For home service businesses, reputation and brand are equally as important for attracting customers as the services they provide. A bad reputation can hurt your business, but you can protect your company’s good name and generate positive publicity by instituting a proactive home service public relations strategy.
Don’t know where to start? Let’s talk about the elements needed to establish a successful PR strategy: cultivate positive word-of-mouth; practice reputation management; earn media coverage; use social media; and blog regularly.
Word-of-mouth can kill your home service company or can help it thrive. It’s the basic building block of reputation. It’s where you begin to create a distinction between you and your countless competitors in the home service industry.
Your technicians are skilled. They’re great at what they do. But, the truth of the matter is so is the competition. Beyond technical skills, a reputation for quality customer service can make all the difference in setting your company apart from your competitors.
In “Closing the Customer Feedback Loop,” published in the Harvard Business Review, the authors write that every interaction with a customer creates the opportunity to cultivate a new evangelist for your business: “But which customer experiences matter the most? We have learned that the most important interactions are ‘moments of truth,’ those relatively few points of contact that hold the greatest potential to delight — or alienate — an organization’s customers. As they mine the steady flow of customer feedback, companies should pay particular attention to these touchpoints.”
Here is the secret: After closing the sale, after your technician has provided the best customer service that customer has ever known, that’s the moment to begin building your reputation with a single question, “Would you be willing to recommend our business online?”
Online reviews carry significant weight with consumers when making a decision on hiring a home service company. Here are the facts about online reviews, according to recent research:
• About 92 percent of all consumers read online reviews
• Of those consumers, 88 percent say reviews influence their purchasing decisions.
Encouraging online reviews is the first step in reputation management. The next is to capitalize on them. Use a reputation management platform to push 5-star reviews to your website or publish them on your company’s Facebook page. For an example of how a home service company can feature customers’ reviews to good advantage, we can turn to Brooklyn-based Petri Plumbing & Heating’s website, which even features a video testimonial.
Sometimes customers leave bad reviews, though. What then? A timely, polite response will go a long way toward resolving the issue. Don’t be hostile; a bad review is an opportunity to show that your company is willing to make things right. Find a solution to satisfy the customer, and they’ll probably be willing to change their review to a positive one.
Proper reputation management takes discipline and an investment of time, but it’s an important part of a home service public relations strategy.
Beyond word of mouth, earning media coverage of your business is a vital part of raising brand awareness. It carries far more weight with potential customers. Anyone can pay for an advertisement. Convincing a journalist to tell your story? That gives your business credibility.
Earning free coverage is the result of a consistently applied public relations strategy. You can begin positioning your business as an expert in your field by sending press releases out. Eventually, the press and trade media will begin relying on you to provide valuable information and quotes about your industry.
Potential customers will evaluate your company on what the media and other third parties are saying about it. Earned media coverage helps build a strong market presence for your company, leading to more service calls.
Needing ideas to generate more publicity? Celebrating company milestones can be a good hook for catching the attention of journalists. Whether it’s your 10th or your 50th, you can use the anniversary of your home service business as the basis for content marketing.
This means you could send out press releases, create videos for social media, showcase customer testimonials or write blogs. Each piece of content you can create concerning your company builds up its brand a little more.
If you want visibility for your business, you have to go where the eyes are. That’s social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. In fact, about 79 percent of online Americans use Facebook, according to the Pew Research Center. If you’re not on board that train yet, your company is going to be left behind.
Use social media to offer information that can make the lives of your readers easier. Inform them about important home service issues. As you establish your expertise, people will follow you in greater numbers on social media. More eyes on your content means more eyes on your company.
It’s also important to just be yourself; social media is about sharing, not selling. People appreciate seeing the human side of your business, whether sharing something a little light-hearted or talking about a good deed one of your technicians performed for a client. Give people a reason to talk about your company in a good way.
Speaking of content, establish a company blog. By providing good, useful information to potential customers, you’ll enhance your reputation as an expert and position your company as the go-to for home service needs. Regularly producing content will ultimately benefit your search engine rankings, meaning it will become easier for people to find you on the internet.
Generating positive publicity isn’t hard, but it requires dedication and time. Creating and sticking to a home service public relations strategy might seem complicated, but it will pay off for your business in the end.
Home service public relations is like any other business function. As the owner of the company, you have to decide how much of your time and resources to allocate to keep up with it on a daily basis. Although generating positive publicity will help you grow your company in the long-term, you also have clients to service and day-to-day business administration. It might make more sense to delegate the task of generating positive publicity to an experienced professional.