The cloud has been around for years now but it seems people are still a little confused. A recent report from CEPro.com, a technology trade publication, really caught my attention. The report detailed a study on what Americans thought “the cloud” actually was and surprisingly, not many people knew what cloud computing is or its benefits for small business to large corporations.
Some people in the study even said they’ve never used “the cloud” but unknowingly used it every day.
For those that are a little confused, cloud computing is used for online shopping, banking, social networking and file sharing, among many other applications.
The study, commissioned by Citrix, said that 97 percent (of 1,000 asked) of Americans actually use the cloud but 54 percent claim they have never used it. Most people said that the term “the cloud” relates to the weather, pillow, drugs or toilet paper.
The cloud is the key to the home service business management system from Service Proz, which enables customer tracking, workforce management, scheduling, dispatch, inventory, billing, mobility and more.
The CEPro.com report also detailed the benefits of “the cloud” for small business and called the technology a catalyst for growth, lowering business costs and boosting customer engagement.
Service Proz software handles all these issues for your business for a low monthly fee to enable your business to be more efficient, organized and, most importantly, more profitable.
This month, Service Proz will be launching a new campaign promoting our cloud based services. Check out our Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages this month for more information about the exciting promotions during September at Service Proz.
You’ve GOT to be different!
We’ve said it before, and we will say it again. The home service business industry is competitive. As a customer, sometimes it’s hard to differentiate. A few years ago, you might have been able to differentiate yourself by just having a website. Today, it’s not that easy. Now, websites all start to look the same. Competitors feed off each other, so colors, design, and messaging tend to be similar. But you have worked hard for your business. You want a consumer to be wowed by your business before you even provide them with a service. You want them to pick up the phone and choose to call your business for service.
A great differentiator that you can use to set your website, AND your company apart from the crowd is using videos. Showing an example of what your business can do establishes trust in a consumer’s mind. It is a more concrete and imaginative way to demonstrate your capabilities and differentiation than words. This is the perfect opportunity to give your customers, or potential customers, a taste of how your business works, and why they should choose you.
What To Show and Where?
There are three different videos that would be beneficial to host on your site, and on your YouTube channel.
1. An “About Our Business” video, or short commercial looks great on the home page of your website. It makes your website personal, it gives your customers a great understanding of what your business can do, and demonstrates that you truly care about your business.
2. A “How Our Business Works” video can work very well on your Services pages. It can also function as a great way to capture website visitors’ information. Have them fill out a contact form in exchange for viewing the video.
3. A “Testimonial” video goes well on your home page or on your testimonials page. This is another great way to establish brand trust with your potential customers. Hearing praises about your business from an actual person is a strong reassurance to your potential customer that they are picking the right business for their needs.
Wondering where to start with adding videos to your website to help differentiate your business from the rest? Here are a few steps you can take to create and post videos to generate a bigger interest in your business and give you a great competitive edge.
1. Decide what types of videos you would like to create and promote on your website or YouTube channel, or both!
2. Contact a media company like Twisted Media to see what sort of videos you can create with the budget that you have.
3. Create your videos!
4. Post your videos in the appropriate areas – don’t forget to start a YouTube channel if you don’t have one.
5. Use social media to promote your new videos.
Looking for an Example?
Chicago based carpet cleaning company Unique Upholstery, Carpet and Rug Cleaning Inc. does a great job utilizing videos to promote their services. Check out their website here for some examples.
Do you use videos to promote your home service business?
A 21st century business has a lot to compete with. We are headed on the fast track to flying cars and robot maids. Long gone are the days when people went to the corner hardware store, used the only barbers in town, and were loyal customers for life. We live in a world of innovation, and in order to compete, you must use innovation to your advantage as well. Here are three innovative ways for making your business unforgettable to your customers, ensuring that they will continue to be drawn to your services and return often to buy more.
Have A Creative (and DIFFERENT) Web Presence:
It is easy to fall into the trap of creating a website that looks like your competitors’ sites. It is the safe, professional route to take. But you are making a fatal error by doing this. There is no differentiation. You don’t just want to look like your competitors; you want to BLOW them out of the water. Use bright colors, capture people’s attention with fun activities, wording, videos and other engaging tools. Take www.maidpro.com for example. They have an AMAZING site. Not only does it entirely reflect what they do, with no room for confusion, but they engage with their website visitors with fun interactive tools like a bubble popping game (who doesn’t like clicking things!) and a spoof video. The website captures the idea that MaidPro LOVES what they do, and they do it well. It is an unforgettable site, and leaves a lasting impression that visitors are unlikely to forget.
Set Yourself Apart with a New Reputation:
People stereotype. It’s what they do. And that comes from experiences that people have in their life, particularly their experiences in the retail world. Gem Plumbing used these stereotypes to their advantage. Knowing that people get frustrated with the fact that plumbers tend to track mud and dirt into their homes, and are usually known more for their “plumber’s cracks” than for their service, Gem decided to change the way people view plumbers. By implementing the business policy that all of their plumbing technicians were required to wear company uniforms and booties on site, they fundamentally changed people’s views of what to expect from a plumber’s visit. Come up with a creative way to change your industry, and use it as your unique selling point. If people know their service will be different and better if they call you, your business is sure to become unforgettable.
It’s MORE Than Just a Name:
A name is more than just what you register your business with. It is your brand, your identity, and your first impression. It comes with an image. You need to make sure that your business name is memorable, identifiable, and creative. Think about the Geek Squad from Best Buy. This service business provides IT services to homes and businesses throughout the U.S. Their brand is memorable because they used a creative, fun name as the jumping off point for the rest of their image; from their brightly marked technician Beatles to their employees’ uniforms.
The home service business industry is incredibly competitive. It is important to stand out from the crowd. It is the first way to wow your potential customers. Setting yourself apart from your competition doesn’t just show that you do things differently, it also demonstrates the passion you have your for your business. Start brainstorming…
A few months back, we wrote a short blog about “3 Reasons Why Your Services is Your Product.” In that blog, we outlined why home services businesses that don’t sell a physical product should still consider your “service” as a “product”. At the end of that blog we mentioned a marketing technique called The Marketing Mix and in this blog we will expand on a famous classification of this tool named “The 4Ps of Marketing.” We recognize that many small business owners will not have attended business school so here’s our useful overview that you can put into practice and make your life easier when taking your services to market.
To many marketers, the four “P” words (commonly, and more aptly, known as the 4Ps) are the golden fundamentals of all marketing. The 4Ps are the starting point to success in marketing your business and your services. For small business owners that often only think of marketing as something only big firms with big budgets do, the 4Ps may seem a bit of a mystery, but by following the simple framework you can transform your thinking and take your services to market more effectively. And more effective marketing creates more demand, leading to increased revenues.
Developed in the 1960 by E. Jerome McCarthy, a marketing professor at Michigan State University, the 4Ps stand for product, place, promotion, and price; the four key elements of marketing any product or service.
• Product: Be clear about exactly what you are selling to your customers. You may not have a tangible product to sell but know if you are selling “home cleaning services”, “landscaping services” or “pest control services.” The more precise you are with telling people what service you are selling, the greater the chance you’ll end up targeting the right people: those people who want to buy your services.
• Place: Where will you be selling your services? Will it be online via sites such as Angie’s List, on your company’s website, via the telephone, or using some or all of these techniques? Here you are deciding on how people will be able to buy from you. By making it simple, you can encourage more people to buy without needing to ask many questions because questions create confusion, and confusion drives potential customers away.
• Promotion: How will you promote your business and services? Will you advertise in local newspapers, or display your logo on your field service representatives’ vehicles? Even the subtle use of your logo on a business card or estimate is an example of Promotion. Think carefully about where and how you want your future customers to find out about you.
• Price: Decide on how you will charge for your services. Is it by the job, by the hour, by the square foot, or by some other measurement? How will you incorporate your running costs and overheads? Whatever approach suits your business should be clear and transparent to your customer, and price with no hidden charges. And remember to add some margin too because you still need to make a profit.
shorter model. But what do you think of this model, and what are your experiences of adopting this?
Why Scheduling with a Whiteboard Can be Detrimental to your Home Service Business
With the economy still suffering and customers becoming increasingly demanding and choosy when picking a service, home service businesses must be at the top of their game in order to remain successful and profitable. One of the best ways to stay ahead of your competition, provide superior customer service, and save time and money is to streamline your business processes. In this day and age, a business simply cannot survive in the longer term without investing in the technological advances that are now available. Things like a well-designed website, smart phones, and a comprehensive accounting system are essential to the longevity of any home service business. But the most important technological investment a company can make is an end-to-end business management solution.
Why? Here are 3 reasons this is a must for the survival of your home service business:
1. Saves Time and Money
With features like drag-and-drop scheduling, route optimization, recurring billing and mobile access, an end-to-end business management solution hugely impacts efficiency and resources. Employees spend less time on paperwork, in all aspects of the business from scheduling to accounting, and anyone in business can tell you that “time is money”.
2. Increases Customer Satisfaction
Promise and deliver the best customer service to your current and potential customers with features like a customer portal, contact management, and technician access to important information through their mobile devices. By having customer preferences at your fingertips and simplifying your customers’ lives with signature capture and the ability to pay their bills online helps you exceed their expectations.
3. Reduces Human Error
From scheduling, to accounting, to navigating to a customer’s house, there are many things that can go wrong. A business management solution helps reduce these errors by consistently performing calculations for you; giving you complete access to all your information whenever and wherever it is needed; and even providing accurate directions and routes to customers’ locations. These all ensure that you are creating a professional and trustworthy business.
A complete business management solution, like Service Proz, WILL streamline your business processes. Not only does it keep all your business information and interactions safely in one place (online) which makes your business easier to track at every step of the way, but it also gives you immediate access to the resources you need, such as reports, contracts, proposals, and invoices. It takes the guesswork out of running your business and the interface is so easy to use that anyone who uses Facebook can navigate it easily.
With all these benefits and more, and at a low monthly cost, the question becomes, why wouldn’t you make the investment for your business? What are you waiting for?