By Karen Hamilton, Hammerati
Google yourself. It’s what your customers are doing when they’re deciding whether or not to work with you. The Yellow Pages and family and friends are no longer the go-to sources when it comes to finding an electrician, a plumber or some other construction professional. Instead, homeowners are going online. In fact, a whopping 85 per cent of consumers go online to find local businesses like yours.
Whether they’re trying to find you in the first place, deciding if they like you or referring you to their friends (not to mention the millions of other homeowners who read online reviews), customers are doing it in the digital world. Make sure your Webutation precedes you in all the best ways possible.
Here’s what homeowners do when they check you out online
They start their search engines
A Google search is today’s equivalent of flipping open the Yellow Pages. A 2012 survey by the website Search Engine Land, found that only 15 per cent of consumers had never used the Internet to find a local business. This means you need to be online with a decent website, hopefully one that is high up in search rankings. It also means you need to be mindful of what else homeowners are looking at.
They judge your website
Homeowners get a sense of you and your business from the look and feel of your website. Update it from time to time (you don’t want them to find the cyber equivalent of a mullet) so visitors get the sense you’ve kept up with the times and can handle their construction challenge.
They read reviews
Love them or hate them, homeowners trust online reviews. 72 per cent of the 2,862 respondents in the above-mentioned survey said they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations; 52 per cent said a positive online review would make them more likely to use a local business.
They look at how you handle negative reviews
One of the dicey things about review sites is that people tend to draw on their emotions when giving a review: they’ll either really love what you’ve done and give you a glowing review or be really angry about it and give you a negative one. If that happens, remember what matters is not so much a negative review, but how it is handled. (Hint: Don’t “astroturf”, the practice of countering a negative review by posting many, but artificial, positive ones.)
They evaluate your online presence
Regardless of how you feel about social media, homeowners are going to look for you on sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Houzz and Pinterest. Make sure they like what they find. Houzz and Pinterest are especially good for showcasing your work. YouTube is a great way to actually demonstrate what you do and what homeowners get for their money. (For a good example, check out Pierre Martell’s Facebook page.)
Karen Hamilton is part of the team at Hammerati. Hammerati is a professional network exclusively for the construction industry.