Monthly Archives: November 2011
You can have the best appliance repair company around; you can be a cleaning company with excellent customer service and reviews; or you can excel in other ways as a top home service business, but without marketing your company properly, it will not grow, no matter the quality of your products or services. There are three marketing essentials that are necessary to the success of your home service business.
1. Know What You Are Selling
This may seem obvious but it is an essential starting point – know the intimate details of the products and services you are selling. Be able to answer every question that’s related to, well, anything! Price; how it works; what the customer will receive; how long it takes; why you and not a competitor of yours; guarantees; support; discounts; the list is almost endless. The point is, if you don’t know what you are selling in minute detail, then how would you expect the customer to understand and commit themselves to making a purchase?
Your website is this century’s business card, store visit, and first impression. When people are looking for a service, the first thing they do is search for it online. If you don’t have a website, or you have a poorly designed website, you are losing customers, straight off the bat, to your competitors. A good website instils a sense of trust in a potential customer. It is their window (literally…customers really do window-shop online!) into your business and how you operate. Hire a quality website designer to build your site. It may cost more originally, but it will pay off in the long run.
3. Call to Action
A call to action is a direction or request that you give a potential customer. On your website this might be a “Contact Us” button, or “Get a Free Quote” button. With print marketing, this could be a coupon sent to customers urging “Hand this to your technician on their next visit for 30% off.” The idea behind a call to action is to get potential customers and current customers to take action in engaging with your company. You are essentially giving guidance which will lead to a sale. Calls to action imply urgency and often coerce consumers into believing they need your company’s services right now.
Take a look at your home service business. Do you apply these marketing concepts to running your business? If you do, give yourself a pat on the back, but don’t take your eye off the ball; this requires continual focus on your part. If you don’t, then start implementing them now to help you on a path to success.
Customer service is an integral part of business at any company, and good customer service can be the difference between a successful and failing company. Why is that? Because customers are the bread and butter of any business, and the way your company attends to your customers’ needs and demands determines their loyalty to your brand. Sometimes though, in any company, it is hard to cater to exactly what your customers want. When you start a home service company, or help to manage one, there is generally a specific vision in mind for how the company is going to be run, what services you are going to offer, and how you are going to appeal to your target market. However, you want to make sure that you are also considering what it is that customers want from YOU, other than the services you provide. Doing so will help you provide effective customer service so here are five things that customers want from their home service company.
- Knowledgeable staff: Home service customers want the people providing them with services to be experts in their field. After all, they are entrusting you and your staff with one of their most prized possessions; their home. If you are a cleaning company, ensure that your staff can communicate effectively with your clients, including a thorough knowledge of the products you use and what steps you take when cleaning to maximize health benefits. Provide a background of your company emphasizing your expertise.
- Friendly staff: Customers are also looking to have a good relationship with the people at your company, as well as trusting that your staff is well-informed and skilled. Customers want to interact with courteous, friendly, staff members. This shows that your company values the customer’s business and that your staff enjoys their jobs.
- Good value: This is where the price matters. Customers are looking to get what they paid for. They are looking for quality service for a low price. They look to have their expectations exceeded. However, price is only one component of the “value package.” Customers consider good value to be a combination of price, service, and experience. You may be a plumbing company that charges a little more an hour then your neighborhood competitor. However, if part of your service includes explaining everything you are going to do and providing an estimate before starting a home project, wiping the floors and cleaning the area when you are done, and then following up with the customer the next day to see how the repairs are, a customer will probably consider your services to be of good value.
- An online presence: In this day and age, customers want to be able to go online and find your company. They look for a clear, well thought-out website that visibly displays what services your company offers, contact information and third party validations (customer testimonials). They also look on sites such as Angie’s List or Yelp to verify the legitimacy and popular opinion of your company. An on-line presence gives a sense of authenticity, breadth, and business understanding.
- Timeliness: Being on time and reliable is one of the most important things to customers. Customers want to be able to count on their service providers to arrive when they scheduled to, or provide proper notification if that is not possible. Having scheduling, billing, and contact management software will help keep you and your staff to stay on top of appointments, helping you present yourself as an accountable company to your customers.
How can you keep up with what your customers really want? Listening to your customers is important, as is keeping up with the latest news, trends, and developments in your specific industry, and in the overall customer service industry as well. Giving your customers what they really want will, in turn, give you what YOU really want; a successful home service business.
Guest Author: Mollie Coons
Graphic Designers are perhaps one of the most important pieces to beginning or sustaining a small business. Hiring a good Graphic Designer to aide in branding your business presents additional expenditures in both money and time but will be the legs your business stands on for its entire life.
When you hear branding, you might instantly think logo and business cards. Branding is much, much more than just those things. A good Graphic Designer will assign your small business a visual identity that can be applied to any variety of mediums from a logo and website, to a style of writing or what color tie to wear when presenting to a board of investors.
I like to refer to visual identity as visual identification: how will someone pick YOU out of a crowd? A trained Graphic Designer will assist you in developing your visual identification. He or she will talk with you, not to you, share knowledge with you and brainstorm strategies with you to help you decide what will be best for your business. Consistent visual identification is the first step to building your reputation as a brand. Remember….
Consistency = Trust
Some key branding things to keep consistent are your logo, business card, letterhead, Facebook page, Twitter background and marketing materials. You’re probably wondering, “what’s the catch here?” The computer screen is only one area to check for consistency…here are a few others.
: the Digital world
: the Printed world
The digital world consists of HOW you use your logo and things like company colors. Is your logo always in the upper left corner of things or the upper right corner? Is your logo roughly the same size on your letterhead as it is on your envelope? Are all your company colors the same on your customers’ computer screens? These are all things a trained graphic designer will check and double check for consistency.
The printed world consists of HOW your logo and company colors look printed on paper. Is your company’s shade of green the same on your envelope as it is on your business card? I can guarantee if your envelopes are printed at a different place than your business cards the greens (for example) will be a drastically different shades. It’s because greens, yellows and oranges are the most difficult colors to print consistently. And remember…
Consistency = Trust
A great Graphic Designer will constantly scan all these areas, and more for brand consistency. He or she will make sure all of your business’s visual identification is consistent…giving YOU strong legs to launch your small business empire from.
You might be overwhelmed by all of this but don’t be. While there are many things to think about when it comes to branding your business, a graphic designer will take you through the steps and help transform your business into a professional, attractive company with a competitive edge. I would like you to imagine for a moment how freeing it would be for you to not have to worry about these things! It’s nice, isn’t it.
When starting to work with Gerald F. Crysler, owner of Crysler Encapsulated Sealing Systems and a colleague of mine, Megan Hughes of http://www.keenbeandesign.com (Graphic Designers often work in collaborative packs to provide the best branding and design possible) we began by simply starting a conversation with Jerry…asking him what he was passionate about and why he wanted to start his own company. From there we started designing his logo and gave him a sheet of 5-10 different ideas to choose from. After he chose a concept he felt represented his company well, we began to refine it and work it, much like clay, into the first foundational brand pillar of his small business, Crysler Encapsulated Sealing Systems .
Stay tuned for The Digital World Continued: Why you NEED a website
About the Guest Author: Mollie Coons is a freelance communications graphic designer based out of Burlington, VT. She holds a BA in graphic design from Champlain College. She is also a featured graphic designer for the company Keen Bean Design. She works with various companies from different industries in developing their brand through print and web mediums. For more information about graphic design or to hire Mollie to help design your home service business visit her website here.
All businesses face pressures and the risk of closing their doors if things don’t work out. As a small home service business, you’re probably feeling some pressure to ensure that your business survives and you’re sometimes under some stress, whether it’s noticeable to you or not. While there is no recipe for guaranteed success, here are three basic mistakes you can avoid to increase your chances for long-term success.
1. Targeting Everyone
If you’re Apple or Walmart, then you can probably get away with trying to target the mass population to buy your products because breadth often comes with being a big company. But as a small business you need to be more careful and focused about where you exert your efforts. This is called market segmentation and creating a target market. Here you need to understand what’s driving your customer; their needs and reasons for buying. If you target too broad a market then you may quickly find yourself overstretched with insufficient resources to cope.
2. Not Sticking With Your Brand
It takes time, but customers recognize your brand – the logo, color, message, words. Everything. Changing this often and with no structure confuses your target market meaning that they will not identify you and then forget you. Pick a brand. Pick an identity and stick with it. It is also worth it to spend a little money on developing your brand identity. In the graphic design world you need to spend more to get better quality. Doing this initially will save you money in the future.
3. Ineffective Pricing
This may seem obvious as your pricing strategy drives sales of your products and services. Set this too high and customers may switch to a cheaper competitor. But setting too low can have disastrous consequences because you may not cover your costs and raising the price afterwards doesn’t mean more revenues for you; increased price deters demand and will cause you to lose customers. The price therefore needs to find the balance between revenues, costs, and demand. Setting the price low doesn’t necessarily mean you’re undercutting the competition; you may actually be driving yourself out of business.
Evaluate your business. Are you using these three tips to ensure that your business is on the path to success? If not, trying focusing on these as they are a good place to start. It may save you in the future. Best of luck!