Contractor Corner

One of the most common problems we see among home service companies? Websites that are woefully out of date.

We understand why Web development may be a low priority; you spend so much time serving customers, training employees, and strategizing for your business that there’s just not much leftover for fine-tuning the site.

But consider this: When leveraged properly, your website can be like a member of your sales team, out there 24/7 advertising your company, connecting with customers, and urging them to pick up the phone and make an appointment. Moreover, your website is the first impression most customers will have of your business.

In other words, it’s worth getting right—but how?

Honing Your Home Service Website

There are a few things you can do right now to make sure your website is robust and effective.

  1. Make sure it loads quickly. Try loading it on a number of different browsers and devices. Hopefully, the whole thing will load within a couple of seconds. Studies show that today’s search engine users won’t wait much longer than 2-3 seconds before they move on to the next site, so speed is key!
  2. Get rid of the old-fashioned stuff. By old-fashioned stuff, we mostly mean Flash or audio that plays automatically when the page loads. Not only are these things dated, but they cause your site to load at a slower speed.
  3. Ensure a responsive site. What’s a responsive site? One that shows up properly on mobile devices, without you needing to do a lot of zooming or scrolling. Remember, your customers are more likely to find your site on their phones or tablets than on their desktop computer!
  4. Add social proof. Before they let you into their home, potential customers need to know they can trust you—and one way you can earn that trust is by offering social proof on your website, in the form of testimonials and reviews. Related: Add guaranties, warranties, and other such promises to help shore up your credibility.
  5. Update your content. Google algorithms favor content that’s “refreshed” or updated fairly regularly, so revising your written content every year or so can be beneficial. A blog is another good way to regularly add content to you site.
  6. Ensure calls to action on every page. Don’t miss an opportunity to invite visitors to pick up the phone and call. Make sure to include your phone number!
  7. Include real-time chat options. It’s always a good thing to empower customers to contact you—and real-time chat opens the doors to self-service, allowing those customers to quickly ask questions or obtain the information they need before they call and make an appointment.

With these steps, you can ensure that your website really is functioning as a sales machine for your business—and that you’re always putting your best foot forward on the Web.

To learn more about the smartest ways to grow your home service company, don’t hesitate to call us. Reach out to Contractor in Charge today!

There is an element of trust involved with inviting a plumbing, electrical, or HVAC professional into your home. Homeowners naturally want to ensure the person they hire possesses the proper expertise, and also a high level of personal integrity. In short, homeowners want a service tech who knows their field inside and out and won’t try to take advantage of them.

To find such a person, homeowners are happy to do a little online research, where review sites—such as Facebook, Yelp, and especially Google—can offer some “social proof,” real insights from other homeowners who have hired the service company in question.

The upshot of this is that online reviews can make a huge difference for your home service trade. Positive reviews give you a professional advantage, while negative reviews can scare away potential customers—especially if you have competitors whose reviews are more positive.

Strategies for Online Review Sites

It is vital for home service companies to have a strategy for amassing positive reviews. Here are some basic guidelines:

  1. Be aware. Start by just being aware of your current online reviews. Do a Google search for your company to see what’s being said, and especially check in at Google and Facebook to see what kind of feedback your company has received (if any). It’s a good idea to periodically check in at these review sites. The last thing you want is to have a bunch of bad reviews and not even know it.
  2. Ask for positive reviews. Ultimately, if you’d like to achieve more positive reviews, the best thing you can do is ask for them directly. A recommended strategy: Email your best, most satisfied and loyal customers and simply let them know how much their feedback means. Ask them directly to take just a minute to provide you with a review. Make sure to send them a link so they can leave their review quickly and easily.
  3. Offer gratitude. As you see positive reviews rolls in, take just a minute to say thank you. Let customers know that you see their feedback and appreciate This can encourage more positive feedback, and make people think twice about leaving negatives. Plus, it’s simply good customer service.
  4. For bad reviews, offer a fix. When you see negative reviews, make sure you respond graciously; if you become angry or snarky, it’ll just make you look bad. Instead, apologize to the customer for their bad experience, and try to make things right—perhaps offering a small discount on their next service. This shows that you listen to feedback and try to address any customer concerns. In some cases, you can even get the reviewer to amend or delete their negative feedback.

Reviews aren’t just about ego or vanity. They actually matter a great deal to today’s consumers—and that’s why they should matter to home service business owners, too. Make sure you have a robust strategy for assembling positive reviews.

To learn more about getting (and keeping) happy customers, reach out to Contractor in Charge today!

Every company has rules, processes, and standards—ways in which things are supposed to be done. Sometimes, these are “unspoken” guidelines, but ideally, you have them written down, codified into policies and procedures. (Before going forward, it’s worth noting that policies and procedures are not the same thing. A policy is basically a rule. A procedure is a process, or an action plan.)

Why Documented Policies and Procedures are Important

It’s important to have policies and procedures written down and documented for a few different reasons. For one, it makes sure everyone is on the same page. When you write down the expectations, and make them accessible to all employees, nobody can ever claim ignorance.

But policies and procedures aren’t just for holding your employees accountable. They can also keep the company itself out of trouble. For example, say an employee becomes injured, doing something they weren’t supposed to be doing. If you can show that the employee was in clear violation of a documented company policy, that can shield you from any liability. But if it was merely an “unspoken” guideline, you may still be on the hook.

Finally, policies and procedures can be invaluable to new employees as they join the team. You want them to immediately adopt the same standards as everyone else in the company, and the easy way to make that happen is to make sure that everyone—new and veteran employees alike—are working from the same playbook.

What if Your Policies and Procedures Aren’t Good Enough?

With that said, not all policies and procedures are created equal—and if yours aren’t doing the job, you may need to revise or clarify them in some way.

There are a few common signs of company policies and procedures that need revision:

  • You’re seeing more workplace accidents.
  • You have more and more employees making costly mistakes.
  • You have significant cost overruns (indicating employees aren’t being as efficient as they could be).
  • Your team members regularly ask questions about things you assumed were clear.
  • You notice your team members taking a lot of “short cuts” in their work.
  • You receive a lot of recurring customer complaints.

Heed these warning signs: They suggest that your policies and procedures are inadequate, and that you need to clarify them, reiterate them, and double-check that all the important things are put into writing.

This isn’t necessarily something you’ll want to do by yourself. As the business owner, you’re ultimately in charge of shaping policies and procedures—yet you’ll always want to run them by at least one employee who is affected by them, who can confirm for you that the written policies and procedures make sense and are reasonable.

Make sure your home service business has the right documentation, and that you review and revise as needed. To learn more about the steps you can take to run a more efficient plumbing, HVAC, or electrical company, reach out to Contractor in Charge today.

It’s easy to write off social media as a vanity, a time-waster, or a lark—but for plumbing, electrical, and HVAC companies, social networks can actually be powerful tools. They create valuable touch points with your customer base and can be especially effective for generating business from your maintenance agreements. And, with the right social media content, you can make your home service business seem more trustworthy and authoritative—helping customers feel more confident giving you their business.

But what is the right kind of social media content for your home service business? There are a couple of different categories to consider, and each potentially useful.

Content That Humanizes Your Business

Customers will feel more comfortable inviting you into their homes and entrusting you with maintenance and repair needs if they have some sense of who you are—and if they see your technicians as human beings, not a nameless/faceless company. Some ways to accomplish this include:

  • Share candid, behind-the-scenes photos of your team, highlighting some of the people who work for you.
  • Use social media to announce new hires and “introduce” new employees to your follower base.
  • Post photos of jobs/projects that you are especially proud of or that are unique in some way. Make sure you have approval from the homeowner!
  • Share photos of any in-service training that your technicians do, which highlights your commitment to continuous education.

Content That Builds Trust and Authority

Ideally, this humanizing/personal-interest content will be interspersed with some content that establishes your knowledge and expertise; customers should see that you know what you’re doing and can provide valuable assistance with whatever their home maintenance needs are. Some ideas here include:

  • Share company blog posts, especially “tips and tricks” posts that show off your knowledge.
  • Curate content from external sources—for example, articles from real estate or DIY sites that focus on plumbing/electrical/HVAC issues (not your competitors’ websites).
  • Periodically use social media to promote your maintenance agreement, and to simply remind your customers of the benefits it provides. For HVAC companies, it’s especially useful to promote your maintenance agreement at the start of each season.
  • Share tips and tricks through YouTube videos, walking customers through some very basic repairs they can do themselves—while reminding them to call you with more serious needs.

With the right balance of content—and with consistent posting—you can actually use social media to drive business and bring in some new revenues, turning that Facebook account into an actual asset for your home service company.

We’d love to talk with you more about strategic ways to build your business. Reach out to Contractor in Charge today, and let’s have a conversation about your goals.

In the home service industry, maintenance agreements represent a real win-win. For your business, they offer new revenue opportunities and a chance to build long-term customer loyalty. For customers, meanwhile, they offer peace of mind, potential savings, and a smart way to protect themselves from emergency repair needs.

For as valuable as maintenance agreements are, however, they don’t sell themselves. The onus is on your customer service reps and technicians to get customers signed up for these agreements. The question is how.

Boost Enrollment in Your Maintenance Agreements

A few pointers:

  • Your maintenance agreement must provide value. A simple question: Would you buy into your service agreement? If not, then you can’t expect others to buy into it, either, and need to retool your value proposition. A good maintenance agreement yields a full list of features and benefits. Sit down and make that list and be ready to share it with all of your customers.
  • Compare with competitors’ service agreements. Call (anonymously) to your competitors in the area and ask what their service agreements include. This helps give some idea of what you’re up against, and what you might include in your own maintenance agreement.
  • Train your technicians and customer service reps. They need to know your service agreement inside and out—the cost, the benefits, the terms, and the sales pitch you want them using to get customers enrolled. Really drill down on this. It should be something your technicians can discuss in their sleep.
  • Bring it up at the right times. When you have a customer call in to make a service appointment, make sure your service rep asks this question: “Will you be benefiting from our service agreement today?” If the answer is no, assure them that their technician will walk them through the service agreement during their appointment. (And make sure your technician follows up properly!)
  • Ensure high-quality work. Part of the appeal of maintenance agreements is that they allow customers to feel like they belong to a special club—like they are a But no one’s going to feel like a VIP if the work you do for them is rushed, sloppy, or belated. High standards of quality are critical for getting those maintenance agreement sign-ups.

Again, your maintenance agreement may be a real slam-dunk for the customer—but you still have to sell it! With these tips, you’re ready to start getting some sign-ups.

Learn more about the hallmarks of a good maintenance agreement. Reach out to Contractor in Charge today and let’s talk.

The simplest way for a service trade company to gain a competitive edge is to focus on its core competencies. If you run an HVAC company, that means providing the very best HVAC maintenance and repair services you can. If you’re a plumber, that means keeping home- and business-owners happy through quick, efficient, high-quality plumbing work. And if you run an electrical company, it means focusing on your trade and your craft, remaining up-to-date with the best practices in your field.

These, ultimately, are the things that bring in revenues—and everything else plays a supporting role. Answering phones, addressing customer concerns, setting appointments—those things matter, but they’re not the core of what you do. In fact, they’re tasks you can either delegate or outsource to someone else, freeing you to focus on what you do best.

Outsourcing vs. Insourcing

But that raises the question: Is it better to outsource these auxiliary functions to a third-party vendor, or to insource them, training members of your team to take over?

While team development and delegation are both valuable, they also have their drawbacks. When you hire an employee to handle these tasks, it means spending time and money to train them. It means providing them with a desk space, computers, phones, and other equipment. And of course it means salary and benefits. And what happens when the person you hire to answer the phones goes on vacation? You’re right back where you started.

Outsourcing addresses these problems:

  • You won’t be left short-staffed during summer vacation season, or be caught flat-footed when an employee falls ill.
  • It’s a more affordable option, as you don’t have to factor in benefits—which can often add as much as 15 percent to your payroll costs.
  • You don’t have to worry about losing the employee you worked so hard to train.
  • You can be sure that you always have qualified professionals ready to handle their work and to serve you with their expertise.

The simple reality about outsourcing is that it offers a team of trained and ready professionals who can hit the ground running on day one—and it costs a fraction of what it would cost to bring those same professionals in-house.

Of course, it’s important to maximize your value by outsourcing to the right team. Contractor in Charge provides services exclusively to home service trades. We know how plumbing, electrical, and HVAC businesses work, and we are prepared to help them grow as efficiently and strategically as possible. We offer a range of outsourced services including dispatch, payroll, and bookkeeping. And, our virtual office solutions allow you to field incoming calls and turn those inquiries into actual appointments.

We’d love to talk more with you about outsourcing opportunities for your service trade. Reach out to us now to schedule a free consultation.