The biggest problem in any installation, repair, or maintenance home service business always comes down to one simple thing.
In short, how do we market to new customers and get a good return on investment with our marketing?
In 2023, residential and commercial service business owners have to deal with a host of issues that are making it more and more difficult to get new customers through the door without overspending.
The rising costs of home service marketing means it's critically important that our time and money are invested in the efforts, strategies, and tactics that actually produce leads.
Today, we'll be covering the following:
Part 1: The 4 reasons it's gotten harder for local service providers to get new customers in 2023.
Part 2: The 3 core things your company has to do in order to be attractive to new potential customers.
Part 3: The 5 Step Process we use to attract new customers with a wildfire of credibility and fast lead responses.
Part 4: How to implement this strategy in your business starting this week.
Let's dive in...
The 4 reasons it's gotten harder for contractor and home service business owners to get new customers in 2023.
Like it or not, it's more difficult to get customers now than it used to be. There are a lot of reasons for that but we can organize all of those reasons into the following 4 categories.
The 4 Reasons it's gotten harder to get new customers in the last 5 years.
You've probably noticed it happening in your local area over the last few years. There has been a huge increase in the number of direct competitors opening up shop all over the country and this can easily amount to there being less local customers to go around for every contractor and home service provider in the area.
The general public often doesn't understand the difference between you and your competitors at a glance so, with this increased presence of competition, it's important that we do things to help our business stand out (more on that in the next section).
Too many times, we see businesses get comfortable with their place in the market and they just stop marketing their business to new customers. While this can work for a short period of time for more established businesses, that eventually leads to all kinds of problems like unpredictable lead flow or slower periods.
It's incredibly important that we have a marketing plan to constantly expose new potential customers to our business so that we can benefit from a steady lead flow for installation and repair projects.
One of the biggest business killers is failing to educate your marketplace about your business. It's important to always give away a certain level of your expertise and knowledge in order to exhibit that you're an expert in your field and it's also important to market your reputation.
And when they reach out, being the first to respond and following up until the sales is closed is also critical. Especially in larger priced home services projects, and the distracted lives of consumers and busy business owners. Staying top of mind with follow up can help you win over your competition.
These are easily the most effective ways to establish your credibility and stand out from the competition in your local market.
The cheapest and most effective way to reach your customers is through the internet. And now that 92% of consumers start their search for local service providers on Google, it's important to be visible online when people search for your services.
Even your word-of-mouth referrals are going to research you online to see if you're reputable before calling. You may loose that referral if they don't like what they find online (or can't find your number, or find someone that looks more reputable).
A business website combined with social media channels are the best places to reach your potential customer base and educate them about why your business is the only choice when they need installation, repair, or maintenance services.
With all of those things working against us, how do we combat them and become more attractive to the potential customers in our Local Markets?
The three core things your home service business has to do in order to be attractive to new potential customers looking for contractors.
As a local service business owner, there are two key things that we must focus on to increase your success and get more potential customers contacting you for an estimate.
The 3 core things Residential Install and Repair Service Companies must do to Attract more new Customers Right Now:
One of the most important things that we can do right now is to make sure that our business is a part of the "conversation" in places where our potential customers are already hanging out. We have to seek out the places where those folks already exist normally and make our business a part of that (more on how we do that in the next section).
Once we are in front of all of those new people, we need to make sure that we have educational content in front of them that will exhibit our expertise and help them wrap their heads around the true nature of the problem that they are trying to solve. We need to educate our market, delivering them "information in advance" and helping them explore project ideas. This causes them to bond with our business before they ever reach out. This creates a desire to work with you over your competition.
You see, the game of online marketing has changed to favor the contractor or service companies that look the most reputable online. It’s not who spends the most to be at the top of Google anymore. It’s who looks the most reputable.
Since 92% of consumers research a local company's reviews online before contacting them, it's important to have more reviews than your competition. And consumers only consider reviews in the last 3 months, so it's important to have a steady stream of new reviews. Plus, it's important to brand your company as the most reputable, by marketing that 5-star reputation you've built online to generate new leads and customers.
That all sounds good in theory, but how do we actually increase our visibility, educate all of those "new eyeballs" on the value behind what we do everyday in our business, and build and market our 5-star reputation to win customers?
The 5 Step Process we use to attract new customers by igniting a credibility machine online and responding quickly.
To be successful we have to make sure that we are getting in front of our audience more easily and more often. We also have to make sure that we're doing it in a way that isn't going to cost us an arm and a leg. We've had a ton of success doing that by following the formula that we explain below.
The 5 Step Process that we use to Attract Customers using a Credibility Engine and Fast Responses.
This is a sample of the actual home service social media posts pulled as a sampling from roofing, plumbing, and concrete Facebook pages for example.
More important now than ever is looking like an alive and thriving -- and OPEN FOR BUSINESS -- so that potential customers don’t wonder if you’re out of business.
If your pinned post or last post is dated -- they're going to wonder if your still doing work. The worst thing you can do is start a profile and not stay active.
But it's not just about impressions...Facebook rewards pages with more visibility if they post frequently and consistently. That means our local service will show up more in the newsfeed and have a higher "social search" ranking if we're posting content. All social networks are like this.
To get that kind of activity going, you need to turn on an engagement engine of content that is formulated with the perfect recipe mix of:
Industry: knowledge, facts, education, and tips
Company: project work, before and after photos, testimonials, behind the business/owner
Recreational & Inspirational: Quotes, questions, Friday celebrations (fun stuff people actually like to like)
The most successful content recipes focus on the latter and the filler content is the secret to increasing your posting frequency and consistency. We have this if you need it but it's easy to create yourself with online image editors now that you have the recipe.
One of the best content (but not the only content in the mix) that you should have are your reviews, feedback and testimonials from happy customers. We sprinkle in 5 star review as they happen (see step 2 how we get 5-star reviews flooding the market consistently).
And some business owners get this wrong when they do it themselves. See the difference below in posting the review text vs an authority image?
Now that we’ve covered how to activate social media, let me show you the secret to getting more 5-star reviews, without actually having to ask for reviews.
This is the customer feedback survey that we use to collect feedback after every install or repair job. In a minute, you’ll see how we turn this feedback into 5-star reviews that you can use on social media that we shared in step 1 -- and on your website to ignite that fire of credibility and trust that helps hook leads.
So, we will be using this customer survey to collect new feedback.
Notice the 2 questions: how they found you and why they picked you? This intelligence is gold and will help you, as the business owner, fine tune what's working and not working in the business.
Side Note: A question I've been wanting to test on the survey is "What made you almost not choose us" -- it could help us find subtle issues with our online presence, pricing, or process that could have lost other potential customers. But I'm on the fence -- I lean towards positivity and this question is the flipside. Open to trying it with a willing business owner. :)
This feedback, once you have it, is also incredibly interesting to people that are considering using your services and want to know if you’re a reputable contractor or home service provider.
All that said, now that you’ve seen the customer feedback page, how do we get this page in front of our customers?
We use a set of print materials with QR codes, and we help business owners send automated email/text reminders to their customers so our home service pros ask for “feedback” with greater ease and simplicity.
So here are some secrets I've picked up that seem to help small business owners get more 5-star reviews so they stand out against their biggest competitors:
Never ask for reviews. Ask for Feedback.
Make it standard operating procedure. Ask at the end of every job.
Use a survey to identify the HAPPY customers. Send them friendly reminders.
Use a survey to identify UNHAPPY customers. They want to be heard and this gives them an outlet before going to a public review site. This also gives the company a chance to proactively attempt to turn them into a happy customer.
So, you know reviews are important, and how we’re going to get them, but how are we going to get more eyeballs seeing our reputation so we can quickly earn their trust and have them reach out?
We showcase our credibility by turning customer feedback into marketable content (similar to what we shared in Step 1 social posts, but it's also much more than this).
Our best content to promote is our reputable quality of work and service. When most service providers offer the same services, it’s hard to stand out.
But once you realize that potential local customers are looking for the most reputable service business and they form an impression online in 8 seconds or less, then you get why we want to promote your reputation on social media, your website -- everywhere.
We start by displaying 5-star review images on the website through a pop-up feature that appears on every page (screenshot below).
This is an example of how the pop up shows up in the lower left corner of our website.
This is visually appealing and it actually overcomes the flaws of an old fashioned testimonial page:
It’s not static and stale. You want fresh reviews (from all review sites), not old reviews you posted one time and never updated again.
It’s always seen. You want dynamic, eye-catching movement.
It’s not a separate page. You want instant credibility and visibility – on every page.
It’s not buried. You don’t want people to have to scroll down to find your reviews.
It has subtle credibility boosters like review verification, directory icons, and a call to action.
It's "social proof" that your local service business IS REPUTABLE.
Next, our reviews can be turned into visually appealing images that we can share on social media platforms to reach a wider audience.
These are examples of reputation posts that build social authority for a local business. Every new positive review on Google, Facebook, BBB, Yelp, etc -- can be used.
Are you seeing how we’re igniting a credibility engine across the web that works day and night to drive lead generation? But it's not just about the website and social media...
Sometimes, for the right review testimonial or feedback, we can even create online video commercials to further promote our home service business and attract new customers.
This is a great asset for our home service company to:
Add to the business website (a great way to boost lead calls and inquires), or
Build out a YouTube channel (a great way to gain visibility in Google search results), or
Drive traffic with video ads across the internet (a great way to stay top of mind while people consider your service, after visiting your website...more on this in Step 5)
People are far more likely to watch a video and then call a contractor after watching it and seeing a positive review.
So now that we have potential customers considering us for the job, how do we get them to contact us – and how do we connect with them in that HOT moment they want to move forward?
First, we add a leads widget to our business website, allowing potential customers to contact us in the way that works best for them - which is often via text.
We also enable traditional methods of contact, such as email and phone, ensuring that customers can reach out however they prefer.
And tracking leads and call volume becomes a real game changer. We set up a call tracking and lead tracking system, allowing us to monitor trends on a monthly and yearly basis. This data helps set goals, learn how to improve the business, and stay on track with growth plans.
But that's not all. The first to the lead response generally wins, so that’s why we also create and automation to respond to every missed call with a text reply, even if we're driving.
Speedy response times demonstrate our commitment to providing excellent customer service, while also increasing the chances of securing new business. What a great way to make a professional and friendly impression.
And for some contractors that want to test some different tactics, we can even try things like text-enabling the truck or bandit signs, allowing potential customers to text the keyword "roof" to a designated number and receive an automated response asking for further details like address and more. This is only if you ask and want to try it out as a bonus method to increase lead volume. It’s not required and 100% optional.
Overall, the website lead widget is designed to double lead conversions, and then the automations are designed to respond quickly, and increase the likelihood of winning new business.
We set up a pixel on the website from day one. This allows us to capture your website visitors into a custom audience of all your hottest, ready-to-buy locals.
And that means, when you’re ready to advertise to them, you can optionally have us spin up a paid media campaign any time, to run a promotion or to stay top of mind until they are ready to buy.
This is an example of where the ads would show up. Since 97% of your website visitors leave without ever reaching out, it’s important to follow them around online (just like Amazon and other online stores do to you every day).
By advertising your brand on all the top national and local news, sports, and entertainment websites, you brand yourself as a reputable industry authority in your local market. Plus, it's arguably the most affordable paid advertising (especially compared to Google Ads) that amplifies everything else you're already doing and bringing people back to commit to their purchase with you.
We don’t start these ads until our clients ask us to add them on because the paid media does come at an additional cost that goes to the ad networks. That’s for bigger growth when you're ready to expand your reach even further. The point is that we’re building your audience early, so that when you’re ready to follow your hottest buyers around the internet with your ads and commercials, you have the targeting ready to go.
This is how we’re generating 10-20 new appointments with our home service companies that follow these 5 steps and run campaigns in their local markets, with exclusivity.
By implementing this system, our local businesses can stay ahead of the competition and take their lead and customer generation to the next level.
The step-by-step approach also engages and optimizes every aspect of your online presence for maximum impact.
From harnessing the power of digital marketing, to responding quickly to leads, and staying top of mind through paid advertising to drive traffic, our proven process has been honed through years of experience.
And what's so neat is you can increase results just by making these improvements -- that means you could generate more leads and sales from the traffic you're already getting to your website and social channels.
How to implement this complete home service marketing strategy in your business starting this week.
The key to making big changes in your local service business new customer flow to take action.
1. You can implement all of the above information yourself.
2. You can send this action plan to the marketing agency that your business works with, or
3. You can reach out to me, (the author, founder and freelancer behind OnlineKix) and we can talk about implementing it in your business now (for less than a few nice dinners a month with your family -- sign up here).
My step-by-step strategy ensures that every aspect of your online presence is optimized for success, from your website and social media profiles, to your reviews and reputation marketing.
With my help, your local business can become the go-to choice for installation, repair, or maintenance customers in your local market.
My mission is to put advanced marketing strategies within reach for small, family-owned businesses.
I'm also always here to answer any questions that you might have about this article (for free of course, if you're a contractor or home service business owner).
You can email me here.
I hope you enjoyed the tutorial.
Send me your success stories after you put it to use! I can't wait to hear about your results.
Lauren is a marketing consultant and growth strategist who helps local businesses achieve their marketing goals through OnlineKix solutions. With years of experience in online business and software marketing, she has developed an eye for effective strategies that drive results. When she's not working with clients or advancing her Microsoft partner marketing career, you can find her managing her own side ventures and loving her family. Let's work together to achieve joyful growth and success!