Today’s homeowners have so much information at their fingertips — sometimes too much. With information about all kinds of products available online, including water heaters and HVAC equipment, they may second-guess the contractor’s recommendations when they call for service. Building trust with homeowners is one of the top hurdles home-service business owners face.
According to Decision Analyst’s American Home Comfort Study (https://bit.ly/3fNzhBC), more than half of homeowners say they use the internet as a source of information for their HVAC equipment decisions. Those statistics vary based on age. Of those aged 25-44, 65 percent say they use the Internet to research, and only 46 percent respond that they rely on their contractors’ recommendations.
The availability of information online and the rise of the smart home have made customers want more granular control over their homes’ systems. In previous years, they would have relied solely on a contractor’s recommendation. But that is changing.
According to Decision Analyst: “Manufacturers’ websites were cited as the most-often-used source of information for these consumers, followed by articles and information found via a search engine (45 percent) and free online review boards (33 percent). Contractors’ websites were viewed less often, as only about a third of homeowners (32 percent) included a local contractor’s website in their online search.”
But you can take steps to even out that distribution. As a plumbing and HVAC contractor and business owner, you have valuable, first-hand knowledge — not just of the products you offer, but also of how they perform in homes in your geographic area. You can showcase that knowledge online and refer homeowners to it, giving them information that applies to homes similar to theirs.
As homeowners see good results from your recommendations, they will grow to trust you as a local and industry expert. So, here are some tactics to try.
• Consumer reports. Don’t let the name intimidate you. Consumer reports aren’t research papers; they’re a professional way to demonstrate how recommended equipment can solve customers’ problems.
Consumer reports are designed to be easy, quick reads, explaining complex concepts in simple terms. They lay out the benefits of a product or service in a clear, problem-solving format. A consumer report can benefit from professional design, along with visual elements such as charts and graphs.
Consumer reports can be loaded onto your website for easy download, or they can be included as part of an email or social media marketing campaign.
• Blogs. Your website’s blog isn’t just a tool for boosting SEO. It’s another place to showcase your industry knowledge. Consider adding equipment reviews and recommendations to your blog lineup; show consumers that you know what equipment can work best for a given situation.
Case studies also go well in blog format. Keeping things anonymous, show how an installation solved a problem or got better results for a homeowner. Consumers may find the situation to be similar to theirs and reach out to you for service based on the results you provided for someone else.
• Social media. Don’t neglect social media when it comes to showcasing your industry knowledge. All social media channels, from Facebook to Instagram, are great places to promote equipment reviews, case studies and white papers.
The key with any social media effort is to make it sharable so your followers organically share it with their friends and family. This type of marketing is extremely effective, as consumers trust content shared by their acquaintances more than they trust direct marketing.
Make your social media posts visual. Try infographics, before-and-after photos, and links to your product review and case study blogs. You also could create a YouTube channel to showcase product review vlogs and service demonstrations.
Even though these strategies can yield excellent results, they’re also a lot of work. As a plumbing and HVAC business owner, you might not have the time or the staffing level to make online content happen. Creating impressive, professional online content isn’t in everyone’s skillset.
Fortunately, public relations professionals can help. A PR agency, especially one with experience in the home service industry, can craft the content your customers are searching for. As part of an overall public relations strategy, online product reviews, case studies and white papers can make sure customers in your area turn to you for answers and trust your recommendations.