By Brian Sherman
Whether you’re a contractor, electrician, HVAC technician, plumber or any other specialist in the trades, the need to “go digital” has never been greater.
If you’re an online marketer, sure, identifying the tasks your business should digitize is easy. However, if you’re like many established – or even new – trades business owners or contractors, you may realize just how much of a challenge that can be.
Providing your actual service, after all, is just one part of a complex system of business parts that all need to work together.
You need to get noticed, get the job, manage the job, do the job, get paid for the job and get referred because of the job. It can be overwhelming trying to do everything well, all the time, often by yourself.
The real challenge, however, is doing everything digitally. To your customers it’s not just a convenience anymore. It’s the expectation.
Let’s look at all the tasks you should digitize in your trades business, and the simplest way to help you do it.
Busyness is a pandemic all its own nowadays. Your ability to set, track and manage your appointments online with your customers will be a crucial element to your success in the future, much less right now. Plus, the more automated your appointment scheduling, the better.
Every new generation of consumers tends to want to make phone calls less and less. They simply don’t want to talk on the phone, and would much rather do everything through an app or website. Your business needs to be:
- Available to communicate through your website or an app
- Easy to schedule appointments with, having the least amount of steps
- Available to schedule appointments with 24/7, even if your “business hours” are set
Speaking of busyness, we live in a noisy world, with a constant flow of information flooding consumers. Without a systematic way of cutting through that noise, it’s easy for an appointment to be forgotten or simply lost in the day-to-day fray. You need to remind your customers of their appointments, so they remain a priority.
Modern consumers expect appointment reminders in the form of texts and emails, not necessarily phone calls. You should also consider multiple reminders. Send them an email and text confirmation upon making the appointment and just before the appointment to make sure they remember.
Again, automation is a lifesaver here. Trying to manually do all this is enough to fry even the most organized brain. Use an app like Thryv built for trades businesses so you can easily manage all the moving digital parts of your business.
Follow-ups: Thank You’s and Review Requests
No matter how “digital” the world becomes, word-of-mouth marketing still reigns supreme. Nowhere is this truer perhaps than trades businesses like yours. It is common to find yourself in a consumer’s home, and the more trust you can build before you show up and after, the better.
Following up a job with a simple thank you message to the customer makes them more likely to use you again, and to leave you a review if prompted. Then you should follow every review with a simple response. Again, this is another component to your business that you may not habitually do. Automation is your friend.
Thankfully, you can digitize most of your efforts to produce good word-of-mouth marketing, like asking for and receiving reviews. After all, the next best thing to a friend telling a friend about your business is a stellar review.
It is common for consumers to browse reviews before making a decision. Using an app like Thryv can make the review collecting task of your business a built-in element.
Do you remember the early stages of starting your business, when asking for payment felt a bit uncomfortable and sometimes awkward? The customer asking for the cost again, who to make the checkout to, signing paperwork, etc. Perhaps you still struggle here, and that’s understandable. After all, you’re an expert in your trade, not necessarily an expert salesman.
One of the best ways you can ease any tension with collecting payment for a job is to digitize it. You may have noticed that payment by cash or check is losing any momentum it might have still had as digital payments are the norm.
Especially after 2020, where everything became as contactless as possible, your customers now expect it as an option, perhaps the primary option.
As much as modern consumers don’t want to talk on the phone, they don’t want to handle payments face-to-face. Offer a digital payment experience that includes more options as well, like credit cards and online payment platforms.
Running all the administrative pieces to your business is a challenge in and of itself. However, you still need to get noticed in a noisy world.
As a trades business, you know the value of good marketing, word-of mouth being the gold standard. However, getting a referral here and there is not going to be enough to sustain your business in the coming market.
Over 80% of people search online for a product or service. If you aren’t where consumers are looking, you’ll miss out.
How should you be doing marketing?
- Social media: Make sure your business has a page on major social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. Post regularly and use paid advertising for specific campaigns.
- Email: Social media is great, but you don’t own those audiences. Email puts you in control of your audience and gives you greater engagement than social media. Collect emails, build a list and communicate with them often.
- SEO: Set up and use Google Business Profile to show up when people search for what you offer. Create ongoing content that search engines find relevant.
In addition, your trades business needs to:
- Stand out: Show up where your customers are looking, especially on the most popular online listing sites.
- Earn trust: Get more reviews, more often.
- Stay relevant: Communicate with your customers regularly through social media and email marketing.
Check out how Thryv makes ongoing marketing for your trades business easy.
Document Sharing and Storage
Being in the trades and using your skill as a service doesn’t exempt you from paperwork. Obviously, you already know this. Proposals, invoices, contracts, project documentation, receipts – there seems to be a constant flow of paperwork across your desk every day.
You need to retain all of these documents and be able to reference and share them when necessary. Filing cabinets served their purpose in a pre-digital world (barely), but now your customers expect digital versions of everything, and instant access at any given time.
And behind all of it, they expect security.
Perhaps the easiest way to do this without having to hire an administrator is by using a service like Thryv. Thryv lets you:
- Create, share and track documents for internal and external use.
- Add or request documents whenever you need and choose how they get shared.
- Track changes to any documents and store documents privately to protect customer info.
Learn more about how Thryv makes document sharing and storage simple here.
We get it, you’ve worked hard to become an expert in your trade, not necessarily a digital administrator. You need to incorporate digital solutions into your business, but you simply don’t have the time to be managing ten different apps.
Plus, you might not be prepared to hire an administrative assistant who is diverse enough in their skills to manage everything.
What you need is an app that does it all. One app, every tool, at your fingertips when you need it. Thryv was created for trades contractors just like you.