iNoobs: how home repair businesses are failing in the digital age

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This article is part of iNoobs, a writeup series aimed at web professionals who are just starting up.

Starting a home repair business seems straightforward; homes are never going to stop needing maintenance and homeowners are never going to stop needing knowledgeable professionals to help. Working within a profession that relies primarily on experience and elbow grease, few home repair professionals bother with the internet, preferring traditional advertising (word-of-mouth, in particular) to produce new clients. Unfortunately, plenty of maintenance businesses are rapidly declining due to an unwillingness (or inability) to master the science of the web.

According to Yelp, 85 percent of consumers use the internet to find and connect with local businesses, which means neglecting a website and online advertising strategy cuts out the vast majority of potential clients. Here are the worst mistakes home repair businesses makes and the right way to fix them in the digital age.

The Website

The absolute best way to miss out on potential business is to not have a website. For years, websites were secondary marketing tools; they were another way for businesses to reach their audiences. Today, websites are necessary digital locations not unlike physical headquarters where interested audiences can find and learn about businesses. Websites provide background information for businesses, explaining everything from their histories to their available products. Every business should have a website to educate and engage its client base.

Because most home repair businesses lack a physical location, having a digital place for potential customers to learn about services is even more vital. However, a website is not merely a list of services and prices. Rather, it should be detailed and comprehensive, providing exactly the information customers need to call and request a consultation.

Appealing visual design and logical site layout facilitate sales conversions, as well. Website development can be incredibly easy, or it can be frustrating and impenetrable; those businesses that lack tech would do well to hire a professional to create and manage their sites.

The Online Advertising

After mastering website development, home repair businesses should begin using digital advertising techniques to increase their online visibility and bring customers to their sites. Many online advertising strategies are similar to traditional advertising methods. For example, video marketing is essentially the creation of commercials for an internet audience: Businesses produce short video clips that have some value (perhaps explaining potential homeowner oversights or common household repairs) and post them on YouTube to start attracting customers. Other strategies, like blogging and guest posting, are effectively the same, but they require the written word rather than video.

However, some web-based advertising is unique to the digital age. For example, pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns are some of the least expensive ways to advertise online, and when PPC ads are well-designed, they can produce exceptional results. Still, like any form of advertising, it is critical to hone one’s ad to its most effective point. For example, when creating your plumber advertising strategy you shouldn’t use the same terminology as ads for retail shops. Also, research what useful keywords are most relevant to your business and integrate them naturally into your ads and other written content.

The Networks

Increasingly, people turn to the internet for social connectedness rather than information. Though it is possible to build a community using a business website ― through blog comments, email newsletters, and similar tactics ― it is much easier to turn to established online networks. Social media sites like Facebook and Instagram are invaluable tools for digital marketers because the sites have already done the work of amassing huge audiences. By publishing the right content, like before-and-after images and repair success stories, maintenance businesses can capitalize on the power of social media.

Home repair businesses can also take advantage of online networks built specifically for them. There are a number of online referral sites, like Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor, where customers rate and review home service businesses. Maintaining profiles on these sites shows devotion to customer satisfaction which will result in more business. Craigslist is another useful network of potential customers, but rather than running profiles, businesses must continually post advertisements to remain visible.

Business has gone digital, even business that takes place in the physical world, like home maintenance. Those businesses that cannot adapt to the internet will ultimately fail, despite quality or price. Fortunately, using the web isn’t nearly as difficult as it seems, especially when there are digital professionals ready to help.

Feature image curtsey of Beresnev

Catalin is the founder of Mostash - a social marketing boutique - and he's always happy to share his passion for graphic design & social media.