Blog Archives

3 New Year Resolutions for Home Service Businesses

As the year draws to a close, it’s natural to take a moment to reflect on the past twelve months; the good things; the bad things; successes; proud moments; and the things that we’d rather not mention!

But while reflection serves a useful purpose in helping to learn from past experiences, most of the energy and thought that goes into running a successful home service business is best invested in the future; the plans, goals, strategy, and objectives for the coming year.

With the start of 2012 imminent, here are three New Year Resolutions that home service businesses should consider implementing to increase efficiency and productivity, for a head start in the new year.

 1.     Review your website content

It may seem obvious but the content on your website is what draws attention to your products and services; it generates demand and interest.  But what is less obvious is that your performance in Internet search (i.e., how far up the list you appear in Google when someone searches for information that is connected with your business) is not just based on the quality of the content, but also on how recent this is: how often you refresh and update your website.  Search engines like new information; it makes you appear fresh and new.  Your first resolution for 2012 is: Refresh the content on your website (even just a little).

 2.     Promote your services

Start the year with a drive to increase demand for your products and services.  But here is a problem: many customers will have little spare cash available after the Christmas season so what can you do?  Consider offering special January offers to tempt them to part with their cash or partner with a daily deals website such as Groupon.  Your second resolution for 2012 is: Tempt customers by offering them something irresistible (in limited quantities, of course!)

3.     Change the way you work

Many home service businesses have operated in the same way for years, and for one simple reason: it works.  But that doesn’t mean in today’s more competitive market that this is the best way of working.  Challenge yourself; question the way you work; see if your working methods can be improved; invest in a comprehensive service management solution.  Your third resolution for 2012 is: Change the way you work.  If you see perfection, then look again…

As the year starts, plan ahead for a successful and profitable year.  What other resolutions will your home service business be following in 2012?

3 Reasons Gift Certificates are Great for Home Service Businesses

With the holiday season already upon us, trading for some home service businesses may suffer and slow down.  Whether business is booming or not, offering gift certificates to current and potential customers during the holiday season is a great revenue generator.  It is also a free and easy way to promote your business but it’s surprising how many businesses do not consider adopting this so here are three reasons why your company should consider providing gift certificates this holiday season and how you can implement a gift certificate program.

Why Gift Certificates?

1.       It’s  a Great Gift

Knowing what to buy for a loved one is a chronic issue that many people suffer from at this time of year.  A gift certificate for house cleaning, lawn care, a repair service, or even a plumbing service is both thoughtful and helpful.  Whether your loved ones have a leaky tap, a filthy house, or they are enduring a case of mice, providing them with the chance to better their home (something they probably won’t spend their own money on) is creative and easy.

2.       Promotion

Making gift certificates available gets your name out there.  It promotes brand awareness because you are increasing the number of people that will hear about your business and then utilize your services.  Purchases of the gift certificates to give to their friends or family (who may then tell others), creates discussion and interest in YOUR company.

3.       Generate New Business

One of the best things that gift certificates can do is generate new clientele, and more business during the slower periods of the year.  Slower periods are mostly a seasonal issue faced by home service businesses but by providing gift certificates you gain control and add new businesses and revenues while your competitors continue to suffer.

How to Implement Gift Certificates at Your Company

  • Plan what types of gift certificates you are going to sell, and set affordable prices.  Are you going to sell an entire service, (i.e. one full house cleaning), or are you going to provide a monetary value that can be used to pay for services of the customer’s choice?
  • Make sure that you are tracking the gift certificates you sell.  Ensure that you have captured the email address and phone number of the purchaser, and record the gift certificate number and amount in your CRM database, or an Excel spreadsheet.
  • Have a graphic designer or print company such as Vistaprint create a gift certificate for you that you can have printed.  It is best to get them professionally printed to promote a strong image.  If you want to make it even easier for customers, you can offer e-coupons, gift certificates that you email to the recipient.  Make sure you include your company’s name, contact number, website, and address.
  • Promote the fact that you offer gift certificates.  Include some blurb on the bottom of your customers’ invoices stating that you have gift certificates available.  Include a note in your company holiday card.  Post signs at your office, and advertize in local newspapers.

As a home service business, have you ever offered gift certificates before?  Was this a successful initiative?  Post a comment and tell us more!

3 Reasons Why Your Service is Your Product

As a small home service business, you deliver a service or some services to your customers.  That’s an obvious statement; but have you considered that this is your product?

The reason for asking this apparently bizarre question is that one such home service business commented recently that “we don’t sell products”.  In a sense this is true because there’s no physical item at the end of the process; it’s not as if they’re selling an iPad, a motor vehicle, dishwasher, or anything else.  But by taking such an intangible approach and assuming that the customer cannot see anything, the home service business is actually making life more difficult for themselves.  How do you sell something that essentially doesn’t exist?

When a business designs and sells a product, decisions are made about how it looks, how it feels, its features, what makes it unique, and what attracts the buyer to part with their cash and make a purchase.  But there’s no reason why these types of decisions shouldn’t be made when defining your service.

Here are three reasons why:

  1. Differentiation – make yourself stand out from your local competitors and define what is so special and different about your service.  In the same way that a physical product manufacturer cares about the aesthetics that make their product look unique, apply this logic to your service to help make it stand-out and sell.
  2. Vision – despite the earlier comment about selling something that “doesn’t exist”, the reality is: it does exist.  By defining exactly what you are selling, you can then paint a picture, a vision, in the mind of the customer.  They may not physically “see” your product but by outlining exactly what the customer gets, they will clearly “get it.”
  3. Tangibility – how you market your product is more than just the product itself because you need to look at how you price and promote this, and where you sell it.  By ignoring the product aspect and not describing your service, you have nothing to price and promote: there’s nothing to sell!

The third point from the list introduces the powerful, but simple, technique called the Marketing Mix and we will provide an overview of this in a forthcoming blog.

As a small home service business, what are your thoughts about this perspective?

Why Awareness is Essential to Home Service Businesses

What is Brand Awareness?

What do you think of when you hear Johnson & Johnson?  Most likely it’s an image of a happy baby, maybe splashing around in a tub.  If someone were to mention McDonald’s, it’s also very likely that the golden arches will come to mind, and your mouth will start to water.  This is brand awareness at its finest, when an everyday consumer can instantly identify your company, and what it provides from an image, a logo, a slogan, or just by name.

Why Should You Care?

Brand awareness is important whatever industry you are in, but it is particularly important for home service businesses.  Why?  There are many home service businesses out there, and it is hard for a consumer to differentiate.  It is important then to seize the opportunities you have to capture a potential customer’s attention.  People often put off work on their home or business until it is staring them in the face.  You want to ensure when they DO need a service, your company is the first they call.  For instance, if a consumer is driving down the highway and they see an eye popping, but nicely decaled van advertising home cleaning services, with contact information clearly displayed, that image will most likely stick in their head and you could receive their call.

How to Implement Brand Awareness:

Brand awareness is like taking a megaphone and announcing from the rooftops; “we are a great HVAC service company located right in the center of town, check us out!”  Here are some steps to take at your home service business to ensure that you have properly branded your company, and are sharing it with the world.

  1.  Hire a graphic designer to create a logo for you.  There are many freelance graphic designers out there that will happily create a logo for you at a relatively low cost.  Be picky and specific.  Describe your business and what you would like to portray and work with the designer to come up with an image that suits your company and is a good fit.  Make sure you include your logo on your service vehicles, your business cards, bills, estimates and the sign on your office.
  2. Come up with a slogan.  You are looking for something catchy and memorable that also helps identify what service your business provides.  Take lawncare company B&G Turf Farm of Helendale, California for example.  Their slogan is: “We’re easy to get a lawn with.”
  3. Use the social media world.  Broadcast your company’s existence by creating a company Facebook page and Twitter account.  Make sure to use your company logo and slogan in both profiles so that it is easily identifiable.  Make sure to post company updates and industry news.
  4. Update the new-aged Yellow Pages.  Visit Yelp, CitySearch, Angies List, and other local search and review websites and update or enter your business information.  Make sure to include your website, business phone number(s), logo, and address.
  5. Get Noticed

The image that you present to the world is the image that consumers will remember.  Make sure that you are presenting your business as a professional, clean cut, responsible and knowledgeable company.  Demonstrate expertise in your field.  By exposing the world (even if it’s just within your community) to your home service company, you increase your potential customer base.  Next time a frustrated home or business owner needs a service; your company will come to mind.

3 Basic Business Mistakes to Avoid

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!

Welcome to Service Proz’s New Blog

Welcome to Service Proz’s new blog, “Building A Better Business.”  This blog gives home service businesses advice on how to start and run their companies as well as to keep you up to date on the latest business news, tips, and tools of the trade.  Many small businesses do not have the time, people, or expertise to continually improve their business so Service Proz is here to help you to build a better business.

As the leading provider of an easy to use, well tuned, and well developed workforce management solution for small service businesses, Service Proz understands what it takes to run your business smoothly and efficiently.

So sit back, relax, and let us help you transform your service business into a better and booming business.