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One of the greatest challenges that any small home service business faces is survival. Maybe this is a constant, day-to-day worry or just an occasional concern about where the next order for your services is going to come from, but the risk is still there. In a typical small business, cash may be tight, operating budgets and investment opportunities limited, orders may be hard to find, and suppliers can be demanding payment. If things aren’t going to plan then the business’s survival, and your own livelihood are both threatened.
Regardless of whether it is a constant or occasional stress, the fear and risk of failure never completely leave us. So what is the answer? Build a bigger business perhaps? There is no doubt that a competently run “big” business solves many of these challenges by giving access to more funds; more power; greater personal wealth; and increased leverage over suppliers and the market. A position of power is desirable but long-term survival is still not guaranteed.
With size, come bigger challenges and more pressure to succeed. But success is not granted forever. Take Microsoft as an example of a “BIG” company who once dominated the software market, leading the way with their Windows operating systems and Office packages, the Microsoft technology stack, and a wealth of other innovative software solutions. Microsoft brought personal computing to the masses both at home and at work. In recent times however Microsoft has been under multiple attacks from the likes of Apple, RIM, Google, general anti- Microsoft sentiment, and the law courts.
Today, despite their size and past successes, Microsoft faces the very same challenge that many small home service businesses face; survival.
There is an increasing sentiment and expectation that Microsoft will collapse. Maybe not imminently but the warning signs are present. This subject was covered just this week by Business Insider and while their accompanying vision of the future may be somewhat entertaining and implausible, it paints a picture that bigger is not necessarily better.
There’s something unique and beautiful about being a small business; you have the flexibility to make decisions that are in your best interests; you are more agile and can respond quickly to changes and customer needs; there is no constant scrutiny from the media and the wider public. And, when the working day is done, your business is just that: it is yours!
As a small home service business, what are your thoughts?
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.