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Housecall Pro blog

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

INDUSTRY: Small business

Instagram For Your Field Service Business

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

Kareem Abulaban

Instagram for your service business

What to Know About SEO

August 1, 2017 • How many times have you heard someone refer to SEO and wondered, “What on earth is that?” Everyone always emphasizes the importance of SEO, but what is it exactly and why should businesses be using it?  We spoke with Organik SEO, a digital marketing agency located in San Diego, to learn all about SEO and how small businesses should be using it. When Organik SEO first started out, they focused exclusively on local SEO for service-based businesses. Since then, they’ve expanded into other aspects of digital marketing and offer SEO, Google Advertising, social media marketing and more.   Here’s what the team had to say about all things SEO: What exactly is SEO? SEO is the process of getting search engines to better understand and rank your website above your competition. SEO is really the foundation for any successful marketing campaign, since these days most of your customers are looking online to find a business.  Why is it important? It's important because, in this digital day and age, your website is the best way to get in front of your potential customers when they are actively seeking out your service. As technology continues to advance, today’s customer adopts new behaviors faster than ever and you need to arm your business with tools to keep up.  For your customer, making a purchase is no longer about picking up the yellow pages; it's about grabbing their phone, doing a quick search online and seeing which business comes up. Your customers are already looking for the services you offer, you just need to be able to show up at the right time. Who should be using it? If you own a business and have a website, you should be doing some level of SEO. You need online exposure to drive your business. Your website is your best sales tool and SEO is how you leverage it to its full potential. What are some must do basic SEO tactics? For a locally focused service-based business, you need to start with a great website that is: Mobile friendly  Easy to navigate Has strong “ ”  Has easy methods to contact you via phone, intake form, email etc. Additionally, the site should be built on a content management system (CMS) that makes it easy for you to update and add pages to your website so it can continue to evolve with your business.  These elements will help ensure that qualified visitors will have a good user experience when they arrive at your website. Once that’s done, it's time to look at what we call “on-page” SEO elements. These are items that the search engines are looking at to try and decipher: Who you are  What you do  Your unique differentiators Your primary service offerings The geographic locations where you offer your services Elements such as meta descriptions, title tags, image names, and headings are important indications to a search engine to determine your relevancy, yet are often overlooked.  Once you’ve established proper on-page SEO you want to begin developing a stronger local SEO presence. The first step is to claim, verify and optimize your Google My Business page with the proper name, address, phone number, URL, service offerings, images, etc. The next step is to work to establish listings and citations of your business on other directory websites such as Citysearch, Yelp, Kudzu, Yellow Pages, etc. Taking the time to properly build these out with robust information will help the search engines recognize that you are an established business within a local market.  Do you have any overarching do's and dont's for small businesses that are just getting started? DO: Earmark an annual budget and plan for digital marketing and SEO between $25-$100K - Think long-term, thrive long-term! DON’T: Build a website on a content management system that you don’t own (i.e. Wix, GoDaddy, or Website Tonight)  and avoid budget hosting providers (that can result in website downtime, hacking vulnerabilities, backup issues, site speed issues etc). DON'T: Work with a marketing company who seems to overpromise with lofty goals and KPI’s, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is (there is definitely no such thing as guaranteed organic rankings and they can not get you ranked #1 on Google tomorrow!). Be sure to hire someone that is transparent and wanting to educate you as to their process so you’re not just throwing money at something without understanding what you’re paying for.  DO: Find a marketing company that will act as an extension of your business or bring someone in-house. DO: Perform an SEO audit of your current site. Maintaining a website and your authority with search engines like Google is similar to maintaining a car, you have to perform routine diagnostics. If you can share anything specific to plumbing or service professionals who you've seen or helped benefit from SEO, we would love to hear examples of it helping grow their business. Our plumbing and service-based clients have benefited most from online review strategies within their SEO campaigns. This helps in two ways: When you have a lot of online reviews you give your local rankings a boost within the Google search engine.  Consistent online reviews lead to more business for you with trusting customers When it comes to local service industries, we’ve found that many users will research the credibility of the company they're looking to work with. Online reviews help you go beyond online web pages and offer a stamp of approval from many other individuals in a given market.  Our clients that have seen the most success from online reviews have made a point to use the review strategy across the business. We’ll consistently work with those clients on email templates, responses, and exploring all of the platforms available to get online reviews.  Having an SEO strategy is a key factor in boosting your exposure and driving more business. Now that you know what SEO is and why you should use it, you can begin doing some of the new tactics we learned from OrganikSEO to grow your business. 

Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator

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8 Hacks To Boost Productivity This Summer

July 12, 2017 • Summers are relentless. The days are long and your business is busier than ever. At the end of it, you may walk away feeling as though it was one big blur.  While summer is one of the busiest seasons around, there is something to be said about making the most efficient use of this valuable time. Implementing a few inexpensive hacks will put money back in your pocket, shave hours off your workday, and reclaim some valuable time to enjoy your summer. Even better, these efficiency hacks have long-term benefits and will set your business up for success in the coming months. We’ve put together a short-list of 10 pro-business hacks that will surely add some sizzle to your step. Faster Modern Communication With 97% of Americans using text messages, it no wonder that texting is the most popular and most frequently used form of communication. Text messaging is 10x faster than making a phone call and costs 125% less. Customers are also far more likely to see and respond to your message.  Keep & Update Records Keeping records sounds like the easiest part of good office management – but keeping them updated can be a lot harder in practice, especially when they build up. The easiest way to beat this is problem is to make updating records an automatic routine. When you get a new customer or client, it only takes a moment to enter them into your customer list. Having accurate records is a sure fire way to quickly increase company efficiency and keep everyone organized. Digital Invoicing/Go Paperless   You’ve heard it before: go paperless. Today, software makes it really easy to move to a low-cost paperless solution. Having access to all of your company information will make running your business a breeze. You’ll be able to search for customer information (like billing address and work history) without having to call the office. By utilizing digital invoicing, you can create invoices on-the-fly and update them in real-time with your customer’s ever-changing needs. Your customers will delight in the exceptional service you’re providing by creating quick and accurate invoices, and you’ll love getting paid faster.   Skip the Pleasantries You’re busy and so are your customers. Introduce online booking to your website and give them the freedom to choose a service time that works for them. Online booking will allow customers to choose the service they want to be performed, and immediately choose a time from your real-time updated availability. This software is a great way to reduce time spent going back and forth with customers. It also exponentially increases the chance of getting booked. The fewer steps it takes for them to get from point A to point B, the more quickly they will book with you; simple as that. Use Free Cloud Storage Solutions Cloud storage makes for some amazing changes to any small business. Simply put, the cloud is just a secure place on the internet for your company to store their information. All the information is in one spot, accessible from anywhere in the world at any time. You and your team can see changes to a contract, schedule, or invoice immediately; not in hours or days. You’ll love the increased collaboration between members of your business. This is also a great solution to store job-site photos. Typically, the photos taken from a job that may have important legal or technical information are stored on an employee's phone. By storing these photos in a company cloud solution, any employee can access these photos, at any time. Eliminate bulky, space-wasting file drawers and move to a clean and efficient cloud solution.   Make Communicating Easier Keeping your customer in the loop is one of the foundations of running a successful business and keeping customers happy. No one likes being left in the dark or wondering what to do next. By sending a few simple messages to your customer, you will ensure they have a clear course of action and decrease any potential miscommunications. Automating these messages will shave hours off your work week. For example, automatic text notifications will let customers know when the technician is en route. By keeping customers in the loop during this process you will reduce no-shows and make sure customers receive an exceptional experience. Stop Chasing Down Payments To stay successful during the summer, you need to make sure your cash flow is coming in strong and on a regular basis. We recommend using a system that has a batch invoicing option so you can let technology help you collect payments automatically. Your system should also have payment processing, so you can easily accept payment for your invoices out in the field. Keeping these two services tied together greatly increases your business efficiency. Get Back to Basics With Postcards Customers hate spam, but love appreciation. Consider using postcards as a great way to reach out to customers, remind them to book their next appointment and thank them for previous business. Manually writing, printing, and mailing all those postcards can be extremely time consuming and costly. Instead, use an automation service to send postcards after 2-3 months of the initial job date. Pro-tip: include a special promotion code on the postcard to track how effective your marketing campaign was and incentivize customers to book another job.    These hacks are designed to save you time, while continuing to foster customer relationships. With improved customer communication, quicker billing and invoicing, consistent marketing, and routine organization, you will be to offer an experience unlike any other. Implementing these changes should also eliminate wasteful business practices, reduce employee hours spent on back-office work, and lower the risk of unhappy customers, which is especially important during your busy season. If you’re looking for a program to help with some of these hacks, then take a moment to stop by our features page. We’d love to show you brief demo explaining how Housecall Pro can help you accommodate more business with increased efficiency all while being very affordable. 

Kareem Abulaban

go-paperless

Email and Online Booking Updates

July 9, 2017 • Same Email For Multiple Customers You can now assign the same email to multiple customers. For instance, if John Smith is both a residential customer and a business in your database, and uses the same email address for both accounts, you can now be sure that all email notifications will reach him.  Multiple Email Addresses for a Customer If your customers want notifications to go out to multiple email addresses, you now have the option to add these emails to your customer profile. Simply access the customer profile and click the blue '+EMAIL' button and type the emails in. That customer will now receive all notifications to each of those email addresses.  Online Booking: Bing, Yahoo, Yellow Pages & City Search We want to make it even easier for your customers to find your business and book a job with you so we’ve partnered to bring online booking to Bing, Yahoo, Yellow Pages, and Citysearch. If you log onto your Housecall Pro account you’ll see a box at the bottom of the online booking page titled “BETA – Search Engine Booking.” If you click the “Enable” switch, your customers will be able to book a job online with you when they search your business name on any of these engines. We are just getting everything set up, and it will take a few weeks to show up in search results once you’ve turned it on… so please enable its as soon as possible if you have an interest.

Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator

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The Secret to Success: Customer Service

June 27, 2017 • What do you think the most important factor is for your business’ success? Some might say it’s having good equipment. Others might say it’s the people you hire that make your business successful. While those are very important contributing factors, we believe that the most influential key to consistent and long-term growth is your customer service.   But what does great customer service look like? Maintaining a healthy relationship with your customers is a lot more than just greeting them with a smile and providing them with quality service. In order to improve your customer retention and boost repeat business, you need to form a relationship with your customers, letting them know you value their business while leaving a lasting impression. We know how stressful it can be to manage your business and keep up with all of your customer relationships, especially as your company expands. With everything being automated and on-demand, it has become more and more difficult to keep up with customer expectations and show them that you appreciate them. Luckily, we have help from field management software to help boost the quality of your customer service and keep your customers coming back for more. We’ve narrowed down the three most impactful ways you can improve your customer service: Communication is Key How many times have you had to fix issues with customers that are upset because of a miscommunication? Sometimes communicating with your customers and employees can be difficult. Wires get crossed, information gets lost in transition, and misunderstandings happen all the time. It can be difficult to maintain communication with customers and employees, especially with multiple appointments scheduled in a day lasting anywhere from 40 minutes to 4 hours. These communication issues are far too common and leave a negative effect on how your customer views you and your business. The best way to solve your communication issues is to create an open line between you and your customer. One way to do this is to send your customer notifications and updates from start to finish. This line of communication begins by confirming that the job has been scheduled. Once you’ve ensured that you’re both on the same page, your next step will be to send them a message to let them know you are on your way. This will show your customer that you value their time just as much as you value your own. If it’s a long job, it’s important to keep them updated on the progress. You should let them know about any updates or setbacks and notify them when the job has been completed. Once the job is finished and you’ve received their payment, you’ll want to make sure they receive their invoices and are notified that the payment has been processed. Being able to do all of this from a field service management software will save you both time and money, while also creating a record of your interactions for reference later. You’ll find that by having a record of your communication with your customer helps to prevent possible miscommunications in the future. Make it Convenient In a world of smartphones, your customers are used to a high-tech lifestyle, where almost everything they want is available right at their fingertips. This makes having access to online and mobile payments, invoicing, and booking a necessary convenience to keep up client retention. As a customer, you can pay for almost anything online or with a phone. Your customers practically expect to be able to pay on the spot with their receipt delivered straight to their email. Now, with field service management software, you’re able to do just that. Having the ability to send your customers their estimate or invoice and processing their payment while you’re on the job adds the value of convenience to your transactions while giving you peace of mind knowing that your payment is being collected on the spot. Similarly, this same convenience can be found through scheduling your appointments. Many of your customers are constantly on the go, making it difficult to find the time to call your office to book an appointment. By giving your customers the option to book online, you’re giving them the freedom to schedule their appointment on their own time exactly the way they want to. The convenience of booking through your website, Yelp page, Facebook or a third-party app, also saves you time and increases business. Customers that find you online can schedule a job with you right away, automatically appearing on your calendar and reducing the risk of being forgotten, double-booked or lost in translation. Keep it personal While technology is great for making sure your customer remains satisfied, a big fear amongst business owners is the risk of losing the personal connection you have with each other. However, with many field service management apps you can not only maintain that personal relationship, but you can also expand it. You’ll notice that as your business grows, so does your customer base. Sometimes keeping track of each of your customers and maintaining a relationship with each one can be a job in itself. It can be easy to lose track of who they are and all of their personal details, but with features like customer notes and tags, you can keep all of those personal details organized and easy to access within your app. Another feature that helps grow the relationship with your customer is direct and digital marketing. By sending them automatic reminders when it’s time for another service, or extending a special offer to your most loyal customers, you can drive more business for your company while also letting them know you care about them. Field service management software doesn’t just help you run your business more efficiently, it also helps you drive repeat business and maintain long-lasting relationships with your customers, ultimately saving you time and money. With enhanced customer communication, booking and billing convenience, plus consistent marketing, you will be able to offer your customers something that your competitors don’t while staying top of mind for existing customers. Additionally, it reduces your chances of having an unhappy customer, eliminates unnecessary work, reduces your hourly costs, and prevents any miscommunications. There are so many resources available, that are built to help manage your business. We recommend that you research your options and choose the solution that works the best for you. In order to make sure that the software you choose is the right one for your business, see if it provides all of the key features that are essential for enhancing your customer service.  

Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator

customer service