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Housecall Pro blog

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

INDUSTRY: Small business

8 Content Marketing Strategies For Home Service Businesses

May 10, 2018 • Every home services company needs good web content, but most get discouraged because they don't have the budget to hire an expensive content marketing agency. Fortunately, you don't need an expensive blog to drive web traffic. You already have all the tools to make a good blog all on your own, you just need to use them. When brainstorming new ideas for publishing content to drive traffic towards your website, companies often miss the mark. Companies will start by brainstorming topics that they find interesting.  However, in order for fast-moving, innovative companies to drive the right traffic, they need to create content with their customer in mind. Getting started is often the hardest part. These eight easy content marketing ideas are great starting points for any home services company. 1) Sneak peeks at new products and services A hard sales pitch is a huge faux pas when publishing content. People hate sales pitches, that's why the strategy behind content marketing is to inform first, then gently nudge customers where you want them to go. A good way to do this is to focus on the products you work with or by talking about the services you provide.  If a company claims to be an industry leader, its content has to back them up. One example of doing so would be giving a sneak peek at a new innovative product or service. You might even consider giving a video demonstration of it. This reminds your customers of the services you provide and shows them that you're ahead of your industry, making them more likely to book you without having to give them a hard sales pitch.   2) Company stories Creating content about services you offer isn't the only way to promote your business through content. Creating content about the history of your company and your accomplishments is a great way to connect with your customers. Most companies don't realize it, but content tells a story from start to finish. Everyone has a life story, and good content is the life story of any successful brand. Giving historical facts about a company's founding is a good start, but it's the company narrative that matters most when driving traffic. The idea is to tell a story that draws in your audience, sharing where your company came from and the motivation that drives it.   3) Team profiles Building a successful home services staff is a journey, so why not share it with your customers? Content marketing is most effective when readers genuinely empathize with brand. By sharing your employees' stories your customers will feel a more personal connection to you and your company.  Q&A articles are good examples of how to write team profiles that truly entertain. Keep it simple. You don't have to get their entire life story. Focus on questions about their hobbies, family, and any industry related skills or accomplishments. The home services industry depends on building long-lasting relationships with customers, and showcasing each team member is an easy win (plus your employees will be excited to be featured).  4) Blog lists You don't always have to create a full blog from scratch. Many content creators will publish blogs that are simply a compilation of other blogs. For example, a company might have 'maintaining your tile floor' as their topic and will write a list of the best blogs for DIY tile floor maintenance. You just have to write a short intro for your list and explain what each one teaches. Make sure to link your copy to the right blog. Often those bloggers will return the favor with similar posts resulting in more exposure for you both and an ongoing relationship for future opportunities to work together. 5) Frequently asked questions Effective content can also be writing a series of posts on frequently asked questions (FAQs). Try to get creative in your FAQs. You don't just have to stick to questions about your company, go outside the box and answer common questions you've been asked about your industry. By giving your customers a little more insight into what you do, you're presenting an opportunity to connect with them even more.  By creating content on FAQs you're also giving your company the chance to differentiate your brand from your competitors, by explaining any common misconceptions and sharing what makes your company unique.  6) Tutorials Good content can also be as simple as informative tutorials. A couple of options for formatting this are to create a video demonstrating a home improvement tutorial or you could create a list of tips and tricks from your industry. For example, if you're in the carpet industry you could create a post about preventing stains on different types of carpet flooring. Or if you're in the plumbing industry, you could share a tutorial video on how to fix a leaky faucet.  Website visitors will appreciate a company that shares a few trade secrets with them. By doing so you're driving traffic to your website, while also building up your reputation and gaining your customer's trust.   7) Contests The best content is both informative and fun. Companies can differentiate their brands by giving website visitors a fun, entertaining read, and contests are a good example of how to publish entertaining content. Contests are a good way to drive traffic to your blog, promote your services, and create more engagement with your customers.  This is your chance to get creative. Think outside the box to create fun, entertaining contests. For example, if you're in the carpet industry, you could hold a contest for the dirtiest carpets. Ask your customers to send you photos of their carpets and award the winner with a free cleaning. Each contest entry becomes a new lead, you'll be able to show before and after pictures for the winner, and you'll gain more engagement with your customers. Plus, your customers will be looking to your blog for future contest opportunities.  8) Events Trade shows, networking events and business roundtable discussions are ripe content topics. If you go to any industry-related events, make sure to share what you learned. This gives you and your company more credibility and authority. The idea is to support your brand's claim of professionalism by showcasing your company's knowledge base.  Overall, content marketing is about driving the right traffic from the right readers in order to further grow a business. While you want to produce the right content for your company, it doesn't need to be perfect. The biggest mistake you can make is overthinking it. Use these nine content marketing ideas as your foundation, get writing, and start publishing. Once you do, you'll begin to gain new customers, drive more engagement, and direct traffic to your website.

Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator

Coffee table person typing

3 Ways to Boost Your Professional Network

April 13, 2018 • Many of us fear the thought of "networking.” The whole idea of chatting up people we don't know is awkward and time-consuming. And for the most part, we might get a great collection of business cards, but the whole process is random; we end up connected with people who don't truly understand what we need to be more successful in our business. A better way to create mutually beneficial business relationships that can help you grow your business is to focus on creating a pro-to-pro network that actually puts you in touch with like-minded professionals who understand your challenges and can support your efforts. Customers are always a great source for referrals, but when another trusted vendor recommends you to one of their clients, they immediately validate you and create an opportunity for you to get work without having to do any marketing. People in the field services industry are constantly asked if they know someone who can perform this or that. If they know you do great work and are trustworthy, they can recommend you and deliver a customer primed to do business. It also gives them a new way to deliver value to their own customers. Even though many of us spend our days focused on solving customer problems and organizational issues, the real work we do is all based on relationships. If we can demonstrate competence, integrity, and a willingness to truly connect with the people we work with, it creates positive results in the form of goodwill, loyalty, and support. When we spend time developing relationships with other professionals in our field, we have a real-time sounding board and support system that can help us figure things out when we're stuck, connect us with customers through word of mouth, and give us perspective about how we run our business. Relationships are critical to everything we do, and when we are good at relationships, we can use them effectively in building our network. It sounds great; a bunch of people who understand the trials of building and running a successful business who you can bounce ideas off, and who sends potential customers your way. In turn, you do the same for them, and it's like you all have a built-in growth tool. The reality is that you have to work at it to create and sustain a successful pro-to-pro network. Here are three things you can do right now to get started: Create a structure that works for colleagues and customers Imagine this scenario: a homeowner wakes up to discover his toilet has flooded the bathroom floor overnight. His first call is to a plumber; it ends up being a quick fix. To do it, however, the plumber needs to cut into the drywall to access the pipe. Rather than wait for the customer to freak out when he sees a hole in the wall, the plumber preps him by saying, "I'm going to need to cut a 2'x2' chunk out of the wall, but I work with a very competent drywall installer who can fix it easily, and because he and I work together, I can get him here today and he'll give you 20% of his regular price."  That plumber just solved two customer problems and two business are going to get paid that day. Think of the opportunities you'll have to get your name in front of customers who are in need of your service, and the recurring potential for being put in touch with those people because you're also doing the work to get colleagues gigs as well. The impact of your network gives you opportunities that others won't have because you are being delivered directly to a paying customer by a fellow professional who vouches for your work. The potential monetary rewards are great, especially because your investment in building these relationships is relatively small. While you still need to maintain your regular marketing efforts, you should recognize that when other professionals are sending you business, it can almost be considered like incremental revenue on top of what you're already earning through regular customer acquisition efforts. Use a smart strategy for creating the right network To put yourself in the best possible situation, you have to first know "the guy" who gets the business. You actually have to know a lot of guys who get business, and you yourself need to be "a guy" who can get business for others. Remember that being successful is mostly about preparing to be successful, and a few helpful tips: Choose wisely An important piece of this is to pick the right people to be in your network. Avoid competitors. They can still be your friends, and while many are certainly good people, they aren't going to send any business your way. Look for complementary businesses and get to know those owners. If you're an HVAC guy, maybe you want to connect with plumbers or air duct services. Find ways to make the relationship win-win for each other, and for your customers. Network to build a network Reach out to people by every means necessary. You can do this through social media (retweet and like the things your colleagues post - it may sound like high school all over again, but it works), online discussion forums (get in there and ask if people want to partner), and local clubs (your Chamber of Commerce most likely hosts mixers and open houses frequently, which you should make a habit of attending) are all opportunities to connect with people you may want to include in your network. Get out there If anyone is going to recommend you, they have to know and trust you. In addition to online efforts, there are all kinds of things you can do to get in front of potential supporters. Go door-to-door among your work neighbors or host an open house at your office; invite people to come in for some free food and to see your work. Stop in on businesses and make phone calls. It may not sound like fun, but remember that in addition to building your own network, you're also helping others build theirs. Pay it forward...and backward Remember that a network is kind of kind of like a loop, and you have to keep feeding it in order for it to feed you. So with your own network, you need to be providing value as much as you're getting value. It's important that you're giving leads to your colleagues and helping them build their own businesses. There are a few key ways to do that: Preferred pricing Give the people in your network the ability to offer discounts for your services on your behalf. This is will be a huge value to the customer, which will then be an incentive to work with you. It also makes your colleagues look good because they delivered a deal to their customer. The customer, of course, loves it because they get a sweet deal and didn't have to waste any time looking for a vendor. Say thanks If you develop relationships with these other businesses and they drive business your way, make sure you show your appreciation. Showing up at their place of business with a gift basket or a gift card for a nice restaurant is a nice way to demonstrate that you value what they've done for you. These aren't kickbacks and don't present a conflict of interest; they're just a friendly gesture that goes a long way towards cementing a successful and long-term relationship. Automate it It's one thing to just say, "Yeah, I know a guy who can do this job." It's of far more value, however, if you can connect the customer and vendor with actual details about a potential job. It prepares both parties and offers context to prepare the customer and your colleague for engaging. Housecall Pro offers a feature called Send a Job that enables a vendor to connect his colleagues and customers through his contacts. A simple text is delivered with job details and contact information. This puts the business into the hands of the people who need help and those who can provide a solution. It's also a great way to track how you've recommended, and the jobs you've received from others As the song says, we all get by with a little help from our friends. If you dedicate time to building a pro-to-pro network and foster good relationships within that network, you will develop opportunities to generate new customers and in turn, become a resource for other professionals. The network effect will provide customers with access to preferred vendors and will give you a new, robust channel for new business.

Pat F

Board Game Networking

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

What's New

April 3, 2018 • November 2018 - Launched Recurring Service Agreements to all users- Added ability to add multiple phone numbers to a customer- Added ability to link existing jobs to a service agreement- Bug fix: Updated all instances where indefinite service agreements were showing as 5 years - Added ability to see available subscription credits- Added ability to see service agreement report if the feature has been added to plan- Bug fix: Service agreements not loading for users on Internet Explorer on Windows 10 - Added ability to edit the subject line when emailing individual estimates and invoices - Bug fix: Instant Payouts list not loading- Added ability to try failed Instant Payouts on the My Money and Payouts page - Added ability to add tax rates to a service agreement- Bug fix: Job details page not loading for some users on Safari and Edge internet browsers- Added ability to add and edit additional emails on app (Android)- Added ability to add and edit additional phone numbers on the app (Android)- Added ability to restore deleted jobs October 2018 - Added ability to create an indefinite plan- Added ability to delete existing agreements- Added ability to cancel existing agreements- Added ability to filter agreements by status and type of plan- Added email notification for both Pro and customer when agreement is accepted - Bug fix: Disallowed clicking multiple times on save job to prevent duplicate jobs from being created- Added ability to see that a job is part of a service agreement on iOS and Android apps- Added ability to see that a customer's address has a service agreement on iOS and Android apps- Bug fix: 'Indefinite' service agreement plans were showing as 5 years- Updated add customer flow for new accounts- Bug fix: Prefilled business hour options in setup flow September 2018 - Added ability to filter jobs by schedule date on customer details page- Added lifetime value of customer - Added license number to the bottom of the invoice- Launched Alpha test of service agreements August 2018 - Added security notifications when account information is updated- Added ability to choose payment speed settings on iOS and Android- Added ability to download .csv file of report directly from dashboard - Bug fix: Removed phantom QBO errors from appearing- Launched new customer details page. Open for beta testing until August 30th.- Added ability to see event notes on iOS and Android- Added ability to copy existing attachments to a new segment or job- Added ability to link a customer to a task- Added ability to select which columns show up on the jobs and history table July 2018 7/25/2018- Added ability to text invoices from mobile apps- Added ability to customize message when emailing an invoice from mobile app 7/23/2018- Added ability for Superpros to use ACH 7/20/2018- Added ability to see event notes on Android app- Added ability to send a preview of an email campaign email 7/11/2018- Added ability to restore cancelled jobs7/2/2018- Updated look and feel of invoice settings  June 2018 6/29/2018 - Added ability to filter customer list by tags 6/28/2018- Added ability to assign and view tasks on mobile apps 6/27/2018- Updated look and feel of invoice settings  6/20/2018- Added My Money page and ability to view pending credit card transactions 6/19/2018Bug Fix: Removed ability to pay online for jobs that have been cancelled or deleted 6/15/2018- Updated log in page 6/8/2018- Added auto-save function on tasks 6/5/2018Bug Fix: Duplicate tags preventing estimates to be converted May 2018 5/30/2018- Launched Instapay to all users 5/25/2018- Added task feature 5/23/2018- Bug fix: updated performance of recurring jobs 5/22/2018- Add ability to add and view attachments from mobile app 5/9/2018- Add ability to see cancelled jobs in customer history5/8/2018Bug fix: Credit card fee correction in exported reportsBug fix: Updated employee permissions5/6/2018: - Add ability to add attachments on customer records5/5/2018- Add ability to drag and drop reports on dashboard5/1/2018- Add ability to print estimates from Android app April 2018 4/26/2018- Beta release of Instapay for Superpros- Add ability for users to sync an invoice from HCP to QBO4/19/2018 - Beta release for InstaPay to select users- Add ability to dismiss QBO errors4/18/2018- Add ability to sync invoices from HCP to QBO4/17/2018Bug fix: Displaying previous date on invoices 4/13/18- Add ability for users to pull a payment from Quickbooks Online- Add ability for users self serve and add individual features4/12/2018Bug fix: Email display issues on email preview receipts4/11/2018 Bug fix: Uploading blank photos on iOS4/5/2018- Add ability to view sent and received jobs and accept or deny a job within the app4/3/2018Bug fix: invoices sent from mobile will recognize "pay online" option selected from web portal March 2018 3/29/18- Add ability to pull payment from Quickbooks Online- Populate customer name when adding a new customer in if they don't exist in the customer list 3/16/18- New add job beta released for users to testIncludes: view tags and customer details while scheduling, ability to add discount when creating invoice3/15/18- Updated invoice due and receipt emails that are sent to customersBug fix: remove materials from invoice if they aren't being used 3/13/18- Add ability to mark job paid locally in HCP without pushing payment to QBO 3/9/18- Customers can now tip when sent an invoice via text message or email3/8/18- Match employee color on web portal and iPhone3/6/18- Match employee color on web portal and Android3/2/18- Restrict customer list export to admin users3/1/18- Allow Housecall Customer App users to receive email invoices in iOS and Android- Display invoice status on Android February 2018 2/26/18- Access blue chat bubble from Android app- Send receipt email when enrolling in a plan- Add ability to sort customer list2/13/18- Choose which columns display on customer list2/6/18- New add customer dialog- Customer list toolbar update2/5/18- Mark all messages read on iOS- Bug fix: invoices sent from iPhone now show saved due text instead of "due upon receipt"2/2/18- Mark all messages read on Android January 2018 1/26/18- Add bank for payouts by logging in with online banking credentials1/24/18- Undo changes to line items on the job details page1/19/18- Change billing to sign up date for new users instead of first of the month1/15/18- New customer list layout- Import customer list and connect to Quickbooks Online during sign up process1/10/18- Access blue chat bubble from iPhone app- Bug fix: invoice email subject line was showing with USD for Canadian pros1/3/18- Bug fix: message on invoice preview on the job details page now wraps correctly

Christy Billings, Product Manager

Coding On Laptop

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

Strategies to Create an Exceptional Team in Your Field Service Business

March 26, 2018 • Being an effective business manager means you have to develop and use a wide range of skills. You clearly have to know your business and your people, but you also have to manage your time, the time of your employees, understand when to say "no" and when to say "yes," how to change course when needed, and about a million other things that can come up when you least expect them. It's not easy, but when done right, you'll develop an environment with happy employees, raving customers, and you'll see solid business growth. In a field service business, there are particular challenges around hiring and managing employees. For one thing, the field service environment is distributed and requires employees to work independently most of the time. They act as agents and ambassadors of your business, and unless they have the right training and incentives, their inability to perform to your expectations could lead to negative results for your business. There are some key management strategies that will help you create a high-performance staff and one that is not only loyal to you but delivers maximum effort to help your brand awareness and perception. It requires a combination of communication, tactical, and organizational skills, as well as the ability to trust your gut and operate with some flexibility. That gut piece is really important; while some things can be ticked off your checklist, most things require you to work on them to make sure they are baked into the fabric of your company. Every time one of your trucks leaves the yard, or one of your technicians visits a customer, they represent a part of your business, and what they do can have a major impact on how customers feel about you. Showing up on time, being courteous, and adhering to your company policies and guidelines will make them look good, and by extension, customers will look upon your whole company favorably. If they show up late or appear unprepared, you can bet that you'll lose out on repeat business and might take a hit through word of mouth talk among potential customers. Because your employees are probably the most important components of your brand, you need to prepare them to be successful. It starts with onboarding and extensive preparation and never stops; continuous education and training are key to maintaining a workforce that knows what's expected of them. No business has the perfect team. People are human and bring to the job their own style and behaviors. Your job is to bring all those people together and create a professional, awesome team that is going to always improve. Great employees aren't always great when you hire them, but you can make them great. According to a recent study, companies with engaged employees outperform those without by up to 202%. It clearly makes sense to create an environment where employees pay attention to what's going on and want to perform well for you. Your job as a leader is to get the best out of them. Here is a list of things you need to build into your business management practices in order to create highly engaged employees who are prepared to make your business thrive: Hire for skills, train for perfection Your employees need to be technically competent; there's no question about that. During the hiring process, find ways to see them in action, and watch how they demonstrate their skills. Now, they may not have everything in order to be 100% capable of handling everything on Day 1, so you also need to assess their coachability. Can they learn new things, are they prepared to try things they may not be totally comfortable with? These people don't have to be masters at their craft right now, so you need to invest in training to help them. Maybe you have a mentoring program where more experienced workers train the younger ones. Or perhaps you find courses they can attend. Showing that you're investing in them will keep them motivated to do a good job for you. According to the Association for Talent Development (ATD), companies that offer comprehensive training programs have 218% higher income per employee than companies without formalized training. But it doesn’t stop there. When you build a culture where training and ongoing education is valued, employees won’t get complacent. If you have a team that provides the most cutting-edge services and functionality to customers, it will be noticed and appreciated through repeat business. Set people up for success The fact is, the world is made up of different types of people, and your workforce will be no different. As a business leader, however, your challenge is to fit people into roles where they feel comfortable but can also do their best work. Some people are natural salesmen; they would be a natural fit to bid jobs and be in roles that require a lot of customer interaction. Others like grinding away at tasks to see them through to completion. Those people would be a good fit for the key work your business is responsible for. Assigning employees in roles where they can shine shows that you respect them. It also indicates that you're actually paying attention and rewarding them for their value. Emphasize the importance of relationships All the talent in the world won't do much for you if someone is rude or arrogant. You need employees who are comfortable with customers and who have the ability to connect with people. They don't need to be back-slapping best buddies, but they need to be polite, respectful, and earnest in their approach. It can be surprising how some have had very little training in this, but that's okay. It's your job to create an environment where they are given the instruction and help so when they go out on their own, they can deal effectively with people. It's not fair to send an employee out without an understanding of how to approach people, deal with unhappy customers, and deal with tough situations on the spot. Employees will take a page out of your book, so don’t forget to model what you want them to do. Be respectful but be firm, and demonstrate to employees that building relationships can help create and sustain business for the long term. Give them the tools they need Even a top-notch team can't do their best work without the necessary tools. That may mean, well, actually tools like wrenches and clamps, but it also means other things, some of which are intangible. And those tools need to be in good shape; that's a cost to you to keep saws sharpened and machines calibrated. Tools that aren't taken care of will cause more work for the employee; it could even cause a job to take longer which could cost you in terms of additional staffing hours you need to pay and jobs that don't come in on deadline. Think through every step of every job an employee might perform, and then ensure you are providing the corresponding stuff that will help them. That includes things like rags and breathing filters and other things that may not be necessary just for the job, but make the experience easier for the employee. Being in the field, your employees will need a smartphone and access to whatever apps and other tools you use that will keep them updated and informed. Use incentives to reward A study of employee loyalty indicates that 77% of employees would work harder if they were recognized by their manager. That shouldn't be news to anyone, but using incentives and making the effort to appreciate employees is too easily forgotten and neglected by employers. Think about using incentives in two ways: Gifts: Everybody likes a gift. For a job well done, and for an employee who's been working especially hard and has been away from his or her family doing work, maybe you spring for them to take their spouse to a nice dinner. Or great tickets to a local sporting event. There are a million ways to gift someone as a reminder that you appreciate them and their work. Think about the individual and what would surprise them and make them feel recognized. The monetary piece will be way worth it in the long run. Perks: It may seem like small potatoes, but things like free food and great coffee in the break room, company parties on holidays, and the unexpected free lunch go a long way in creating happy employees. Invest in good benefits for your employees, too - doing so shows that you are committed to them. A recent survey shows that the top three most important benefits in the eyes of employees are: health insurance, vacation, and performance bonuses. Culture: Employees spend a lot of time at work, so it behooves you to make work a place they like and appreciate. But creating a positive team culture requires more than just high-fiving your employees. You should create expectations about how people treat one another and model that for them. Also, it would not be the worst thing to abide by the great maxim, "Take your business seriously, but don't take yourself seriously." Think about that with your company culture and consider how you present yourself and demonstrate your culture in the ways you communicate and interact with the team. It has to start from their first engagement with the company and continue throughout every step of them being part of the team. Every business must decide what they want to be and how they want to treat employees. The Golden State Warriors and the New England Patriots don't win championships solely because they execute on the court or field. They like what they do, they look out for their teammates, and they have leaders who believe in them. As a manager, you have not only created a great business but now you can create a business that is a model for the rest of your industry. Once you build and lead an exceptional team, you will see happier customers, more repeat business, and growth in revenue

Pat F

Human pyramid using teamwork