Kindra K, Marketing CoordinatorSep 7, 2018 @ 9:00AM
The initial growth of many small single-proprietor HVAC businesses comes from word-of-mouth and local advertising. And then you reach a point where the growth plateaus. This is an indication that small-business tactics are no longer enough.
While things like customer recommendations remain important, to reach the next level of growth, you need to add new promotion and sales strategies, as well as a technology infrastructure to support your growing business.
You already know that, in order to compete against huge regional or national chains, you must differentiate your business. Initially, it was easy enough to set yourself apart by providing better quality service that led to repeat customers and word-of-mouth recommendations.
But when you’re trying to take your business to the next level, quality service isn’t enough in and of itself. So how do you differentiate on a larger scale? Invest in marketing efforts tailored to your company’s strengths and specialties.
Experienced HVAC tech and contractor Dave Miller recommends targeting a different audience than your competition through specialization. If larger companies put a lot of promotional efforts toward installing multi-split units, for instance, don’t try to outdo them — focus on something else.
When you become the expert in a specific area of service, Dave explains, “you can easily craft your sales pitch to be more appealing.” Of course, you don’t need to stick to one specific service, but putting a lot of effort into one or two can help focus your marketing efforts.
Dave also suggests marketing heavily to a specific region (what he calls the “sniper approach” where you can build up a strong reputation and people will get used to seeing your service vehicles and logo. As you grow, you can expand that area wider and wider.
Facebook allows you to run ads on a specific zip code, which can be a good place to start this micro-local marketing.
The majority of people want to work with a local company as opposed to a national chain, so they’re looking for a business like yours. But can they find you? A recent survey showed that 97% of people search for local businesses online and 85% of folks surveyed trusted online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
In order to be found, your site needs to be optimized for local searches by using a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. As SEO expert Bradley Shaw explains, “Local SEO is essential for HVAC marketing. You need to be found in your city listings. It helps drive organic search traffic to your website. Organic traffic is ‘free traffic’.”
Optimizing your site for local search includes things like:
Figuring out what people in your area are searching for and making sure those search terms are found throughout your site
While there are simple things you can do on your own to increase your search rankings, to compete with larger businesses, especially chains, it’s worthwhile to invest in expert help. Even a one-time cost of a detailed SEO audit could help you generate dozens or hundreds of new inquiries each year.
If you’re already on top of the SEO game, the next site investment with a big payoff is conversion rate optimization (CRO). How well is your site set up to convert site visitors into new customers? A CRO audit can show you different ways to improve your call-to-action on your site, which should always be linked to your online booking page.
Are you equipped to handle a rush of new business? Even if you have a large enough team ready to handle the work, new customers mean more customer calls schedule, and estimates and invoices to write. Successfully growing your business relies on having scalable processes in place to handle this additional work.
Step two is moving from separate management tools to one unified platform. When you’re stringing together different software — one for dispatching, another for invoicing, etc. — it requires lots of time and effort to get information from one app to another.
This is what Housecall offers HVAC and other home service industries: one unified solution to manage your entire operation. And it doesn’t just make your life easier; it also adds value to your customers.
For instance, Housecall offers new opportunities for customer engagement, such as live chat. Per one recent customer service survey, 79% of businesses polled said that offering live chat has increased sales, revenue, and customer loyalty.
The secret to becoming a bigger business is thinking about what you’ll need in the long-term and making smart investments that will get you there. Investing in finding and securing new clients needs to coincide with infrastructure investments. Find new business, and be prepared to handle it.
These three strategies are proven, time-tested investments that, when done well, will become central to your ongoing growth and success. With the right positioning, the right online presence, and the right technology, you’re set up to reach new heights.