I am often asked, “Do we really need a Web site?” and “What should I put on my Web site?” two very important questions for small-business owners. No question about it, if you have a business, you should have a Web site. It doesn’t matter if you are a one-man show, a family run business or a multi-truck operation, if you don’t have a Web site you are losing money to competitors that do. .......
But simply having a Web presence is not enough. A professional-looking site is absolutely necessary. Why? You have one shot at making a first impression. Many consumers are going online for information before picking up the phone. Your Web site will be the first impression a potential customer has of your company. Good or bad, your site speaks volumes about your company. It is important that your business is portrayed in a manner that appropriately reflects the quality of service you provide. A poorly designed Web site could potentially hurt the success of your company. And if you don’t have a Web site, you appear completely out of touch. Have an outdated site? You may appear behind the times and poor at maintaining your own business. A well-designed, professional looking Web site will project the image and professionalism necessary for even the smallest company.
A Web site makes the Internet your extended staff. This is an invaluable benefit, whether you are a home business of one, a small, family run business or a large multi-truck operation. Your Web site is there to answer questions any time, day or night. Your Web pages can fill in the additional information that your print ad couldn't cover, your sales letter didn't have room for, or that you forgot to mention in your telephone conversation. Consumers have more confidence in and prefer doing business with companies that they know something about.
Web Site Ingredients
Apart from detailed descriptions of the services you provide, you should emphasize the benefits of those services. If you have related information, articles, tips etc., post them on your site.
It is important to post quality information related to your services; this positions you as a knowledgeable leader in the industry and creates an incentive to revisit the site. Inform visitors about the structure of your company; your community involvement; awards; certifications; and even employment opportunities.
A Web site also offers a great opportunity to provide information explaining the additional services you offer (it’s much easier to sell carpet protector to an educated customer). Services the customers were previously unaware of are now requested.
Your site should cover topics such as pre- and post-cleaning instructions in detail. Include testimonials from customers and suppliers. Nothing builds trust with customers and prospects like good words about you from people who know you and have done business with you. Testimonials build credibility.
You need to get your Web site “regionalized.” The areas that you service must be specified clearly and repeatedly, not just on the “contact us” page. No one should have to search to find your service area or phone numbers.
By placing “Recommend This Site” or “E-mail This Article to a Friend” links on your website, you can use word-of-mouth advertising to connect with prospects. Allow people to e-mail their friends right from your Web page and you’ll be able to add your own marketing message, along with links back to your site. Add a free e-mail newsletter signup and start delivering your latest news right to subscribers.
Writing a newsletter on a regular basis is a great way to keep people returning to your website (and is a great way to build trust in you and your business).
A feedback form can be of benefit. It can improve the chances of a future visit, strengthen an existing relationship, or be used to collect testimonials. A price-quote request form allows potential clients to inquire about a price and provide you with qualified leads.
An emergency spot-removal guide and FAQ or “frequently asked questions” section should also be included. Offering some free information gives people a reason to visit your Web site. Online visitors will see you as an authority in your field and will appreciate your ability to help them in a variety of ways.
Don’t just tell potential clients that you can clean anything out of carpet – show them. “Before and After” photos are powerful marketing tools. Remember, it is very important when using images that they are cropped or scaled to an appropriate size for use on a given page. The more images you use, the longer a person must wait to view your page. Images enhance Web pages, but must be used with skill and caution to avoid problems.
And don’t forget to put your best face forward! When people hire a service to come into their home, they want to see an organized and trustworthy person. Using your family photo is a great choice for family businesses. Having a face to go with a name can make all the difference in choosing one business over another.
So when you outfit your company with all the essential tools, remember to add a Web site to the list. Done right, you will have a very powerful marketing ally in your corner.
Mark Cermak is a cleaning and restoration industry veteran of more than 20 years. He is Webmaster of OCIBR.com Community, a training, consultation and marketing club for cleaners, and Webmaster of Andrechelle.com, specializing in Web site design for cleaning businesses. You can contact Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org or through the Web sites.
Published in ICS magazine 12/10/2004 : http://www.icsmag.com/CDA/ArticleInformation/features/BNP__Features__Item/0,3035,139670,00.html