When a client calls, we always ask how they heard about us (well, maybe not always, but we mostly remember to ask). The answer from my last two estimates was that they had found us via the wonderful World Wide Web. This is not the most common response; word of mouth is. However, it made me wonder how a client “views” the business and if that correlates to what our vision is. I know my business, but do they?
Your Virtual Business
Our company website is not crazy fancy, but it is honest and it represents our company well. We didn’t pay thousands of dollars for the site, but we did work on it over the course of a few months with a local company to make sure that it was what we intended it to be.
By writing our own copy and using the right “key words,” we’ve been able to improve our ranking on Google searches (SEO for you fancy people) so that when a client comes knocking on our door instead of us knocking on theirs (begging to get in) the energy is different. It is no longer a cold call but a “warm one.” We’re much more likely to make a sale when someone is actually looking for the products that we sell and install.
I could spend thousands on a direct mail piece just hoping that on that specific day the person goes to their mailbox thinking, “I really need to find an expert to hang my TV above my fireplace” or I can answer the phone in a friendly manner after they’ve searched the web and found our website. They’ve most likely already seen some of our work via pictures on the page, they most likely read the bold print on the first page, and then they called. I am far more likely to sell a system to the person that came to me.
Your Off-Site Business
When I go out to a house to meet a client, review their needs, and set expectations, I get a chance to tell them what we believe and how we do business. I inform clients that our “partnership” won’t be a success without communication on their part as well as mine. I explain why we carry the products that we do, and the process of deposits, ordering, and payment. I am not looking to win every bid, but I am looking for partners—clients that understand that we are experts in our field and who are looking for a professionally installed system.
(Please don’t think that means that I am only looking for high-end clients. You may all tell me at CEDIA that you only do $100,000-plus home theater system, but I know that the sweet spot is a diverse portfolio and many of those jobs my lie in the 7k to 20k space).
Your Social Business
What social perception does your company put forth? Is it what you want to convey to the world? I’ve written before about “being human.” I believe that society is getting sick of big corporate companies where customers are just a number, and for that reason, we make sure to keep the human factor in mind.
To accomplish, consider how you manage your Facebook page. Don’t just put specials. Let people know what projects you’re working on and when you’re attending training. Let them know how you’re working hard to get all the information they’ll need. If you’re not ‘selling’ anything you’ll be sure to get more ‘likes’ and in return grow your social network while seeping the company values into your clients brains.
If you have a few favorite clients, ask them to do reviews for you. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy, but a few comments about how polite the techs are, how easy the system is to use, and how much they enjoy their system will go a long way on Facebook and beyond. We are more likely to trust our friends than an advertisement, and social networking is another important piece of the pie that can help your business and your reputation.
You need to know your business. Who are you today, and who do you want to be in five years? If you don’t know why you’re doing what you’re doing or where you are headed, you will never get there.
Heather L. Sidorowicz is project manager/designer for Southtown Audio Video in Hamburg, NY.