Service providers, from HVAC and refrigeration to plumbing and appliance repair, can always use a competitive edge. Succeeding with a service provider business is more complicated than ever, with customers still wanting in-person service but expecting everything else to be online or digital. If COVID-19 and other events have interfered with your business goals and bottom line, there are still ways you can grow your service provider business, no matter what’s happening in the world.
Build Word-of-Mouth Marketing
Saying that word-of-mouth marketing is essential to building a small business is an understatement. But, even just a decade ago, word-of-mouth marketing seemed a lot simpler. If a customer was thrilled with their results, they told their neighbors, who told other neighbors, and so on. It used to be all about business cards, community events, and shaking hands.
Now, it’s so much more. Word-of-mouth marketing goes beyond the business card and encompasses all things web and digital, including online reviews, social media strategy, engaging with local media, and even supporting a local cause.
However, no matter how digital it gets or how complex it feels, word-of-mouth marketing still boils down to personal interactions. About 92 percent of your customers value recommendations from friends and family more than they do traditional advertising. That “OMG, my electrician saved the day!” Facebook post is more likely to get you a new customer than any paid advertisement.
Making the most of word-of-mouth marketing leads to our next tip.
Cultivate High-Quality Referrals
To maximize word-of-mouth and grow your business in our wireless world, service providers should leverage social media and other customer-interaction platforms to get high-quality referrals. It takes thought; “liking” posts with emojis will only get you so far (but never underestimate the power of a great emoji).
Instead, also post helpful content relevant to your customers. If you’re a plumbing service provider, post a short video about the causes of a dripping faucet or what to expect from a service call. Share funny memes and other content about your industry—but be careful. It's crucial to ensure you keep your stellar professional reputation.
Embrace Mobile Payment Tech for Service Providers
No matter what happens, for most service providers, physically showing up is always going to be part of the job. There’s no digital solution for installing a new breaker box or fixing a slab leak. Even though your customers don’t expect remote repairs, they do expect digital or online payments, receipts, and communication.
Evolving with changing customer demands requires using online payments and accounting technology that meets your customers’ expectations. We live in a world where people can pay for cars online; it makes sense that they expect similar convenience from their service providers. This is especially true for HVAC and appliance repair service businesses. Fortunately, the latest tech not only makes payments easy, it makes all of your accounting far less stressful by putting all customer payment information in one place. You can spend more time serving your customers and less time on administrative tasks.
Invest in Field Service Management
Growth boils down to keeping up with customer expectations and demands, which too often requires a bigger time commitment, a huge learning curve, or a costly investment. But getting ahead with emerging customer needs doesn’t necessarily mean buying an expensive piece of equipment that won’t produce a return on investment (ROI) for years. These days, many service provider businesses are already enjoying the benefits of comprehensive field service management platforms, and are truly saving in the short term and gaining in the long term.
It’s easy to be wary of new tech. Most small business owners have stories of feeling like they were burned by systems that promised a lot but didn’t deliver. Don’t let that keep you from exploring field service options that really do make life easier, save countless hours, and help your business run smoother. Field service management frees you to focus on growth, keeping track of customer information, reviews, marketing, payments, safety and more—all of the things that can be overwhelming to a busy service provider.
As with everything, it’s important to evaluate and choose field service software that’s right for you. Not all field service management software is created equal. Make sure the software you invest in has everything you need to help you grow, including:
- Automated email and text reminders for checkups which can help you earn more jobs from repeat customers
- Tracking tools that let your customers know who is coming and when to expect them
- Direct technician calls instead of connecting to an office dispatch first
- A chat-to-text widget you can add to your website that can start conversations, generate leads and then send them right to your text messaging inbox
- Built-in email templates that send bulk emails to your customers directly
Making the right choice can be challenging, so get a little clarity—check our new e-book, How Field Service Management Helps Grow Your Business.