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Housecall Pro blog

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

INDUSTRY: Small business

2017: The Year of the Customer

March 2, 2017 • The New Year’s Resolution Dogma As our calendars reset to a brand new year, we often find ourselves composing an endless list of goals and resolutions. New Year resolutions normally revolve around family benchmarks, lifestyle changes, fitness regimens, and business goals. Sound familiar? If you said yes, you fall into the vast majority of the population. There is nothing wrong with having goals, aspirations, and benchmarks. The problem is that we find ourselves incredibly discouraged when these shiny new resolutions fizzle out in a fiery blaze of disappointment. We start off the year enthusiastic, and when we fail to meet those goals within the first several months, we throw in the towel. There are two main reasons why New Year’s resolutions fail. The first is that we tend to set insanely overreaching and unrealistic goals. The second (and most notable) reason is that we select the WRONG goals because we jump to the desired end result rather than focus on the root drivers that will make that end result possible.  As an example, let’s use a typical business goal: “I want to make a $1,000,000 in revenue for my business by the end of the year.” The problem with this goal is that it jumps to the end result, the 1 million dollars, instead of focusing on the goals that will make this end result possible. Setting an end result goal will almost always be frustrating because it is the equivalent of you making your way through a maze without a map. The Root of Success You may be asking yourself “how do I map out my goals?” Defining that you want to achieve $1,000,000 in revenue for your business by the end of the year is fine, but without a clear roadmap of achievable benchmark goals, the end result will fade away. By changing our perception, we can redirect our goals to smaller, more transformational increments. It’s no longer about achieving $1,000,000 in revenue, it's about realizing where the root driver of that money. Is it coming from jobs? If so, who’s booking these jobs? Most likely, customers have chosen your business to solve their problem, whatever that problem may be. Doing some more analysis, we start to see consistencies and patterns about our customers. Why have our customers been so happy? Was it the experience that they had? Was it a specific employee that our customers liked? Was it our amazing customer service? Figuring out these answers becomes an incredibly important task. Understanding why your business is making money helps you take advantage of possible opportunities. Word-of-mouth business is key to boosting your organic referral business. If you are losing out on new business opportunities because you are so wrapped up in the day-to-day operations of your business, ask yourself if there is a way to change things up. By doing so, you can avoid a dip in the quality of your work, while still gaining new valuable customers. As you see, getting to know who your customers can really help build a road map to help you replicate success and gain more qualified customers. So how do you really get to know your customer? Knowing Your Customer Getting to know your customers is easy, but it will take some due diligence, and more importantly, a change in perspective. When you start to get to know your customer, you begin to notice trends and similarities. These trends and similarities start forming what is referred to as a ‘customer persona.’ Don’t let this fancy term scare you off, though. Customer personas are simply combinations of  buying behaviors in terms of frequency or consistency, pain points and struggles, universal goals, wishes, dreams, and a general demographics all coming together to form a customer ‘type.’ You may find that customers have intertwined personas. This information is extremely beneficial and crucial to the success of your business. Why? Because knowing your customer persona will significantly help you target potential new customers that match that persona. The better understanding you have of your customers, the better your business can do. When you have a better grasp of your general customer base, you can begin to segment and target exact parts of your customer base. For example, if you see that your customer base has decreased in age consecutively for the past 3 years, you could assume that trend will continue, and therefore establish a plan to target a younger generation of customers. So how does this help you? With information like this, you will gain a better understanding of different mediums to target your customer base, which will also help you target more qualified customers that are more likely to want your services. It gives you a good idea of where to spend your precious marketing dollars in order to maximize new customer acquisition and current customer retention.    The Times Are Changing So where do you target these specific customers? At the grocery store? At the coffee shop? Maybe, but probably not. As you know, technology is becoming increasingly unavoidable. Just as with technological advancements, customer expectations are also rapidly changing. What does that mean exactly? In short, consumers are becoming vastly dependent on the internet to find service professionals to fill their needs. How does this relate to you and your business? Customers, especially younger generations of customers, have certain expectations. These demands are shifting small business’ focus to providing millennials with the experience they expect. Millennials are expecting convenience at the push of a button. Companies that have identified this trend have quickly pivoted to offer more convenient methods of customer interaction. This doesn't necessarily mean that you need to set your business to 24/7 on-demand status. It just means that you have to expand your capabilities to facilitate an easier, more hands-off, seamless experience in the places your customers expect to find you. Without adapting to this persona, you could face significant customer acquisition roadblocks. Not only will this hamper new business, it may also marr the loyalty with your existing customer base. The Technology Curve So how do you adapt your strategy to appeal to these younger millennials? The answer is to leverage technology and let it do the heavy lifting for you. The first thing we need to establish right off the bat is that the entire world is shifting from desktop computer-driven behavior to mobile. Everyone has a smartphone, everyone is on social media, and everyone is almost permanently glued to their devices 24/7. This is GREAT NEWS for businesses because it provides an amazing platform to reach the right customer, in the right place, at the right time. New technology tools are constantly being created and updated to expedite businesses workflow, shifting focus from day-to-day administrative operations, to the actual professional craft. Also, it is important to note that the old adage claiming that technology is for rocket scientists is simply no longer true. What will happen if you and your business doesn’t adapt? Ignoring these new and innovative tools will prevent you from reaching these new and eager customers. These new technology tools aren’t meant to scare you off, they’re meant to be assets to help you and your business. Adapting will lead you ahead of the curve and in line with the masses of customers that want to use you. Online Booking Demand Now to the nitty gritty. So what do your potential customers expect of you? The answer is simple: they expect EVERYTHING. They expect to be able to find you easily, to validate the quality of your service, to book you directly, and to indulge in an amazing, seamless, personalized experience. They also expect everything on-demand, instant, and easy. So how do you deliver on these unrealistic expectations? We could write an entire book to answer this question, but let’s tackle the simple things you CAN do right away to give you a considerable head start advantage. Have you heard of Yelp!? I’m sure you have. Yelp! is the leader for business discovery as well as overall lead generation. 78% of all people who use review sites rely on Yelp! when searching for local service businesses. Even more staggering, 82% of people who go on Yelp! intend to buy. Those aren't small numbers by any mean. Customers aren’t only looking on Yelp! to find local businesses, but they are also looking to book you online as well. An overwhelming and undeniable trend towards purely digital booking is becoming an expectation a business can’t live without. Customers want to be able to book their service online without having to call in. This has been the progression of mobile technology and expectation, especially for millennials. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a740uWjMr30 Be Where Your Customers Are Your first business goal in 2017 should be to make yourself available for booking where your customers expect. Platforms like Yelp!, For instance. Whether your customers can book you directly on your website, directly on your Yelp! business page, or on an application, they’re all means to help you and your business align itself with future customers where they spend their time. The great news is that there are amazing tools out there designed to help you get booked online. With these booking features, you can not only expect to gain new customers, but also provide a seamless, loyalty buffering experience.

Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator

Yelp online booking hero

Approaching Female Customers as a Service Business Professional

November 8, 2016 • Interacting with your customers is one of the most important parts of running a service business. If a person doesn’t like you, or feel comfortable with you in their home, they are far less likely to become a repeat customer. Knowing how to appropriately interact with female customers in their own home is key to helping them feel at ease. Follow the advice below and you’ll be golden! Personal Space is Your Friend Keep an appropriate amount of space between your female customer and yourself. Particularly if she is the only one home, be mindful of the fact that you are in her house by being respectful of her space. You should also be wary of sneaking up on your customer. Let her know what rooms in the house you will need to visit and in what order. If you want to go over anything with her when you are finished with your work, let her know ahead of time and ask where you will be able to find her when you’re finished in order to avoid wandering around her house. Be Respectful The importance of being respectful to your female customer simply cannot be overstated. Showing respect to both the customer and their home will go a long way. Make sure you are not tracking dirt through their living room, or leaving your equipment lying around their house. Being courteous also involves using respectful names for your female customers. Avoid calling them hon, dear, or sweetheart as it can often lead to them feeling uncomfortable. The best way to avoid awkward name situations is simply by sticking with calling them by whatever name they use when they introduce themselves to you. Keep Your Language Neutral You never know a customer’s views on a particular subject, so it’s important to keep your language neutral. Don’t make crude or inappropriate jokes that have the potential to make a homeowner feel uncomfortable. This advice applies to all customers, but is particularly important to be conscious of with female customers. If you’re ever in doubt of how a comment will be received, don’t say it. Build Trust The most important thing you can do to make a female customer feel at ease is to establish trust. The customer is letting you into their home and one of the biggest questions they are asking themselves is “can I trust this person?” If the opportunity arises, let them know a little bit about yourself, like why you started this business and what you love about it. The less they view you as a stranger, the more they will trust you. This will help build a good working relationship between you and your customer, which will ultimately lead to them booking you again!  The bottom line when dealing with female customers: treat them with respect. Respect their homes, their belongings, and their families during your visit and you’ll end up with more repeat business then you’ll know what to do with!

Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator

Woman signing contract with man in blue overalls

How to Turn Your Service Business Referrals into a Gold Mine

November 3, 2016 • Who do you trust more: your friend or an actor in a TV commercial? You probably don’t even have to think twice about it. Advice from someone you know is much more trustworthy than an ad. People are more likely to listen to advice from their friends. They’re also 4x more likely to buy based on those recommendations.  What does this mean for your business? Referrals are a gold mine that you should be tapping into regularly.  1. Provide excellent service. Show your customers the value of what you offer before you ask them to refer their friends. Inspire your customers to send more business your way by going above and beyond their expectations. The happier you make them, the more willing they will be to spread the word. Even if you bend over backwards for all of your customers, they might still fail to refer friends unless someone they know asks for a recommendation. That’s why the following steps are important to ensuring your hard work and dedicated service pays off in more referrals for your service business! 2. Set up a referral program. Give your customers an incentive for sending new business your way. Having a well-organized system to reward referrals will greatly increase your new business. More than 50% of people are likely to give a referral if offered an incentive.  Some ideas for rewards include discounts on future jobs, a free add-on service, a gift card, or some kind of reward, monetary or not. At HouseCall Pro, we created a referral contest with the Grand Prize being an all-expenses paidtrip to Hawaii. While that may not be feasible for all businesses, choose an incentive that fits within your budget that you think would motivate your customers to refer others. 3. Ask away! Find the right opportunity to tell customers about your referral program. Of course, when you have just done excellent work and have a customer already singing your praises, that is the perfect time to ask. If you have a dissatisfied customer, hold off on asking until you do everything you can to remedy the situation. You might be afraid to ask your customers for a favor, but just be sure to ask nicely and let them know how much you would appreciate it. Chances are they will be happy to help you out. Rewarding them just sweetens the pot! 4. Remind them. Your customers might forget about your referral program if you only tell them once. Seize every opportunity to remind them. Ways you can publicize your referral program include in emails, direct mail, social media posts, or any other platform that makes sense for your business. Think of your reminders as a gentle nudge rather than a forceful push. Be careful not to annoy your customers, but do make sure your referral program stays top of mind for them.   By ensuring the satisfaction of your customers, awesome incentives, and friendly reminders, you’ll soon be turning your service business referrals into a gold mine! Check out this article to learn other ways to grow.

Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator

Two men and two women giving a thumbs up

Tipping and iPhone Updates

October 30, 2016 • Our tipping feature is now live on both Android and iPhone. To enable the feature, you must first navigate to the 'Company' tab in your web portal settings. Once there, locate the 'Tipping' section and flip the switch on. This will allow your company to receive tips with credit card payments. Once the tipping setting has been enabled, your customer will be able to add a tip during their payment process. The tipping feature will come up through credit card payments, and your customer will be able to select from 10%, 15%, 20%, no tip, and custom tip choices. Once the customer selects the tip amount, they simply sign and select 'Done Signing' to complete the transaction. To make sure the tipping feature is ready, please update your HouseCall Pro app and refresh the application.  What's New on iPhone Dashboard and Create Invoice The new dashboard feature will allow you to see your collected and uncollected invoices, job activity graph along with scheduled job count/amount, and created/won estimates at a glance. From the dashboard screen, you can click on each respective section to access details for invoices, jobs, and estimates.  We have also made it so that you can create invoices directly without having a previously scheduled job. To create an invoice on-the-fly, click the 'invoices' section on the dashboard and then the '+' sign at the top right. You will then be able send the invoice directly. 

Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator

Clean Extreme invoice on Housecall Pro

How to Handle the Haters

October 18, 2016 • We’ve all experienced it. An unhappy customer takes to the internet to blast your company and it suddenly becomes the most glaring thing on the review site. You’re angry, a little hurt, possibly confused as to why this person would say such things. But it happened, it’s out there, and now you have to deal with it. So what steps should you be taking to deal with these negative reviews? Here’s our advice on how to successfully handle them and move forward.  Take a Step Back The first thing you need to do is take a step back from the situation. Put your emotions aside and evaluate the review to determine if it was warranted. Did you show up late? Were you unprepared? Did the job take longer than you had told the customer it would? Sometimes we make mistakes, and the unhappy customer takes to the internet. It’s important to determine the underlying factor that caused this customer to take the time to write a negative review in order to determine how to best move forward. Respond Publicly Once you’ve put your emotions aside, respond to the review publicly. Don’t get defensive, even if you think the review was undeserved. Address the customer's concerns in a calm, respectful, and apologetic manner.  Even if you feel that they don’t deserve an apology for your actions, you can at least apologize for causing them to feel a certain way. Make sure you are empathetic to their concerns and genuine in your apology in order to convey that whatever happened was not typical of your business. You can even take the opportunity to highlight some of your company’s strengths in your response. The most important thing is to make sure the customer feels that their concerns have been heard. Respond Privately After you have responded to the review in a public way, reach out to the individual reviewer to personally respond. Make sure you are still staying calm and sincere. Oftentimes a reviewer just wants to be sure their concerns are being acknowledged. Assure them that you have heard their feedback and are taking it seriously. Apologize again if necessary, and take steps to rectify the situation. Perhaps you want to offer them some sort of discount or even a free service for their next appointment. The steps you take will differ depending on the situation, but you should always strive to determine the appropriate action to turn them into a satisfied customer. Find the Positive Maybe the review pointed out a flaw in your company, or alerted you to one of your techs doing something you don’t approve of. No matter what, you can learn something from the review, whether it be how customers react to certain things or just gaining insight into how you can change your business for the better. If multiple bad reviews mention the same thing, you know it’s a problem in your company that needs to be addressed. Share the reviews with your techs so they have a better understanding of your customers. Although it may seem to have a negative effect on your business, reviews can actually be incredibly valuable by helping you to continue improving. Encourage More Reviews Building up the number of positive reviews you have on a website will help those negative ones not stand out quite so much. Getting more reviews is as simple as asking! One of the easiest ways to do this is to include a link to a review site in a follow-up email after a job. That way all the customer has to do is click and type! Make things as easy as possible for the customer and your number of reviews will soar. If you need help getting started on gaining more reviews, check out these tips from Forbes! Move On Bad reviews happen. You can’t dwell on them or they’ll be a distraction from your real work. Once you’ve dealt with it properly, move on. A few bad reviews can even be a good thing for your business. If you were to see a business with only 5 star reviews, you might wonder whether or not those reviews are all real. Getting a few negative ones here and there can actually help the legitimacy of your business! While getting negative reviews may not sound like your idea of fun, use them to your advantage and take the opportunity to make positive changes in your business. Do great work and the positive reviews will start flowing in! Deal with those negative reviews, learn from them, and make your business great again.

Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator

Red bowling ball crashing into pins