Follow Us

Soap Warehouse Blog

UAMCC event Atlanta March 19th 2015

Posted by Linda Chambers on Mon, Mar 23, 2015 @ 11:38 AM

The weather may have been dreary outside but those that came to the UAMCC Atlanta event didn't mind.

Banner

Soap Warehouse and Iron Man Pressure Washers hosted this event on Thursday March 19th at the Fairfield Inn & Suites at Gwinnett Place. Most came from the local metro area, but there were also contractors that came from out of town, from Augusta, GA, Palmetto, GA, Greenville, SC and as far as Fort Pierce, FL.

Lindapresenting031915

It was a fast past packed full day of sessions mainly focusing on marketing and OSHA compliance. With sessions shortened to only 30 minutes each, a lot more focused material was covered, which kept the day moving and so no one could be uninterested for long. Sessions covered: Linda Chambers from Soap Warehouse gave talks on Inbound Marketing, Why you should use Videos, and Referral Programs.

Soap Warehouse gave away a 60 second professional video as a door prize after the Why use Video session and Todd Reese of Georgia Power Washing won.

ToddReese

Three speakers came in to cover Outbound Marketing with Online Yellow Pages and Adwords. Then Arrie Parker from Iron Man had a session on Occupational Health followed by a healthy lunch of Subway sandwiches, fruit, chips and drinks.

Lindapresenting0319152ArrieParker031915

Things went so fast a few extra sessions were squeezed in. After lunch Nichole from UAMCC discussed the new revisions of their certification program and other benefits of membership. Arrie gave again a session on Cold Calling he gave at this event last year, which was followed up by Linda giving how to set up OSHA training, after which Soap Warehouse gave a way a $50 product gift card and Ryan Fox of Outback GutterVac won that door prize. Ryan is on the right.

BretMattisonRyanFoxBretMattisonRyanFox

Next was Spill kits why you should have one and how to make one, ending with the hands on OSHA Spill kit training at the end of the day on how to put together your own DIY spill kit and actual spill kit practice inside in the hotels pool area simulating a small spill of a potassium hydroxide concrete cleaner.

MakingaspillkitSpillTraining

Spilltraining1

The event finish just before 4:00 allowing everyone to get on the road to try and be ahead of some of Atlanta's well known traffic. 

Tags: UAMCC, Soap Warehouse, event, OSHA, marketing, training, spill kit

Here in March we are having another local Atlanta UAMCC event.

Posted by Linda Chambers on Wed, Mar 04, 2015 @ 11:11 AM

Thursday March 19th is the date and the hotelbanner will be the location for our next UAMCC free event. (Free with ticket, see bottom of post on how to get yours)

At this location we will have a larger meeting room then our last event,Meetingroom1

for those that come and stay over, there is a special room rate for some very nice rooms,

spacousroom

 a very good free hot breakfast, Breakfast

and indoor pool. indoorpool For those that are local and just come for the day, coffee and danish will be available in the meeting room starting at 7:00 am during registration until we start the meeting at 8:00.

We plan this time to have more topics with shorter 30 minute siessions to keep things moving and keep everyone's attention. The 15 minutes after each presentation will be for Q&A for the speaker and for anyone that needs to, pop out to the restroom or to grab some more to drink or eat what is available. Lunch will be 45 minutes, provided by the sponsors on site.

Right now the topics to be covered are:

What is Inbound Marketing, Why you should use video to promote your business, which will include at the end our giving away a free 60 second, professionally made video, for the business of one of the attendees, a talk on Referral programs, a video and discussion on Occupational Health, an additional session on Marketing of which I have not been given the title as of yet. A talk from the one of the UAMCC staff about their benefits and their certification program. Why you should have a spill kit followed by a hands on spill kit OSHA training class that you can learn and take back with you to be able to use to train your own staff. We are also working on having a representative and one or two lifts from Sunbelt rental on site to either give a talk about their services and hopefully actual lift training at the end of the day.

Lunch right now is planned to be catered cold sandwiches, chips, fruit, soft drinks and cookies. But if we get enough people to register we might make it a hot catered sandwiches like BBQ instead. See schedule.

The Fairfield Inn and Suites is right off the I-85 North Interstate, just up from the Gwinnett Place Mall

Map

with restaurants of all types for dinner the night before and after the event. Bahama Breeze is just across the parking lot and has a full service bar and if enough attendees are staying over I would suggest we all meet over there Thursday night to continue networking and getting to know other fellow contractors.

   
7:00 - 7:30  Registration  
7:30 - 8:00  Coffee and Networking
8:00 - 8:15 Welcome and let's get started
8:15 - 8:45 session 1 Inbound marketing
8:45 - 9:00 Q&A and break  
9:00 - 9:30 session 2 Why videos 
9:30 - 9:45 Q&A and break Draw for winner of a free video
9:45 - 10:15 session 3 Marketing TBA
10:15 - 10:30 Q&A and break  
10:30 - 11:15 session 4 Referral programs
11:15 - 11:30 Q&A and break  
11:30- 12:00 session 5 Occupational Health 
12:00 - 12:15 Q&A and break  
12:15 - 1:00 Lunch Sandwiches, chips, fruit, soft drinks and cookies
1:00 - 1:30 session 6 TBA
1:30 - 1:45 Q&A and break  
1:45 - 2:15 session 7 Spill kits
2:15 - 2:30 Q&A and break  
2:30 - 3:00 session 8 OSHA hands on Spill kit training
3:00 - 3:15 Q&A and break  
3:30 Outdoor Lift training if possible.
     

If Sunbelt can not come we may add one extra session but the plan right now is to let the local folk be able to head out if they want by around 4-4:30 to get a jump on the Atlanta traffic. But we will have the room until 6 for those that want to stay and Network or even get a roundtable discussion going on about any topic of choice. Will also be a good time to continue speaking with any of the speakers or sponsors or if not yet a member join the UAMCC.

The sponsors for this event are Soap Warehouse and Iron Man Power Washers (equipment leasing)

  472pixels_soapwarehouse_finallogoRGB     cropped-0000ironmanlogo

To get your free ticket with a number to use in the registration call either Soap Warehouse 1-800-762-7911 or Iron Man Power Washer 1-855-662-8171.

To register for this event Go Here

To book a Hotel room call the hotel directly 1-678-924-1023 and mention UAMCC event.

Prices are $96 + tax for King or Queen and $120 + tax for Suites. This rate includes a hot breakfast.

I hope to see you there.

 

Tags: referral program, UAMCC, marketing, networking,, meeting, training

5 things to do during the Winter slow times.

Posted by Linda Chambers on Thu, Jan 09, 2014 @ 10:14 AM

Now for many this is the start of your slow time or winter break and you may think you have nothing much to do but sit around and wait for the temps to get warm again next Spring. Well you are sorely mistaken if you want to improve and even build your business throughout the Winter months. Here are some steps to make sure your New Year is a good year.

1. Do your budget for the New Year. See what you spent this past year. What was more than you expected? Less? Can you make changes next year that will gain you ROI? Stop doing things that are losing you money. If you can't stop them totally, then change them so they won't be the money pit to your budget they are now. As I mentioned in a previous post, now is the time to shop around for phone service, insurance, equipment for next year. Be sure to include a 5% increase from what you spent this year on every line item in your budget. This way even if the cost of a few things don't go up during the course of the year the ones that do can have funds moved from others without undo stress of looking for that money. It may not be perfect but it will help. 

2. Work on your collateral marketing materials, purchase new clients give-a-way items, update, improve or start a customer referral program. Did the items you handed out last year get you new customers? What worked and what didn't? Don't beat a dead horse and by another 1000 imprinted rulers if you did not earn back their cost. Try something new instead. Got an item like your business card magnets that got to a 600% return on their cost? Double your order for this year and hand out even more!! Good tried and true items for this are: Business card magnets, Note pads, Pens, Clips magnetic or other wise for papers or bags, calendars, and other useful household items like rubber disk lid openers.

 3. Up date your web site. Up load newer B&A photos from this years jobs you haven't had the time to get done. Potential customers may visit your site 3-5 times before deciding to call or fill out your on line form for an estimate. Seeing that you are working, adding new photos and gaining more testimonials may sway that person to go ahead and try you instead of someone else. Adding a blog and keeping content current gets you better SEO. If you do not have a testimonial page or area on your site yet, ADD ONE. nothing convinces a potential customer more than reading statements from satisfied customers. Add video to your site. Action segments do not have to be long and having a professionally produced video will look even better. We use a company called iMotionvideo.com. You can either buy single videos one at a time or like us join their video membership club and have a new video produced each month.

4. Update your customer contact list, e-mails and phone numbers. Check to see if any past customers did not use you this year and try to contact them to find out why. You can send out an email survey to all those contacts to see if they moved, didn't think they needed service this year, went with someone else due to price. Send out a E-mail message saying you missed them last year and hope they are doing well. Be sure to send all new customers a Thank You message, Newsletter or New Years savings offer to try and pre book as much work as possible now for Spring. Remember give added value offers not percentage off offers for best results. For example: Book your Spring house cleaning before Feb 1, 2013 and get a free gutter cleaning, or window washing or mail box cleaning. What ever you think is incentive enough for your customers to schedule now instead of waiting until Spring. Make sure you evaluate what worked or did not work last year and possibly increase your enticement. Update or improve on your customer referral package. Send out cards or e-mails offering free services, gift cards, etc for new contact information of friends and family. When these new contacts buy be sure to full fill your referral promises quickly to promote additional referrals coming in.

5. Plan now to network by attending local and National industry events in the coming year. If you go ahead and schedule them into your yearly calendar you can know how much business you will need to book before and after them to still make your monthly budget numbers. Many events local and National are heald in these first few months of the year to get the largest attendance possible. Also explore improving or expanding your business with new offerings by learning or becoming certified with new skills. Check out the industry organization web sites, forums, and on line industry magazines to find these opportunities. If you stop learning you stop growing as a person and a business.

I hope all of you get some much needed family time off this Winter season but also be sure to follow these suggestions and you will have plenty of business to keep you busy all this year.

Tags: marketing, business plan, referral program, budget planning, advertising

Free Advertising, How to get it?

Posted by Linda Chambers on Fri, Apr 19, 2013 @ 09:30 AM

Everyone loves something for free but as they say "Nothing is Free" realistically.

The same can be said for advertising. The only true free advertising is "Word of Mouth" but even then you as a business person did something that cost you money to earn that free recommendation "Who shared it with their friends".wordofmouth resized 600

But here are some ways for just a little effort of your time you can and should get as much FREE advertising as possible.

First and foremost use every no cost on line asset you can find. This will include all business phone directories that are out there. "Yellow Pages" at yellowpagecity.com or Superpages.com are some of the largest but there are many others as well; Whitepages.com, Yelp.com, Kudzu.com, dexknows, Tupalo.com, Hotfrog.com, mojopages.com, linktown.azfamily.com, 411.info, switchboard.com. Local city and business groups have listing, here we have atlanta.citysearch.com, locallife.com, local.com, citysquares.com, showmelocal.com, company.com, ziplocal.com, directorycentral.com, justdial.com, 2findlocal.com, insiderspages.com, tree.com, go.hubbiz.com, getfave.com and I am sure even more. Even local newspapers and magazines can have on line listings, here we have local.post-gazette.com and radarfrog.gatehousemedia.com to name just a few.

To find the directories being used in your area first look up your competition and see where they pop up, then be sure to register your business there too. If you can get in some they have not heard of yet all the better. I have a local customer that doesn't even have his own web site yet he can be found in over 25 directories when you type in "pressure washing Monroe GA". Then if you end up putting in his business name and search he covers over three whole "Google" search pages. And make sure to do searches in more than one search engine. Try Bing.com and Yahoo.com as well.

Then there are all the business contact sites you can list your business in like Merchantcircle.com, Foursquare.com, Manta.com, Linkedin.com, Stik.com. Some that you may pay for like the BBB.org or must be added by customers only like Angislist.com.

Make sure you update and check your listings at least a few times a year. Keep an excel spreadsheet of all the sites addresses to your listing and with any sign in or listed features you can use on that site. For example some let you list coupons or have blog entries. You must know which have what and post on a calendar or a to do list of when to go back to each one to make changes or additions.

Next post I will talk about another free way to advertise; to create and plubish news releases about your business and what you do.

Since all of these cost you noting but your time they will be about as free as you will every find for ways to expand and improve your business.

Tags: marketing, Business, advertise, free advertising, advertising, business directory

Profit is all in the follow up.

Posted by Linda Chambers on Mon, Jan 21, 2013 @ 01:56 PM

I have spoken in the past about customer service, referral programs, attending networking events and getting commercial jobs, but the one thing they all have in common to bring your business success is in learning how to do the follow up.

customerservice resized 600

The hardest thing after the initial terror of first contact is in the follow up, but that is where your business can be made or lost, right there.

Not every person that starts a pressure washing business or any business for that matter is a natural born sales person. Most would just like to be called, asked to do a job and then just go out and do it. But the calls are not just going to magically come in, most job opportunities must be created and nurtured by you, the business owner for them to happen.

It is always surprising that business owners go to the trouble to attend an event, exhibit at a trade show, send out a marketing piece that yields them business cards, filled out contacts or questionnaires and then they do nothing or little with them.

In too short of time these contacts will be lost or tucked away to never be used to generate the business they were intended to and why? Because these owners failed in the follow up. Follow up does not have to be scary, complicated or difficult. It only takes a simple call or short contact first as a refresher to start you on the road to more jobs and profit.

As soon as possible after you get the contact make your first follow up. Best if it in within the first 24 hours. It can be very brief and doesn't even have to ask for a job commitment. A simple "It was nice to meet you." Even if left as a phone message or in an e-mail, along with a promise to get with them soon about their shown interest in your business. Here is a great time to mention exactly what was discussed to help bring your contact back upm in their mind. Then once the promise is made, that becomes your next opportunity for follow up.

Remember the person you met also met many other people and businesses at that same time and just this short reconnect will bring you back up into focus in their mind and put you ahead of others when you do make your next contact. It takes 3-4 times of contact before most people will consider using you, even if they are interested in both your service and business in particular.

Next contact should be made giving the specifics about what you discussed with this potential new customer as promised. Here you can spell out the benefits of your service, who else you have worked for, and the positive results (the same ones this person is after), along with the cost. You do not have to start out with a special offer, unless one was promised or discussed at the first meeting. You may be successful right away with the customer paying full price for your service, so do not offer any deal until later if needed. Why give money away for no reason.

Once you have given them the information do not ask for the job, allow them to feel in control and let them have some time to go over the information you have given them. But you should not give them long or leave it open, you need to set up when and how the next follow up will happen. Will it be with you calling them again in the next two days? With you sending them an e-mail after the weekend? Try to make the next action still under your control. If they insist on being the one to contact you back, go ahead and agree but state that if you do not hear from them by a certain time, such as the next 7-10 days, that you will be contacting them again for the follow up. Statistics show that as many as 80% of new business is lost due to the lack of follow up by the potential customer.

The next contact is when you should ask for the business that was discussed that you provided the information on. It should be some thing like "Mr. Hall, are your ready to book the "service" we discussed on "date"?" If they say no try to find out what is the reason for their delay? Time isn't right, cost is too much, scope of work not exactly what they need right now. This is the time where you answer questions, make suggestions and if necessary make a special offer if cost is a factor, or offer a free service to go with the planed on, like cleaning the sidewalk or stairs with the house wash.  Even with a special offer put a short limited time for this opportunity to happen. You do not want someone to come back months later when you are busy and other customers are paying you full price asking for you to take the time to do a discounted amount of work. Tell them you can do this job this week because an opening has come up for this price but if they wait until a weekend or later in the month they will have to pay full price, reminding them that they do not have to be home for you to work.

Follow up is not just for new customers it is also important with your current customer base. Statistics show that as much as 60% of client loss is simply due to losing touch. The customer can't find your number, remember your business name to look you up from last year or they saw a competitors ad when ready for service again and doesn't want to take the time to contact you about matching it. It is ideal to try to touch your clients at least once every three months during the year, or in the 30 days just before the service they bought before would be coming up to be performed, such as Spring cleaning, Summer deck or pool deck cleaning, Fall gutter and roof cleaning. At least twice a year is the minimum you should try to make contact. Money is in the "Follow Up".

While follow up takes discipline, it is not hard and does not have to be frightening. Spending a little time putting together some simple keep in touch marketing campaigns by mail or e-mail, to foster your business relationships, with both prospects and clients will more than pay for themselves. Good luck with your follow ups.

Tags: marketing, business plan, customer service, Trade Show, referral program, follow up

Building Success in Twenty Minutes a Day.

Posted by Trey Miller on Wed, Jan 02, 2013 @ 12:02 PM

Now twenty minutes a day does not sound like much and I am sure you hear advertising claims every day asking you to spend just 20 minutes a day to achieve some goal like; weight loss, firmer abs, more money, etc. Well in a way I too will be promising you more money, because it has been proven that if a small business spends over 15 minutes each day on marketing they will increase their revenue significantly, more than if they even focused this same amount of time in one lump, such as 90 minutes a week. The key is consistency and receptiveness.

First by spending time each day you will create a habit to take this small amount of time out of your day. Second if you are marketing more frequently the chances will increase dramatical that a likely consumer will try your business due to this fact.

Now if you think you can't very well do much in just 20 minutes, here are some ideas of what you can accomplish in this short amount of time.

Order new or additional business cards. Business cards are one of the least expensive, with the largest chance of ROI, of almost ANY marketing item. For the new year think about making a slight change to a card to help track the effectiveness of your card campaigns. For instance, have a card with a slightly different order of information, orientation, size or color imprint of your phone or web site address just for cards you give to current customers for referrals. Make a card with a different tag line you only give to Building Management or Realtors or plan to hand out at a show or event. Cards can be ordered very cheaply from places like Vistaprint.com so that you could have 4-5 different ones available to hand out at any time. Just be sure to keep the feel of the cards and your logo the same so that no customer is ever confused as to who you are and whom they are contacting.

Open a separate Facebook page for your business, away from your personal one. It takes very little time and is a newer option that will make you look more professional and make it easier to gain, interact and relate to your customers.

Even if you do not text, like I don't, open a Twitter account for your business. It takes just a few minutes to link it to your Facebook business account so that when you post on one it also appears on the other. You can also link posts to LinkedIn.

Have a LinkedIn account if you do a lot of B2B business. Since this is more of a business vs. only a personal social media, you will gain better business contacts and SEO with it with these types of customers.

Post often to your Facebook business page or Twitter. With help from programs like TweetDeck, you can spend the 20 minutes scheduling a week or more of posts at just one sitting and then do other things for your 20 minutes on the other days.

Make a blog post some where at least once a week. If you do not have a blog area on your own web site you should really think about making one, but if not you can still blog. Use the blog feature found at many of the industry on line forums, on LinkedIn and other web sites. As long as you are consistent with your tags and links back to your own site or Facebook business page this type of organic SEO will help and build over time.

Become a member, look for and answer consumer questions at web sites like Yahoo answers at http://answers.yahoo.com/ or www.ask.com/. You can look in the categories you want to be associated with to find questions you want to answer. Once you start answering and get likes to your answers you will build an on site reputation and can even have questions e-mailed to you to be answered. Being helpful with out looking for gain can bring you customers from your area.

Search for and buy a new or reliable give-a-way marketing item. There are some great sites out there that you can subscribe to for sales, product alerts and ideas for items. We use 4imprint.com a lot.

Send out a newsletter. It doesn't have to be long. Just make sure you are giving your customers some free tips, home help or advise, no sales pitch needs to be included. Mention up coming events you will be attending, like a home show, link to interesting sites your customers may enjoy, mention a certification class you took or industry event you attended. Once your open rates are up then the occasial sales offer will more likely be opened and acted on.

Send out a targeted e-mail for a specific reason or campaign. With a well segmented customer e-mail list, sending short targeted e-mails with messages or offers will take little time but can generate huge benefits. Once a month send all your customer's birthday message, customer anniversaries, off season offers etc.

If you do not already have a well segmented list, spend your 20 minutes at least once a week making some using the resources you have available, Quickbooks, Salesforce or other CMR software.

I hope you start spending your 20 minutes a day working on marketing for a profitable New Year.

Tags: Business, marketing, business cards, business plan, Newsletter, advertise, referral, e-mail

Happy Holidays from Soap Warehouse

Posted by Trey Miller on Mon, Dec 17, 2012 @ 02:07 PM

Happy Holidays to you all. Hope you all had a profitable year and we look forward to working with you in the New Year. 

Now for many this is the start of your slow time or winter break and you may think you have nothing much to do but sit around and wait for the temps to get warm again next Spring. Well you are sorely mistaken if you want to improve and even build your business through out the Winter months. Here are some steps to make sure your New Year is a good year.

1. Do your budget for the New Year. See what you spent this past year. What was more than you expected? Less? Can you make changes next year that will gain you ROI? Stop doing things that are losing you money. If you can't stop them totally, then change them so they won't be the money pit to your budget they are now. As I mentioned in a previous post, now is the time to shop around for phone service, insurance, equipment for next year. Be sure to include a 5% increase from what you spent this year on every line item in your budget. This way even if the cost of a few things don't go up during the course of the year the ones that do can have funds moved from others without undo stress of looking for that money. It may not be perfect but it will help. 

2. Work on your collateral marketing materials, purchase new clients give-a-way items, update, improve or start a customer referral program. Did the items you handed out last year get you new customers? What worked and what didn't? Don't beat a dead horse and by another 1000 imprinted rulers if you did not earn back their cost. Try something new instead. Got an item like your business card magnets that got to a 600% return on their cost? Double your order for this year and hand out even more!! Good tried and true items for this are: Business card magnets, Note pads, Pens, Clips magnetic or other wise for papers or bags, calendars, and other useful household items like rubber disk lid openers.

 3. Up date your web site. Up load newer B&A photos from this years jobs you haven't had the time to get done. Potential customers may visit your site 3-5 times before deciding to call or fill out your on line form for an estimate. Seeing that you are working, adding new photos and gaining more testimonials may sway that person to go ahead and try you instead of someone else. Adding a blog and keeping content current gets you better SEO. If you do not have a testimonial page or area on your site yet, ADD ONE. nothing convinces a potential customer more than reading statements from satisfied customers. Add video to your site. Action segments do not have to be long and having a professionally produced video will look even better. We use a company called iMotionvideo.com. You can either buy single videos one at a time or like us join their video membership club and have a new video produced each month.

4. Update your customer contact list, e-mails and phone numbers. Check to see if any past customers did not use you this year and try to contact them to find out why. You can send out an email survey to all those contacts to see if they moved, didn't think they needed service this year, went with someone else do to price. Send out a Holiday Greetings E-mail message saying you missed them this year and hope they are doing well. Be sure to send all new customers a Thank you holiday message or New Years savings offer to try and pre book as much work as possible now for Spring. Remember give added value offers not percentage off offers for best results. For example: Book your Spring house cleaning before Feb 1, 2013 and get a free gutter cleaning, or window washing or mail box cleaning. What ever you think is incentive enough for your customers to schedule now instead of waiting until Spring. Make sure you evaluate what worked or did not work last year and possibly increase your enticement. Update or improve on your customer referral package. Send out cards or e-mails offering free services, gift cards, etc for new contact information of friends and family. When these new contacts buy be sure to full fill your referral promises quickly to promote additional referrals coming in.

5. Plan now to network by attending local and National industry events in the coming year. If you go ahead and schedule them into your yearly calendar you can know how much business you will need to book before and after them to still make your monthly budget numbers. Also explore improving or expanding your business with new offerings by learning or becoming certified with new skills. Check out the industry organization web sites, forums, and on line industry magazines to find these opportunities. Many are available during these slower Winter months. If you stop learning you stop growing as a person and a business.

I hope all of you get some much needed family time off this Winter season but also be sure to follow these suggestions and you will have plenty of business to keep you busy all next year.

Tags: Business, marketing, network, business plan, referral program, testimonials, analysis, calendar, budget planning, web site

How to use Pinterest for your business.

Posted by Linda Chambers on Fri, Aug 31, 2012 @ 10:49 AM

There are many articles, webinars and e-book kits out right now on how to use Pinterest to market and sell, but most are not for service business owners like pressure washers, they are for the retail business owners. In other words how to interest people in buying a product not a service.

So I will go over some basic information and tips on how you can use this fastest moving new social media to your benefit.

10 basic things to know about Pinterest and how it works.

1. You must be invited by a current Pinterest member to start a page. So if you do not already know someone you can't just go and start a page because you want to. So I am offering any Soap Warehouse patron a free in. Just call me with your e-mail and I will send you an invite, that simple, 1-800-762-7911. But for most of you just ask your wife she is probably already on it. Over 80% of Pinterest users are women, but don't let that bother you since women are the most likely the person who will call for pressure washing or at least put their husband up to calling.

2. Create your page in your business name, not your name. This separates you automatically to the viewer or visitor as a business and not just some guy that does this type of work on the side. For instance as of this printing there are only 5 "People" that have the words "Roof Cleaning" as part of their name. But only be that specific if one line of work is all you do. If not make separate boards for each type of work instead. And congratulations to AccuWash for being one of these five.

3. Once you post a new board it will be the first board seen on your page. Right now there is NO way to change this, so pre planning is key to how your page will be seen by new viewers. You can take the time to move an entire board back to the first position but it would take alot of work. You can not just repin a whole board like you can a single pin (discribed later). You will have to make a new board first and it can not have the same name as a board you already have. So if you want to use that same name you first have to go and change the currents boards name and then create the new board with the name you want.

4. You can change the titles of the boards that come standard with Pinterest and you many want to change all or at least some of them before you start adding new ones. Most computer screens will see the first 10 boards you post so best if you can keep everything you want to show case under or equal to that number. Or at least your business boards under that number. Have some fun boards also above the fold to hold and bring those new people to your listing. If all they see is boring business items they may click right back off you.

5. Once you pin to a board it also will keep shifting back or down as new items are added and there is nothing you can do about that either, other than repining, which I will discuss later on. And be sure once you have pinned something to open it back up by using the edit button and adding a link. This way you can direct people to where you found this item, to a page on your web site or to a landing page with a special offer or opportunity. Links can be vital.

6. As you pin to your boards it is also being pinned to the general main Pinterest page showing the most recent activity. So posting frequently keeps you in front of new people every time you post, who can then subscribe to one or more of your boards. Fun posts will draw them in and only having good content will keep them or have them follow one or all of your boards.

7. Make the most of the description section to exactly match what you are showing. That way the search will work the best for you.  For example if you list pressure washing or power washing in your description and then do a search for that you will get results with all the words, pressure and washing, which will give someone looking also a lot of laundry washing items as well. Adding more descriptions will shorten the list but may not help if the searcher does not think to use it. For example 'Roof cleaning' gives a good number of results. Switching it to 'cleaning roof' gives you the same results, Pinterest does not care what order they appear in the description just that the words do appear unless quotes are placed around them "Cleaning roof" then will only give one result while "roof cleaning" gives you back all those others. Add the word "pressure" and it will help by making more of the results of where you want to be. Also add the word "No" and it drops the number down to just a handful.

8. Make boards not just pins using key words. I could not believe that no one right now has a board named "Roof Cleaning" but AccuWash. The more interesting you make the pin post names the more likely it will be looked at. But don't be like Wnc Roof Cleaning, that is the name of their page but NONE of the 30 boards on that page have anything to do with the business. They are all fun boards. What a wasted opportuinty. The page has had some acitvity but no where can these visitors see who and what Wnc Roof Cleaning is!

9. Make Fun boards only about things you really care about and like, things that you think prospective customers care about and like as well. Do you have a passion for certain food, sport, activity. Or just make a board with a broad topic, places I have been, want to see, Bucket list items. These are the boards that will get people looking, liking and following you. Then maybe a few of them are in your area and will try your services. You can not expect to have all business boards and generate any type of traffic. And you want to only show things you really are interested in. Having a board on nails (the ones on your fingers) would not be a good choice but one on 30 minute or less meals or on grilling out could be.

10. Now I will mention the moving or repinning an item from low down on a board to place it back at the top. You will have to go first to the board the pin is now. Click to edit the board, then click to edit the pin you want to move. You can now repin this pin to the top of that board or add it to any other board. But if you do not want two of the same thing on one board you will then have to delete that pin that will still be in the lower position. This is also an easy way to run a promotion. Just change the offer and repin the photo and new offer to the top of the board you want. You might have a board just for Specials that can be always be first on your page.

I am not saying that Pinterest will bring you a ton of new business like a local Facebook or Google ad can from people who never knew you. But I am saying that having a Pinterest page will make you look like a more rounded and real person that others will want to do business with. And once you are a member of Pinterest, be sure to connect to as many of your current customers as possible. This way you can always be around them and noticed when they are on the site so they can easily think of you and refer you to their friends. And that is the best way to earn new business and it will almost be for free.

Tags: marketing, Social Media, referral, Pineterest

How to monitor your Social Media Footprint in 10 minutes a day.

Posted by Linda Chambers on Wed, Sep 07, 2011 @ 12:53 PM

This is for everyone that says "they do not have the time" to put into Social Media to have it work for them. Now granted this 10 minutes is only after you have done the initial set up work and yes that does take a little time, but you can spend 10-15 minutes once a day for a first week or two to be set up to follow all these short steps. I will give you the list then show you where to go to set each one up.

2 minutes: Check Twitter to listen about your company and products.
1.5 minutes: Scan Google Alerts for your company name, products or executives names.
1 minutes: Check Facebook stats at your Companies Page
3 minutes: Look for questions and answer at least one a day
2.5 minutes: Use Google Reeder to check other sites like Flicker, Digg and others.

Total 10 minutes a day.

Now the longer you spend at some, like with Q&A's, that will be to your advantage. You may have days where you find more than one or two questions that would be good for you to answer so realistically you may spend 20-30 minutes on these five items on some days. Or you may only do 4 for the 5 like I do most of the time.

1. Checking Twitter. Well first you have to have a Twitter account. And that is easy and free by going to www.twitter.com. Once you are set up you can then use one of two tools; TweetDeck or Twitter Search.

For TweetDeck you must go to their web site www.tweekdeck.com and sign up, it's free and then set up your scan board. I like this because once it is turned on at the beginning of the day every time a new item is posted to any of the categories you have it set to show, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter etc. the posts will flash up in the top right corner of your screen and ping you. If you are at your computer you can glance up to see if it is a post you would like to comment on. Remember sites like Facebook are about relationships not selling so just making comments keeps you relevant to your FB friends.

Now Twitter Search is much easier and you can use it as much or as little as you want each day. Just go to the Home Page and up in the search bar put in your companies name. Be sure to place quotation marks around it or you will get posts that contain all the words themselves not just in the order of your business name. For example Joe's Pressure Washing will return "Joe's" "pressure" "washing" and "pressure washing" instead of the "Joe's Pressure Washing" that you want. Or you can go to the advanced search and enter it there before saving. You might also want to chose some that are close, that your customers might enter instead and incorrectly, like "Joe's Power Washing" "Joe's Power Wash" and remember capitalization does not matter. You can also list product names if your business has them, like ours does. After each search you can click at the top on the "Save this Search" button if you where happy with the results. Once it is saved when you come back each day. Look just above the posts and click on the "Searches" tab. A scrolled down menu will appear with all the searches you have saved.  Click on which ever one you want to check at that time. You can also keep up to date with temporary items and delete them once they are over.

2. Scan Google Alerts. This is very similar to the Twitter searches we just discussed.  You go to www.google.com/alerts to set them up. You list what you want to know about that is coming out on the web and then set it as to how often to send the results to your email account. I have it set for as it happens but I have over 10 alerts, and I might check it a few times during the day. You may only have a few you will need to set for, so once a day or even once a week may be fine. But remember the longer you wait the longer your response time will be to react to anything negative. You will need to have your business name as well as your own name. For those I would set it for all results. But for topics you might want to set it for Only the best results like I do for "restaurant fire", "power washing", "pressure washing", "graffiti removal" and again do not forget the quote marks. You can also set it for whole phrases as well like "fleet truck washing". You can also use a special email account just for these alerts so you do not clutter up your regular account or have your email filters set so that any email coming from Google Alerts goes into a separate folder so it is easy to open and scan them. This is what I do. I also have alerts set for topic phrases to gather information for my blogs.

3. Check Facebook Stats. Go to your company page on Facebook. On the top right hand under the bar, click on the Edit page button, when this comes up on the left side there is a list and near the bottom of the list is a bar graph called Insights. This will give you a lot of valuable information about who is coming and using your site. It can tell you how many daily, weekly and monthly users are using your site. It also shows what posts got interactions. Enabling you to go back to the post and continue the conversation.

4. Search for questions to answer. You need to put your self out there as an authority in your business or just to interact. For this you can use sites like Ask.com at http://www.ask.com/answers/ and click on the Ask People tab, at Facebook Questions http://www.facebook.com/questions/ see what your friends are asking and answer or ask your own question with poll options. With Yahoo answers you can get out into the www audience not just the people you know and this can bring even more people to you. This is the one I use the most. Go to http://answers.yahoo.com/ and set your account up. and then to browse categories. Most of you will find questions to answer in the Home and Garden section. Found one asking about paint colors, if bleach hurts vinyl siding, what size pressure washer to buy to start up in the business and how much should an average pressure washing job cost. All these and more would have been great for many of you to answer. You make your comments and then you are able to link to web pages to back up your answers. You can link to your own website but do not use it all the time or as the sole link. Anyone can click on your avatar with the answer and find your information that you set up when you joined and this is where you need to list your web site and company information. Also if you have good answers, the person that asked the questions chooses the best answer, then you get a better ranking and more people will listen to what you have to say. You can also create a network and gain fans.

5. Google Reader found at https://www.google.com/reader/ this is good if you already have a Google e-mail account or want to get one just to have your Google alerts sent to it and to use the reader. You can link your web site , your competitors sites, Youtube, Flicker any site you want to visit to check on what is new.

Tags: marketing, Business, business plan, Social Media

How to use QuickBooks for customer marketing.

Posted by Linda Chambers on Wed, Jun 01, 2011 @ 04:00 PM

One of my Facebook group members asked a question that made me think that the answer should be a blog post.

He wanted to know if most pressure washing professionals are using QuickBooks (QB) for their book keeping. Well QB is the #1 seller for a reason. But we use QB for so much more and since I have friends that work with Intuit in QB design and debugging, I have learned how QB can also help small business owners with their marketing.

And since June is National Entrepreneur Do-it-Yourself Marketing Month this would be a great time to show everyone some tricks and hand out tips.

First if you are not using QB you should really consider it. And if you are not fully using the report features, you are missing out on a major portion of what QB can do for you.

Did you know you can use features in QB to segment your customers in to specific groups to use later for marketing?

Go to your QB and pull up the Customer Center. Once there click on any customer you want. There you will see just under the Customer name a field called “Customer Type” This was designed to be used to indicate almost anything about your customer taht you want, but it can be used for marketing by creating reports. It has been reported in surveys to QB that over 60% of QB users do not use the "customer type" function which is a terrible waste. To get to this field click on the “Edit Customer” button, top right. Once there click on the “Additional Information” tab. Now you can access the drop down menu and use the “Add New” feature. I would suggest using this to segment your customers buy type of work you do. For example if you do only a limited type of work like only house or window washing you might want to list the types but Square foot size ranges or type of house or building. Ex: Under 1000, 1500-2000, Two story, split level, ranch, strip mall etc.
 
But most of you have a range of work you perform like house wash, roof wash, and flat work (such as driveways or side walks). Then your list could look like this: House wash <1000sq, House wash/gutters, Gutter clean only, deck wash only, deck wash/strip & stain, etc. I have not found a limit to the number that you can use and no # is given in QB help.

Some might want to use the “Job Type” under the “Job” tab in this way instead which would also be fine, but if you have already been using QB for a while and have never used the Job function it is not possible to go back and convert past invoices so this may not be where you want to segment. But you can use it moving forward as a great tool to separate invoices for the different jobs you do for customers. But you must be consistent in naming your types of jobs to make reporting easier later. But with the “Customer Type” area you can go back and modify all or as many customer records as you would like.

Once you are using the “Type” area you can create reports that give you details to make e-mail or direct mail campaigns work.

You can also use Custom fields to help you even further. For instance you could set one of these fields to be called “last date of service” then every time you have finished invoicing a customer you go here and enter in the date the job was completed. Later when you need to find customers to fill your schedule in a specific location or area you could create a custom report asking it to give you all house wash only, house/gutter and house wash/roof cleaning customers that you have not serviced yet this year to be listed. This list could further be sorted by adding other criteria like city or zip code and then be exported to an excel file where an e-mail list is made to send out a targeted e-mail offer, for example saying that you will be in that area next week and that you have three slots open and if they call and book an appointment by Friday they will get a free gutter cleaning (Or any other added service benefit you may want to offer)

Using the date of service you can also make your lists for thank you cards for the past month, find customers that have missed their normal yearly cleaning time or even for sending out customer Birthday cards if you have made a field for that.

Other things to look for when researching customer files: Review their invoices. Are they a once a year house washing customer that you have been washing for the last 5 years? You could send out a customer appreciation or referral offer. Is there a pattern of when they call or schedule their service with you? If you are slow in June you could possibly pre sell past July customers early with a phone call or an offer. Have you ever done any extra side work during one of these visits but not every time or have you ever noted there was other work available at this home that you have not done or that some one else is doing? Send them an offer like; “With any house wash every 100 square feet of flat work cleaned, you get 10 feet free.” to help get work you have not had in the past but know is available.

Make use of the notes section! Take notes on the job in a note book or on the quote form and transfer these notes into QB for a future gold mine of marketing information. Like “Customer just put in a pool, add quote for pool deck next year.”

In the newest QB version 11 they have a great new feature that allows you to attach additional documents to the file as a whole or to each invoice, estimate or sales order. You can use this feature to attach photos of the job, either at the time of the job quote, or B & A photos of the job after you are done. Then next time you can pull up what the property looked like to remind you of certain things you may have forgot to include in your costs or to notice changes when you visit that have been made since that last job that might change the price. Such as added planter boxes to the deck railings. You can also use this to attach copies of supply lists or invoices so you can remember how many cans of stain, the exact color and price you paid last time. This way you can find out the current pricing for these items ahead of time and adjust your billing or estimate accordingly. You can go back and attach new documents to old invoices with out a problem so even if you have supply lists, invoices and photos 10 years old you can still add them now to your current customer records. Once you have made and attached the copies, you may be able to get rid of the old paper work altogether. Clutter saving alert!

If you have different crews or employees doing work for you be sure to use the “Rep” drop down menu for this. This can help you track who did the quote? How many hours some one worked or the number of jobs done when paying your employees or if a customer has a praise or complaint you can easily tell who was last at that job. Or if a customer asks for the same tech you will know who to schedule. Even if changed to a new Rep at the next job visit or quote, the older invoice will still retain the past information. Great feature to use.

Now one feature I wish they would change is in the wording of the drop down menu in the “Job Info” tab. Right now it lists: None, Pending, Awarded, In Progress, Closed, and Not Awarded. I would like this to also allow you to add to these ones like: Quoted, Scheduled, Do Not Accept Job, etc.

But even leaving it this way you could still do a search for all pending sales orders to find customers that you quoted for a job (pending) that never called you back, to allow you to make a call or mailing list for follow up contact. You can also get pretty long with your job description with about 100 characters. The “Job Type” names must be shorter, at about 20 characters and this is where you can segment your customers by the work done, if you did not want to use the first location I discussed earlier "Customer Type".

Another really cool new feature in QB 11 is the map and directions feature. Not sure if a booked customer lives near one that is calling to schedule? Just click on the word “map” in blue under the customers address and the location will come up in Google Maps. It can also give you directions between addresses. It also gives you a space to enter notes if you have to remember things like “Gate will be locked, combo is 5-23-16 and must close gate behind or dogs will get out.” But this only works for the main address for the customer, so if you have a commercial customer with one mailing address and multiple locations knowing where their post office box or corporate office is may not be as helpful.

There are so many ways you can use the custom fields for marketing there is no way to list them all and I am sure you might think of ways I have not heard of yet. Only realize that in the older versions there are only 7 slots that can be used for custom field entry and once they have been made and used they can not be changed unless you make one inactive. Once you make it inactive it will not be searchable. The newer QB11 and maybe even QB10 will let you have more than 7. This has allowed us to add things like Facebook Friend and Newsletter subscriber as custom fields to our current customer accounts.

Well I hope this has helped you QB users and any that may be trying to decide if QB is a smart investment. But no matter what computer book keeping system you use, be sure to continuously make back up copies. We back up our QB files to readable/writable disks each week and once a month run a complete drive copy of our data to alternating portable hard drives. This way we can never lose more than a single week of QB data or a whole month of most of our other data to fire or theft. Another way is to pay for off site down loading, which is becoming very convenient and more affordable than ever before.

Tags: Business, marketing, QuickBooks

Sign up for Newsletter by Email

Latest Posts

Posts by category