Be Professional: Tips for Making a Good Impression

Working in the service industry, it is important for you to be professional when dealing with clients. That not only means looking clean and put together but also refers to how you communicate and manage your time. The classic line of “we’ll be there between 10AM and 4PM” may work in some industries but do customers really like waiting around all day? And what if the service person arrives with dirty clothes, disheveled hair, isn’t knowledgeable about the work, and uses more slang than real words? Would you take them seriously? We are here to help you be professional with tips on making a good impression.   Dress the Part Your clothing should be appropriate for the work you are doing. Are you going into a home to make an estimate? Will you be painting or doing any physical labor? Your clothes and shoes should be comfortable, clean, and free of holes. Uniforms or business branded shirts are always helpful but when in doubt, dress conservatively; nothing too trendy, too tight, or too revealing.   Be On Time and  Prepared Arrive to appointments on time and ready to work. No matter how you feel, you need to show interest and enthusiasm. Make sure to have all your supplies and equipment ready to go. Act business-like at all time both on-site and in the office. If you are in a client’s home, be mindful and respectful of their things. No smoking, eating or drinking on the job.   Behavior To be professional you want to act friendly but not be over-familiar with your clients. You don’t want to be super...

Long-term Email Campaigns

Email marketing is a powerful tool for customer retention because it keeps your business front and center. Many small business owners underestimate the value of automated long-term email campaigns as a way of staying connected to leads and customers. A while back we talked about how to create successful email campaigns and the benefits of setting up a drip email campaign to help you automatically follow up with your customers. Want to motivate new business? Encourage repeat business? Delight your customers? Use email marketing! 4 long-term email campaigns you should consider: Email Nurture Series These emails offer helpful information to new leads about the products or service you provide. They also contain industry knowledge, which adds value without the need for running a promotion or discount. The ultimate goal here is to encourage leads to convert to paying customers. We suggest sending 1 email per week. Educate your leads. Teach them about your specific products, services, and share relevant industry knowledge. Help leads get to know your business. Expand on your story and what makes you unique. Embrace storytelling. Testimonials from satisfied customers are a great tool to get new customers to choose you over your competition. New Customer Email Series Once a customer has chosen your business for the job, the next steps are crucial to how your relationship will develop. Send a welcome email (immediately). You are now welcoming a new customer into your business’s family. Tell them more specifics about your products or services and what to expect next. Schedule job-related work and appointments (same day). Talk about the timeline of the work and get new jobs on...

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is a powerful and inexpensive way for businesses (large and small) to reach customers. Most likely, your customers are already interacting with brands through social media like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Pinterest. Utilizing social media outlets will help increase traffic to your website, raise brand awareness, build conversations and improve interaction and communication with your customers.   Social Media Marketing for Your Business – Keep this in Mind: Not all social media sites are created equal. The use and feel of each platform can be very different. Research which social media sites your customers use most then make your presence on those sites.    Facebook A casual environment where people go to relax and chat with friends. Keep the tone light and friendly.    Instagram The number one social media site for sharing photos. Great for promoting your business in a friendly and authentic way without directly selling to your customers.    Twitter Lets you broadcast your updates across the web. Follow other tweeters in your industry or related fields to help you gain your own stream of followers!    LinkedIn A more professional site that is great for employee networking, sharing content with people in similar industries and posting jobs.    YouTube The number one place for creating and sharing video content. Focus on making useful, instructive “how-to” videos for your customers to view.    Pinterest One of the fastest growing social media trends. It’s eye-catching and image-centered with a primarily female audience.   Post regularly to keep customers interested and engaged. This will also help build brand awareness. Post about recent projects,...

Market Your Business on a Small Budget

To get customers you have to market your business. There is just no way around it. Enlisting the help from a marketing firm is one option but if you don’t have a lot of money to spend, you need to find creative and inexpensive ways to get your brand out there. Here are some inexpensive ideas to market your business you can do yourself! Social Media Almost everyone is on social media and your business should be too! Post regularly to keep customers interested and engaged. This will also help build brand awareness. Some social media sites allow users to leave reviews so encourage customers to share their experience on your profile. Website Every business (big or small) needs a website! Your mission should be clear and include (at least) basic information about your products or services. Your contact info, location and hours should be easy to find and you may also want to include customer testimonials, a blog, and your social media links. The most effective websites utilize SEO (Search Engine Optimization), which in basic terms means the process of making your website pages appear in a search engine’s unpaid results. Click here for more information on SEO. Business Partnerships Another inexpensive way to market your business is to team up with other local businesses to promote each other’s work. Create partnerships that make sense. For example, if you’re a painter, try partnering with a paint provider. Yesterday I saw a commercial on tv promoting 1-year of free pizza with a purchase of a new mattress… Does that seem like an odd partnership or what?! Today, I passed a gas...

Why Your Emails Need an Unsubscribe or Opt-Out Option

Have you ever signed up for emails about something you were interested in at the time, but aren’t interested in now? If so, then you will understand the value of an unsubscribe or opt-out option. A couple years ago I was shopping for a new washer and dryer, so I subscribed to several email lists. One contained consumer reviews, a couple more were for special offers from stores. The reviews were helpful and I used a special sale email to get the best deal. But now, 2 years later, I’m no longer shopping for appliances.  The emails are no longer relevant and I don’t care to read them.   Make it easy for your readers to unsubscribe or opt-out from your emails. This is necessary to prevent recipient frustration and SPAM reports.   Of course you don’t want people to unsubscribe from your email communications. The idea is to grow your email list to reach more and more people, expanding your business, right? While that is the ultimate goal, the process is not always straightforward. The most effective email lists aren’t necessarily the largest. The most effective lists contain readers who are interested in the information you send them. If a reader doesn’t need your product or service, they aren’t likely to give you any business. Worse than that, they may get tired of receiving your emails and label it as SPAM. In email, as in life, reputation is everything. Every time someone reports your email as SPAM, your email reputation takes a hit. For this reason, it is important to make it easy for readers to unsubscribe or opt-out...

Positioning Your Brand, Company, and Customers for Success!

We’ve talked a lot about customer success beginning with customer trust and a great onboarding process. Let’s take a step back and discuss the importance of brand positioning.   What is Brand Positioning? Positioning your company helps establish your product or service in the eyes of the customer. Brand positioning also provides your company with direction and differentiation. You need to first identify what makes you different from your competitors and then continually push those unique qualities to your customers.   When determining your company’s unique position, think about these questions:   What makes your product or service unique? What do you specialize in? Is it providing great customer service? Do you pay close attention to small details? Are you great at communicating and building positive relationships with customers? These are the things that will set you apart.   Who is your target audience or market? Let’s look at 2 possible markets that a paint contractor might target: High-end Homeowners vs. Rental Property Owners These groups want different things. In order to communicate in a compelling way, you need to understand what motivates each group and what they value. High-end homeowners may value quality workmanship, while rental property owners may care more about how quickly the job can be completed. Identify your target audience. Survey existing clients in your target market to find out what motivates them to buy.   How will you reach your target customers? This relates to both advertising AND project-related communication. For example, if the majority of your target audience found your business on the internet, email communications make sense.   What are your customers really buying from...

Great Customer Onboarding: WHY and HOW

How do you ensure customer success? Begin with great customer onboarding!     Long-term customer success builds customer trust, which we talked about last time as being a major factor to growing your business. It should start early and be consistent. Today we’re going to talk about the early factor of customer success: the onboarding process.   Great Customer Onboarding includes two things: 1.  Customer interest (i.e. They request a bid for a project.) 2. Seeing value (i.e. The customer sees value in your brand after they have interacted with you in some way.) Much like building customer trust, great customer onboarding is a process and the results should keep your business thriving.   1. Define expectations and set goals Great customer onboarding begins by asking questions. What is the ultimate goal? What does your customer want as the end result? What is their timeframe? Then make a plan to achieve these goals. This will require setting milestones, or goal deadlines. Reaching each milestone will show a succession of success. Consider sending new clients an email as soon as they schedule an appointment for a meeting or estimate. In this email, lay out what the client should expect from the meeting and what information they should be prepared to provide. Positioning emails like this immediately establish an open line of communication, set expectations, and build customer trust. Plus it shows your detailed and organized!   2. Customize the experience Individualize each of your customers and make them feel valued and at home. This should be basic practice for all of your customers and will mostly be based on the...

The 3 C’s of Customer Trust

When your air conditioner stops working in the middle of summer, you REALLY want an HVAC tech on speed dial. We have one (shout out to Leonard!). We got his name from my brother-in-law. The first time Leonard came to our house was on a Sunday (yes, Sunday!) in July. He fixed the problem and earned our trust.     Customer trust is so vital to a successful business that we can sometimes take it for granted. The same way we don’t think about breathing. Earning customer trust creates the opportunity for repeat business. It also opens the door for new business through referrals and reviews. Of course being good at what you do doesn’t hurt, but the number one key in building any relationship – business or otherwise – is trust. Am I right? There’s no secret to earning customer trust. The components of customer trust are simple: Customer Service, Consistency, and Clarity. The 3 C’s of Customer Trust   Customer Service When building customer trust, a great place to start is offering exceptional service. Think about how you would like to be treated if you were the customer. That doesn’t mean you have to work on Sundays. It means you should establish expectations and stick to them. If you tell clients you’ll return calls on the same day, then you need to do that. Good customer service should come naturally and not be strategically planned, although having guidelines in place for your employees to follow is helpful.   Consistency If you have systems in place to provide customers with consistent interactions, that will help to establish you...

Why Make Multiple eBid Templates?

You may be thinking to yourself, “Why would I ever need more than one basic eBid template to send to my clients? I already customized it with my company’s info and photos. I’m all set!” The answer is – There are many reasons!   Maybe your company works on multiple types of projects (interior, exterior, commercial, etc.); you can create multiple eBid templates for various job types with specific photos, references, and essential information for each. Or maybe you want to limit the information included in your eBids for specific types of clients. You can make different templates to include certain pages of the eBid that are most important.   Whatever the reason, creating multiple eBid templates is easy! Log into your PEP Cloud account Navigate under Settings → Misc → eBid Templates Highlight the eBid you’ve already customized → click COPY (or highlight “basic eBid” → click CUSTOMIZE) → click OK to confirm making the copy Select the new “Copy” of your eBid → click EDIT Change the name of the eBid template → click DONE All you need to do now is edit the eBid as needed: make adjustments to which pages can be viewed, what photos you include, the types of references, etc. You’ll find that having multiple eBid templates will help you get your bids out to clients quickly and efficiently, streamlining your workflow. And NOW is the perfect time for you to set up multiple eBid templates, while jobs are slow and in preparation for your busier months, come spring!   For more details on HOW to customize the eBids, check out these videos: Customize the eBid (5:11) Automate the “Thank You” Email...

Drip Email Campaigns:

The Best Gift for You and Your Clients It’s great when you find 1 tool can do a multiple tasks. Take the Swiss Army knife. It’s a pocket knife, scissors, file, bottle-opener, screw driver, pliers, the list goes on. Well, today we’re talking about the Swiss Army knife of business tools: the drip email campaign. For YOU: The gift of freedom and work guilt-free. Don’t get bogged down with the chore of constantly following up (or tracking down) your customers. Drip email campaigns will take care of the task while you go about your day.   For CLIENTS: Attentive customer service. Staying in touch with your customers requires very little effort. Use a drip email campaign to send an automated set of emails based on specific timelines or user actions (that you setup). Drip emails are sent out from a queue of already-written emails so you don’t have to manually write each one. They can be personalized with your contact’s name, company info, etc. using merge fields. It’s a way to develop a relationship with your customers by nurturing them with information a little bit at a time.   How? Great question. PEP Users just have to engage a “Follow Up” sequence after creating an eBid. Even if you don’t use PEP, there are oodles of services available. Do a quick internet search for “drip email tool” to see what I mean.   But HOW? Oh, that kind of how. A while back we outlined how to create your own drip email campaign (click here to read that post). In a nutshell: Decide who you’re writing to – your audience. New/potential clients, power-wash customers, customers who are more than a...