Carrie Young talks about why marketing matters for installers
Installers, like other small business owners, have to take on a lot of roles in their working lives. Not only are they the heating engineer, often quoting and installing, but they are also the accountant, marketing department and secretary for their business. This adds up to a lot of working hours, but fortunately there are simple things installers can do to provide a professional service, without having to work all hours of the day.
Like any business, having a healthy flow of work is important. Most installers have a core of regular customers who trust them and regularly use their services, but it’s always good to attract new business. Having a clear marketing message, which includes precise information about products or services, and making it easy to contact the business is essential.
Tell the story, build the brand
Providing plumbing and heating services for the local community is an important role, and it’s key that installers reassure potential customers that it is a responsibility they don’t take lightly. Being able to briefly tell the story of a family-owned business, for example, is a great way to illustrate this.
There are a number of traditional methods for installers to get their name out there, such as the Yellow Pages, adverts in local papers, leaflets and having a well-branded work van. Additionally the internet has made advertising and marketing more accessible to small businesses and installers.
Knowledge is key
There are two key areas that installers should have knowledge of – their competition and their customers.
Staying on top of servicing work for their existing customers is vital to ensure a steady workflow.
Knowing the competition is essential so that installers can identify the areas where they are different, for example better quality products and services. Installers can then use this knowledge to focus and simplify the advertising or branding message.
Learning about their potential customers is another way for installers to understand how to refine their message. For example, keeping an eye on properties that are for sale and dropping off a leaflet or business card when new householders move in, is a quick, simple and low-cost way of giving potential customers an easy way to find their trusted local tradesmen.
Constructive criticism and honest feedback are great tools helping installers refine their business. It could be as simple as “I couldn’t find your phone number easily on your website,” or “I really appreciated your engineer turning up on time and with answers to all my questions.”
Both of which are great for helping installers see where they need to make adjustments to the contact details on the website or letting that engineer know they are appreciated and ensuring other staff are as well briefed, prompt and professional.
A simple way to gain that feedback is to give customers a feedback form which they can hand to engineers on completion of the job, whether a quote, installation or service.
Of course, positive feedback can also be included on the website and used as a marketing tool. In today’s digital world more people than ever are using the internet to find tradesmen, so there’s a lot of business to be won on the web, and positive customer feedback is key.
There are many tools an installer can use to create a website. Alternatively, installers can employ someone to do it for them at a reasonable cost, local agencies are a good place to start. A simple website including all the key details (address, phone number, available services etc) could generate more business from people searching online.
It’s also worth making the most of social media. Sites like Twitter and LinkedIn allow installers to connect to millions of contacts, including customers, manufacturers, merchants and industry experts.
Some installers may not think of social media as a business tool, but according to an industry survey, 8out of 10 tradesmen now use social media as an easy and free way to reach more customers, promote their services and gather feedback. Two fifths (43%) of tradesmen believe having a page on a social media site makes their business look more established; so it’s definitely worth considering.
Carrie Young is head of marketing at Ideal Boilers