Today's Local Media, Dallas, TX

5 Proven Ways to Market Your Moving Company

5 Proven Ways to Market Your Moving Company

The moving industry is an extremely competitive landscape. Moving companies largely offer similar services, so how can you differentiate yourself from the competition? How do you convert interested customers into ones who are confident enough in you to schedule their move? The answer is marketing. Most movers don’t have the staff or resources to market their business, but Today’s Local Media (TLM) is a small digital marketing agency that does. We have advised moving companies nationwide and helped their business grow. A client even called us “a small business owner’s secret weapon in getting an edge on competitors.”

Through our vast experience, we have found processes and strategies that deliver results. Here are five proven ways to market your moving company.

  1. Build a consistent brand and professional website

A brand is what the customer visualizes when she hears your company name. A brand is bigger than a website. But a website is the most outward facing representation of your brand, and having a professional looking one will engage your customers and build brand-trust, increasing the chance they will choose you for their moving needs.

Research says 38% of people will stop engaging with a website if the content or layout is unattractive. How something looks completely affects how someone feels about it. And we’re not all graphic designers, so websites are one thing to outsource. TLM is one company that develops appealing, customized websites that are SEO friendly. They are fully optimized, mobile responsive (automatically change to fit the device you’re reading it on), and they load fast. Time is money, and over a third of customers will stop engaging with a website if images won’t load, or take too long to load.

Creating a good user experience includes putting your contact information on every page, and have attractive estimate forms to make connecting with you painless. Your website should work for you, not against you, and should make it as easy as possible for customers to quickly choose you, and to quickly contact you.

moving company web design

  1. Get listed on online directories

Claim a presence on online directories. Some of the more important ones for movers are Google My Business, Yelp, Angie’s list, Movingcompanyreviews.com, BBB, Homeadvisor, Thumbtack, and Yp.com. While Google is the number one search engine (Bing is second), think of every directory as another chance to get found online. Most of these are even free, like Google My Business, which complements your website with a public presence on Google search and Google Maps. You can add images of your trucks and crews as well, which will come up on the right side of Google results with your hours and contact information.

Should you pay for advertising on these directories? I don’t recommend it until you get at least five reviews. Which leads us to the next tip.

get listed on directories

  1. Get reviews

As long as you are providing excellent customer service, ask customers for reviews immediately after the move. Potential customers read reviews, and 88% trust them as much as personal recommendations. On the flip side of the coin, if you ignore online reviews in your marketing plan, you are isolating yourself from 88% of potential customers. And consider negative reviews as learning opportunities—without feedback you won’t know how you can improve.

If you need help, there are services that can help collect reviews, such as Podium.com (my personal favorite). They let you send texts and emails with links to the review sites directly to the customer. As your collection of reviews grow, you are building your online reputation. I also recommend responding to all online reviews publicly. This shows the visitors that you care about your reputation.

  1. Post to Facebook

Once you get a good amount of “likes” it is important to stay at the top of their feed by interacting with your customers. Post a couple times a week with funny photos, pics from your jobs, links to videos about packing-hacks, and challenges you solved (like lifting that grand piano up four flights of stairs).

Respond quickly and humbly if someone posts a complaint on your Facebook page. NEVER delete comments, you will just make a frustrated customer that much more angry, and they may even start a comment-war about how you just deleted them. Instead, apologize, pledge to improve, and move the conversation to a positive place.

Customers want to see how you handled a complaint just as much as they want to see positive reviews. With an active Facebook profile, people are more likely to remember your company name when it’s time to pack the boxes.

olde world movers facebook

  1. Network with real estate professionals and others that may refer you to their customers

Real estate agents are the perfect referral. After months-long home searches, moving is the final step to coordinate, and agents have built rapport with clients both moving out and in. Most agents depend on the network around them, but maintaining their trust is paramount. If your hired-help drops the antique china, it reflects badly on the agent’s reputation as well.

Bring lunch to larger real estate groups and talk for a few minutes about your company. Some brokers may have a relocation division which works with a pool of moving companies directly.

It’s also important to create a Linkedin profile, be active on it, and connect with others in the industry. On LinkedIn, you can connect with those realtors, property managers and even customers. A couple of good LinkedIn groups that I recommend joining and being active on include “Marketing Your Moving Company”, “Movers Referral Network”, and “Moving and Storage Salespeople.” Jump right in to those groups. Ask questions, share helpful tips, and answer questions and more. You’ll be surprised at how often these interactions can turn into long-term business relationships.

linkedin moving company groups

Luckily the information age has made it easier to network and market your moving company. These five tips can help you grow and expand your business, and give you a competitive advantage in the industry.

What do you think? Which of the tips above do you think is most important to marketing?

Customer Complaints: Protect Your Business Reputation

Customer Complaints: Protect Your Business Reputation

How to reduce complaints by customers
In today’s world people use the internet almost instantly when hearing about a new product or company. Catch a commercial showing off a new product you could use or instantly think you want? Google it. A friend recommends a local restaurant you haven’t been to before? Look it up on Yelp. As a business a potential employee looks good but you want to make sure? Check them out on Facebook.

A long time ago search engines, mainly Google, evolved and became an every day part of our online activity. We no longer simply use them to search for basic information or the company website for a brand we hear about.

Search engines evolved and turned into a place to find out almost everything you can about companies.

Now you have the ability to look at Yelp reviews, company complaints, social media accounts, and consumer reports all within a few minutes.

So your brand’s reputation online has quickly become one of the first things potential new consumers will see. Especially if the company deals in anything that people can give feedback about. Which seemingly is everything now.

So how can you protect your reputation? Let’s look at three ways to cultivate a positive reputation.

Monitor and Respond to Online Reviews

One of the biggest things customer service professionals will reinforce that all business professionals can learn is that you will never please 100% of your consumers. It is impossible. Eventually someone will be have a less than acceptable experience in their opinion. But another thing to learn is that listening and responding to feedback in a constructive manner can retain that potential future business and even encourage others to give you a chance.

Obviously when good reviews and feedback are directed your way it helps to show appreciation. Be sure to read and reply to reviews on Google.

Interacting with customers will encourage further feedback from others and future business from those providing the feedback. But again not all feedback will always be positive.

Another important place to watch reviews is on Yelp. Yelp is increasingly growing it’s popularity with many industries. Due in part to their large telephone salesforce, almost every small to medium business in America has been contacted by Yelp at least once.

Create Content for Your Customers

Content creation is one of the greatest ways to build an online brand. The creation of your own website or blog of course should be a starting point but stopping there is wasting an opportunity to catch the attention of customers. Create blog posts discussing things your brand makes or even how to use them.

Start and maintain social media accounts to gather followers and interact with both customers and other companies. Fully finish social media profiles with attention to keeping a consistent portrayal of your brand. If you are simply relying on a website and few pictures alone to launch your brand, expect that the results will likely not reach the heights you hope for.

Monitor Your Reputation Online

While not all bad reviews can be directly addressed (you can’t directly remove results from search engines by saying please), you can respond within Google reviews, some feedback sites, and through social media sites. Pay attention to customer complaints or issues reported by loyal customers. Respond and interact through the sources that will allow it, especially if you can within a timely manner.

eliminate-customer-complaints
Showing an honest interest and remaining professional while responding to experiences will show online viewers that they will be listened to. And also show them that your brand can accept criticism and respond in a sound manner, so they will expect professional treatment no matter what. Never fan the flames and end up trading negative remarks online.

Check Your Brand’s Social Media

Social media outlets are definitely changing online interactions. While it is hard to predict the future for the internet, they are the present. So utilizing social media for the growth of your brand is necessary. But social media is all about interacting and that is not a one-way street. If you can create a social media following through outlets like Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and others sources then those people will likely begin to interact with you.

But interacting back to both the good, bad, and strange will encourage and grow your online presence. Similar to responding to reviews, responding to customer complaints online will show not only those you interact with but also those that look at your profiles that your brand is active online. That you care about what your customers and potential customers are saying and what they think.

Maintaining a professional and consistent demeanor will help build that reputation you hope to improve because emotional outbursts or out of character actions will often alienate or confuse those that give your profiles a quick glance over.

Having a good or bad reputation online can be a huge deciding factor in a business growing or not. Think of it as the word of mouth reputation for the technological age.

Within seconds someone can find multiple ways to read about a business or brand past their own websites. Therefore it has become critical for businesses to monitor and understand their online reputation. Keeping an active and interactive presence will encourage followers to share your name with others and leave positive feedback when asked to.

What do Google and social media sources say about you?

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6 Auto Repair Web Design Mistakes — and How to Fix Them

6 Auto Repair Web Design Mistakes — and How to Fix Them

While we would all love to spend our money on basic bills and then enjoy the rest purchasing things to treat ourselves, often in life things happen that require you to then change your spending to take care of something you didn’t know you would need. Automotive repairs are one of the first things that pops into my mind when thinking about sudden emergencies that require extra spending.

While yes, you should take care of your vehicle with regular upkeep and maintenance, often damages or problems happen with little warning. And for the vast majority of people living in today’s world without a working vehicle is impossible.

But when you need repairs, advice, and quality service you might find it hard to pick who to go to. It doesn’t matter if you have a Honda, a BMW, or a Ford, customers today expect quality.

There are hundreds of choices in some areas for Auto repairs. With the speed and ease of the internet, most can find multiple choices quickly when your afternoon comes to a halt because something is wrong with your vehicle.

So websites and customer feedback online often are the first things possible customers see when trying to decide which shop to use. With that let’s look at the six worst auto repair web design mistakes and how we would fix them. Ultimately, that will help give your business a better first impression with possible customers.

1: Cluttered and Hard to Read Layouts:

One of the most common issues that I’ve found when looking over some auto repair websites around my city was that half of the sites were barely readable. Obviously one of the main objectives of a website is for people to be able to read and understand what it is your business can provide. Multiple sizes of font within the same pages explaining services, strange color choices with backgrounds or even the words, and odd layouts that leave you thinking the page was put together in five minutes.

Example of Jeffrey's Auto Web Design
Example: http://www.jeffreysautomotive.com/

While a fun or different website can set yours apart, a hard to read or cluttered page can turn away business. Even impressive looking designs can be hard to read when the pages become too packed with content. It represents your business online so make viewers think professional but also simple. Clean and simple with the base outline and easy to read fonts help viewers not have to strain simply to browse and understand your services.

2: Non-responsive site:

A website is responsive when it is designed to adapt to the screen size and device it is being viewed on. It adjusts to fit and look better with the screen on which the user is reading it on. This helps for people viewing your page on their phones, tablets, or other small devices. Often someone needing auto repair might be on the go or even in their car having issues when deciding that they finally need to fix that problem they’ve been putting off. A responsive design adjusts to help your viewers not have to adjust and work for themselves to experience your website.

When viewing an older website on a phone or tablet you most likely have to adjust and play with the browser to really view the site or find what you are looking for because the site’s print and design are built for a completely different screen. The design does not fit and forces the viewer to spend extra time searching and adjusting for what they need. Building a responsive site now has become a lot easier and many website design providers push it as the way to go to help your site transition to the mobile age.

3: Click-To-Call:

Keeping with the idea that many people will view auto repair sites on mobile devices, a click-to-call option is something that can be coded into your website that encourages viewers to at least call your business. And getting them to reach out even a little then gives you and your employees a chance to interact and sell your brand.

Auto Repair Fort Worth
Example: http://www.autorepairfortworth.org/

Most auto repair sites I see have their phone number plastered up top or somewhere noticeable each page (if they don’t, they will likely never receive any calls based off their site), but many of the non-chain places do not have a way where by simply tapping a number or link I could be talking with someone quickly about fixing my problems.

4: Reviews and Feedback:

Sadly for almost anyone that has owned and paid for vehicles for more than a few years, they have likely needed to get multiple repairs done over the years. And with that if they have used multiple repair shops it is because they had a bad experience somewhere before. Automotive repair shops often can pull customers in with solid reviews from past or continuing customers. Being a part of the Better Business Bureau or having certified techs can be encouraging as well. Show that off!

Wades Quality Auto Repair
Example: http://www.wadesqualityautorepair.com/

Having a page within the site that links to customer feedbacks sources (Google, Angie’s List, etc) or even has recent reviews on it shows potential new customers that your business can not only get the job done but also expects that they will be satisfied with the experience. Links and shortcuts to social media pages also help even if you don’t think social media matters as well. Facebook and Twitter pages can provide people ways to again communicate with a business, but also see feedback from other people in their own neighborhood.

5: List and Explain Services Provided:

Another thing common with most of the websites that I found around me for auto repair businesses was they listed what types of services they could provide. But even some of the best sites simply listed some services and then left it at that. While again you don’t want to clutter up a page on the site naming every single service your shop has ever done, giving customers some of the services that your shop specializes in can encourage them to make that jump to contact the shop.

TCM Automotive
Example: http://www.tcmautomotive.com/

Can you do alignments? Transmission repairs and rebuilds? Automotive customization? Naming some of the services that a business can provide and possible areas of expertise that technicians have over your competitor a couple miles down the road could make the difference.

6:Call The Customer to Action:

Multiple sites I viewed listed a little about the business, named a view types of repair that they can offer, and even had ways for me to contact them but were missing something every business site should have, something encouraging me to actually use them! A quick and thoughtful few lines trying to push me to use them.

Bills Half Priced Auto Repair
Example: http://billshalfpriceautorepair.com/

A sentimental line about family values and hoping to shake my hand at the end of a successful job. Something to encourage and welcome me as the viewer to make that step to contact them. The click-to-call option helps but often at the bottom of the main page and pages about services, the most encouraging and friendly sites did leave a feeling that I should reach out next time I needed help.

The field of Automotive repair is flooded in many areas. And again with mobile technology and the internet, potential customers looking to get that surprise issue fixed have the ability to quickly research what their options are when in need.

So improving and working on your website can pull customers in when often that is your first interaction with them in today’s world. Especially when it is an interaction that can decide in a few minutes if that person will ever contact a business or not.

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4 Hard Lessons I Learned in 4 Years as a Small Business Owner

4 Hard Lessons I Learned in 4 Years as a Small Business Owner

Small Business Marketing

I took the plunge and went into business for myself four years ago, shunning a regular paycheck for the freedom, adventure, and sometimes challenges of owning my own company.

I knew it would not be easy, but both of my parents started and ran small businesses most of my life, so you might say it was in my blood. Around 400,000 new businesses are started in the United States every month. And statistics show that 90% of those businesses will fail. But your chances of surviving increase dramatically if you can make it past the first few years.

So, I wanted to share some things that have helped me get to the place I am today, in the hopes that it will help other small businesses make it here too.

Here are the four most valuable lessons I’ve learned in four years of being a small business owner.

Lesson 1: Customer Service Can Be Your Best Ally or Your Worst Enemy

Customer service is a double-edged sword. Bad customer service (ignoring customer complaints, responding late, giving inadequate solutions) can tear down your goodwill, and eventually your bottom line. But good customer service grows your business. What makes it good? The customer feels heard and feels like you offered an appropriate solution.

In this age of social media, companies have a harder time controlling their message and maintaining positive-only reviews online. The key isn’t to delete bad reviews, but to make it right. Respond in a quick, polite, apologetic, and professional manner. Taking pride in your work is a good thing, but sometimes you have to set it aside, even if the customer may not be right.

A perfect example of this happened on a local businesses Facebook page. A customer commented that it took three days for someone to return her call for an appointment. The office replied to the comment within an hour, apologized, thanked her for the feedback, and assured her that they were training a new front-desk manager and wanted to exceed her expectations in the future.

It was the perfect response, and the customer even replied with a follow-up comment thanking them for their willingness to work on the issue. That negative comment won’t disappear, but now every future visitor can see the company’s humble response, appreciate their transparency, and know that the business welcomes feedback in order to grow.

Lesson 2: If You Want Something Done Professionally, Pay for a Professional 

My father owns a construction business and remodels old homes for a living, so he was pretty handy around the house, and he taught me a lesson that would serve me well as a small business owner. You get what you pay for. Cutting corners may save you money upfront, but could end up costing more in money and frustration.

But that voice in my head retorts, “I can do it myself, it’s not that hard!” Yes, I probably could look up some YouTube videos and figure out how to write an air-tight contract. But I always look at my time as money. It’s the same thing I ask small businesses to trust me with each day as a local marketing company.

Lesson 3: Hire the Right People and Let Them Do Their Job

Every interview I hold with a potential contractor or partner, I repeat to myself, “Hire hard; manage easy.” It pays to be picky with personnel choices. And once I get the right person, I try to give them wings to do their job well. Micromanaging only puts more on my plate, and stresses both of us out. And I believe my employees’ morale soars when I’m not policing them at every turn.

I’ve learned that one of my jobs as the boss, is to set the vision for my employees, and periodically check in to make sure they are walking down that path, towards that vision in their own way. Giving them more power in the day to day decisions even opens doors for their own innovation and efficiencies.

Lesson 4: Don’t Neglect Your Personal Life

The first year you are in business is usually awful. Every waking moment is focused on the business, and how to invest in its growth while still putting food on the table. But being deliberate about balance made me a better business owner, person, friend, and husband. In a Harvard Business Review study, several themes emerged on how to balance the seesaw, suggesting managing technology, traveling selectively, and collaborating with your partner among other tips from executives.

My Wife (Cassie) and I in France

Whether you define balance as physical (working out, eating healthy), emotional (meditating), or relational (spending quality time or traveling with friends and family), your day must be marked by intentional planning. As one executive from the study said, “I just prioritize dinner with my family as if it was a 6PM meeting with my most important client.”

I’m sure the next four years of owning a small business will reveal even more lessons learned. What are some other lessons you’ve learned the hard way?

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