We all see those posts on chat boards about, “My phone doesn’t ring, I’m desperate, what should I do?” Even those of you who have been in business for a few years have those dry spells, don’t you? So, what do you do? You don’t throw a gazillion dollars into SEO marketing, get a new website, or get a new Facebook page. All that doesn’t help because you run out of money before it can start to work. Statistics say that you have to see an ad seven to 35 times before you call for the product or service. That’s why you see the same commercials over and over on TV. But who can afford that?
Marketing and advertising are good, of course. You need your name out there. So how do you get business fast? You must understand that we are in a very different situation today than many of us grew up with. Here’s what’s different now:
- Customers in most of the USA only want to know three things:
- Will you answer the phone?
- Will you show up?
- Will you actually do the work if I say yes?
It’s so hard to get a contractor to do even one of those things when 30 years ago, it was a given that all three would take place. It’s not about money anymore; it’s about finding someone to do the work. As long as your price isn’t crazy, you should get the job.
- The number of actual companies with call takers, dispatchers, managers, and service techs is closer to 10% now, compared with 80% that was the norm 30 years ago. But Facebook advertising makes the one-truck guy often look like the big company. That means the technician is trying to fix your equipment while taking calls for three more service jobs. Not only is that not professional, it means your equipment is not getting his full attention. He is going to do a quick fix and likely still charge you as if he actually tested it completely before closing it up.
- The companies that do have management staff are often only concerned with sales numbers. This means they are pushing the techs to sell, sell, sell, and get done fast. This has been the worst thing for the service industry, and it is a big reason the manufacturers are going full steam into DIY equipment, like mini-splits.
- And here is one of the toughest changes. When you don’t have a part for your customer, whose fault is it? Today, it’s the fault of a system that has some holes in it. Here’s an example. Yesterday I got a hankering for a peach iced tea, so I stopped into one of those gas stations with the huge convenience store. Their choices were massive, but there was no Snapple Peach Tea. I finally chose some other brand of tea, but not peach. When the only cashier in this huge store finally showed up, I asked her if they normally carry Snapple products. She pointed to a cooler that was mostly empty. “That’s the Snapple area, but the distributor can’t find any drivers, so we have to wait.” Imagine that! A distributor who can’t get products delivered to them because somewhere out there, a bunch of people just don’t want to work. These are really different times.
So how do you get work today when your phones won’t ring?
In this economy, the customers are desperate, waiting days and sometimes weeks to find a skilled tradesman. They are tired of unanswered phones, broken promises, and time wasted waiting for someone to show up. So, here’s the fastest way to get business when you need it today. Get on the telephone – pole. Yes, staple your message on telephone poles in neighborhoods you want to work in. Place yard signs on corners going into neighborhoods you want to work in. Your message should be simple because it is for the frustrated people who can’t get an HVAC guy or plumber to call them back.
“We Fix Air Conditioning”
Simple as that.
Your yard sign can be prettier with your logo, but make sure the phone number is big. Why does it work? Because they see it seven to 35 times. And they see it when they need someone right now. So, they call.
The beginning of friendship marketing is “Get business IN the neighborhood that you want to work in!”
Now, once you start getting work and you like the neighborhood, then get something you can set on the driveway on the driver’s side. When they come home, they see it. Why is that so special? Because what do people look for when they come home today that they didn’t 30 years ago? Packages from Amazon. They are already looking for a package, so make one for them.
About the package:
- It doesn’t have to actually look like an Amazon package. Be creative.
- If you are a plumber, set out a plunger with your name and phone number laminated to the handle.
- If you are not a plumber, you can still use the plunger because it’s an excellent place to zip-tie a zip lock bag with your stickers, coupons, gifts, nice stuff. Who doesn’t like gifts?
- Inside the bag should be a magnet that says, “My Personal Cell Phone Number,” then your number.
- Do NOT put candy in the bag because pets will think it’s for them.
- Don’t be salesy or give out coupons like every other company. It is time for someone different. The goal is to be the neighborhood’s friend. Make a “Get out of the heat-free!” card for AC, with a line under it that says, “Free service call with repair.” That last phrase has worked for 30 years and still does.
- If you don’t use a plunger, you can use a 2’ long pole of some kind. But if you are going to stick something in someone’s yard, you better put something nice in it.
- You can test ads, test yard signs, test phone pole signs, test driveway gifts. Test, test, test. You will be the only one doing it.
When you have selected particular neighborhoods, your marketing can be targeted and directed to that neighborhood. This skyrockets the efficiency of your marketing dollar. Why is that so important? Because efficient marketing can be sustained, and you don’t run out of money. What else do you need to know? Getting the customers you want is spelled w-o-r-k. Here’s the good news: it’s pretty easy work, easier than crawling through attics. Ask me, I know.
Rodney Koop is the Founder and CEO of The New Flat Rate.
Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These groups of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service Roundtable.com to see if there are Success Days in your area.