Marketing during this crisis calls for new and lean strategies. We’ve put together a list of steps you can take right now to foster customer engagement whether you’re currently open for business or not, as well as resources we’ve created for small businesses and examples from other pros.
Steps To Take
1. Be Innovative
“Times like these are the perfect times to try things that are uncomfortable because that’s the right growth mindset and will lead to the results that you’re looking for coming out of this situation that we’re all in,” Roland Ligtenberg, one of our co-founders, explained.
Being innovative extends throughout your businesses: from marketing strategies to your services.
On an episode of our Pro Talk Podcast, John Cipres, owner of Andreas Fault Property Services, explains how he made it through the 2008 recession by looking for new needs within his areas of expertise. There will be new needs now and on the other side of this crisis.
Regardless of whether you’re providing new or traditional services, it’s also time to be creative and diversified with your marketing — especially free and low-cost tactics.
For instance, this is a good time to dig into collaborations with other businesses and community organizations.
This works especially well with companies that you already refer customers to. Ask for a promo swap on Facebook or team up with them for a volunteer opportunity.
Reach out to community organizations to see what needs there are that you and your team can help with. It could be as simple as attending a blood drive together or using your trucks for food deliveries. Remember to let everyone opt-in for any activity that increases their risk of exposure.
2. Track Everything
Keep track of what service requests are coming in right now and from where.
Things to consider:
The source of requests (lead gen sites, your newsletter, social media, referrals, etc).
Whether you’re getting more requests from new or existing customers.
The kinds of jobs your getting.
If you don’t have a place you normally track this information, create a spreadsheet using Excel or Google Sheets and track this data on a day-to-day basis.
3. Double Down on What’s Working Now
You’ll want to make quick decisions about where to put your time and dollars right now, which is why it’s so important to track things on a daily basis.
To get the most out of a volatile situation, double down on what’s working and watch closely to see when it stops being as effective.
4. Research What Other Businesses Are Doing
Check out your competition and other home service businesses in your area, as well as companies nationwide that you admire. What are they doing right now? Look for posts on Facebook and Instagram that are getting the most engagement, positive and negative. What can you adapt for your own business and what do you see that you should avoid? Learn from their mistakes and successes.
Another place to start is our Coronavirus Facebook group for home service businesses. Businesses are talking about what they’re doing, and we encourage you to share what you’re doing as well. As Brooks Pettus, COO of Housecall Pro, explained, “You don’t really have competitors at this point. We’re all trying to get through this together to get to the other side.”
Roland’s Top Three Things to Do Right Now
Housecall Pro’s co-founder Roland offers these three suggestions for things businesses can do right away.
1. Focus On Your Top-Performing Region
Export your customer list, find your top-performing zip code, and use it to start a call list. Create a simple script that doesn’t try to sell anything. “I did X service for you a while back, and I’ll be in the area. Is there anything I can do for you or pick up for you while I’m there?”
Even if it doesn’t create immediate business right now, you’re creating a positive brand presence that will work long-term.
If you are not comfortable cold calling, remember that your livelihood and business depend on this and you can always send the email first and use this call as a follow-up.
2. Send an Email to All Customers
Send out a mass email to all of your customers. You can let them know if you’re still open, what services you’re offering, what safety protocols you’ve set in place, deals you have in place, what you’re doing for the community, etc.
Here is an example of a newsletter sent out through Mailchimp from a residential cleaning company, Fit For Cleaning.
If you don’t have a newsletter in place, now is a good time to set that up.
In this video, Roland walks you through just how easy it is to set up a Mailchimp account and import your customer list.
3. Follow-Up With a Postcard
Postcards are cheap and memorable and, especially now with an overload of messages in all of our email inboxes, they can help your business stand out.
Housecall Pro users can automatically send postcards to their users through the platform (Housecall Pro users, click this link to test sending postcards now). We’ve designed a number of postcards you can choose from related to the crisis to send a timely and relevant message.
Tips if You’ve Temporarily Shut Down
It’s important to not just stop. You can still be promoting your business, even if you’ve temporarily shut down service calls. The more you can do now to get in front of people, it will pay off when you’re up and running again. People’s needs don’t go away, they’re just postponed.
Promote virtual estimates
Offer discounts for services booked in the future
Be a resource for your community
Even if you’ve shut down operations, you can still follow many of the steps above to stay connected to your customers. If you’re helpful and positive during this time, they will remember it later.
Marketing Tactics to Avoid During This Time
Be Careful About Humor
Cute distractions are welcome for most folks. Post things that delight and lift people’s spirits. But avoid sarcasm or anything that makes light of the situation.
When we talk about doubling down on what’s working, we don’t mean to post ten times a day. In fact, the Facebook algorithm tends to reward companies that post less frequently, like once a day.
Focus on well-crafted content you post less often and research places to share this content and be a presence in other ways, such as commenting on other threads and sharing other businesses’ posts.
Now is a great time to find and get involved with local Facebook groups like neighborhood groups, family and small business groups. Don’t approach it as a place to promote your business, but rather a place to stay connected and offer support.
Resources To Use
We’ve created 40+ free templates for social media posts and email headers that any business can customize to use for themselves. You can edit them directly in Canva, add your company information, and use them freely.
Examples From Other Pros
1. Check-In Before Appointments
Anna Rivera, CEO of the HVAC Guys, asks customers if they need anything before each appointment.
2. Set Up Virtual Meetings with Commercial Clients
In a virtual roundtable discussion we hosted with several pros, John Cipres explained that most of his clients are real estate agents and brokers that he meets with weekly. He is encouraging virtual Zoom meetings where he can share tips with them and offer other value.
John has also been a guest on three podcasts in the last week, opportunities he’s gotten by emailing and calling the hosts and asking if he could be a guest. This helps get his name and the name of his company out there because, as he explained, “You never know who’s going to be listening.”
3. Advertise Virtual Services
Comfort Calvary Heating and Air promoted their virtual estimates with a link to book a virtual appointment online.
3. Promote Why Your Service is Relevant
Shine Coat Auto Detailing mixed a relevant statistic and a nod to their credentials with their availability during California shelter-in-place. Find the post here.
4. Take Advantage of Facebook Live
Sean Patton went live on his company’s Facebook page, which resulted in 1,800 views. In the roundtable, he explained, “If you boost a sponsored at through “live” your cost per impression is way lower than any kind of print or stationary ad.”
Find more examples and other valuable conversations in the Coronavirus Facebook group for home service businesses.