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Housecall Pro blog

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

INDUSTRY: Small business

How to Make Your Business #1

July 22, 2016 • How do you rise above the competition? Whether you do business in small town or big city, there will always be others vying for the customers in the same market. Find out what you can do to show that your business is the best! HouseCall Pro is excited to announce that we’ve been named as the top field service management app by GetAppfor the 3rd quarter in a row! So, we know a thing or two about ranking above the competition. We want to show you how you can do the same with your business. Here is our advice: 1. Step up your customer service. Make your customers happy. Deliver a level of service that goes above and beyond their expectations. Strive to provide the best possible experience for every customer, new and old. Satisfied customers will be happy to sing your praises! Providing high quality service will give a boost to your business’ reputation, referrals, and reviews. 2. Boost your reviews. Ask and you shall receive! Getting more reviews is as simple as making it a priority to ask for them. Make it as easy and convenient as possible for your customers to write you a review. Send an email after each service such as a “Thank You” message (bonus points if you do it through marketing automation and save time). Include hyperlinks to where customers can review you. Send a friendly reminder so your customers have another opportunity to write the review, but be careful to avoid spamming them. Remember that they are doing you a favor, so express that you are appreciative of their time and thank them if they do post a review! 3. Increase your social media following. Establishing a strong social media presence will show that your customers care about your business. When people search for information about your business, they will be sure of its legitimacy when discovering a large audience on your social media profiles. Further, you can also leverage social media to attract new business through campaigns and promotions, which will prove to be more effective when you have more followers and likes already. 4. Improve your communication and organization with mobile technology. Show your customers that you are reliable and trustworthy. When you are on top of your appointments, your customers will be less likely to consider ever doing business with your competitors. Also, by keeping your customers in the loop, such as through automated notifications when you’re on your way to their home, their respect for you will grow. Luckily, increasing your level of communication and staying organized doesn’t have to take up all of your time. You can let technology help you gain the loyalty of your customers! Of course you want customers to choose your business over competitors and to keep coming back forever. By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to showing that your company is heads above the rest. Win the lifetime loyalty of your customers by mastering your trade as well as the art of building a company that customers love.

Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator

GetApp 2016 Category Leader

What Kind of Boss Are You?

July 6, 2016 • How do you motivate employees to achieve your entrepreneurial dream? Leaders come in many shapes and sizes. Learn about the different styles of leadership and how you can use them bring out the best in your team! Authoritative:  Authoritative leaders create a vision for the company and motivate employees to achieve it. This type of leader inspires their team yet provides minimal direction, allowing employees the freedom to innovate. Authoritative leadership is effective at driving employees to contribute to a common goal, but it is not ideal for employees who are inexperienced and need extra direction. Example: Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, was a true visionary. He imagined the future and set out to make an impact on the world. True to the authoritative leadership style, Jobs inspired his team to carry out his vision while also offering them the opportunity to be creative. While Jobs was a     who rejected and criticized many ideas, he stayed true to his vision and maintained Apple’s high standard of quality in its products. Jobs’ leadership allowed Apple to revolutionize technology and change the way that humans interact with each other and their environment. Affiliative: Affiliative leaders focus on caring for the needs of individual employees and establishing unity among the team. Affiliative leaders emphasize employee morale and build it through positive affirmations. Business leaders are cautioned to avoid using the affiliative leadership style exclusively, since too much focus on relationships can lower employee productivity. Example: The Dalai Lama is a leader who teaches people about     and caring for others. He exemplifies the affiliative leadership style by connecting with people all around the world and highlighting the importance of forging strong, loving relationships. Coaching: Coaching leaders guide the individuals on their team toward personal and professional development. Coaching leaders help team members grow in their strengths and overcome weaknesses. For businesses, this leadership style is effective when aiming to help an inexperienced employee develop their skills. Example: Mr. Miyagi in Karate Kid coaches his student, Daniel, toward growth and discovery. My. Miyagi provides Daniel with a     to overcome, teaching him to balance strength with kindness.  Coercive: Coercive leaders give direct orders and expect obedience. At the opposite end of the spectrum of affiliative style, coercive leadership is more likely to include harsh criticism than praise. Coercive leadership is only recommended during a crisis when time is of the essence. If used too frequently, coercive leadership can damage employee morale and decrease motivation. Example: The United States military employs coercive leadership. The goal of this style of leadership is to     in military recruits. Coercive leadership in this context also works to break down individuality and replace that with a sense of duty to one’s country.  Democratic: Democratic leaders place a high value on the input of their team members. Democratic leaders value taking a group consensus before making decision. This style of leadership gives employees a sense of involvement and influence in business processes. Democratic leadership is helpful for tapping into the team’s collective wisdom, but it should be used with caution when team members lack experience and knowledge.  Example: Richard Branson, billionaire   and   founder of the Virgin Group, embodies the democratic leadership style. He believes in truly     and implementing their ideas. Branson advises hiring employees who are strong in your areas of weakness so that you can learn from them and achieve harmony in your team. Pacesetting: Pacesetting leaders place extremely high expectations on their team members. Pacesetting leaders set the bar high for employee performance, leading by example. This leadership style can increase business efficiency, but can also contribute to employee burnout. Pacesetting leadership is most beneficial when team members are already motivated and skilled. Example: Jeff Bezos, founder   and   CEO of Amazon.com is a pacesetting leader. Amazon employees report the     expected of them while working for this technology giant. Although Amazon is often criticized for its near-impossible expectations of employees, yet this productive culture has led it to become the largest Internet-based retailer in the United States.  So, what kind of boss are you? Since the above leadership styles are effective in different circumstances, choose the styles which you believe will work best for your team and incorporate them as needed. As Steve Jobs once said, “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.” Believe in yourself and your employees. Inspire yourself and your team to accomplish your goals.

Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator

Guy giving thumbs up with a green background and woman with hand on head with white background

10 Ways to Gain a Customer

July 1, 2016 • Customers are like friends; you can never have too many! Still, it's important to find and keep quality clientele so that business is consistent. What are the best ways to find new customers? Let's start with these 10 trusted methods for gaining new business! HERE ARE 10 WAYS TO GAIN A CUSTOMER 1. Get referrals from your existing customers. Are you struggling to get word-of-mouth referrals? The key to boosting your referrals is simply asking for them! Tell your customers how important they are to your business and ask if they know anyone who could benefit from your service. Remind them later in your postcard and email marketing efforts. Keep reminding them, but avoid being too pushy, as that can backfire.  Offering rewards to your customers is enticing if asking alone is not working for you. Set up a referral program to reward customers who refer new business to you. If you don’t want to offer them a monetary reward, such as a discount or credit toward service, make sure to express your appreciation when customers send new business your way. 2. Boost your online reviews. When potential customers are searching for a service provider, reviews truly matter. 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. How do you increase your reviews? Just like with referrals, you have to ask! Don't expect customers to write reviews on their own, as most people won't go out of their way to help you without a little nudge in that direction. After every job, send customers an email thanking them for their business, ensuring their satisfaction, and inviting them to write a review by including the links to do so. Make it as easy as possible and you'll see your reviews go through the roof! 3. Develop a strong social media presence. If you aren't already leveraging social media to gain new customers, start now! Start sharing content that will draw in new customers, such as before and after photos of your work, as well as videos of you in action. Start writing helpful blog posts, such as energy-saving tips if you are an electrician, on your website and sharing them on social media to build your digital presence. Paying to advertise on social media will help you reach a larger audience (more on that next), but if you are just starting out, you can effectively generate new business at no cost. How? Begin by leveraging your current customer base. Invite them to like your page and engage with them so that their connections are exposed to your business. 4. Advertise on Facebook, Google, Yelp, Angie’s List, etc. Digital advertising is a key tool in the arsenal of many modern service businesses. How do you select where to advertise your business online? We'll go over a few of the available options! Facebook is a relatively low-cost and powerful tool to reach a wide audience. Once you start sharing engaging content, it is worthwhile to pay to boost these posts so that they have the greatest impact. You can also create ads just for Facebook to direct people to your website. Learn more about Facebook for business here.  Google Adwords campaigns are a great way to reach people who are already looking for the service you provide. Paid search results display at the top of Google's rankings, so they can easily capture leads that become new customers! Since there are so many opportunities for promoting your business online, you'll want to test them out for yourself to see which ones deliver the highest return on investment. It will vary greatly based on your region and clientele, so it's up to you to discover what works best for you. 5. Increase your search engine ranking through organic SEO. Rank high on search engine results and your phone is guaranteed to ring. Think about the terms your potential customers will be searching for, such as “carpet cleaning in Atlanta.” Optimize your website with these keywords, and hire a specialist if it’s in your budget. Organic SEO is not to be confused with Google Adwords, which are paid advertisements. Organic SEO means your website will be boosted higher in the unpaid search results. Allocating a budget to both Google Adwords and SEO is recommended to maximize your exposure! 6. Do some old-fashioned advertising: send out mailers and brochures, place an ad in the newspaper, put up flyers in local stores, etc. These advertising methods are tried and true. Old-fashioned advertising will also help you target an older demographic of customers who may not be very tech-savvy. For direct mail campaigns, Marketing Donut recommends first checking with data protection laws to avoid any illegal activity. The success of your old-fashioned advertising campaigns will vary based on your area and the habits of your target customers. Test one method at a time to see which delivers the best return on your investment! 7. Sponsor charity events or school functions. Get your business involved in the community. Research local events or charitable organizations that you could contribute to and find those that fit within your budget. Not only will you be able to get your name out there in your area, but you will also boost your business’ reputation by donating to charitable causes. 8. Turn your truck into a moving billboard by boldly displaying your logo, phone number, and website URL. Get your business’ name out there in as many places as possible! Having a well-designed branded truck is essentially free advertising, that is after you buy the truck wrap. Since you are already traveling around your city for work, you might as well turn that into an opportunity for branding and advertising! Make sure your business’ name, phone number, and website URL stand out and are easy to read! 9. Leave behind promotional items at every customer’s house. Never forget to leave a branded item behind after every job! Whether it’s your business card or a useful household item, such as a bottle opener, chip clip, etc., this is an effective method for gaining and retaining customers. Not only does it help increase your repeat business, but it also serves as an effective way to increase referrals. Your customers will have this item to pass along to friends and family, allowing you to gain new business at a low cost. 10. Participate in networking events. Networking events are an excellent way to get your business’ name out there and meet potential new clients! Professional societies in your area will also be a great way to meet business partners and form mutually beneficial relationships. Research what kind of events and groups meet in your area. Be sure to bring business cards and dress in business attire!  After employing these strategies for finding new customers, your phone might just be ringing off the hook. Maybe you'll even find yourself needing to get rid of some business. If that's the case, check out 10 Ways to Lose a Customer. 

Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator

10 ways to gain a customer

10 Ways to Lose a Customer

June 21, 2016 • Dealing with customers can be a total pain. When customers are being difficult, don’t you just want to tell them to take a hike? Well, stop holding back! Tell them how you really feel....if you want to lose their business forever!! HERE ARE 10 WAYS TO LOSE A CUSTOMER 1. Demand positive reviews. Bully everyone you work with into reviewing you. Guilt them if they don’t. Insult dissatisfied customers. 2. Ignore your customers' calls. Have a robotic answering machine and make it impossible to reach a human. Never call back. 3. Drive recklessly in your company vehicle. Cut your customers off on the road, nearly causing an accident. Use inappropriate hand signals if they honk. Aggressively tailgate everyone who isn’t going at least 10 mph above the speed limit. 4. Ignore complaints. Pay no attention to customer service.  Give customers an attitude when they bring up concerns. 5. Steal from them and/or trash their home. Blame someone (anyone) else. Never accept responsibility for it! Definitely don’t apologize. Let them know they can try to sue you if they want compensation for damages. 6. Send technicians out into the field with no training. Make no effort to train them in your trade or teach them how to interact with customers. Eagerly anticipate the inevitable problems this will cause. 7. Try to squeeze extra money out of them. Take payment for your work and then request payment again. Keep requesting more money from them. Maybe they will be tricked into paying twice and not even realize it! Quote them a price for your service. After you’ve completed it, double that figure. Make up a silly reason why they need to pay twice that price, like “my rates double on Mondays!” 8. Disrespect them. Be as creepy as possible. Call the woman of the house “pretty eyes.” Invade their personal space. Touch them more than is normal while speaking. 9. Act a fool on social media. Post inappropriate, inflammatory commentary from your personal account. Engage in heated arguments with anyone who opposes your viewpoints. Offend and insult anyone and everyone. 10. Break promises. Guarantee results, then fail to deliver. Laugh at the idea of living up to your commitment. When customers get upset, let them know you think they’re unimportant.  As you can see, losing a customer is easy! Follow these steps if you’re just too busy and you need to get rid of some business. If you want to GAIN business check out 10 ways to gain a customer!

Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator

10 ways to lose a customer

Custom Dashboard Reports

June 19, 2016 • Run reports to dive deeper into your business' numbers. Understand how your company is performing at all times, based on the statistics that matter to you. If you are currently on the 'Manage' plan with HouseCall Pro, you will be able to create custom dashboard reports. To create a report, click on the  '+add your own' box on the main dashboard. You will then be directed to your full reports page where you can start customizing your own: 1. Select the table columns that you would like to see on the report screen by clicking on the 'Table columns' tab. You can select as many or as few items from the drop-down menu as you like.    2. Select a column that you wish to sort your data on. By clicking on a first row column title, you will see a red arrow appear, which will sort that column in ascending or descending order. A third click will turn off the sort function for that column.    3. Select your filters by clicking on the 'funnel' icon next to the column title (a red funnel icon indicates that the filter for that column is on). Depending on the column you chose, a small window will appear allowing you to refine ranges and values that you would like to see. You can filter on multiple columns for the same report.    4. Once you have sorted and filtered your information the way you like, name your report in the top-left entry bar and then click the green 'Save' button on the top-right of the report screen. You will now be able to access the report on your main dashboard. You can create, edit, and update any report on the dashboard. For your convenience, all of your named reports will appear as tabs across the top ribbon of the reports page. The custom dashboard reports feature is only available to customers subscribed to the 'Manage' plan. Questions about New Features or Need Help? Chat with the Customer Success team in your web portal (through the blue bubble on the bottom right-hand corner of the screen), or email pro@tryhousecall.com.

Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator

Custom dashboard reports

Schedule & Price List Updates

June 12, 2016 • Drag & Drop Unscheduled Events into your Calendar Customer needs to reschedule but doesn't have a set date or time yet? We've got you covered. Now you can drag your unscheduled jobs to save them for a later date. Price List Customization You don't have to be in front of a computer to edit your price list anymore. Do it all right from the palm of your hand. All unscheduled job or estimate events can now be dragged and dropped into a time slot on your schedule. You can access your unscheduled events on the job calendar by clicking on the 'Unscheduled' tab on the top navigation bar. Next to the 'Unscheduled' tab you will see a red number indicating how many unscheduled events are available for drag & drop. A drop-down section will appear showing all of these unscheduled events. Simply drag and drop any of these event blocks directly into the schedule and you are ready to go. Price List Customization You can now customize your permanent price list from your iPhone. The 'Price List' section can be found in the 'More' icon at the bottom right hand corner of the app. When you select the tab, you will be taken to a list of your current active industries. From there, you can click into the appropriate industry and create new services or update existing ones (as shown above). Your new services will show up across all devices and on the web portal. Questions about New Features or Need Help? Chat with the Customer Success team in your web portal (through the blue bubble on the bottom right-hand corner of the screen), or email pro@tryhousecall.com.

Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator

Schedule and price list updates

Scale Up Your Service Business

June 10, 2016 • Should you stay or should you grow? Every owner/operator will reach a point when they must decide whether to stay a solo act or scale up the business. What will you choose? Get some advice from a pro who decided to grow! When Kevin Cole started his business 3 years ago, he was a sole proprietor providing carpet cleaning services. Today, his operation has grown exponentially. By offering additional services and hiring employees, he has doubled his average sales tickets and more than doubled the size of his business. Does the inevitable headache of managing a team hold you back from expanding your business? As you probably already know, hiring employees is key to growth. What is Kevin’s advice for managing a team and broadening your offerings? Take the time to train new hires Establish an onboarding process to give new employees the education they need to succeed. Relinquishing control to new hires can be scary, but with the proper training, they’ll be ready for the responsibility. Kevin emphasizes the importance of teaching his employees all the features and uses of the app he uses to run his service business. He is grateful that the app allows him to “spend a lot less time managing and directing” because it provides his staff with their schedules, information about customers and jobs, and price lists, making up-selling and cross-selling a breeze. Let digital tools work for you! Using technology to run your business allows you to save time by increasing your efficiency. Kevin appreciates that the mobile software he uses also saves him money, as he doesn’t have to pay additional office staff to handle things like scheduling and communicating with customers. For Kevin, the technology not only streamlines his communication with customers, but also employees, keeping everyone in the loop automatically. Through the automated reminder texts and emails built in to his system, Kevin says he is able to establish a sense of professionalism with customers before he even walks in the door. Kevin credits these notifications with giving him extra authority that allows customers to gain trust in his knowledge and experience, they are extremely receptive when he suggests adding additional services. Diversify your services  While he was still an owner/operator, Kevin noticed that as he was cleaning carpets, oftentimes his customers would also hire house cleaning services. He discovered the need for a company that provided both services at once, so he capitalized on it. Since then, he has expanded his business to become a full-service firm, offering carpet cleaning, commercial and residential house cleaning, and tile and grout cleaning. Cole’s Cleaning Care sales have gone through the roof! Kevin found success through by seizing new opportunities and being versatile. By adapting to the needs of his clientele, Kevin effectively scaled up his business in a short amount of time. Leading an organization may not always be smooth sailing, but being flexible makes all the difference. Adjust your sails with the wind and keep Kevin’s advice in mind!

Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator

Scale Up Service Business