listed in alphabetical order, not ranking.) 1. Angie’s List Over 6 million people across the country use Angie’s List to connect with trusted local service providers. The site collects and displays detailed customer reviews for over 720 different services. Angie’s List goes out of their way to ensure the legitimacy of their reviews. For instance, reviews cannot be made anonymously as users must create an account before they can participate. To protect businesses and customers alike, each user can only review a particular business once every six months. In addition to leaving reviews, customers can assign your business a grade from A to F. So, even if someone is just skimming reviews, they can get a sense of how previous clients feel about your business. 2. Facebook There are plenty of reasons to create an official Facebook page for your business – including the opportunity to collect tons of customer reviews. The site is a marketing goldmine for home service business owners, especially because most of your customers likely already have accounts. It’s easy for homeowners to ask for recommendations, research, and contact local businesses directly through Facebook. So, it’s important to encourage happy customers to write reviews and rate your business. And since anything posted on Facebook is attached to the user’s account, there’s an extra layer of credibility and transparency built into customer reviews. 3. Google My Business For most of your potential customers, Google is the go-to search engine for just about everything. That means they’re turning to Google when they need to find local home service professionals like you. So, not only do you need to create and claim your Google My Business profile, but you should also encourage customers to leave reviews here. 4. Yelp We can’t talk about customer reviews without mentioning Yelp. The site publishes a whopping 26,000 new reviews per minute. So, it’s no surprise that many homeowners use Yelp as a trusted source of information about local contractors and businesses. In fact, 82% of the people who visit Yelp do so once they’re ready to make a purchase or hire a service provider. You can also reply to customer reviews on Yelp, either privately or publicly, which makes it easier to address negative comments and thank positive reviewers for their kind words. This helps you build stronger customer relationships and prevent readers from being swayed by unfair comments. Honorable Mentions: What Other Review Sites You Should Care About? Once you’ve established a healthy presence on the core sites mentioned above, you should consider expanding your focus to even more review sites. 1. Thumbtack Not only can you grow your business and connect with customers on Thumbtack, but it’s also a good place for home service businesses to collect reviews. After a job is completed, customers can leave public reviews on your profile – which can boost your credibility and help you land new work through Thumbtack. 2. Your Business’ Website Another option is to ask your best customers for testimonials that you can share on your own website. You should also pull and display reviews from the sites listed above. This allows anyone who checks out your site to see what customers are saying about you across the web. 3. Local Review Sites Do a quick Google search to see what sites show up when someone looks for local HSBs in your area. For example, you can search for “Sacramento plumber” and see what comes up. The top results give you a good idea of where your business needs to be listed and which review sites you need to build a presence on.
November 26, 2018 • As a home service business owner, it’s important to stay on top of the latest trends and technology so you can provide the best available solutions to your customers. The more you know about what to expect in 2019 and over the next few years, the better you can future-proof your business, take advantage of the available technology, and anticipate changes in customer expectations. Here are some of the emerging trends and predictions that will shape the plumbing industry in 2019. 10 Plumbing Industry Trends to Watch in 2019 1. Online Engagement Will Matter More Than Ever In 2019, online engagement will be more important than ever. This is true for any type of home service business, not just plumbing. Think about it – when a customer is looking for a local business, they’re searching online. That means your online presence will directly affect whether someone chooses to hire your or not – or if they’ll even see your business in the list of results. So, aside from optimizing your website SEO and claiming your Google My Business listing, you should put some effort into your social media presence. Standing out on social platforms is one of the most cost-effective ways to connect with potential customers. Even if you don’t want to invest money in paid ads, you can join and participate in Facebook groups related to plumbing, or home renovations, or even water preservation. Be helpful by responding to consumer questions and share informative articles that would interest your target audience. This not only sets you up as an expert in your field, but also creates a convenient opportunity to plug your business or link to your business page (as long as the group rules allow it). 2. Even More Customers Using Mobile Search If your website isn’t responsive, you’re going to lose out on potential business. Why? Because your would-be customers can’t navigate your website on their phones – which is how a large percentage of consumers are searching for local home service businesses. A responsive website is one that’s built to look great on any screen, regardless of size, so it can be used easily on any device. However, if you’re still using an outdated website that’s not responsive, consumers might not even be able to load the homepage, let alone navigate the site or find your contact information. 3. A Growing Need to Educate Customers Plenty of customers shop around for the most cost-effective services. However, low-cost doesn’t always equate to a great deal – especially if it means lower-quality work in exchange for the lower rate. Since it’s often quick and easy for consumers to compare rates online, it’s important to educate customers about the importance of quality craftsmanship. This isn’t necessarily about justifying the cost, but about helping people understand what they’re paying for and improving your customer relationships. Plus, for many home service businesses, it’s impossible to compete on price alone. If everyone did that, the margins would keep on shrinking – and nobody wins in a race to the bottom. It’s much more sustainable to inform your customer base about the value provided by your expertise. So, whether you invest in content creation (adding a blog to your website and sharing videos or photos on social media) or add an FAQ to your website, you need to find a way to educate consumers and establish yourself as an industry expert. 4. Online Reviews Will Make or Break Your Reputation You already know that your reputation is your livelihood – and that’s not changing anytime soon. But what has changed is the way consumers learn about your business. Customer reviews are one of the biggest factors that influence your reputation. Increase your positive reviews by asking happy customers to write a brief comment about your professionalism. If you do get any negative reviews, it’s best to respond as diplomatically as possible. Try to get to the root of the issue and encourage the customer to give you a call so you can clear things up. Hopefully, you’ll be able to fix the issue – and maybe even convince the customer to reconsider their initial review. 5. Increased Awareness of Water Consumption As consumers become aware of the true impact of climate change, more people are looking for ways to do their part by reducing their environmental footprint. Considering that the average American family of four uses at least 300 gallons of water per day – that’s a conservative estimate of 109,500 gallons annually – it’s about time consumers start to think about how they can minimize their water consumption. Something as common as a running toilet wastes up to 200 gallons of water per day. So, simply hiring you to fix a toilet could reduce their household consumption by two-thirds of the total used by the average family every day. Plus, installing modern toilets allows consumers to waste less water with every flush. According to a 2014 Government Accountability Report, Americans could reduce their water usage by 20% or more by simply switching to water-efficient appliances. You might also start to see more solutions designed to reduce water consumption. For instance, greywater recycling is growing in popularity since it allows consumers to reduce water usage at home. 6. Greater Concern About Aging Pipes Considering that the average age of pipes around the US is 47 years (and some pipes in New York and Philadelphia are almost double that), the problems caused by aging pipes in entering public awareness more than ever. You may or may not find customers asking about pipe relining before an incident occurs, but you’ll definitely get calls from people dealing with the consequence of waiting too long to replace or reline their pipes. This will include a range of issues, from leaking pipes to major plumbing issues to damaged property. To prepare for the influx of issues related to aging pipes, make sure you and your team have the right tools, training, and knowledge to handle these problems. 7. More Solar-Powered Water Heating Solutions More than ever, consumers are concerned about the environmental impact of their household appliances. This is contributing to one emerging trend that you should keep on your radar: a growing preference for energy-efficient water heaters. As homeowners take an interest in environmentally-friendly alternatives, you can expect to see more solar-powered water heaters. Consumers opt for solar heaters for the twin benefits of saving energy and lowering their heating bill. Here’s why this matters for you: when consumers first make the switch, they’ll need a local plumber to handle the installation. So, make sure you add solar heater installation to the list of services on your website. 8. You Might Encounter Self-Diagnosing Pipes With the technological advances and the power of artificial intelligence, smart appliances are popping up in just about every industry – including yours. If you haven’t encountered brain pipes in the wild yet, it’s likely only a matter of time before you do. These smart pipes are able to self-diagnose leaks and alert the consumer before much damage has a chance to occur. It detects where leaks are located, which makes your job easier and keeps your customers calm in what could otherwise turn into a homeowner’s nightmare. 9. Trenchless Tech is Becoming More Popular Technology isn’t just good for saving your customers money on water usage, it can also help you work more efficiently. For instance, trenchless technology offers an alternative to the traditional method of installing and repairing pipelines. Unlike traditional sewer lines, this tech provides a faster, cost-effective solution that requires considerably less manual labor. Rather than digging up the client’s property to install the pipeline, you only need to create small openings at both ends of the pipe. Plus, it’s easier to figure out what’s going on when plumbing issues arise – because you can view the inside of the pipe with a camera. 10. The Competition is Growing – But So Is Demand There are a lot of plumbing professionals out there. In fact, in 2016 there were almost 470,000 plumbers in the US – and that number is only increasing. More people are entering the trade. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the plumbing industry will grow by 24% from 2014 to 2024. But just as the competition is heating up, so is demand for plumbers. In fact, reports suggest that no plumbing company holds more than 1% of the market share in terms of revenue. To improve your odds of success? Keep up with the latest industry best practices, never stop learning about your trade, and take advantage of everything Housecall Pro can do to streamline your business.
November 20, 2018 • Recurring service agreements are a great new way for you to generate dependable revenue for your business, strengthen your employee relationships, and increase your customer loyalty. They allow you to develop revenue streams to help smooth out those seasonal variations in your business while keeping you well-connected to your best customers. HVAC, plumbing, and electrical companies have been using recurring service agreements to help grow their business, especially during the times when the incoming calls slow down. Businesses aren’t the only ones that win by offering recurring service agreements. Both your customers and your employees benefit from them too. Customer Benefits Preventative care Most homeowners don’t realize that HVAC, plumbing and electrical emergencies could be prevented with simple upkeep and continued maintenance. By participating in recurring service agreements, your customers can save themselves from the unnecessary stress that comes from a pipe bursting, or an ac unit crashing in the heat of summer. Value of home The longer your customers have lived in their home, the more wear and tear they’re doing. By automatically maintaining the infrastructure of their home on a regular basis they will be able to increase their resale value without having to do any major work. Lower costs Recurring service agreements are often offered at a discounted rate, but that’s not the only way your customers save. By regularly having preventative work done on the foundation and utilities of a home, your customers will avoid unplanned emergency expenses. Plus - they save on utilities when they keep their plumbing, electricity, and HVAC unit running efficiently. Maintain warranty Most long-term warranties require frequent maintenance in order to keep their validation. By participating in a service agreement, your customer will put that maintenance on auto-drive. Employee Benefits Quick and reliable jobs Because recurring service agreement jobs are frequent your employees know what to expect. These quick, predictable jobs make for a pleasant experience for both your customer and your employee. They know that they’re doing what’s right for the customer and can always leave on a positive note. Steady work Not only are the jobs easier, but they’re consistent. Sometimes, it’s hard for your employees to feel valued during the slow season when there aren’t as many jobs to keep them busy. Recurring service agreements allow them to feel secure in their job, knowing they will always have work to be done. More money Consistent jobs mean a reliable paycheck, but that’s not the only way your employees can benefit financially from recurring service agreements. Most companies that offer recurring service agreements also incentivize their employees to sell them to new customers, for a commission. This allows your employees to feel even more involved in the benefits of recurring service agreements and driven to increase the number of contracts you have. Company Benefits Reliable revenue In any industry, businesses have to deal with financial ebbs and flows of their market. That’s why money management has become such an important focus for maintaining a healthy and stable company. Recurring service agreements allow businesses to have dependable income throughout the year, giving some relief during those slower seasons, and making it possible for business owners to continuously invest in their growth. Customer loyalty We cannot stress enough how valuable recurring service agreements are to your customers. By maintaining the structure of their home, providing a positive customer experience, and saving them money, you’re building a trusting relationship that’s sure to bring reviews or referrals. Resale value Recurring service agreements can help increase the value of your customer list when you're ready to retire and sell your company. A list full of recurring service agreement customers is far more valuable to a potential buyer than a long list on one-time customers. Make it easy In order to reap the most benefit of service agreements for everyone you want to make sure you’re keeping your schedule organized, your payments automated, and your communication streamlined. Learn how you can start automating service agreements with Housecall Pro here.
Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator
November 12, 2018 • 2018 is rapidly coming to a close. As you gear up for the coming new year, you might be interested in attending some trade shows where you can pick up the best tools, technology and supplies to make your HVAC business shine. No matter your schedule, there’s likely an event that will fit into it. With 34 trade shows to choose from, you have plenty of options in 2019. Download Field Guide: How to Hire & Grow HVAC Your HVAC Business Without the Headache 1. 2019 American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Winter Conference Where: Atlanta, GA When: Jan 12-16, 2019 What: The ASHRAE winter conference advertises eight tracks for attendees, including refrigeration, HVAC&R fundamentals and applications, systems and equipment, common system misapplications and achieving high-performance building operation after design. 2. AHR Expo 2019 Where: Atlanta, GA When: Jan 14-16, 2019 What: Billed as “the world’s largest HVACR event,” this is a show where you’re sure to meet some of the foremost industry professionals. Image via http://www.iaqa.org/annual-meeting/ 3. Indoor Air Quality Association Annual Meeting Where: Atlanta, GA When: Jan 14-16, 2019 What: A combination of essential education sessions, networking with professionals across the industry and from all corners of the world, obtaining continuing education credits and a free visit to the AHR expo, this annual meeting has something to offer all HVAC professionals. 4. MCAA Advanced Institute for Project Management Class 15 Where: Austin, TX When: Jan 20-25, 2019 What: Five days of intensive, advanced study to take HVAC professionals to the next career level. 5. MCAA Technical Conference Where: Tampa, FL When: Jan 28-Feb. 1, 2019 What: Focusing on tech information that’s truly useful to MCAA members in construction, plumbing and service, the MCAA technical conference promises a wealth of important education for attendees. 6. CTI Annual Conference Where: New Orleans, LA When: Feb 10 – 14, 2019 What: CTI’s Annual Conference allows HVAC professionals to participate in ongoing work on industry standards and codes, and provides the education and information to ensure those standards and codes truly benefit the industry. 7. 2019 National Association of Home Builders International Builders’ Show Where: Las Vegas, NV When: Feb 19-21, 2019 What: The 2019 Builders' Show will bring together more than 1,500 top manufacturers and suppliers from around the globe in 600,000 net square feet of exhibit space, showcasing the latest and most in-demand products and services. 8. CampusEnergy2019: 32nd Annual Campus Energy Conference & Thermal Distribution Workshop Where: New Orleans, LA When: Feb 26 - Mar. 1, 2019 What: IDEA members are invited, alongside professionals in energy, CHP and microgrid industries, to work together, find new solutions to industry problems, and educate each other. 9. National HVACR Educators and Trainers Conference Where: Las Vegas, NV When: Mar 3-5, 2019 What: With a heavy focus on education, the National HVACR Educators and Trainers Conference helps professionals learn physics and theories they need to become better instructors in the industry. They will network with their peers to swap tips and approaches, learn about how to incorporate the newest technologies in their classrooms, use the latest educational methodologies, keep up with regulatory changes and more, all to improve student outcomes. 10. International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration Natural Refrigeration Conference & Expo Where: Phoenix, AZ When: Mar 3-6, 2019 What: What are the ideas and trends most likely to impact the natural refrigeration industry’s future? Attendees will learn about them here, as well as encounter a wide range of points of view about how to address them and adapt to what the future holds. 11. Mechanical Contractors Association of America Annual Convention Where: Phoenix, AZ When: Mar 3-7, 2019 What: 2019’s Mechanical Contractors Association of America Annual Convention promises world-class speakers (and some great entertainment), alongside educational industry seminars and workshops led by premiere professions. 12. Air Conditioning Contractors of America IE3 Show: Indoor Environment and Energy Expo Where: San Antonio, TX When: Mar 4-6, 2019 What: Next year’s event theme is “optimize” — optimizing the HVAC industry by focusing on what matters to professionals in their careers. 13. Association of Energy Engineers Globalcon Where: Boston, MA When: Mar 20-21, 2018 What: With sessions led by leading industry experts and packed with useful, up-to-the-minute information, HVAC professionals will leave Globalcon inspired, renewed and ready to deliver excellent service. 14. Associated Builders and Contractors 2019 Convention Where: Long Beach, CA When: Mar 24-28, 2019 What: The ABC Convention relaunched in 2018, and is ready to come back in 2019 even bigger and better. This is an opportunity for HVAC professionals to attend a growing convention, where educational opportunities, workshops and more are smaller and more hands-on while still delivering an exceptional experience. 15. 2019 HPC National Home Performance Conference & Trade Show Where: Chicago, IL When: Apr 1-4, 2019 What: 2018’s HPC National Home Performance Conference & Trade Show attracted more than 1,400 attendees, 60 exhibitors, 200 presenters and more than a dozen tracks, providing learning opportunities for HVAC professionals from all over the world. 16. Associated General Contractors Annual Convention Where: Denver, CO When: Apr 1-4, 2019 What: For more than 100 years, the AGC Annual Convention has been educating HVAC professionals in business decisions, operations and more. This year’s conference will build on that history, offering one of the premier educational and networking experience for professionals in the contracting and home services industry. 17. Mechanical Contractors Association of America Institute for Project Management Class 73, Week 1 Where: Austin, TX When: Apr 7-11, 2019 What: If you’re a project manager (or an industry professional who works closely with project managers), this class will offer the intensive, in-depth training you need to master the fundamentals of your field. 18. Mechanical Contractors Association of America Institute for Project Management Class 74, Week 1 Where: Austin, TX When: Apr 8-12, 2019 What: If you’re a project manager (or an industry professional who works closely with project managers), this class will offer the intensive, in-depth training you need to master the fundamentals of your field. 19. International Facility Management Association Facility Fusion U.S. 2019 Conference and Expo Where: Atlanta, GA When: Apr 8-12, 2019 What: A premier leadership event featuring concentrated learning and networking for home services professionals. 20. 2019 Design-Build for Water/Wastewater Where: Cincinnati, OH When: Apr 10-12, 2019 What: Brings professionals together for three days of speakers, networking events and the latest industry trends about design-build in the water/wastewater sector. 21. Cx Energy Conference & Expo Where: Orlando, FL When: Apr 15-18, 2019 What: For professionals in building commissioning, energy management and test and balance, this conference is a must-see. It includes educational sessions on topics related to the industry, an exhibition hall featuring new technology and certification opportunities in ACG’s Certified Commissioning Authority (CxA) and EMA’s Energy Management Professional (EMP). Image via https://www.mcaa.org/events/calendar/ncpwb-spring-technical-committee-meeting-4/ 22. National Certified Pipe Welding Bureau Technical Conference Where: Longboat Key, FL When: Apr 28-30, 2019 What: Highlights the latest in welding education and technology, including changes to codes and other technical information. 23. Mechanical Contractors Association of America Fabrication Conference Where: Los Angeles, CA When: May 1-3, 2019 What: Program focusing on cutting-edge fabrication applications and tours of MCAA member fabrication facilities. 24. Air-Conditioning, Heating, & Refrigeration Institute Spring Meeting Where: Baltimore, MD When: May 6-8, 2019 What: For industry leaders seeking a meeting opportunity in the spring, ACHRI offers another opportunity to gather to work together on industry-wide issues. 25. Eastern Energy Expo Where: Hershey, PA When: May 19-22, 2019 What: A premiere show for business and technical education, including sessions for women in energy. 26. Lightfair International Where: Philadelphia, PA When: May 21-23, 2019 What: LIGHTFAIR offers attendees tracks in light, technology, knowledge and design connect in a convergence of global introductions, innovations and thought leadership at its annual conference, the world’s largest yearly meeting for architectural and commercial lighting professionals. 27. American Institute of Architects 2019 Conference on Architecture Where: Las Vegas, NV When: Jun 6-8, 2019 What: Three immersive days of what’s new and now in architecture and design. 28. 2019 American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Annual Conference Where: Kansas City, MO When: Jun 22-26, 2019 What: ASHRAE is one of the leading trade show organizations for HVAC professionals, and the annual conference is not to be missed. From the fundamentals of the industry to changes driven by environmental sustainability, there’s always something new to learn, and it can be learned here. Image via https://www.districtenergy.org/idea2019/home 29. International District Energy Association National Conference and Trade Show Where: Pittsburgh, PA When: Jun 24-27, 2019 What: IDEA members and professionals in the district energy, CHP and microgrid industries come together to share experiences, explore new solutions, and learn from each other. 30. The 25th IIR International Congress of Refrigeration Where: Montreal, Quebec When: Aug 24-30, 2019 What: 2019’s theme will be “Refrigeration for Human Health and Future Prosperity,” and attendees will focus on major issues relating to refrigeration and sustainability, like energy saving, efficiency, food supply, climate change reduction and more. 31. Building Simulation 2019 Where: Rome, Italy When: Sept 2-4, 2019 What: In the field of building performance simulation, this is the premiere event. The 2019 gathering provides an opportunity to trade information about simulation tools and apps, learn about the latest achievements in the field, explore new research, discuss case studies and share best practices, all while networking with professionals, students and practitioners. 32. ACEEE National Conference on Energy Efficiency as a Resource Where: Minneapolis, MN When: Oct 15-17, 2019 What: Since 2001, the EER Conference has attracted major stakeholders in utilities, regulatory commissions, state governments, consulting, manufacturing, environmental and research fields, allowing experts and consumers to work together and network. 33. 2019 SMACNA Annual Convention Where: Austin, TX When: Oct 20-23, 2019 What: SMACNA’s premiere annual even blends educational opportunities with top-notch networking for an event no HVAC professional wants to miss. 34. American Society of Plumbing Engineers Technical Symposium Where: Pittsburgh, PA When: Oct 24-27, 2019 What: A unique chance for attendees to get one-on-one face time with the manufacturers who make the products they specify.
November 12, 2018 • Home services businesses don’t often have the resources of larger companies that have departments dedicated to sales and marketing. But does that mean you shouldn’t be marketing your business? Absolutely not. Whether you work alone, within a small family business or own a larger electrical company, there are some basic marketing strategies you can employ that won’t take up too much of your time and resources. And they’re proven to reach more customers and get you more jobs. Establishing community relationships can be great marketing When people think “marketing,” they often conjure up images of TV commercials and Yellow Pages ads. But marketing can be so much simpler than that. If this is your first time developing a marketing strategy, you should start with your community. Networking is one of the best ways you can market your business. First, lay the groundwork Before you employ any marketing strategies at all, you need to do some research and planning. Create goals for your marketing strategy, decide how you’ll measure whether your marketing efforts are meeting those goals, and set a budget for what you want to spend on things like advertising and branding (but more on those later). Identify the type of work you want Different electricians look for different kinds of work. Are you hoping to bring in work in the form of new construction projects? Replacement of electrical in existing buildings? Maintenance and repair work? Decide what kinds of new customers you’re looking for before moving onto the next step. Identify your target market Once you know what kind of customers you’re looking for, figure out where you can find them. For example, if you want to increase your work in new construction projects, contractors and architects might be the best market for you to focus on. If you’re looking for repair and maintenance work, your target market might be homeowners and property managers. Reach out to your target market Once you’ve identified who your target market is, it’s time to start planning some outreach. Are there any industry events for local construction companies and contractors that you can attend? Maybe a homeowners association would allow you to drop in on a meeting to introduce yourself to neighborhood homeowners, if they’re your target market. Network with other electricians An often overlooked way to market your business is to network with other local electricians. Sure, they’re your competition. But if you develop a friendly relationship with them, they’ll be more likely to refer jobs to you if their schedule is too full to take new work, or if they’re offered jobs that aren’t within their specialty. Network with other businesses Similarly, you should try to network with other local businesses, especially home services businesses. A family or contractor that’s doing a major renovation might get your information referred from their painter, carpenter or plumber. Your existing customers are your best marketing tool Home services businesses rely on a lot of word-of-mouth business referrals. That’s why your existing customers can be some of your most valuable assets when developing a marketing strategy. Use your existing customers Satisfied customers are a gold mine of marketing potential for your business. Don’t be afraid to reach out to them and ask for their help Organize your customer information An often overlooked part of a good marketing strategy is collecting information on all your customers, including their contact information, services done and feedback, and keeping it organized in one central place. An electronic database is a good bet,because it will help streamline any outreach marketing you choose to do later. Reach out to your customers regularly If you have any customers in your database you haven’t heard from in a while, reach out and ask them if they have any service needs they’ve been putting off. Calling an electrician may very well be a to-do list item they’ve been putting off. Offer a free annual check Send a yearly email or postcard to your existing customers offering them a free electrical “health checkup.” This will create goodwill with your customers, because they’ll know you’re looking to catch issues for them before they arise. And if they have any electrical needs, it’ll be convenient for those to get done at the same time. Ask your existing customers for testimonials If your customers are happy with your work, ask for their help in spreading the word. More than likely, they’ll be happy to give you a testimonial you can put on your website and other marketing materials to help show new prospective customers that you do quality work. Ask for referrals, too Similarly, you can ask happy customers to refer your business to their friends, family and other contacts. If they’re pleased with your work, they’ll likely be glad to share you with the people they care about. Use your equipment to help market your services You already have to invest in things like an office space, vehicles and uniforms. So make that investment work for your marketing, too. Here’s how. Keep your fleet and building in good shape When your service vehicles and office are clean and tidy, it sends a message that your business is professional and put together. Don’t let them fall into disrepair and send the wrong message. Host an open house at your office If you’re going to keep your office clean and professional, why not use it to host an open house? Invite existing customers, industry contacts and peers to have drinks while you give a presentation on electrical health — or just mingle and try to drum up new business. Invest in good design With every business card, shirt, hat and vehicle, you have an opportunity to share your business with your community. Hire a good designer to create a series of logos that can go on display so everyone who sees you working knows exactly who you are. Build name recognition Think of creative ways you can use your new logos. Put them on pens and coffee cups to give away to customers in drawings. Emblazon them on custom hard hats. Putting your logo on as many things as possible will build name recognition for your business in your community, so when potential new customers have electrical needs, they’ll think of you. Get online So much of marketing these days happens in the digital space. Here’s how to take advantage of simple technology to reach as many potential customers as possible. Have a website — and optimize it First things first: You need to get online. If you don’t have a website, get one now. Free website builders like Wix and Squarespace have templates that are designed for home services businesses. Once you’re online, optimize your site to appear high in the rankings when people search for electrical services in your area. Start a blog Once you have a website, start writing a blog. Post articles about topics your customers might find useful. When they’re searching for information related to their electrical needs and find your blog content, the natural next step is to hire you. Employ pay-per-click advertising One of the most powerful forms of paid advertising for small businesses is pay-per-click advertising. This places ads for your service within Google search results for terms and keywords that are related to your business. Be on social media… and use it Your customers are using social media, so why aren’t you? This is a great way to engage with current customers and reach new ones. And social networks like Facebook and Twitter allow you to pay to “boost” your posts so more potential customers see them. Get on review sites Sites like Yelp and Google Reviews can be powerful marketing tools. People in your area who are looking for an electrician will likely include reviews in their search, so make sure you’re on those sites and asking your happy customers to leave you five-star reviews. Learn the basics of email marketing If the customer database you’ve already compiled includes email addresses, start a newsletter! You can offer your customers discounted services for subscribing, and sending a regular email blast is a great way to keep your business at the front of customers’ minds for when they need electrical services. The world of marketing may seem daunting to a beginner. But as you can see, it’s actually not that hard to get started. Put these 22 tips into practice, and you’ll be seeing new customers in no time.