There aren’t actually a lot of contractor websites out there. Over half of normal businesses don’t have websites, and in the contractor arena I’d estimate that the numbers are a lot higher. I believe only about 25% of contractors have websites, just based on some searches that I’ve done. Later I’ll run a more precise case study, but for now I want you to realize that you can get a competitive edge by having any kind of website.
Now I want you to consider the kind of competitive edge you could have if your website actually delivers the things that customers really want to see on contractor websites. Ready to find out what that is? Awesome, cause here’s a great big list.
1. Information on How Much Your Services REALLY Cost
I know you can’t give a precise price without an estimate, but your customers would love to have some kind of idea. Price fear is a major reason why you’re not getting the call.
At least give your customers a price range, and some sort of idea on what your prices are based upon. This helps you too. If your minimum prices start somewhere around $5000 for a 1200 square foot home, for example, then you won’t waste your time handing out estimates to lowballers who are trying to get away with paying $2000…or less.
Worried the strategy won’t work? Don’t be. Copyblogger featured a pool contractor who used this very strategy and got awesome results from it.
You can explain your prices without selling on price. You never have to say “We offer the lowest prices in the industry” or anything like that. A simple “How Much Will I Pay?” answer on a FAQ will do nicely. You can add a disclaimer that every job is different at that time.
2. Photos of Your Work
Customers want to know that their home is going to look awesome when you’re finished with it. Photos are one of the easiest ways to convey this.
Before, during, and after photos achieve several things. They give customers a chance to picture themselves with their finished kitchen or brand new fence.
They also eliminate customer fears that you’re going to come in, trash their house, do shoddy work and stick them with a big fat bill for the privilege. I know you would never do that, but you already know that customers have heard many horror stories about contractors. So put their mind at ease and take great photos the next time you’re out on a job.
3. Proof That You Know What You’re Talking About
Blogs aren’t just places to park keywords. They offer positive proof that you know what you’re talking about.
They give you a chance to speak directly to the customer. You can blog about anything even remotely related to your services.
And again, it helps you. Just think how many times you answer the same 30 customer questions over and over again. Well, those 30 questions are begging to be turned into 30 blog posts. Voila. Now you can spend less time answering those questions and more time doing great work.
4. A Clear Explanation of What Makes You Different
Why do people shop around on the Internet in the first place? They want to understand what their choices are.
If your website doesn’t explain why you are different then they’ll move on. Why should they hire you over any other contractor out there?
You can do this through the words on your website, through a video, or whatever, but make sure it gets done.
5. Information on How You Treat Your Customers
Customers need to know that you care about them and that you’ll treat them well. Reviews and testimonials are a perfect way to do this.
A review with nothing more than a name is the least effective. A review with a photograph is somewhat more effective. A video testimonial is the most effective of all.
You’ll have to decide where to invest your money and energy of course, but if you get reviews, thank you notes, or testimonials that aren’t already posted on other sites like Yelp then you’ll want to showcase them.
If you don’t want to duplicate your efforts you can use a Word Press plug-in to display reviews from Yelp so that you get good review mileage from both your own website and your Yelp page. I haven’t found a similar plug-in for Google+ Local reviews, but I’ll keep an eye out.
6. An Easy Way to Contact You
Guess what? Your customer may not find you during your normal business hours.
The customer may be browsing your website at 11:20 pm. But he or she might want to get the business of scheduling an estimate out of the way.
Make sure you have a good contact form ready and waiting for the customer to use. You call them back--preferably the moment you get into the office the next morning.
7. An Emotional Connection
I touched on it when I talked about the pictures, but let’s talk about it again. Customers need to make an emotional connection with you, your business, and, most especially, what you can and will do for them.
Darren Slaughter covers this in a nice vlog post: Who Else Wants To Know How To Close More Estimates?
While I don’t agree with his assessment that you don’t need sales skills or closing skills (as a former sales rep myself I can’t help but think that meeting objections, asking for the sale, and good presentation skills are just vital no matter what) I do agree that you need to paint a great picture. And you need to do it before you’re in front of the customer.
You can do this with vivid imagery. “Picture this: in just a few short months the snow is coming down hard outside. You’re sitting in front of the fire, all toasty and warm. Then, you let out a yelp as an icy droplet of water slaps the back of your neck. You look up. Your roof is leaking! Don’t you wish you’d called ABC Roofing Company, Inc., to put a brand new, long-lasting, durable metal roof on your home instead?”
Your picture can be one that evokes discomfort (as in the example above), comfort, pride, pleasure–anything that helps the homeowner really see, feel, and even, briefly, experience the benefits of using your services. Once the customer has that brief experience in his or her head he or she will want it in reality, putting you that much closer to getting that vital phone call.
8. A Website They Can Read on their Mobile Phones
I realized today that I haven’t beat the mobile drum too hard, ever, on this blog. Truth is, mobile is the future. More people access the internet through their mobile phones than through their computers.
I haven’t beat it too hard because it’s such a no-brainer to me: you need to make sure that your web designer has put together a mobile-friendly site. If you’re doing it yourself then use a mobile-friendly theme (and since you should never use a free WordPress theme to represent your business that means your theme designer needs to make the theme mobile).
If your site is mobile-friendly and all the competitor sites aren’t you’ll also get a big boost in SEO if the customer searches you on a mobile phone. Google Mobile gives mobile-friendly sites priority.
9. A Pleasant Experience
This should also go without saying, but there are a number of websites out there which are missing the boat. What do I mean by a pleasant experience?
Your website should be free of any annoying auto-play background music (some people still do this), of any videos that you can’t pause or turn off (yes this happens–don’t auto-play anything, please), of loud, crazy colors or of anything that makes the site load up in a slow, buggy way.
All of those things contribute to “bounce,” which is how quickly a user says, “No freaking thanks” and leaves your website without reading a word. Bounce doesn’t just lose Google rankings (it does) but it loses customers as well. If people find your website a pain to use they won’t ever be convinced to use you and your services.
10. A Chance to Get to Know You and Your Team
If your customers never see anything other than your logo you are missing out on a huge opportunity to build trust. People do business with people, not with logos.
You can put up pictures of the team or short videos which simply introduce you guys and tell the customer a little bit about what they can expect when you come to their door. Do whichever you have the time or the budget to do.
11. A Chance to Learn Cool Stuff
A lot of the people who visit your website will be in the “research” phase of the buying process, so indulge them. Go ahead and teach them something.
Again, this is another reason why your blog is so important. Many people are searching for information before they’re searching for services.
Now, what happens when you provide cool information and an entertaining experience to people? Well, you’ll draw traffic from people who aren’t ready to buy…yet. Someday they will be ready to buy, and you’ll already have their loyalty because you gave away such awesome information for free.
12. Reassurance that You’re Part of Their Community
There’s a lot of emphasis on doing business with local providers these days. More and more people understand that local businesses contribute to their economy and make life better for everyone.
Feature community events and people on your blog to tap into this trend. Besides, doing this offers another benefit. You become more than just another contractor. You become the customer’s neighbor, and that makes a huge difference in who they decide to hire.
13. Information About Your Associations
This all feeds back into trust and community. Are you a member of your local Chamber of Commerce? Make sure customers know. Is there a local trade association that you’re a member of? Place that badge on your site as well.
Have you been recognized by other websites as a top provider? It’s fine to brag a little! Place the badges somewhere they will be seen (though don’t let them take over your site in an obnoxious way).
14. Information About Your Process
Customers want to know what will happen when you visit your home. If you do an intensive walk-through and needs analysis, ask a ton of questions about their home, and spend time making recommendations then tell them so! Help them understand what to expect when they call you.
Think about it. Some customers are hiring their very first contractor when they come to your website. It may be very scary for them. So do whatever you can to put their minds at ease.
15. A Nice Design
No, customers don’t want this consciously, but think about it. If your website doesn’t look very nice then customers will assume that your work won’t look very nice either.
I saw a contractor’s website once that was nothing but black text on a grey background, with strange navigation, no pictures of any kind (not even a logo) and very sparse information. Sadly, this website represented the only website that any contractor in his class had bothered to put up…but I still didn’t want to hire him under any circumstances.
16. Regular Updates
Again, this isn’t something conscious on the customer’s part. However, regular updates reassure the customer that you still exist, that you’re still in business, and that they’re not looking at some site from 10 years ago.
Leave the dates on your blog posts enabled, and make sure you’re making posts on a regular basis. This pays off because it tells the customer that you’re relevant and on top of things, which are two things that will make you stand out.
17. A Current Customer Area
Customers are looking for ways to make things more convenient. If you have a current customer area you might be able to offer that convenience.
What would you do in such an area? Give your customers a way to pay for their service online. Let them view their purchase history. Let them schedule additional service. Let them ask questions. Let them renew their service agreement. Give them an online copy of their contract to review, download, and print at any time.
Make sure customers know this area of your website is available before they are customers by explaining the customer portal on the FAQ or on the Customer Portal log-in page.
This area does, of course, take some web savvy that you might not possess. And you might not have the budget for it now. But it’s a nice “extra” to consider if your business model would support such a thing.
18. Live Chat Support
This is another “extra” that you can add if your business, time, and money supports it. You obviously need to have someone in the office who can sit and monitor the chat during business hours if you’re going to include this.
However, customers absolutely love being able to talk to people right on the site, even if it’s just to ask a quick question. It makes them feel as though you really care about their needs and as if you’re working hard to be available to them no matter what.
19. Calls to Action
This is actually another “subconscious” want. But you should make sure that there are calls to action on your website.
Customers live frenzied, stressed-out lifestyles. They really just want someone to solve their problems. They don’t want to think about anything too deeply if they don’t have to and they don’t want to sit and agonize over decisions.
By adding, “Call now,” “contact us,” “schedule an estimate online,” or other calls to action to your site you’re actually freeing them to just solve their problem. You’re telling them how they can take the step between that mental emotional experience (leaning back in their fresh new kitchen or enjoying the snug safety of a brand new roof) to the physical experience.
Your phone number alone does not help customers make that mental leap to actually putting in the call. Being told to do so does. It may sound weird, but it’s pretty basic psychology.
Travis and I can help you put together a website that gives your customers what they really want. Contact TVS Internet Marketing now to find out about our website maintenance, blogging, and SEO services and how those services can help you get more visibility and sales online.