Here’s how your home service business can build a solid reputation and reach more homeowners
You probably started in the home service business like so many others have – working hard as a technician in a truck and putting in long hours away from your family. And now you’re at the point where your business is growing and it’s starting to run like a well-oiled machine with or without you there.
What’s the next big thing you can do to have a competitive advantage? You may have heard about Public relations. Perhaps from a peer network or best practices group.
What exactly is PR and can it help your business?
Here are some things to think about if you’re considering talking to a PR expert:
- You want to position yourself as the market expert
This is one area where PR will help you stand out in your service market. Our team of PR pros understands residential HVAC, plumbing and electrical businesses, and we also understand what makes a good story from a journalistic viewpoint. We work tirelessly on your behalf, reaching out to the media in your market to position your company as the experts. Depending on your service offering, we would pitch you as an expert for stories dealing with freezing pipes, electrical hazards, heating maintenance, and other key service areas. PR is a long-term approach and does take some time to position you as the expert. Word of caution: PR will not make your phone ring immediately so if you are looking for a dollar-for-dollar return on your PR spend, this will not happen right away. If you have done TV or Radio advertising you understand how this works.
- You need to step up your social media
Do you currently have someone managing your social media? Is it one of your employees who has other priorities, but has some “free time” during the week to come up with posts? Is it a family member or friend who is taking some marketing classes? This is one area we regularly see home service businesses struggle with. You want your business to be seen in the community as professionals, so we recommend having a communications professional, who is trained to handle crises and customer complaints in a tactful manner, manage your social media. Our team of professionals will create editorial calendars that you will approve in advance so you don’t have to look at Facebook and see that no one has updated your page in months, or worse, there are spelling or grammatical errors in the posts.
- You need to refresh your website with relevant content
We all know Google’s algorithms are continually changing the rules of the game. But one thing that has remained consistent is the fact that Google likes relevant and regularly-updated content on a website. Our team of professional writers and journalists can write blogs for your website, helping to position you as the expert, and we write with keywords that will complement your search engine optimization efforts.
- You want to build awareness for a company name change or a new service
We are seeing a lot of home service companies rebranding. After years in the HVAC business, you may have decided to add plumbing so Ken’s Heating & Air Conditioning no longer tells the homeowner what you do. This is a growing trend and we get it. But if you don’t properly tell your customer base that your name has changed, you risk keeping your current and new customers in the dark about all of your services. The time to do PR around this is before you change the name.
- You want to respond to customer reviews
Who is currently responding to your online reviews? Many home service business owners tell me they don’t respond to the customer reviews because “that customer was a jerk and we can’t make them happy.” I get it. But, have you thought about how not responding makes you look to other homeowners researching your business. The way you respond to positive and negative customer reviews can help you win new business. Customers don’t expect perfection, but they do want to see that you address your mistakes quickly and efficiently. I have published quite a bit on this subject and invite you to explore this area further. Here’s a recent article I wrote for PHC News, entitled “Reviews and Stars Count,” and another for Entrepreneur Magazine, entitled “Using Online Reviews to Win New Customers.”
- You have a crisis
This is something every home service business owner (or any business owner) dreads. You may have a really good company with a solid reputation in your community. But what if just one technician does something really stupid? We worked with one client who had an employee arrested for murder! And the TV stations reporting on it showed the company van in the driveway after the arrest. Preparation is key for any crisis situation, but some things you just can’t predict. Our team of professionals is here to help you through situations that could blow up unexpectedly. For many of our clients we prepare wallet media cards for them to hand out to all of their employees. The cards have our contact information in case something does happen and the media asks them for a comment.
- You want to sell the company someday
This has to have crossed your mind at some point. What is your exit strategy? We had two clients acquired recently: Gold Medal Service was acquired by Horizon Services and bluefrog Plumbing + Drain franchise was acquired by Restoration 1. Earned media coverage positioning your business as the experts can add to the value of your company. It helps to educate would-be-suitors that you exist and that you are a quality company worthy of consideration.
- You want to dominate your market
By now, I’m sure you’re seeing the way to dominate your market is through PR. Again, it is a long-term strategy. It’s similar to branding campaigns you might run on TV or Radio. PR does work and we have countless examples to show you. Contact us today. Tell us your growth plans and we can develop a strategy that will help get you there. Are you ready to dominate your market?
This post was written by Heather Ripley, Founder/CEO on July 19, 2017