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Housecall Pro blog

Everything you need to succeed as a Home Services company in a digital world.

TOPIC: Marketing

How Driving Reviews Elevates Your SEO

April 12, 2018 • It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently. - Warren Buffett This quote from the great investor Warren Buffett may be the single best piece of business advice you can receive. To a man with 50+ years of experience looking at some of the planet's best-run businesses, it's notable that he chose reputation as the thing that makes the biggest impact on a business' success or failure. Not to take away from your expertise as a craftsman or superior manager, both things that are critical to business success, but perhaps the best thing you can do is use the caretaking of company's reputation as your guiding principle towards business success. Reputation, however, can be complex, and it requires you to be smart about how you build and promote it. It makes up pretty much how you do everything: the work you deliver, the way you deliver it, the timeliness with which you deliver it, the fairness of your pricing, your reliability, the ease of working with you, and your overall willingness to do what's right for your customers. Put all those things together and they make up your reputation. And it's kind of a fragile thing; you could have competitive prices and deliver excellent work while being the nicest guy on the planet, but if you flake on your appointments, your reputation will take a hit. However, once gained, a positive reputation can be your single biggest marketing tool. Reputation today is made or broken online. Consider that 93% of people make their buying decision based on online reviews. That's excellent news if everyone loves you. If you have a lousy reputation, however, you're going to need to go into full-court press mode and start doing major damage control. In today's hyper-connected, social media-charged world, there are a lot of ways for your reputation to be promoted (either good or bad) so it's essential that service professionals monitor online reviews, interact with reviewers, and manage comments and feedback in order to monitor damage control and learn how to improve. Deliver for customers and they will deliver for you In the field service business, most customers are ready to buy once they begin looking. Either there's a problem that needs fixing quickly, or they are focused on a project they're eager to get started; either way, field service customers generally know how to research and find the vendor that will serve them best. Since you have an audience that's prepared to make a buying decision, you make your odds of getting the business a whole lot better if you show up front and center in online reviews as the provider with the best reputation. The impact of online reviews is growing rapidly. A survey by BrightLocal found that 88% of all consumers trust online reviews more than referrals from friends and family members. This is a remarkable statistic, especially because the reviews are coming from total strangers. Yet, the impact is huge, especially in light of the fact that only about 10% of the entire U.S. population does not regularly read online reviews when picking the businesses they work with. Consumers regularly look to online reviews to guide them towards trusted vendors. In fact, 58% of consumers look at online reviews at least weekly in pursuit of building up a solid list of potential field service providers who will be able to serve their needs. To earn the attention of those consumers, however, requires that you have solid ratings and reviews from actual customers. A survey indicates that a business must have a rating of at least 3.3 stars before a consumer will consider engaging with them. Even if you already have great reviews already, every business has to work continuously to be considered superior and to create customers who are willing to share their positive opinions about you. It's also important because reviews are changing consumer behavior in how they conduct reconnaissance into learning about vendors. In fact, a recent survey notes that people are increasingly less likely (a drop of 17% from 2016 to 2017) to visit the website of a business after reading positive reviews. This means that once they find the validation they need, they are ready to move forward with you. Because consumers are able to decide quickly and based on this kind of available information, helping them book an appointment directly from review sites will increase your likelihood of acquiring more new business.  Reviews and SEO The actual reviews you receive can be a great boost to your company's reputation and a channel to get new business. But they also help boost your findability by increasing your Google search engine rank. Search engine optimization (SEO) is critical for you to stand out from your competition and connect your message with potential customers. Almost 50% of consumers who do a local search of potential providers connect with a vendor that very day, so being prominently displayed in search results is key if you want to get noticed. The challenge is that search engines are indexing billions of web pages, and one of the best ways for you to rise to the top of search results is to have your name mentioned on other people's websites. The key is to encourage customers to provide reviews, and then ensure you are using them as an effective marketing tool. Reviews on your website and on social review sites like Yelp, Facebook, CitySearch, and others will pack search engines with favorable content about you which positions your business to outrank competitors in SEO results. We also know that sites that consistently get positive reviews get more links to other websites, and the more "link love" you get, the greater prominence you get in Google.  According to ReputationLoop, using your positive reviews in social media profiles and updates is a major factor in increasing where you rank in search results. In fact, positive reviews could be the difference between being found and being buried. Consider this: Five Star Customer reviews stand out in social media and beg to be read. Customer reviews give you content that promotes your business without the hard sell. Positive customer reviews remind your followers how great your business is. A customer review post is a great way for followers to share your business with people they think could benefit from what you sell. More than 90% of consumers indicate that product and service reviews impact how they choose vendors. Building a consistent five-star rating and getting positive reviews will affix in the minds of customers that you are a vendor of choice. Get more reviews and better ones Let's start with a little analysis and identify those things that give top rankers their positive results. Step 1: Search on reviews for your particular field. For example, try "plumber reviews" in the search bar: Step 2: Review the results and identify those review sites that are delivering the highest rankings. From these results, we can see how valuable it is to get top ratings from Yelp, HomeAdvisor, and CustomerLobby and where you should invest your time building your rankings: Step 3: Understand the search ecosystem Most review sites share their reviews with other websites which makes your original reviews more valuable than if they just remained on one website. This becomes an exponential impact with more customers seeing reviews and Google giving you multiple opportunities to be seen. Take a look at this graphic of what the search ecosystem looks like and you'll see how valuable it is: Step 4: Learn how the review sites work Now you should spend time understanding how the major review sites work so you know how to coach customers. It's also helpful so you can tailor your own marketing messages and outreach to fit with what these review sites are looking for.  Here are review guidelines for some of these sites so you can understand how to stand out when customers are using them: Yelp CitySearch YellowPages Facebook Step 5: Start getting reviews Now it's time to start getting reviews. Thankfully there are a number of proven ways to get reviews and make them stand out for your business. They include: Add review-generating links on your email marketing: With your email marketing efforts you already have a captive audience, so use that to advantage to drive people to these review sites and encourage them to write positive reviews on your behalf. Make it simple with instructions that walk them through the steps to add their comments. It might be as simple as something like this: Spread the love! We love serving you and hope you feel the same about us. If you do, we would appreciate your positive comments on Yelp. It's super easy, and you can follow these steps: Find your business on Yelp and you can just click Write a Review to find your review page. https://www.yelp.com/writeareview/biz/{your business ID} Links to review sites on social media: Here again, your social channels like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and others can be used as an effective tool for routing an engaged audience directly to review opportunities. Something simple will do the trick, and you can have some fun with this too. Maybe something like: Love working with ABC Flooring? Well, we love u 2! We'd appreciate your positive reviews on Facebook [or any other site] so we can serve other great customers. Just go to https://www.facebook.com/{your business page}/reviews/ #weloveourcustomers #spreadthelove #moreflooringmorefun Train your team: Make sure that, without being annoying, that your office staff and field employees remind customers about opportunities to provide reviews. Automate the message: Use review automation platforms that will make it easier than ever to generate reviews without lifting a finger. NiceJob, Podium, and others provide an efficient, automated way to get and submit reviews. How to manage your reputation Part of this process is exposing yourself and your business. In some respects, there's some risk in that; I mean, you might actually get some bad reviews. That's okay, but you need to manage that and minimize the impact. At the same time, remember that any time someone provides a review, it's done as a favor to you, so make sure you offer your thanks and gratitude. If you're using an automated system for review generation then you'll get alerts delivered directly to you about new reviews. This will allow you to be responsive and keep your pulse on what people are saying about you. If you aren't using any of these automated systems, you should set up a monitoring system like Google Alerts, or use the built-in alerts in Facebook, Yelp or other sites so they can send you an email or text when a review has been posted. The reviews you get will all blend into your overall reputation. Positive reviews will help you build a positive reputation which could ultimately become your most effective marketing tool. But they are also a chance to learn what you're doing right and what customers appreciate. Double-down on those things, make investments to continue doing them and ensure they are baked into how you market your business. Positive reviews will also give you a chance to create loyalty programs and reward employees who are called out in reviews for excellent work. Now, even the best businesses get negative reviews. Starbucks has built a multi-billion dollar business, but there are still people who think their coffee tastes like aquarium water. That said, ignoring negative reviews or becoming defensive about them is a bad strategy. Here again, use these as a way to learn more; bad reviews are an opportunity to find out what you're not doing well and rectify any issues you may have. In some cases, you may discover that employees aren't conducting themselves according to the expectations of the business. Better to learn that from one negative review and fix it than to let it linger. Once you know what customers think, you can move forward with focusing on what to do right. As you can see, reviews can become a major part of your marketing strategy, but the whole process requires some discipline and management. You don't want it to be overwhelming, so automate as much of it as you can. Find ways to leverage reviews for things like online booking opportunities and internal training. Remember that your company is a dynamic thing; you're always building it, and with the feedback of customers, you can grow it in the direction you want and get it to achieve the kind of reputation that truly reflects the uniqueness of your business.

Pat F

Building Legos

Which Marketing Tactics Drive Results?

April 10, 2018 • As a small service business, it’s likely that you (intentionally) overlook one of the most important aspects of growing your business. Marketing. When you’re in the field 12+ hours per day, the last thing you’re likely to do is come home and put together a solid marketing plan. It’s also likely that you’ve been approached almost daily by marketing gurus with unique systems full of promises and proven results. How do you weed through the scams to find marketing that actually works, is affordable and represents your business the right way at the right stage of the game? The truth is, everything works. Every type of marketing out there, no matter how ludicrous, will generate results. The more money you dump into it, the better short-term results you see. That’s the basis of many marketing schemes… show a quick return for a high investment to prove the system works. You’ll initially see high Return On Investment (ROI) numbers and feel like things are working great. (Hint: when you first start marketing, almost anything will generate high ROI numbers.) Consider a post-card campaign where the card says “Your mother would be ashamed of you! Clean those disgusting carpets today!” I suspect most of you wouldn’t embrace a marketing campaign that insults your customers, but there’s no question that a campaign like this would get results. There’s some small percentage of the customer base that will react and book a job based on just about any type of message you send out. What’s dangerous about that, is businesses often see these quick responses/results without considering the customers that they’re permanently alienating with their message. If you need immediate results, people are more likely to respond to bold aggressive messages. If you want better long-term results, you’ll see far better returns when you use a respectful and more professional message. You’ll notice that those bold aggressive campaigns will gradually produce lower and lower ROI. Most marketing companies will focus on the lifetime ROI of an aggressive campaign, knowing that the initial good results will help keep the average high even after the campaign stops producing decent results. You should evaluate aggressive campaigns individually and drop them when they stop producing. As a small start-up company with no customers yet, you’ll likely need to be more aggressive with your marketing message to get those small pockets of people to respond. You may need to use door-hangers, knock on doors, hand out business cards, and push specials to get your foot in the door. You might find that some of the click-bait style email campaigns get a few people to call, or some really bold aggressive Facebook ads. You’re essentially targeting whoever you can get in the door right now at the expense of a larger number of people you could get later. The goal right now is to keep your head above water, impress every customer you can get, generate some 5-star reviews, start building a referral network and make a good enough impression on people that they’ll give you repeat business. As you grow to the point where your business has steady work, you’ll find that referrals and word-of-mouth take care of a lot of your advertising for you. This is when you should back off the aggressive messages and focus on building rapport with a larger segment of your customer base. Focus less on discounts and pricing and focus more on quality. Tailor your message not necessarily for getting immediate results, but on creating a solid professional image in your community.  Be respectful of your customers and their time. Don’t knock on their door at 7:00 am, don’t cold call them during dinner. Don’t rely on click-bait, tricks or asterisks and fine print. Craft a professional message meant to work over time… you’re no longer running an ad campaign to get jobs, but a public relations campaign to get advocates for your brand. Lastly, ask every single customer where they heard about you, and track the results. For short-term aggressive campaigns, track the ROI of each campaign individually. For long-term brand-building campaigns, track the lifetime ROI of the campaign. If you're doing it right, the long-term respectful campaigns will gradually outpace the short-term pushy aggressive campaigns, and that's where you'll generate the best growth year-over-year.

Sam Robinson, Sales Development Representative

Marketing Guru

Attracting Great Employees to Your Company

March 26, 2018 • OK, things seem to be going pretty well. You've got a great team, customers are happy, equipment is in excellent shape, and there's more business than you can handle. But what happens when Larry or Linda gives their two-week notice or simply doesn't show up? When employees leave, it can throw your entire business into chaos and set back all the great things you've accomplished while you scramble to find, train, and deploy a quality employee back into the field. So, how do you avoid the hassle and pain of losing a quality employee? The answer would be to keep them happy in their jobs in the first place so they don't think about leaving. Employee retention is more than just a management hassle. Your employees do far more than just deliver services. They are the face of your company and the most valuable assets you have. With your technicians in the field taking care of customers, they are not just engaging in revenue-generating activity, but also helping cement a brand into the minds of your customers so you get repeat business. When you've built a team of qualified people, you can work on building your business and doing the things necessary to grow. Easier said than done, especially in a strong labor market with high demand for many field services types of jobs. The market for field services is expected to grow at a rate of almost 17% year over year until 2022, and job prospects are bright. Just the need for new HVAC technicians, for example, will increase 14% between 2014 and 2024, and overall, in just the next three years, an overwhelming 60% of workers in the home energy field will need to be replaced. This is all excellent news for individual workers, but as an employer, you'll have to come to terms that the people on your staff have a lot of options. You can no longer hope to keep workers for decades; we are now operating in a highly competitive environment and expectations among employees are high. The employers who meet and beat those expectations are the ones who will ultimately win by keeping their staff and ensuring they are happy. Creating a desirable work environment so workers stick around is not done just through a series of items you can check off your list. Sure, they want to be paid well and benefit from perks, but there are also cultural dynamics at work that give people a reason to stay. Let's look at some things you can do to be a desirable employer and keep your employees from leaving: Make it their company Your name may be on the trucks and you pay the bills, but you have to create an environment where everyone feels like they are owners. With ownership comes a sense of responsibility; just like how you might drive a rental car differently from your own car, you treat the things you are invested in with greater care. An employee who feels like just a number may show up on time and do the job, but there's a good chance they will do the bare minimum. However, if they feel like they are valued and they actually contribute to the company's success, then they are going to do things that aren't in their job description because they care about the company being successful. They see that they are part of the brand and want to take the extra step to make it shine. It is critical that you spend a significant part of your attention implementing ways to ensure employees feel tied to the place they work. At the end of the day, having people who feel responsible for the success of the business are worth a fortune, but you have to create an environment that fosters this kind of mindset. Give employees a financial stake One significant way to extend the idea of ownership is with financial incentives and actually giving employees ownership in the company, usually through something called an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP). This generally requires some re-structuring of your company as a legal entity and you will need to consult with an attorney to do it correctly. But it entails rewarding employees for sticking around by granting them shares in the company that vest over a certain time period. Those shares become more valuable if the company is successful; a stake in a company valued at $3 million is better than one valued at $500,000, and naturally, people will work towards creating bigger and better upside. This requires you to give up some equity in your company, but you still retain decision-making control and there are tax incentives that can help your bottom line. Employees also have to stay with the company to get the full financial benefit of their equity which creates one of the best retention incentives. Offer competitive benefits Employees want to know that you value them, and benefits is one of the most effective ways you can demonstrate that. When you offer health benefits, life insurance discounts, retirement planning, or other perks that relate to their life events, it communicates to them that you are investing in them. Especially in today's environment where health insurance, especially, is expensive and complex, people will go to great lengths to stay at a place that offers it. In fact, a survey found that 6 out of 10 employees would rather spend a night in prison than lose health insurance. So, for an employer who provides this, the sense of loyalty among employees is huge. Additionally, benefits like flextime or getting a day off on your birthday go a long way towards reminding employees that they are valued and don't cost you much. Provide small perks that carry big value Would you want to work in an environment where people just show up, do their jobs, collect a paycheck, and leave? That would get old real fast. Instead, use small perks to make people happy and feel tied to the business and their co-workers. This may sound like small potatoes, but the impact is huge. I'm talking about picking up bagels or donuts on the way in to work and providing them in the break room every now and then. Monthly birthday celebrations, holiday parties, or team-building activities where people can take their brain out of work mode and just enjoy their co-workers creates a feeling of belonging. People are inclined to want to maintain that and stick around at a place that knows how to have fun. And these types of activities don't have to cost a lot, but they are a reminder to employees that they've got a pretty good gig. For those who might think about leaving, they will have to consider if it's possible to replicate that kind of feeling in a new job. Be a great communicator No one appreciates being left in the dark, but most employers are lousy communicators. This is a huge problem because workers don't know what is expected of them and miscommunication can create big problems down the road. It also prevents employees from feeling like they can have a real relationship with you and that they aren't truly a part of the company. This may be one of the easiest things for you to fix because it costs so little. It will take dedication on your part, but you will find that staying connected with employees gives them a sense of being integral to what is happening, which makes them feel tied to the business. So, make sure that you have company meetings every quarter or a few times each year. Tell employees about the status of the company and what your expectations are. But also follow up with 1:1 texts and emails...ask employees questions...solicit their advice. Every time you do these things, you'll learn more about the people you employ and it will give you insight into your customers and market as well. Business leaders have a tendency to focus outside what’s going on in their own company. They seek growth and look to market forces and competitors as ways to formulate their strategies. But if they don’t also take care of what’s happening at the home office and ensure their employees are happy, they may lose employees who seek better working conditions elsewhere. While this is an inevitable aspect of every business, when it happens too often it can kill all the growth efforts you’ve spent so much time building. Remember, employees are people, and people like being treated well. When you invest in them, they are far more inclined to invest their own time right back into the company. Employees will stick around when they feel valued and that they can enjoy the time they spend at work. A happy workforce will save you money, avoid headaches, and it will actually even make your own work life a lot more enjoyable too.

Pat F

Attract Employees Magnet

The Trick to Combating Negative Reviews

March 5, 2018 • Building a business can be nerve-wracking for many reasons. Often, it feels like you’re putting yourself out there and building a great business, brand and online reputation, which really takes a lot out of you. So when you receive a bad or negative review, it often feels personal. While great reviews offer an amazing opportunity to grow your presence online, leading to more website visitors, leads and customers, negative reviews can be disastrous if not dealt with properly. As much as 54% of Americans who read online reviews indicate that they pay more attention to extremely negative reviews when trying to make decisions. At some point though, there is going to be someone who is unhappy enough to leave a less than stellar review. It’s not even because you necessarily did a bad job either, they could just be having a bad day and decide to unfortunately take that anger out on you. It doesn’t have to be the end of the world. Done right, responding to a negative review can turn a bad situation into one that can actually boost your reputation even more. People aren’t looking for perfection, they’re looking for confirmation that you’re a real, genuine and authentic business. Showing your future prospects how you deal with both the positives and negatives of doing business gives them more confidence that you’re the right person for the job. In fact, as much as 30% of people think online reviews are fake if there are no negative reviews. Here’s how to take advantage of the opportunity and respond to negative reviews: 1. Almost always respond. It’s only on very rare occasions that no response is the best response. For the majority of less than perfect reviews submitted online, the default should be to respond. That being said, not every negative review is going to be something you can fix. Sometimes, you could be putting yourself in the line of fire for more negative attention. Determine if engagement is the right course of action. Was it a genuine mistake on your end or the rants of someone angry at life. Or worse yet, the ramblings of trolls? If it was a mistake, it’s usually best to simply own up to it, apologize, and try to remedy the situation, and, if appropriate, perhaps with a discount or some other value added onto your service. If it’s trolls, it’s often best to ignore the situation. (Pro-tip: On Facebook, you can ban trolls from your business page.) 2. Be Concise When providing a response to a negative review, be brief, apologize, and get to the point. Steer the customer towards having a conversation and take it offline briefly. Once resolved, return to the original online conversation and thank them for the chance to fix the issue, and their business. This allows you to deal with what should be a private matter privately, while being publicly recognized for having resolved it.   3. Don’t act impulsively. Negative reviews can often feel personal but responding to reviews when angry or tempers are running high is the worst thing you can do. Take some time to simmer down if needed before tackling that review. The last thing you want to do is to get personal and blast off an angry rant to a negative review, even if the customer did. How you respond matters. You’re not just replying to an individual, but to everyone that might see your response in the future. For many consumers, how you respond to an angry or dissatisfied customer can influence their decision to choose your business too. 4. Don’t wait too long. The sooner you tackle that negative review and respond, the sooner you can turn things around. Having a system to help manage your reviews in one place helps you stay on top of them all. The NiceJob dashboard is perfect for this. It’s best to not put it off. In fact, most consumers expect a reply within the same day. Be quick about responding to negative reviews, it can help to resolve the issue when you’re able to address the situation in a timely manner. To be able to do so, you need to monitor reviews often so that you’re aware of any situations where an unhappy customer has left a negative review. 5. Think ahead. Have a plan on how to deal with negative reviews before they ever make it to Google or Facebook. This way you’re ready to get to work to make things right the minute that review pops up and aren’t left scrambling. It also removes a lot of the emotion from your response, see above. Think about having a script that fits with your brand and style and takes into account how your future prospects will view it. At least have the following components but keep it short and sweet too: An apology for the situation. You might not be in the wrong but this isn’t about assigning blame, it’s about protecting your reputation. Apologise for the situation at hand and having missed the mark with your customer. Include contact information for the customer to reach out to you and offer to make things right. This also has the added benefit of taking the conversation offline. Crisis Management There are times when a negative sentiment can cause others to jump on the bandwagon and a bad situation gets worse. Staying silent can be a bad idea, but every situation is different and can require an intervention. Avoid being confrontational or overly excuse laden and tackle the issue head on. Situations like these are usually best to take the conversation offline, or at least private. 6. Be genuine. Customer feedback is crucial to any business, and since most business revolves around building relationships with people, negative reviews give you a chance to learn, grow and even strengthen your relationship with your customers. They’re often opportunities in disguise. Start by addressing the individual by their name. Be apologetic, address the situation, and offer to take care of the customer’s concerns.   To help you start thinking about how to incorporate each of these pieces into your response, here is are two sample scripts to work from:   Thanks [their name] for taking the time to leave a review. I am so sorry to hear that you had a bad experience. My name is [name] and I am the [Owner / Manager]. If you’d like to discuss this further, please contact me at [phone number / email].   Hi there [their name], thanks for taking the time to give us feedback. We’re usually known for our customer service, so I am sorry to hear we missed the mark here. My name is [name] and I am the [Owner / Manager]. If you’d like to discuss this further, please contact me at [phone number / email].   You should not use canned responses for negative or positive reviews. Take the time to personalize each and avoid using a review response template. However, having a guideline is always helpful, and we’ve provided an overview on the method you might use, along with examples fornegative review responses. About 78% of consumers say that seeing management respond to online reviews makes them believe that the business cares more about them. Also consider that when trying to resolve a situation, it’s probably better to have management involved as they’re in more of a position to make decisions on the spot when communicating with a customer. The last thing you would want to do is have a long drawn out process when trying to make a dissatisfied customer happy. It was found in one study (Harris Interactive) that when a company replied to negative reviews on social media and online ratings sites, about a third of customers either deleted their original negative review or replaced it with a positive review. Additionally, about a fifth went on to become loyal customers and made another purchase. Keep in mind that less than five percent of dissatisfied customers ever take the time to mention why they’re unhappy, they simply disappear. So the ones that are sharing are actually doing you a favor, so you can fix things, avoid future issues and potentially even keep their business.   A couple extra points to keep in mind when responding to negative reviews: Don’t mention your business name or location in your reply. This helps keep the review out of search engine results as much as possible, and follow up with the customer as much as possible and once the situation is resolved, politely ask them to update their review. Then be sure to respond to that too. Benefits of Negative Reviews The optimal rating is between 4.2 stars and 4.5 stars. As the rating gets closer to 5 stars, the likelihood of purchase often declines. Bad reviews are a part of life, since you can’t please all of them all of the time. But these are opportunities when you think about it. You won’t build loyalty with point-based programs or discounts, but you do through treating customers with respect and solving their problems. How you go about responding to negative reviews is also a way to demonstrate that you want to earn the business of your customers. If there aren’t any rating less than 5 stars, it leads many consumers to be suspicious you’re either suppressing feedback, or no one’s bought anything. Preventing Negative Reviews While having a small fraction of your reviews being bad can be a good thing for your business, having too many bad reviews can seriously hurt it. The best way to prevent negative reviews is obviously to simply provide a great customer experience, but even when you do this you’ll still occasionally get a bad review. It would be better to deal with complaints privately, rather than in a public review that everyone and their friends can see, but how can you direct people who wish to leave you angry or negative feedback privately?   You can use software like NiceJob to send customers a link that is pressed when they get a review invite via NiceJob that sends them to a page where they are asked if they would recommend you. If they say no, these are typically the people who intend to leave you a negative review. These people are then directed to a private feedback form for you to deal with them privately. If they say yes they are directed to leaving a positive and public review on any of the important review sites. Why You Should Ask Everyone for a Review Even if you don’t have an effective system in place to help prevent negative reviews, it’s still a best practice to ask everyone you serve for a review. The benefits are clear for asking someone who is happy with your service for a review, but why would you ask someone who was unhappy? The answer is that not only you may never know what you did wrong, and may make the same mistake (if you did make one) in the future, but you won’t be able to address the issue with the customer and try and remedy the situation for them.   Both positive and negative reviews provide a constant feedback loop for your team that enables you to learn and grow as a business. Being fearful of asking for reviews because you might get a negative review will only make you learn less, respond to customers worse, and be more deserving of negative reviews. Why you Should also Respond to Positive Reviews Here’s why you should think about replying to every glowing five star review, too. 1. Reviews are so public that it’s important to treat them as if everyone is watching! So thank your customer for taking the time. It’s the polite thing to do, and it helps more people see them. 2. It gives you a chance to include your location and business name in the reply to help boost that particular review in the search rankings. 3. This is the perfect chance to introduce your latest service offering or mention an upcoming promo but depending on your business, keep the tone conversational and informal, as if you’re replying to a friend.

Connor Wilson, Director of Growth at NiceJob

Negative reviews image

The Art of Asking for Reviews

February 20, 2018 • When it comes to asking for reviews, timing is extremely important. When a customer doesn't leave a review, it doesn't necessarily mean they didn't love your product or service. They may be absolutely thrilled. It may be the best purchase they've made in months. But you just contacted them at the wrong time. Maybe they were busy, or just don't feel like typing a review at that moment. Happily, timing is a battle we can win, here’s how. Ask During Peak excitement If your customer loves your product or service, they're most likely excited about it right after receiving it. Presenting a review invitation as soon as possible after the transaction is completed increases your response rates significantly. So what do you need to do? A) Develop a good habit of sending after each purchase B) Or even better, get a system that sends review invites automatically after each purchase Send reminders Even in peak excitement, our customers have lives. They're doing things, and just may not be able to write a review right when we'd like them to. Instead of just being disappointed that our customers didn't respond to our review invite, we can do something about it. We can send review reminders over the following weeks and try to reach them when they are ready to leave a review. It's important to use software like NiceJob to automate this process, otherwise, we all know it just won't happen. When to send reminders Sending review reminders at the right time can mean the difference between a new 5-star review and no review. Let's use what we know to help us discern how to effectively send review reminders. Our customers are busy and have lives so we want to send the first reminder soon, but not so soon that it irritates the customer. Sending the first review reminder after 2-4 days is a good starting range. Sending just one reminder may not be enough. It's important to keep nurturing your customers to leave the review, often it takes 2 or 3 reminders before you get them at the right time and they leave a review. One caveat on this, there's a fine line though between making sure the reminders are helpful and starting to irritate your customer...send too many reminders too close together and you can lose a fan. Make sure you’re sending these reminders via email, and the initial invite via SMS text message. SMS is much more personal than email making it great for your initial invitation to leave you a review, but a bit overbearing for follow-ups. It’s also important that once someone has left you a review you’re no longer sending them follow-ups. This will at best annoy your customer, and at worse, cause them to change their positive review into a negative one. So how do you send effective review reminders? Send the first friendly reminders soon, but not too soon Send 2 or 3 more reminders over a period of a few weeks after the job finishes Make sure your review invite system detects if the customer has left a review and if so stops sending reminders; otherwise you could irritate your customers. Contact Management & Sending Invites Remembering and managing everyone’s contact information, sending out invites to those contacts after you’ve done business with them, and knowing whom of those you invited to leave you a review actually did so you can stop following up with them is not only a mouthful, it’s an arduous and lengthy process if done manually. Software like Housecall Pro can manage your contacts for you, and when integrated into a review marketing platform like NiceJob, you can have your customers be automatically enrolled in review campaigns where they are unsubscribed automatically from receiving follow-ups after they’ve left you a review. You can set up this system to literally run on its own so all you ever have to do is finish a job in Housecall Pro, and respond to customers who leave you reviews, either to thank them or resolve any issues they may have. Using software system setups like the NiceJob integration with Housecall Pro saves you thousands of hours of managing reviews that you can instead be spending managing all the new customers these reviews will help you acquire. Should You Incentivize Reviews? In a word, no. It’s the great product or service you provide that should be the incentive. If you delivered, it isn’t a big deal to ask for a review. Most customers are happy to do it. The trouble is, many businesses don't ask. For those that do, most only ask once. It often takes more than one request. Incentivizing customers to leave you reviews can also actually hurt the trust people place in your existing ones because it can look like people were bribed into giving them. This is essentially the same thing as fake reviews, and having a reputation for being fake, is less trustworthy than having no reputation at all. Instead of incentivizing reviews, simply make it as easy as possible for people to actually leave you reviews. Once again, software can help you do this. The Takeaway Timing is really important if we want to get as many reviews as possible from our customers. Send review invites as close to peak excitement as possible Send regular reminders to make sure you contact the customer at the right time. Don’t incentivize reviews To send review invites at the right time, and frequency you either need to organize a really good in-house plan or skip all that work and use a system like NiceJob to automate the process.

Connor Wilson, Director of Growth at NiceJob

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Acquiring and Keeping Customers With Email

February 19, 2018 • Email has become a key piece in the lives of almost everyone. With 3.7 billion people globally using email, and 269 billion emails being sent every day, it has become the most important and effective way for individuals and organizations to connect. And while some complain that they struggle to maintain the order of their email inbox, the fact is that people prefer email and are more receptive to the messages in emails, than almost any other form of communication. According to MarketingSherpa, 72% of consumers prefer email as their source of business communication. Combine that with the fact that for every $1 spent on email marketing will return, on average, about $38 in income. While social media and other forms of marketing are certainly offering creative ways to reach customers, email continues to be the most proven, cost-effective, and easiest way to connect and engage with your customer base. If you're still not convinced, consider that after working with a service provider, a customer has a 27% chance of working with that person again. If they engage their services a second or third time, they have a 54% chance of working with that provider again. But, in order to keep those people engaged, it's important to maintain ongoing communication with them, and email is the way most people want to be reached. The beauty of email marketing is that you can automate much of it which makes it more effective, and it saves you a ton of time. You set up the offers, content, calls to action, and distribution lists, and then designate dates you want the emails sent. A little upfront work results in your ability to stay connected with your customers continuously, all while providing a personal touch. That initial effort, however, is critical if you want to use email effectively as a way to acquire and retain customers. You'll need an email automation system, but it needs to be something you can set up and manage easily. The right tool will enable you to quickly input email addresses, create templates, and schedule various email sequences. Let's look at how to create and manage email marketing program to achieve maximum success. Convert a looker into a customer A big advantage for field service businesses is that customers generally seek out vendors when they’re ready to engage. Unlike shopping for a car, which can take months of looking around, most customers of field services either have a problem that needs resolution fast, or they are prepared to get started on a project for which they've already planned. People will do their research by coming to your website to learn about you, your business, special offers, and to potentially book an appointment online. The best case scenario is that they book that appointment, but in reality, most aren't ready to do it right then and there. That's okay; since they're on your website, however, use forms and pop-ups to collect their email address so you can follow up with them through your email automation. If you do that, you initiate a relationship and remind them who you are, what you do, and that you're available to them. Your automated email campaign should space out emails about 2-6 days apart, which will keep you top of mind and increase the chances of conversion. Getting these window shoppers to finally book with you can be done with these types of emails: Email 1: A friendly reminder For prospects (people who have given you their email address, but haven't yet worked with you), you can use reminder emails to do two things: 1) remind them of services they probably need ("When was the last time you had your ducts cleaned?", or "The rainy season is over. Let us help you get the mud out of the carpets with a Spring Cleaning!"), and then 2) remind them of you. If you offer them a new customer discount or provide some other incentive to work with you, it will help them because you’re delivering a solution, and they won’t have to go searching for a vendor to work with. Email 2: Overcome the objection The fact is, some people have a hard time committing. Prospects will have objections and excuses for not booking an appointment, and while this is normal, it's also something you need to overcome to get that next appointment. This email is an opportunity for you to put their fears at rest, which you can do in this email by doing these kinds of things: Trust:   Include testimonials from other customers. Highlight your high Yelp or Facebook ratings. Tell them how long you've been in business. Cost:   Explain your payment plan or other information that might help them get over the fact that they're going to have to spend some money they might not want to spend. Procedures:   Many people are hesitant to engage because they don't know what to expect. You might explain in the email the different steps involved in servicing them. This sets expectations and helps them understand that it isn't as disruptive as they might have thought. Email 3: Discount and attract This is where you'll start to see people pay attention because people love to save money. You can offer loyalty discounts to existing customers and new customer discounts to people who haven't yet engaged with you. Perhaps it's seasonal and you're offering discounts for "spring cleaning" or "winter preparation" services. But seeing terms like, “discount,” “25% off,” or “introductory special” will get people’s attention. This is not a time to go crazy by giving away the farm, however. Be reasonable and set an expectation that your work and expertise has value. That said, it is five times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep an existing one. So go ahead and offer deeper discounts for new ones. Existing ones may not even need a financial discount; maybe they get a free pound of gourmet coffee when they book by a certain date. Either way, use this email to encourage them to book quickly. Email 4: Grab their attention At this point, your name will likely be familiar to your customer and even if they haven't made an appointment, you and your services should be top of mind for them. What's also needed at this point is a bit of convincing to get them beyond the looking stage and into a booked appointment. The recommendation at this point is to go easy on the sell and heavy on the education. Provide a tip, and do so in a way that presumes they might already be on board with working with you. In fact, you might even preempt things; rather than, "20% Off Floor Refinishing", you want to go with something like, "Tips on How to Maintain Your Floors After They've Been Refinished." By now, the prospect or customer should have a feel for how you communicate and it would be great to throw in some humor or some other attention-getting comments to make them take notice. I recently got this email, and I can tell you that it got my attention: Subject line:  It's my grandpa's fault Body:  My grandfather served in the Marines in the South Pacific in World War II, and again in Korea in the 50's. Built a business from scratch, could fix anything, and knew how to grill a steak to perfection. He taught me to never give up, which I guess is why I'm still holding out hope that you and I are going to work together. I'm here when you're ready, so just let me know. In the meantime, I'll be working on perfecting a medium rare tri-tip. Even if the prospect doesn't move forward immediately, you will have made a remarkable impression. Turn a customer into a cheerleader You've got a customer, but you want to keep that customer and keep him or her happy and always looking to call you when they need work done. For these types of email campaigns, you may want to be a bit more strategic and maybe even schedule them in a way that maps to the customer's actual appointments and services. Some jobs only need to be done yearly, while others more frequently. That doesn't mean you can't send emails other than just reminders and special offers for maintenance, but make sure you factor the job recurrence into your email sequences. It’s best to space out your emails on these topics: Email 1: Thank you This first email is to keep your brand on their mind. For existing customers, this is a no-brainer. Everyone likes to be thanked, and this is a way to immediately imprint your brand on them. Getting a thank you email makes you appear friendly and grateful for the relationship. For every customer, after you service them for the first time, you should then immediately schedule automated reminder emails about the need for tune-ups, maintenance, regular cleaning, or any other service they will need in the future. Unless you remind them of who you are, they may choose a different vendor in the future. Email 2: Educate your customer OK, so they've worked with you, but what makes you special? Maybe the service was good, but how do they know they shouldn't try someone else next time? Here's where you can gently do some education that will give you the aura of expertise, and people prefer working with experts. This isn’t hard to do. Most industries have their own publications and websites that provide all kinds of great educational material. For example, a quick perusal of Pest Control Technology Magazine from December 2017 yielded this great piece about ticks in the winter. Apparently, most people think ticks aren't a problem in the winter, but this piece dispels that. Use some of the information in a piece like this to make your customer smarter about issues that could impact them, and use it to drive a little business your way. Email 3: Remind them that you’re ready to serve These are opportunities to strengthen your relationship with these customers, which you can do by reminding them of the date of your last service with them, and that you’re ready to jump in for the next appointment. A nice touch is to remind them of the specific service they had with you. Some of these reminders will be seasonal in nature - spring cleanings, winter preparation, rainy season. Others are annual maintenance visits or check-ups. People actually like receiving reminders because it reduces the number of things they have to clog up their brains with. It ends up looking like a nice gesture, actually, because you're providing a convenience, and that convenience will likely be very helpful in converting that person into another appointment. Email 4: Do the customer a heavy We all need a favor from time to time. And in our line of work, we know most customers don't abide by a tight schedule of service appointments. Rather, they delay making decisions, they forget to book a visit, or they just hate parting with the money it'll take to make some minor maintenance. So this is where you get to be a good guy - you can offer a discount or a special offer of some kind for overdue services. Maybe you schedule this email to go out 1-3 months after the date of the annual check-up visit. This would be a time to communicate something along the lines of: "Hey, I know how things can get busy, but wanted to remind you about getting that service done. Let's not let that furnace run into problems, so here's an offer for 20% off the yearly maintenance visit. Just give us a call and we'll be there whenever it's convenient." You'll be seen not just as a source of a discount, but as a trusted advisor and will create loyalty among these customers. Email can be used in many different ways, and we'll explore more of those in future blogs. For now, however, invest the time to set up some automated campaigns that will keep you in direct contact with your customers, help them stay connected with you, and provide them with an easy way to know you and remain loyal customers.

Pat F

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The Significance of Customer Reviews

February 14, 2018 • Happy customers often return, and many tell others about your business. But leaving this word of mouth to chance isn’t your best move. To get results, businesses need to be proactive and go after reviews by requesting them. According to one study, only about 13% of small businesses ask for reviews. Many say they don’t think it’s appropriate to ask or don’t have an easy way to get reviews. But to put it plainly, when you request reviews, you increase your odds of getting them. Most customers are happy to provide a review when asked. The trouble is, most do not ask. Here’s another thing to consider concerning reviews. While word of mouth referrals are within a small network, it’s online reviews that create much more visibility. The more positive reviews you have, the more likely it is that customers find you, because they not only improve your visibility in Social Media, Google My Business listings, and other review sites, they also help with your search engine rankings. While word of mouth is great, online reviews take things to the next level. It’s digital word of mouth on steroids, increasing your chances of referral traffic and ability to acquire even more customers. The Challenge of Online Reviews Many customers are willing to provide reviews. At the same time, most need to be asked more than once. People are busy, and while they mean well, aren’t always available when you ask and often forget. Imagine this scenario if you wanted to take control of your online reviews manually: You send just 3 requests a day, between Monday to Friday. The next week you do the same. But you also need to send reminders, so from all the people that you invited or requested to provide a review need a follow-up reminder. That first week, with a minimal 3 requests a day, is 15 reminders. Unless someone provided a review, which can happen, most will need a reminder or two. So if you send 15 requests in a week, which is on the low side, and you’re 3 weeks into the process, you now need to send reminders for the past requests. Without getting too deep into the math, that quickly becomes 50 emails to send per week. Now let’s be realistic here. Do you really have the time, energy, and data to not only be sending out these 50 emails (minimum) a week but to also be sending them each out at the best possible time for them to be received? With review marketing automation software like NiceJob, this process becomes easy. You only send the initial review requests and invites, it does the rest, automating follow-ups for you, and if you integrate it with Housecall Pro, it will even automatically send the initial requests for you as well. It’s A Numbers Game More review invites (and reminders) equal more completed reviews. With more reviews, your visibility improves, and you start to see more reviews and sales. While more than three quarters say they are willing to provide a review, only about a third eventually do. If you only ask once, that probably drops to less than ten percent. This is why it’s so important to not only follow up with your customers for reviews, but to make it incredibly easy for them to leave you one. Using tools like NiceJob, you can provide a quick and simple interface for your customers to leave reviews on all of the important review sites for your business. It’s a Process, Not A Set And Forget Strategy Consumers look for a few things, and it’s not just the star ratings. When consumers look at review websites, they’re looking for social proof to help validate a decision about giving their business. This is to mitigate the risk they face by giving you their money for your services. They don’t know if you’ll do a good job and if they’ll get their money’s worth, so they look to reviews to help them alleviate those fears, or to validate them if a service provider is a bad one. The most important factors considered are the star ratings, overall sentiment, frequency, and recency of the reviews. It’s also a growing concern from consumers that businesses respond to reviews. Another consideration is customers that are referred by other customers are over a third more likely to have a strong retention rate. That’s the power of word of mouth. Star ratings It’s not just how many reviews you have, it’s the quality of them and the subsequent average rating that give important signs to most consumers. Overall sentiment It’s important to reply to almost every review, good or bad. How you handle engaging with customers that may have left negative sentiment on a review is seen by others. In situations where a customer was dissatisfied, how you go about responding to negative reviews is known to affect others in reading them and their decision to do business with you. Recency of reviews Not only does the overall rating of your reviews matter to consumers, how recent your reviews are is also a consideration for those looking to decide whether to select your business over the competition. About 73% of consumers believe reviews older than 3 months are no longer relevant, and 44% say a review should be written within one month or less to be relevant. With these many consumers believing that reviews older than 3 months are no longer relevant, it’s essential that you not only manage your reputation but keep a steady stream of fresh reviews. Frequency of Reviews Even if you have a few recent reviews, the rate at which (frequency) they’re acquired is almost as important as how fresh they are. The number of reviews you have is important to some consumers. Your typical consumer prefers to see businesses have at least 34 reviews on average before they feel they are able to trust the accuracy of a star rating for a business. Businesses with less than this number are often assumed to have simply gotten their friends or employees to write them their reviews. This is much harder to fake with a greater number of reviews, making them more trustworthy when more numerous. Reputation Management The more reviews you have, the less likely that a poor review will have an impact on your overall rating. As an example, if you only had 5 reviews and a negative review came in, it would bring down your overall rating far more than if you had at least 20 or 30 reviews in total. It would stand out more and be much easier for customers to find. Consider this scenario - a potential customer is in need of a product or service you offer. Unless they have a favorite place to go already, most will either ask their personal network of friends and/or family for a recommendation, or they’ll search for a solution themselves. This is a process that happens millions of times each day. Now, what if they saw one of their friends had left your business a review? They would trust that business more than one that didn’t have this review. Why? Because they trust their friend, even if they don’t know you, that friend’s review is a public declaration of trust in your business. Reviews and Local Search You should also know that online reviews affect local search and SEO (Search Engine Optimization), which are another primary channel for customer acquisition. Online reviews impact local search and SEO by about 12%. Given the hundreds, if not thousands, of different factors search engines use to rank websites like yours, this is a huge impact on your SEO. The quantity and overall ratings are just a few of the signals considered. Another major factor of your SEO is having a website that is updated with new over time, rather than staying static, which search engines will eventually come to see as outdated content and rank it lower. Reviews are an excellent stream of fresh new content that you can use to keep your website updated. Convert is one website product that can not only help you do this but also make sure that those website visitors become leads for your business. While lots of hard work goes into building a reputation, it’s important to remember that your brand is not what you say it is. It’s what others say it is. For those new to your brand, your reputation and first impressions are often influenced by online reviews or social media and what others have to say. If these are neither numerous nor positive, they will often keep on looking for other providers and not even make it to your (hopefully good) website. To help manage what’s said about your business, ensure the customer experience is as positive as possible and aim to not just meet but exceed expectations. Doing so, you’re much more likely to see positive sentiments within reviews, and have more control over reputation management. Word of mouth has its rewards, but you have to earn it. What if I don’t have any Reviews? This can have a negative effect. Many consumers believe that not having any reviews is almost as damaging as having several bad ones. By implementing an action plan and process (we recommend using software to automate this for you), you can start building your reputation and acquire online reviews from past customers. But if you don't have any reviews, it's not something to put off. They influence consumer decisions, as well as help you to appear within local search results. The longer you wait to implement a review system, the more time you’re giving potential customers (and their friends) to become loyal to competitors. 59% of consumers look at 2-3 review sites before they make a decision about a business 87% of people say that a business needs a rating of 3-5 stars before they will use them The Takeaway If you want more referrals and reviews, it's essential to make it part of your process. That means sending requests often, and practically every day. When it comes to business, many experts will tell you that your brand is the most valuable asset you own. In some cases, it can represent the best of something for a local market. The best bakery, the best place to get a car, the best place for dinner? Reviews are what gives a business this brand reputation, and they're also what gives the brand value if you ever choose to sell it by making that reputation transparent to potential buyers. More than half of businesses are not making use of online reviews, yet over 90% of consumers trust and rely on them to help make decisions for purchases or local products and services. This means if you start collecting your own online reviews today, you will stand out.

Connor Wilson, Director of Growth at NiceJob

Where to Find Influential Review Sites

February 13, 2018 • Everyone knows how important customer reviews are to gaining more business. The question isn't whether or not you should be asking for reviews, but rather where should you be asking for them. While there are many different review sites, it is important to know which are most important, after all, directing a customer to a review site that has little impact on your business to leave a review, is one review you’re not getting on a review site that does. We recommend four main review sites to focus on for Housecall Pros and home service businesses. Google, Facebook, Homeadvisor, and Yelp. Google Without a doubt, the reviews on Google My Business are powerful. Most consumers will turn to search when looking for info on a local product or service, and Google has the largest market share when it comes to search engines. Within local search results are businesses with reviews appearing almost 95% of the time. If you haven’t registered your business with Google, do so immediately. Near 50% of businesses have yet to do so, and it’s one of the easiest ways to create exposure and more customers for your business. When you’ve verified your business with Google, your reviews not only appear in search results but can also appear on map searches as well. One of the first things someone does when deciding they need a product or service, such as window cleaning, for example, is to search “Window Cleaning {Their City Name}”. 95% of people only view the first page in search engines like Google or Bing when searching for someone. This means if your website isn’t on page one of that search (if you’re a window cleaner), you’re practically invisible. Google My Business reviews are one of the best possible ways to rank higher, which makes a lot of sense since Google will always rank their own content highest on their own platform. Facebook Most know the popularity of Facebook makes it a great place to have a business page, and to get reviews. Whenever someone leaves a review on Facebook, their friends get a notification in their feed and are often curious enough to click on it and see it. Additionally, Facebook recommends pages to users that their friends have left reviews on. Here’s how it looks: This is literally the digitization of word of mouth, and it’s incredibly powerful. Even if people are not searching for your service on Facebook, they’re sure to remember it when they go looking on Google if they’ve seen a friend leave you a review on Facebook. Be sure that your Facebook review tab is visible and activated. If it isn’t, your great reviews will be hidden from potential customers. You may have been on a Facebook page of one of your favorite businesses and noticed you can’t leave a review. It’s because they haven’t activated the option to leave Facebook reviews or feedback. To activate reviews for Facebook, visit the settings on your Facebook page. Next, scroll down inside the General section to where it says reviews and turn them on. HomeAdvisor We recommend focusing review collection on HomeAdvisor since it holds more top 3 positions in search than other home services review sites. This will help your search rankings and increase your visibility on a platform popular with homeowners for finding such services. Angie's List has a significant amount of pages indexed (meaning found by the search engine but not necessarily ranking on page 1), but less than half for top 3 positions when compared to market share in-home services for HomeAdvisor. ThumbTack followed close in third, and Porch.com trailed behind. In addition, as of October 2017, HomeAdvisor has actually merged with Angie’s List, meaning the reviews you collect on HomeAdvisor, will show up on Angie’s List. Yelp In addition to Google and Facebook, one other platform most businesses don’t want to overlook is Yelp. It’s big, and not to be ignored. It’s not advised to request reviews for Yelp as it goes against their terms of service but you can display a badge on your website or offer a link. This indirectly suggests it would be appreciated and complies with their terms. Unfortunately, because of Yelp’s strict policies, they do not allow software to be used to collect reviews on this site. In most cases, however, people find Yelp listing through a Google search, which means if you have lots of Google My Business reviews, Yelp becomes increasingly less important.  Be sure to respond to Yelp reviews and others, regardless whether they're positive or negative. Also be wary of running ads on Yelp. Many users have ironically found these actually resulted in less business and fewer reviews than had they not run the ads since they look less genuine. Many ads on Yelp are fake, which is partly why they have updated their terms of service to prevent review collection, so if it looks like you’re paying-to-play, you might actually be shooting yourself in the foot. The Takeaway Focus your efforts on Google (for ranking high in search), Facebook (for generating lots of online word of mouth), HomeAdvisor (for ranking high in search), and Yelp (because consumers still trust it - this is changing, however, as people continue to increasingly use Google maps instead). Trying to collect reviews on other review sites may have some value just so you’re visible there, but the vast majority (90% or more) should be spent on Google, Facebook, and HomeAdvisor, with most of that going to Google and Facebook. By using these two in a combined approach you can build awareness and loyalty for your company before people are looking to buy with Facebook reviews, and then remind them of this loyalty and trust when they find you in search with Google My Business reviews. You can select which review sites you want customers to have as options to review you on using software like NiceJob.

Connor Wilson, Director of Growth at NiceJob

Channel the Power of Referral Marketing

January 18, 2018 • People are generally creatures of habit. We get our hair cut by the same person, we order the dish we already know we like, and we buy products that we trust. When we can no longer rely on our own experience to make decisions we look to the people we trust for new recommendations. That’s why, if done right, referral marketing is one of the most efficient ways to gain new customers for your business. Below are some referral marketing strategies to get you started. Why are referrals important? There are three reasons referral marketing is one of the most cost-effective marketing strategies that also tend to have extremely high conversion rates. Exact targeting It’s like the old saying goes, “Birds of a feather, flock together.” When your customers are referring you to their friends and family, you know that you’re targeting individuals that are similar to customers that have already booked you. Simply based on the fact that they were a referral you’ll know that they’re in need of the service you provide and are a good fit for how you run your business. Trust building When you’re looking for a recommendation who do you trust more: A complete stranger online or someone that you know and admire? We tend to be more trusting of the experienced-based, opinions we hear from friends, family, influencers, and anyone that’s already gained our trust. Reach The number of leads you can gain from your customers is endless. Each of your current customers has a number of referrals they could send you. Every time you gain a new customer you’re gaining another batch of possible referrals, and so on and so forth. This makes referrals one of the most scalable channels for leads available. What makes a good referral marketing campaign? A good referral marketing campaign is low-cost, while still incentivizing your referrers to tell others about your service with something that makes them feel valued. You can choose to give a discount on your service for a certain number of referrals, send them a company t-shirt, or offer a gift card of some sort. Here are a couple examples of successful referral programs. Uber If you’ve ever signed up for Uber you know about their referral program. In all seriousness, if you haven’t heard of it, Uber is a ride-sharing program. The success of their company is largely attributed to their referral program. How it works is each customer is automatically given a unique referral code when they sign up. If they give their code to their friend all the friend has to do is enter the code they gave them and both individuals are given a discount on their next ride. The unique code makes the customer feel valued, while also offering a monetary incentive. Dropbox Dropbox is an online file sharing and storage company that offers cloud storage, file synchronization, personal cloud, and client software. Their referral program is different from others because their incentive isn’t monetary, instead, they offer product based perks. They offer an extra 500MB of free storage. Like Uber, they reward both the new customer and the referring customer the extra storage space. This referral strategy tends to provide the highest quality leads since both participants are interested in having more engagement with your product or service. Go to market strategies Now that you have an idea of different kinds of referral programs and why they’re important, here are six strategies to ensure your campaign is a success. 1) The customer experience   While providing great customer service on the job is important, unfortunately, it’s not enough to motivate your customers to share it with others. If you want them to recommend you to their friends and family, you’ll need to provide them with a memorable experience that begins before the job even starts, and continues well after the job is completed. This means doing things like allowing them to conveniently book you online, providing open communication, and following up with them after the job is done. 2) Reporting, metrics, and analytics In order to see if your campaign is actually working, you’ll need to be meticulous about your reporting. That way, you can see where your customers are coming from and find new opportunities to gain more. You’ll want to start by implementing a way to track where your new customers are coming from. A good way to do this is through a referral code or asking how they heard about you in an exit survey. Once you have acquired enough data, you can dive deep into your metrics to see what’s working and what’s not. Keep in mind, if something doesn’t work right away it doesn’t mean it’s a bad campaign. It might just need some more time to gain momentum. 3) Make your service shareable An easy way to create more brand awareness within your targeted demographic is through your customer’s social media. Everyone on social media knows that customers love sharing experiences like what they eat, where they’re going, and whatever else they think others will find interesting. Make your service easy for your customers to share with their friends and family by providing them with before and after photos to share on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. You can make this even more appealing by making a contest out of it. Just have them tag you in their post to be entered to win a discount on their next service. There are plenty of free programs online that randomly select a winner for you. 4) Gather more reviews Another form of referrals comes from the advice of strangers on the internet, aka online reviews. Yes, your customers do look at these. If they don’t know anyone personally that has worked with you, they’ll look online for an educated opinion. If you know that your customer had a great experience, ask them to leave you a review on your website, Google, Facebook, or Yelp. Try automating this process by setting up an email marketing campaign that asks your customers to leave you a review a week after the job is complete. 5) Collect your assets You can create new assets, or repurpose previously used graphics/copy, making the process even more efficient. Keep track of all of your before/after images, customer reviews and testimonials, and additional assets you’ve acquired. That way if you want to share anything on social media, or provide potential customers with examples of past work, testimonials, and recommendations you can do so without chasing them back down. It is important to keep a strong collection of assets that will be ready to use at any moment so that you aren’t held back when the need for graphics arises. 6) Create your rewards incentives You can create new assets, or repurpose previously used graphics/copy, making the process even more efficient. Keep track of all of your before/after images, customer reviews and testimonials, and additional assets you’ve acquired. That way if you want to share anything on social media, or provide potential customers with examples of past work, testimonials, and recommendations you can do so without chasing them back down. It is important to keep a strong collection of assets that will be ready to use at any moment so that you aren’t held back when the need for graphics arises. Knowing the value of referral marketing is vital to helping your business grow. By creating a well-planned referral campaign, you’re turning your customers into advocates for your business. Since the customers you gain came from an opinion they respect, they’ll be more likely to become a loyal customer themselves. Investing in a referral marketing campaign will ultimately save you time and money while nurturing a source of leads that have an endless potential.

Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator

the power of referral marketing

Instagram For Your Field Service Business

August 21, 2017 • Social media is here to stay. The steadily growing crowd of Instagrammers, tweeters, and Facebookers won’t be going away anytime soon. While you may have thought social media is just a fad, or only for personal use, it’s actually opening brand new doors for you to interact and connect with a massive base of customers. From a business perspective, social media is a no-brainer business decision. You have access to about 90 million users on Instagram alone, for free. Yes, for free. Instagram is one of the fastest growing social media channels out there, and with the majority of its users being middle and upper-middle-class females, it's the perfect market for home service businesses. Let's take a look at how setting up an Instagram account for your business can help you corner this market and bring in new business. What is your new Instagram all about? Instagram is a social network for sharing photos and videos. What type of photos and videos your share is up to you, however, it is important that you decide the purpose of your account. Do you want to extend the reach of your brand? Is it a place where customers can share the value of your finished work? Or is it a way to highlight your customer service and show the human side of your company? This decision is very important because it sets up the story for the rest of your account. Remember, consistency is key, so once you’ve selected a theme for your new account, stick with it. Polish your profile First impressions are everything. It takes less than two-tenths of a second for a visitor viewing your profile to cement an idea about who you are and what your business is about, so make sure that initial impression is a good one. Creating a clear and uncluttered profile is crucial to making sure your audience finds your account and follows it. One of the first things they’ll see is your username. Try to craft a username that is short, memorable, and matches your business name. Next, make sure to upload a high-quality version of your logo as a profile picture. For your bio section, add a short description of your business. Try to keep it to the point, and authentic to you and your brand. Lastly, remember that unlike other social media platforms, Instagram doesn’t have a cover photo. With that in mind, most of your brand recognition will come from the content you post; plan accordingly.  Content is King Seek to create content that engages and entertains your audience. The best promotional content is content that is the least promotional. Don’t be afraid to pose questions in your captions in an effort to engage with your followers. Check out what kind of content to post for more tips on how to indirectly showcase your services, build anticipation and collaborate with others. Use Hashtags That Drive Business (#whattheheckisahashtag) Hashtags can help increase traffic to your page and help you track your success. Posts with at least one hashtag will receive 12.6% more engagement on average, and you can use up to thirty hashtags per post. Think of these hashtags as active keywords. When a user searches for something, the ones you’ve chosen will act as magnets for your post. Pro-Tip:  Place your hashtags as a comment to the actual post. By not posting them in the caption and placing them in the comments instead you make your post look a lot more visually pleasing.   Something every business should do is create their own custom hashtag. For example, if your business name is Xtreme Carpet Pros, we’d use something like #xtremecarpets. It’s an uncommon hashtag not typically used by other people, and your followers can use it in their own post to engage with you once jobs are complete.  Tips and Tricks To get the most out of your Instagram account, keep these tips in mind Convert your account to a registered business account Follow these steps to convert your account to a business account. Doing so unlocks a lot of free marketing and demographic insight about your account. You’ll be able to visually see things like which neighborhoods your followers are in, the best time to post, how much impact your post is having, and much more.  Links don't work in Instagram captions The only place you can share an active link that actually takes users to a website is in your profile (or through a button on a paid advertising post). Respond to other users' comments When people comment on your photos, don’t leave them in the dark. Creating a connection your customers and followers will show them that you’re listening to what they have to say.  They'll be more likely to continue following you and interacting with your pictures if they feel like they matter. Embed Instagram posts on your website This can show visitors that you're active on Instagram and help you add more followers.  To set up your new account for success try and touch upon all the items mentioned above. First, establish what your new Instagram account is all about. Next, polish your profile and ensure all your content is in line with your brand. Last, harness the power of hashtags and to reach more people than ever before. People come to Instagram to be connected, informed, and entertained. Setting up an Instagram Business account gives people more information about your products, service or business and gives them an opportunity to connect with you in a way that wasn’t possible before.

Kareem Abulaban

Instagram for your service business