Why a Booking Widget is Critical for your Service Business in 2019

Do you have a website where you promote your service business? Do you want your customers to book their appointment through your website? Is it even possible?

You can bet your tax return that it is!

This is what a booking widget is for. A booking widget (like PocketSuite’s own booking widget) is a plugin used for websites. When embedded on a website, your customers can just click and they will be redirected to your booking page where your availability and schedule is shown.

Is it free? Yes and No.

You need to have an appointment app subscription in order to get a booking widget plugin. The booking widget plugins differ for each scheduling app, and so are the ways and methods of utilizing them for your business and setting them up.

Before picking a booking widget, check first if you can easily set it up on your own.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Booking Widget

There are a lot of questions to ask yourself when it comes to choosing a booking widget. The problem is choosing the right booking widget that will work with your service business. Before adding a booking widget to your website, you should consider these things first.

  • The type of service business you have
  • The features of the booking widget
  • The compatibility of the booking widget with your service business website
  • Ease of use
  • Number of access points for staff or logins available
  • Flexibility to customize

To help you make a decision, we searched for the top booking widgets on online. Considering features and ease of use, here are the top 10 booking widgets that we found.

Squareup

Squareup is a booking widget that you can add to any website. It works with Squarespace, WordPress, Wix, and Weebly. This booking widget makes booking easier for people who need to schedule their dental checkup or for house cleaning. This booking widget is easy to use. Once you’ve added it on your service business website, your customers can simply click on it if they want to make an appointment. All available schedules will be shown on the booking page. An indicator shows if the date and time are available.

Features

  • It comes with a personalized ‘book now’ button
  • Easy to use even for elderly folks and non-tech savvy individuals
  • Provides options like highlighting the names of your service business staff (for customers to choose from)
  • Sends out automated reminders to customers with upcoming bookings
  • You can personalize the calendar

Mindbody

This booking widget is easy to add to any website and is easy to use. Mindbody also allows widget customization so you can change the calendar’s color or the font. The limiting aspect of this booking widget is that it only allows one booking at a time. If two of your customers booked at the same time, chances are, it will not work or they will get an error.

Features

  • It allows your client to choose their preferred staff from your service business
  • It has neat options for listing staff names (alphabetically or by availability)
  • The booking interval option can be turned on for this booking widget

Bookly

Bookly is a booking widget with full features. It’s basically like having an appointment app on your website. However, this booking widget is not cheap. It is a good widget app choice to use if your website’s platform is WordPress.

Features

  • A booking widget that sends SMS notifications automatically
  • Processes payments
  • It syncs with Google calendar
  • Your clients can book multiple appointments at once
  • It is available in 10 languages (translation-ready)

Launch27

Launch 27 allows your customer to choose their schedule when booking an appointment with you. This booking widget can be embedded as a booking form to your service business site. You can also add a link to the Launch27 booking page if there is not enough room on your service business website to fit the booking form.

Features

  • Easy to use
  • Minimal design to make booking easier even for non-tech savvy folks
  • It sends automatic reminders to booked customers

Jobber

If you are running a service business where your staff is always on the go, you should check out Jobber. Service business providers that do home service (technicians, cleaning) can use Jobber on their phone to check their next job order.

Features

  • Integrated with other apps like payment apps or any marketing tools
  • Easy to use
  • Send out automated reminders to both staff and clients

BirchPress

BirchPress is a popular WordPress plugin and booking widget that offers professional booking management assistance. This booking widget can be embedded on the WordPress platform. Once a customer books a service on your website, you can add an option to collect payment via PayPal or credit card.

Features

  • Customers can book appointments easily
  • It syncs with Google Calendar and Outlook
  • You can choose to have a customized email notification sent to your clients regarding their booking
  • This booking widget also has a reminder feature about your upcoming schedule

Booki

If your service business deals with reservations and appointments in order to run smoothly, you could check out Booki. Booki is a booking widget that can be used by service business providers in the industry of hospitality, resorts, driving lessons, hair stylists, and more.

Features:

  • Unlimited booking options
  • This booking widget syncs with Google calendar
  • Sends automated confirmation for every booking
  • Comes with different calendar modes
  • Can process payments
  • Sends a reminder for each appointment (customized or automated)

Bookeo

Bookeo is a booking widget that you can integrate with your service business to make scheduling of appointments easier. Your customers can just click on the ‘book now’ button and they will get directed to the Bookeo calendar page. When integrated, your page URL or domain name won’t be affected hence your customers can still see your website’s name and not the Bookeo booking widget URL. Note: You cannot use Bookeo appointment app on your service business website if you have a Bookeo booking widget or vice versa.

Features:

  • Customizable booking widget on your website (you can even change the color and font size)
  • Customizable calendar page for booking (only shows what you want to show like available dates for the day, week, or month)
  • Customizable booking page
  • Easy to use for service business customers

Bookme

For a streamlined and easy to use booking page, you can try Bookme. Bookme is a booking widget that works across different platforms. By clicking on Bookme, your customers can check if there are available booking slots that they can reserve. For example: Say you are a cleaning service business provider. Your customers can easily check your availability and book right onto your schedule. Presto!

Features

  • Available appointment dates are made visible while taken dates are greyed out (to avoid double booking)
  • Provides access to multiple service business staff members, if needed
  • Sends out a customized email notification
  • The appearance of the ‘book now’ button for this booking widget is customizable

PocketSuite

The PocketSuite booking widget allows service business websites to have a customized ‘book now’ button. With a customized booking widget, your clients or new leads can easily pick an appointment. With PocketSuite, your customers won’t have to call anymore to make their bookings. A click of their mouse or a tap on their phone can easily lead them to your booking page where they can schedule an appointment, register for a class, or purchase a package from you.

Features

  • Allows multiple booking widgets in a single service business page
  • This booking widget allows you to have customized online forms and e-contracts
  • It provides a unique booking widget code that you can place on your email or your service business Facebook page, Instagram page, or website
  • Can process payments
  • Compatible with different hosting platforms like Wix, Weebly, WordPress, Webs, GoDaddy, and Squarespace
  • Overall has the most features for the best price.

When it comes to a booking widget, there are at least 100 options out there. Before you pick a booking widget, make sure to learn more about the features.

There are booking widgets that are specifically designed for a particular service business only. So make sure you check out one of our recommended ones first!

Ready to accept payments from customers with your brand spankin’ new booking widget? Great, now it’s time for a victory dance!

Like this article? You’ll love our guide on how to generate leads for service businesses in 2019, and of course our Frustrations with Square article!

What is Business Messaging

A new category of communication has arrived…It’s called “Business Messaging” and it’s designed for busy professionals and business owners.
If you find yourself asking “What the heck is Business Messaging?”, the answer is simple:

A mobile messaging tool to help your business make more money

Business Messaging focuses on 3 core benefits that can instantly bring your business out of the ancient technological traps of SMS and email, and delight clients (both old and new) to help your business make more money.

People in the 21st century want instant gratification more than ever.

Faster Customer Responses

That means, any inquiry or question a customer (or prospect) sends to a business, they want a response ASAP. The longer the client has to wait for a response, the higher the likelihood of the client moving on to another business.

To enable you (the business or professional) to respond as fast as possible to customers, you need to make sure you’re getting notified. In order to do that, you need to make sure your client list is organized so you can actually response as fast as possible.

The first key to delivering an instant customer response is being notified when the client reaches out.

That means ANY time a client wants to contact you (whatever the context may be), you need to get notified immediately — whether you’re sitting at a desk or out with another client.

This is where email falls short. You don’t want clients who shoot you an email or who fill out a form on your website, to have to wait for you to happen to pull out your phone and load your emails and then respond. This creates pockets of delays where clients can be waiting hours or even days to get a response.

Not only that, but with email spamming being a reality of life these days, parsing through unwanted emails to find your urgent client emails can be huge a time suck.

This bring up point #2 in delivering faster customer responses:

Client Organization

Email, yes, can have spam intermixed with customers. But even worse is SMS text message — not so much the spam aspect of it, but more so personal distractions.

80% of business owners we talk to use text message as their primary way of communicating with clients. The issue there becomes – on your texting feed, you’ll have a client, then a friend, maybe a family member. Your private life conversations and business get mixed together.

This creates (at no fault of your own, to be clear) an unorganized feed of your life’s thread of communications.

Not having a single, instantly accessible area where ONLY your customer messaging and history flows into, creates a problem. It’s a problem because:

  • You’re unaware immediately when you hear a text come through if it’s a client or friend or family member pinging you
  • You cannot prioritize messages to be followed up with in a regular SMS feed
  • Spend time scrolling and searching through a mix of people to find specific customers
  • Can only access a client’s message history — not calls, notes, payments, or anything else relevant to that client

A way some business owners get around this is to shell out  another $500+ on a new phone (for “business”). Then you’re permanently stuck carrying around 2 devices at all times: one for business, one for pleasure.

These days are now over.

Business Messaging keeps all your client communication in a central, mobile location. This will give you instant and organized access to all your customer’s needs. This makes your life less stressful while keeping your clients happily attended to.


A More Organized Day

Today’s modes of client communication are all handicapped mainly because they only do one thing: communicate.

We (over at PocketSuite) don’t really see any particular reason for why that has to be the case.

With your client communication (whatever that may be: phone, email, text, a fancy CRM system, etc.) being focused on just communication, then you depend on other tools for relevant information about each customer. That information includes customer:

  • Payment history
  • Upcoming appointments
  • Detailed notes
  • Signed contracts
  • Referrals
  • Call logs

Logistics and payments are all integral parts of any conversation you have with a client. Thus, these important items should be naturally weaved into the conversation and easily accessible by both you and your client.

Business Messaging does just that — it integrates all crucial transactional information into each customer message thread. WITHIN a conversation, you can transact with said client, while at the same reference important information about said client.

Combining all this information into one place that is instantly accessible anywhere turns today’s business owner into an efficiency machine.

Accessibility 24/7

Homeowners have graduated from having to flip through a single Yellow Pages book to search for a local business to hire.

With the growth of discovery platforms online, the ability for you to reach moreof your addressable customer market is easier than ever.

But that also means that clients are going to be reaching out to you on a LOT more platforms. That includes:

As you expand your business presence online, you’ll be receiving more and more incoming messages, inquiries, questions, quote requests, leads, and more, from a whole host of platforms. Each one of these different platforms has apps, account log-ins, special email addresses, etc.

Business Messaging reduces the mess and consolidates all incoming requests – no matter where they are coming from – into a single, organized channel.

Business Messaging comes with messaging widgets that can be placed as links practically anywhere. From a single website, social media, directory to a lead gen platform. That means, that no matter WHERE a customer finds you, all their reach-outs will be directed into your Business Messaging feed.

This allows you to respond smartly and instantly to any new customer coming your way. You are 100% accessible so a new customer never slips through the cracks, and a repeat customer never feels ignored.

Smartphones Beat PCs in Speed, Cost, Convenience

Frustrating Slow PCs

WHY THIS IS HUGE NEWS FOR SMALL BUSINESSES

The release of the iPhone X has proven one major headline: smartphones are now faster than PCs.

Chips inside computers and smartphones are referred to as central processing units, or “CPUs”. The faster and higher quality they are, the quicker your PC or smartphone runs. The CPU inside the new iPhone X is referred to as the “A10” chip, and that chip not only outpaces all other Android smartphones, but it has now caught up with Intel’s laptop CPUs.

That means that common tasks are (for the most part) now faster to perform on your mobile device than on your desktop or laptop. Retail consumption trends show just how important processing speed really is, with people are buying smartphones at five times the rate they are acquiring new PCs. iPhones alone saw 75 million shipments last quarter vs. 72 million for PCs.

But it’s not just your average consumer buying up more iPhones and smartphones for their day-to-day enjoyment. Small businesses and professionals are now flocking to this newest wave of faster and more powerful technology.

Speed and Power

Speed and power are crucial and a much-needed added benefit to today’s small business owner.

If your business runs faster and more efficiently, you have more time to grow.

Many businesses and on-the-go professionals have been resorting to their laptops to deal with customer transactions. The speed and flexibility of their PCs were providing platforms for scheduling, invoicing, contracts, etc. Despite being on their feet and in the proverbial field each day, mobile was not quiteadvanced enough to support all their real-time needs.

As the power of smartphones has now surpassed that of the most popular computers, the adoption of mobile in business continues to see an upward trajectory. It’s perfectly natural for home and local businesses to want to have the fastest, most capable, and most convenient tool at their fingertips to stay ahead of their competition. In fact, they deserve it.

Hardware-less

The lighter you are, the faster you move.

Small businesses are shifting in droves from lugging around laptops (and even tablets), to moving towards the more practical, lighter-weight tools.

The iPhone X, for example, has now removed the need for wired headphones by removing the jack. This is a major step towards something bigger than just mobile – wireless. The indirect result means that other clunky hardware like Square swipers will soon be defunct as the business world continues to turn light-weight.

Shedding excess baggage and hardware weight gives mobile professionals the agility they need to better serve their clients. This leaves much more time and energy to focus on the day to day business and clientele… the real revenue driver.


All-in-One

The fundamental offering of any smartphone is the combining of the most basic workflows. From being a communication device, location awareness, to a high resolution camera.

Native and 3rd-party applications further build on top of this foundation. Specifically for businesses includes tasks like note-taking, scheduling, payments, client management, and more.

The advancement in smartphone technology actually presents an exponential benefit for small businesses. That is to say, it doesn’t just make a single workflow faster – it makes all of your daily workflows faster.

This small device supports all your core workflows on a single device. Professionals are starting to save tremendous amounts of time by taking care of all client related things in the palm of their hand. The beauty is without going back to their desk to use their computer or a pen and paper.

In addition to a time saver, moving mobile is a cost saver. Instead of paying thousands for the newest PC, any business owner can pay just hundreds for a powerful smartphone. And instead of paying for 5 different workflow tools, mobile apps can now support all core workflows in a single app. For less.

The Future of Work

The future of work and business is fast. It’s cost-efficient, time-efficient and mobile.

Small business owners and freelance professionals alike are growing to accept today’s mobile world. This is not just due to the aforementioned benefits above. Their clients have come to accept this as the norm.

The average consumer and homeowner checks their phone 85 times a day. It’s convenient, it’s with them at all times, and it’s enjoyable to interact with. The increasingly accepted mode of consumer communication is SMS text, with phone calls and emailing on the secular decline .

As more professionals make the switch from PCs to now faster smartphones, that allows them to further engage clients on their device of preference – mobile. Happy clients turns into to more referrals, which means more revenue.

Mobilize your Business

Texting Convenience

The world is going mobile, and so are your clients. That means you should too.

For some business owners and entrepreneurs, initial reaction to the terms “mobile” and “text message” may seem unprofessional.

For some professionals, after a long day of running the day-to-day and dealing with clients, having to sit in front of the computer for busy work is just a necessary evil of being a small business owner.

Well, the times they are a changing…and mobilizing. 

The benefits of text message far surpass the “what I’m used to” feeling you might have while sitting in front of a desk.

Payment speed, customer convenience, workflow efficiencies, relationship building, marketing and more — these are all fundamental reasons why your peers and competitors are rapidly adopting apps and mobile tools to help their businesses succeed in today’s mobile world.

And your clients? Not only do they accept mobile with open arms, but nowadays they expect it.

You should be happy that your clients live in apps and over text message. As evidenced below, this mobile wave will actually help you build a lightening fast business without causing you any stress.


Here’s a fun (yet slightly depressing) fact: the average time it takes a customer to pay a standard invoice is 14 days.

Newsflash: the average time it takes a customer to pay a PocketSuite invoice (sent over text) is 1 day. (See more)

Why is that (you’re probably asking)? Well we asked some of our 15,000 business owners on PocketSuite, and they responded simply: “Because it’s easy”.

Clients don’t need to get cash from the bank, or remember to mail a check, or go back home to their computer to log in somewhere online to make a payment. On mobile, your customers can pay anywhere, and they can pay over SMS text message. This isn’t some new technology or app your client needs to learn in order to make a payment. Heck, they don’t even need to create an account (i.e., PayPal). It’s a simple tap to pay. Or how about “text to pay” 🙂

In short – you’re not moving mobile for selfless reasons. You get paid quicker. Seize the day!


There are two types of businesses I run into these days when it comes to scheduling: (1) Tech Savvy, and (2) Old School. Now, there are of course others who don’t fall into these 2 groups. For the most part, these are the 2 main types you might fall into.

Tech Savvy
You’ve got some business software with a proprietary calendar. It helps you add really detailed stuff to your calendar, it’s on the web, has a log-in, sends reminders, maybe has some other cool business features, etc. The problem with the ‘TechSavvy’ approach is that the software that is being used is completely isolated from the rest of their life and it’s at your desk. Most software out there does not sync with your personal or any other calendars you use (i.e., Google, iCal, Outlook, etc.). If you want to see your business schedule, well you need to log into some portal from your desktop and view what’s on tap. You can’t see if you have a lunch scheduled that day, or if you have a doctor’s appointment, or your schedule to pick up kids, etc. You’re stuck seated, isolated. No bueno!

Old School
You do scheduling your own way. So a paper calendar or you use your Google Calendar because it’s handy and it gels with all the other personal events you’ve got going on in your life. The problem with the ‘Old School’ approach is that you’re missing out on tons of efficiencies that can help you save tons of time running your business. I get it though – “time” is tough to value. But think about a calendar that gels with your life that’s also mobile, that also sends automatic reminders to clients, that puts appointments directly on your customer’s calendars FOR them, that supports “credit card confirmation”, that auto-sends Thank You! when the appointment is complete, and more. Things you do yourself and things you also can’t even imagine doing yourself.

Start adopting a tool with the best of both worlds. Make sure it’s easy, make sure it syncs with your entire life schedule, and (most of all) make sure you can use it anywhere!


If you work in an industry where your client needs to trust you, then communication is key.

If I’m hiring anyone to come to my home, or to depend on for a special occasion, or to take care of a love one (animal or human of course), or who I’m simply paying a lot of money — I want to make sure I can contact that professional at any time. And that doesn’t mean I’m going to call you at 4 o’clock in the morning to ask you a question.

There’s a reason why people have adopted (and LOVE) text messaging as a mode of communication — it’s convenient, fast and reliable. So why not give that feeling of convenience and reliability to your CLIENTS when building a relationship with them?

Have you ever simply forgotten to respond to an email? Or lost an important email in the midst of junk mail? Or had a client be upset at your “email response time” (however reasonable that might actually be)?

Be available when your clients need you, and give them that warm & fuzzy convenient experience. Build mobile communication into the core of your workflow, and form a deeper and more direct relationship with your customers.


Give Customers Mobile Convenience

We’re talking CONVENIENCE across the board here.

Payments, scheduling, messaging, e-signing documents, and more.

In a major way, introducing all these parts of your business to clients in the palm of their hands is incredible. Your clients can be literally ANYwhere and pay an invoice you send them….Get a reminder about tomorrow’s appointment…Field a text saying “Running 15 mins late”…Receive a waiver to sign. Literally ZERO effort on them to take any action.

And that last sentence ties into why convenience is good for YOU. The “zero effort to take any action” I just mentioned? Well that “action” typically drives the success of your business — your getting paid, winning a new client, filling up your schedule, etc. 

Give clients what they want and good things will happen 🙂

Get A Fresh Phone # For Your Small Business

Get a Business Phone Number

Communication is a key building block to developing a lasting relationship with your customers.

Ever hear a client ask: “What’s the best way for me to get in touch with you?”

The answer to that question can vary. It could be email, text, phone call, social media, etc.

Most customers these days expect the convenience of the text message experience as a way to communicate with anyone – even businesses. But for business owners, there can be some initial hesitancy in giving away their personal number to customers as the core communication channel. Reason being, by giving your clients the same number on which your friends and family contact you, issues around privacy, organization and overall professionalism in the eyes of your clients can arise.

Getting a dedicated phone number for your business can not only mitigate any aforementioned issues, but can go a long way in actually developing better relationships with your clients. Here are 4 key ways why getting a unique number for your business can help you thrive.

1. Privacy & protection

Having your personal number listed across the web and social media can create a dangerous cycle.

The issue with using your personal number as the primary contact number for your business is that it will be publicly available for the world to see. Spam and scam calling is something that is increasingmore and more these days – and this increases the risk of your number being stored on spam list not only in the U.S. and but international as well. So your personal contact details will be shared and passed around list after list without any control. That that become a lifetime nuisance.

The other issue is from time to time, every business can attract certain demanding clients. There is even a podcast dedicated to these types of customers… the “crazy” ones. This can cause the growing number of people who you do not want contacting you, to be able to reach you day and night. The realities of running a business is you’re going to come in contact with customers and potential customers who either do not respect business ethics, or do not treat you like a real person, or can become harassing.

Having a dedicated business number will protect you from all the above wanted callers and interactions. Instead of making your personal number go viral, put your business line on business cards, the top of your business website, social media profiles, etc. Make it easy for clients to reach you at the right place (i.e., your business) while protecting your personal life from the many unwanted callers across the U.S. and globe.

2. Keeping you organized

The added benefit to having a dedicated business number is it adds much needed structure to your life, especially if your business is growing fast.

For the same reasons why entrepreneurs and business owners set up a personal email address and a work email address, you should do this with a phone number as well. You will be able to maintain all your client communication threads completely separate from those of friends and family. Any history of client notes, messages and even phone call logs can be accessed at any time in seconds.

Not only can a dedicated business line keep you organized as you keep tabs on client records, but it can also help you stay organized in real-time as well. If a new client decides to call you out of the blue, when the phone is ringing you should be able to tell if this incoming phone call is someone calling your personal line or your business line. Depending on which phone number is being dialed, that can determine how you answer the phone, how you prep for the caller, and the immediate tone of the phone call.

Keeping business and pleasure separate can save you tons of time and headache when needing immediate access and information to your customer base.

3. Accessibility: The key to great customer service

There are many different reports about how important customer response time is to clients when interacting with a business or professional.

Having a separate business line increases your ability to respond faster, plain and simple. If all your client messages and reach-outs are organized in a central location (separate of texts from friends and family), then that’s less information and contacts you need to sift through. You will be able to access your customer’s request more quickly, drowning out any noise, and respond at the drop of a hat.

In addition, having a dedicated business number will make you feel more comfortable to push your business line to go viral (you won’t be worried about your personal number getting in the hands of spammers). Thus, making your business number front and center across the web – wherever your business is listed – will make it dead simple for any customer (young or old) to know HOW to reach you.

Overnight you will become more accessible to new and recurring clients, which will delight each and every inquiring customer. The more you delight your clients, the more they will stick with you, and the more they will tell their friends.

4. Act like a professional

Portraying yourself as a true professional goes a long way with your clients – especially the new ones.

You do not have to invest in expensive website development or fancy design on your business presence online to seem professional. It can be very simple to act like a real pro – and a lot of this starts with your phone number.

If a client is calling your business, and they get a voicemail that is tied to your personal number for friends and family, they might have second thoughts. Clients might jump to a conclusion that your business is not large, or might not be structured to handle a lot of customers (thus you don’t have experience), or might not even be a real business! A simple automated voicemail by you with your business name and indication as to when you typically return phone calls can nip this potential in the bud.

The added benefit to a dedicated business line is consistency. That means whether a client is the one texting / calling you, or the if you are the one texting / calling your client, that same business number is always at the forefront. The client is never getting a notifications or messages from numbers (or short codes) they do not recognize. And if you make sure text message is your core line of communication, then you can remove the need for clients to regularly check their Gmail or Outlook for appointment invites or even physical mailbox for mailed invoices.

Having a simple and consistent line of communication can go a long way in making the communication lines with clients incredibly convenient.

Communication and customer relationships

There is a direct correlation between better customer communication and increase referrals and retention.

The one thing business owners focus most of their time on is delivering great service! As a result, some of the “little things” can be overlooked.

But to the client, customer service, professionalism and organization are key components in building up customer confidence and enjoyment when they think about your brand. The simple act of getting a dedicated business number can go a long way in delighting your clients – whether they be prospects, brand new clients, or customers you’ve seen for years.

And with more customer delight, comes more dollars in your pocket 🙂

Top 100 Ways to Meet New Customers

New Customers

No matter what your field is, getting new customers is a lot of work.

When you run a small business, budgets are tight and your time is limited. Making the most of your money and resources is essential for your business’ success.

The truth is, it shouldn’t be that hard to meet new customers.

So we’re here to help.

The below 100 tips (yep, one HUNDRED) can help you market your small business effectively and connect with new customers.

1.     Create & launch a website

2.     Create a Yelp profile

3.     Ask clients to review you on Yelp

4.     Add a Google Local profile

5.     Launch a Google AdWords Campaign

6.     Start a YouTube channel with tutorials and advice videos

7.     Join Thumbtack to buy leads

8.     Subscribe to HomeAdvisor

9.     Do an Angie’s List trial

10.  Get on Groupon or Living Social and post deals

11.  Sign up for Superpages

12. Respond to Craigslist job requests

13.  Join TalkLocal to get new leads via phone

14.  Get a new client from an On Demand service, then pull them off platform

15.  Get BBB accredited

16.  Connect with leading city bloggers and ask them to review your business or sponsor a post

17.  Advertise on area blogs

18.  Write a D.I.Y blog and disseminate to your clients

19.  Write an “Ask the Expert” column for a local paper or city blog

20.  Guest blog on influential sites

21.  Engage in blog forum discussions in your area

22.  Send 1 business-oriented Tweet every day

23.  Make a Twitter list to connect with local influencers

24.  Post 1 business-oriented photo on Instagram every day

25.  Start a Facebook business page

26.  Ask clients to review you on Facebook

27.  Kick off a targeted Facebook advertising campaign

28.  Give a discount to clients who share your Facebook page

29.  Offer giveaways and promote them on social media

30.  Promote your clients online, encouraging them to share with their friends

31.  Partner with other local businesses to offer packages

32.  Join your city’s Chamber of Commerce

33.  Make flyers and hire a TaskRabbit to pass them out on neighborhood doorsteps

34.  Print business cards and hand them out to / leave them for clients

35.  Leave flyers with local apartment complexes and homeowners’ associations

36.  Place flyers in local businesses to advertise your services

37.  Advertise in church bulletins

38.  Set up a display at a farmers’ market or craft sale

39.  Sponsor a non-profit event or fundraiser

40.  Submit your business for community recognitions

41.  Attend conferences

42.  Contact local universities and offer yourself as a speaker

43.  Post your information on community boards at libraries and grocery stores

44.  Sponsor a local sports team for kids

45.  Attend new resident meetings to showcase your services to potential customers

46.  Volunteer in the community to connect with other leaders

47.  Leave branded pens behind at local businesses

48.  Advertise on pizza boxes or grocery store carts

49.  Create keychain tags and give them out at fairs

50.  Attend traditional networking events

51.  Create bookmarks with your info and donate them to the library and local schools

52.  Donate a gift certificate to charity auctions

53.  Do pro bono work for charity (networking!)

54.  Offer appreciation day specials for teachers, veterans, etc.

55.  Ask friends and family to share your information on social media

56.  Give clients a 25% discount on each referral they send your way

57.  Send happy birthday texts/emails to clients

58.  Send a thank you text when a client refers you to their friend

59.  Survey customers to identify areas of improvement

60.  Send a thank you note or update after completing a job

61.  Throw in some freebies—like candy—whenever meeting a client

62.  Start a loyalty program

63.  Send exclusive holiday offers to current customers

64.  Send a monthly newsletter to your customers

65.  Offer a coupon to new newsletter subscribers

66.  Distribute a press release to your local newspapers

67.  Write a letter to the editor of an online publication

68.  Create a media kit for reporters to use when covering your business

69.  Create an online magazine

70.  Monitor your online reputation

71.  Write an eBook

72.  Get attention – challenge other industry influencers in your writing

73.  Start a podcast

74.  Host webinars

75.  Create an e-brochure to share on region forums

76.  Join HelpAReporter.com and offer yourself to journalists as an expert in your field

77.  Write whitepapers and distribute them to people in the industry

78.  Create an online portfolio of your work

79.  Teach your expertise in an online course

80.  Buy marketing lists for email campaigns

81.  Advertise on the radio

82.  Advertise on a billboard

83.  Advertise in other people’s newsletters

84.  Cold-call new leads each day

85.  Offer mini-trials of your services

86.  Include a link to your website and a coupon code in your email signature

87.  Sponsor a Pokemon Go location

88.  Host a Meetup in your area to network and find prospective clients

89.  Put a magnet with your contact info on your car

90.  Wear a company-branded t-shirt

91.  Use Fiverr to get new logos, flyers or brochures

92.  Research the competition’s pricing and adjust as needed

93.  Offer a satisfaction guarantee

94.  Provide outstanding customer service

95.  Set up a professional answering service

96.  Post your pricing on your website

97.  Get a QR code

98.  Offer free tools or downloads

99.  Create a promotional calendar

100. Film testimonials or customer interviews.

While you may not be able to do everything on this list, experimenting with different ideas outside of your comfort zone can yield impressive results.

During the next slow season, use these tips to kickstart your marketing efforts and connect with new clients. Or start today – what are you waiting for?

Directories & Free Listings

Hair Cuts

Why are online directories helpful? For one – they’re free.

An important way to leverage these listing is to make sure your business profile and contact info are on as many of these free directories as possible.

Reason being – many clients clients do some sort of research about your business before they reach out about a job request. So the more your business is present across all these listings online, the more comfortable clients get that you’re a legit business.

In addition, as your business presence increases across many of these sites then this builds up your SEO (“Search Engine Optimization”), so that your business name has the higher likelihood of popping up high on Google search results when a client is doing a search for [service industry] in [city, state].

In addition, free listings give you a helpful platform on which to build public customer reviews and content, which will in turn help your business go viral.

What’s the deal?

Yelp is one of the more well-known websites when it comes to people searching for services.

Yelp has built a highly engaged community of consumers who are passionate about writing reviews on businesses. As a result, Yelp is very useful in terms of asking your own clients write glowing reviews to help you grow…that’s the magic here.

Once you set up a Yelp account, first – send every single client you’ve done business with in the past a link to leave a review on your profile. And don’t worry how your clients will react to this – this is not an abnormal request. Your clients won’t hate you for asking them for a review. Most customers know how helpful Yelp can be and just need to be asked directly to leave you a review. Your customers are busy with their own lives as well, so send follow up emails if clients don’t review you right off the bat. Send one, then another 1 week later, then one more 3 weeks later. Then stop. You want to remind clients to review you but 2-3 follow up emails is a good amount until emailed requests start becoming “spammy”.

Adding reviews to your profile is crucial because the more reviews you build on your Yelp profile, the higher up you show on Yelp’s search results. Essentially you’re leveraging your clients to help with marketing.

Yelp gives your current clients a voice to express their opinion of you, which puts you more prominently in front of new clients searching for services in your industry and location. Put some upfront effort in to really get clients to leave you reviews. Heck, even ask a few friends to leave you positive reviews to get the ball rolling. It depends on your industry and location, but the global rule is the more positive reviews the more likely you will reach that #1 listing…

The secondary effect in building up a Yelp profile is that many other (smaller) directories use the ratings data on Yelp as their own reviews. Yelp allows other platforms to tap into business reviews, and display Yelp reviews all over the web. So building up your brand and quality rating profile on Yelp will indeed pay dividends for you across the web.

How do I set it up?

Make sure to “claim” your business profile here: https://biz.yelp.com/  Search for your business – just so you know, sometimes Yelp will auto-add businesses to their site or clients will add businesses even without being asked by the business owner. If you do not see your business listed, then just tap on the “Add your business” link towards the bottom of the page…

Setup takes just a couple minutes, and then you are free and clear to share your business profile link to all your current clients!

What are the risks?

Yelp has been known for its sketchy “fake review” strategies. That is, if you don’t pay to advertise on Yelp (we’ll cover that in the “Paid” section of this Handbook), then they’ve been known to sick fake 1-star reviews on your account to penalize you. This topic has been widely covered and has been consistently denied by Yelp management: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/yelp-extortion/

There’s no real way to fight this risk. The one thing I will say is to make sure you have your profile on other platforms (as discussed below) as well so in case the “review-extortion” happens to you, clients can see more legitimate reviews of your business elsewhere.

What’s the deal?

Google’s basic search platform has enabled local professionals to get discovered easily online. Local and Google My Business allows you to get listed and show up on Google search results in a more relevant fashion.

Google processes over 40k search queries every second, so it makes sense that your profile should show up in search results. Adding your business profile on Google will ensure you show up in the major search engine’s results list. Similar to previous free listing sites, fill up your profile with client reviews so your business can show up as close to the top of search results as possible.

Google is always a great place to appear because it’s just a box that can be checked – in the client’s mind – about your business’s legitimacy. Not to mention, setting up your business account will allow you to delve into other Google advertising products (as discussed herein) to evaluate their usefulness in terms of growth.

How do I set it up?

Set up your business to be listed on Google: https://www.google.com/business/  You’ll be able to find your business (if it’s already listed somewhere on Google), or add it yourself. In a matter of minutes you’ll have your profile live, and it’s up to you to start sharing it with clients to update reviews!

What are the risks?

Just like with many Google products, Google My Business has not seen a lot of active investment from Google (so it seems). That means the amount of information a client can find on your Google profile is rather limited. A screenshot below is an example of what your business will look like – not as content-rich as other listing platforms.

In addition (and the sad reality), your business is always listed next to competing professionals so the client can never really get a focused view on just you with a bit of distraction.

What’s the deal?

Facebook (“FB”) is typically known as a place to simply share photos and comments with friends, but the FB team has spent a considerable amount of time and money building up its business ecosystem – specifically for small business and service providers.

Facebook just recently launched it Facebook Services search product: https://www.facebook.com/services. FB users can now search, browse and book local service professionals direcly on Facebook (albeit they are in the early stages of this search directory). Translation: you want your business to have a Facebook Business page ASAP.

Similar to Yelp, once you set up your FB business page, start filling it up with content. First off that means reviews. Send your FB page to clients and friends (either email them your link or message them your link through FB messenger) and ask them to post reviews on your page. That not only will make you look like a higher quality business to prospective clients, but will now boost your ranking on the new FB services search…

Other “content” (as I mentioned above) means photos and posts. Show off your personality, build your brand – post pictures and any relevant articles or announcements that are relevant to your business.  Even post deals or coupons. Show visiting clients that there is indeed activity and engagement going on on your FB page. Let prospective clients know that there’s a person behind that business name.

The great thing about FB is that clients can like, comment and message you – loads of ways to engage with current clients and show off engagement to leads. Not to mention – the average American spend 40 minutes a day on Facebook, so you’ll be showing activity where your future customers are spending tons of time.

How do I set it up?

Setting up is easy and free. Just go to “Create a Page” FB. Choose “Local Business or Place” as your entity, and then choose the correct “category” and sub categories…these and also your location are important so that you show up on the relevant search results when FB users are searching for service professionals around them.

One other crucial setup piece is to make sure – once your FB page is live – is to give clients a CALL-TO-ACTION on your page. That means giving them something to do once they arrive on your page, read your content, and are ready to reach out. FB added a “Book Now” call-to-action. You can link to your website or any nifty booking tool you have already set up (e.g., like an FB booking link).

What are the risks?

Facebook requires a good amount of time to keep investing in. If you set it up and don’t continue to post status updates, announcements, photos, etc., then your business can look a bit dull and inactive. That might reflect on your very brand – inactive, not particularly caring, unresponsive even. Now, that’s probably not true (since we know that most professionals like you are simply busy), but with so many professionals to choose from and so many platforms to search through, prospective clients have the ability to be picky and jump to conclusions.

Get in the habit of posting at least 2-3 times a week some sort of relevant content to make your clients feel comfortable that you are the man or woman for the job!

What’s the deal?

Craigslist used to be one of the highest trafficked sites across the internet. It was the place to go if you want to buy or list any services, products, etc.

It still is highly trafficked although not as “professional” (per se) in terms of purchasing and offering local services as its peers. But don’t get me wrong – interested clients are still on the platform.

Clients can go on and search the Services section of Craigslist:

So depending on the industry they are searching for, prospect clients can search in an industry section and browse the postings of those people who offer the requisite services. Searching for a music lessons? The choices are plentiful of local folks willing to help – each posting can be clicked on with your – the professional’s – details.

As you can probably see for yourself, the marketplaces and directories today are enhanced versions of this type of model with better design and offerings. But at the end of the day, this is commerce at in its most basic form, and a place where you can absolutely meet interested customers.

How do I set it up?

Go to the account creation page on Craigslist, and all you need is an email to set up an account. No one can browse your profile – people can only browse classifieds (that’s what Craigslist calls job posts) that you post. So go create one.

Go to your home screen and tap on the top left where it says “Post to classifieds”. Choose the “Service offered” option so your post fits in the proper category.

There you’ll be able to fill out the specifics of your skills and offerings. You can post as much or as little detail as to the services you provide in each posting. I would try to appear as legitimate and detailed as you can. Especially since Craigslist doesn’t have reviews or other types of fancy content ability as others. You can share your business information where potential leads can research more information about you.

What are the risks?

Craigslist unfortunately can be known for some sketchy dealings. There’s limited oversight so posting can definitely filter into the “adult services” bracket, which generally attracts sketchier types of folks.

Due to this risk, some people advise hiding your contact details on the postings on Craigslist at the risk of you getting low quality or sketchy people calling you. Craigslist supports hidden email addresses so clients can reach out to you via the job posting, but they can’t see your actual email address.

The site is declining in overall traffic so you can attract some potential clients on it today. Three years from now I’m guessing this won’t be part of your overall lead generation strategy.

Overall Free Business Listing Platform Thoughts

Yelp, Facebook and Google really are the “Big 3” when it comes to listing your business online to get consumers to find you.

Some other directories include Yellow Pages, Porch.com, Manta, Merchant Circle, and the Better Business Bureau. A good resource if you want to dig deep into online directories can be found here.

If you have the time, set up profiles on all these websites – it can build your SEO as you can link back to your website or Facebook Business page. Meaning you will show up organically when people Google for specific services near you.

The goal here is to just attack that low hanging fruit. You’re doing your business a disservice actually by not being listed on these directory platforms. They provide many potential clients with the easiest ways to find you. Don’t make that step difficult – you’ve already got enough things to worry about!

Social Media

Social Media

Believe it or not, the typical American checks social media 17 times every single day. One rule of thumb when it comes to trying to attract customers: Be where your clients are!

Organically introducing your business into the daily lives of consumers is a great way to build your brand and presence. Social media enables you to build your own brand for free! An effective way to get your Call to action in front of new leads.

What’s the deal with Facebook?

Facebook doesn’t just have to be a place where you simply list your business and build content in the hopes that clients find you (as discussed above). You should first set up your business online on Facebook. Test the waters posting a variety of content to build your brand and get the fundamentals down.

Then you can actually be pro-active with Facebook and seek out potential clients on the platform. Since Facebook collects information on individuals (i.e., what they “like”, what their interests are, where they live, what they engage with on Facebook, etc.), you’d be surprised how much accuracy there can be with respect to finding potential clients using FB advertising. Core campaigns you can test out are the following:

Note that with these campaigns, you’ll pay to drive interested people to your website or your FB page or to take a specific action (i.e., Engage, Like, Click). You want these people to see your page or website, and be impressed and want to call you or email you about booking you. That means, you want to have lots of great content on your FB page to increase the “conversion” of these customer visits – that is, make sure when they do come to your FB page or website, they take action!

That’s why it’s crucial to build up those FB reviews, post interesting photos, make community announcements, share articles or write blogs yourself about you and your industry. You can pay FB to drive people to your business page, but to get the most out of Facebook advertising, the key is to make that page worth going to

An added benefit to FB is the ability to re-market. What that means is, you can have people “like” your posts or page, and you’ll be able to know exactly who they are. So these are leads…leads are interested people who could become clients, but (for whatever reason) they simply aren’t ready to book you.

So you can reach out to these leads directly, and you can (more efficiently) post more pieces of content on FB which will show up in their FB feed. If you have a personal FB account (as opposed to a business account), then you know what your “feed” is – that’s the main HOME page on Facebook where you see all the various posts and ads flowing (from friends and businesses).

How do I set it up Facebook?

Before you try to set up any advertising campaigns on Facebook, visit the Facebook for Business page. From this page, you can watch simple and helpful videos about which campaigns to run and test out, such as:

·         Pay per Post Engagement

·         Per Page Like

·         Every Website Click

These videos will do a better job in describing how each ad product will work. This will give you a sense of what might work for you based on your goals.

Once you’re ready to get started, go to your Facebook Ads Manager to start a campaign. Then get underway!

You’re going to have to stay on top of these ads and iterate. Do not overwhelm yourself with tests when you get started. Play around with the audience, the copy, and the graphics on your ads. Get comfortable with how it all works before you go crazy and start spending hundreds of $’s.

What are the risks of Facebook?

I just alluded to it in the paragraph above, but these Facebook ad campaigns can be time consuming to get set up and monitor. There’s a bit of a learning curve as there are a lot of variables to pick and choose from in terms of ad copy, graphics, audience demographic, interests, “cost per” pricing model, budget, etc. Then when the campaign goes live, you need to monitor the campaign to make sure it’s performing OK.

There have also been questions around what a “LIKE” is worth. Probably one of Facebook’s most well-known engagement actions is liking something – as in like a business page. Go ahead and enter into Google search “What is a like worth on Facebook” – search results here.

With a lot of debate as to the return on investment of getting a like. One of the main reasons is because Facebook has now reduced the frequency of business page posts appearing in the news feed of those people who have indeed liked your page. FB’s argument is that they want the consumer’s feed to be more relevant to them (more info on their rationale) and less commercial. So a simple “like” won’t make your business – you need more engagement from your audience than just that.

What’s the deal with Twitter?

Twitter is a lot more fast-paced than Facebook. Typically the behavior of a lot of consumers is opening Twitter up multiple times throughout the day to read or post quick pieces of information or updates or news. As shown in the chart below, people spend ~60% less time on Twitter each day than Facebook:

Twitter provides a different scope of content with its limited 140 character rule on tweets. To be perfectly honest, consumers don’t go on Twitter to help discover someone to hire, although Twitter would probably disagree (since they are biased of course).

What you can use Twitter for is to help build your brand. Maybe post updates on jobs completed, or happy customers, or photos of the service you performed, or any interesting links about news in your industry.

A lot of white collar professionals are also on Twitter because it’s a great place to get breaking news quickly. These white collar professionals should be your clients! They know Twitter well and will respect any service professional who leverages the platform and talks about interesting industry or business information.

Use the hashtag tool! When you do tweet something, at the end of your tweet add “#” and your industry name. (Read why hashtags are important for more info.) This will organize all your tweets and content onto a public thread about that very industry topic. It simply helps organize your tweets and increases your chances of being discovered by consumers of your vertical interests.

Twitter also supports advertising products where you can pro-actively promote yourself to a target audience of Twitter users based on their demographics, profiles, and types of tweets they engage with. Call-to-actions can be clicks on your website, email address collection (for re-marketing), or simply more followers:

How do I set up Twitter?

Just head to Twitter.com and set up an account. In about 2 mins you can start tweeting anything you like. If you know anyone (friends, peers, current customers) who is on Twitter, follow them and they most likely will follow you back. This is where you start your network.

To set up advertising campaigns just go directly to Twitter Ads here. They will walk you through how you can set up different Ad campaigns based on your goals. 

What are the risks of Twitter?

I would be weary of focusing a lot of your efforts on Twitter to grow. Twitter is so fast-paced that it does not accommodate for potential clients to spending time evaluating you and your tweets. In addition, your profile on Twitter doesn’t leave a lot as it relates to client reviews and engaging content. You typically use Twitter to link back to the important stuff.

I would create a Twitter account and be somewhat active mainly as a way for prospective clients to “check the box” when evaluating you as someone to hire. Having a Twitter account will show that you are indeed social, are thoughtful, have something to say, and just improves your brand standing in the consumer’s eyes. 

As you can probably imagine, I would also advise you not spend money on Twitter. Most companies that do spend money are large companies that want to pay for impressions re brand building, or mobile apps that have easy call-to-actions (like “Download Now”) when in a tap of a button they can get a user or customer. There are plenty of other platforms that are better designed for your service based business to help you grow more efficiently.

What’s the deal with Instagram?

Instagram is a photo sharing app. People can join Instagram, post photos, follow friends, and attract followers.

It’s almost like Twitter but more photo/visual-focused. To cut to the chase, use Instagram if you run a business where photos are fun and important. A beautician, a pet professional, a photographer, etc. – these are all service based businesses that would be fun to follow on Instagram (and I’m talking about that personally!).

Instagram is used as a brand building tool (to show off your work), and when you get enough followers then you can go viral. As shown below, you can also include a bio and even a link – a link back to your website or even any bookings tool you have one set up.

How do I set it up Instagram?

You can download Instagram from either the iTunes App Store or the Google Play Store. Note that this is primarily a mobile tool (less so desktop).

The strategy here is similar to Twitter – follow people, get them to follow you back, build a presence and post interesting stuff.

You can even pay to advertise on Instagram. Since FB owns Instagram, advertising on this photo platform is simple after you set up FB campaigns (as discussed on the above).

What are the risks of Instagram?

I would steer clear of paying for Instagram advertising. What you see are brands like Coca Cola, Uber, McDonalds, etc. – more consumer brands – advertising on Instagram as a fresh way to build brand. You’re out priced when it comes to spending on ads.

Also, you’ve got to invest the time to post continually, and – hate to say it – posts need to look good if you’re going to get any traction of interested followers. So you need to be dedicated. The risk to spending too much time is the return – when post on Twitter and Facebook, for example, that content can show up on Google search which is much more easily accessible by your clients to see. Instagram is relatively isolated to unless a client is actively search for your name or business, getting “discovered” is quite tough.

OVERALL THOUGHTS

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram aren’t the only social media platforms out there.

Check out others including LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr and more. I would prioritize LinkedIn first – not really from an advertising perspective. More so to create a profile on you the business owner. Lots of times clients Google the business owner before booking a service. LinkedIn has phenomenal SEO to the point where your profile will show up in search. It’s just a nice trustworthy source for clients to make sure you are a real person with experience.

Social Media shows your face where your clients are looking. In part also builds a personality and brand. You can make announcements, post content, engage with followers / likers. Even pay to pro-actively engage with others. Don’t let them fool you that you must spend to go viral. You won’t grow your following if you don’t have good content. Just keep on sharing what’s going on with your business and with you, and you’ll slowly but surely build up an audience who will start talking you up.

Customer Referrals

Get Customer Referrals

Customer referrals – one of the oldest growth tricks in the book.

Every business owner has heard of this growth engine. It’s honest, it’s free, and it’s the most trusted – customers are 4 times more likely to use your service if they are referred by a friend.

However, many professionals don’t know how (or have the time) to juice this growth source as much as they can. The obvious answer is to do great work – but let’s assume you’re already doing great work. So what else can you do to get clients to tell their friends or family about you? How do you stay top of mind? How do you motivate your clients to want to promote you?

Here are my top 4 tips that you can implement in your daily working routine to boost that viral growth. With very little effort, you can leverage your current client base into a larger marketing engine.

1) Ask for reviews

This sounds basic, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to forget to do this. I don’t mean while you’re walking out of your customer’s home give a “Oh hey, do you mind writing a review for me on Yelp?” Maybe 1 in 20 of these interactions will result in a review. And don’t blame your clients – they’re busy! What you need to do is make it extremely easy on them and also remind them.

Set up a standard email template with a link to one of your business profiles online (e.g., Facebook, Yelp, Google, Thumbtack, etc.) and email your client asking for a single review. The client will tap on the review link, give their rating with brief commentary. Don’t send them 5 different links because that’s asking a lot and some customers might just look at all the review work in front of them and just push it off for another day (which turns into eternity). Just get that one review from each client. If the client doesn’t complete a review, then follow up 1 week later. If nothing then, then send a another review reminder 2 weeks later. One more 3 weeks later. Not every single person will bite, so you need to find the balance of not being spammy yet being top of mind enough for them to give you that review.

Set a simple calendar reminder about asking for reviews, or use an email service like MailChimp to time emails that get sent out asking for reviews. (Note: MailChimp is completely free for up to 2,000 customer emails.) Streamline your review request flow!

2) Remember birthdays and anniversaries

A basic law of human nature is people care about themselves the most. So if you show that you care about them too, then they’ll love that! Sending a text or email or postcard the day of that special date will mean a lot to that client – and not a lot of businesses do this enough.

Collect special dates like birthdays or anniversaries from your clients. You can do this by being honest and straight up asking your client for the date and explain that you send out customer birthday cards (for example). Or if you collect information upfront from your client in a questionnaire or online form upon booking, collect that information from the client.

The beauty of this is that you’re simply doing one extra thing a year for a client, so the investment is minimal. But I’m telling you – you will be 100% top of mind for that client, and the next time one of their friends needs a specific service that fits in your wheelhouse, there is a huge chance you’ll get recommended.

3) Discount for referrals

Sometimes clients need a little nudge over the finish line when it comes to a referral. Discounts can help with that.

In your email signature or on your website, keep a standing % or $ off for referrals. For example – have a perpetual “Refer and get $15 off your next booking” tagline everywhere. Everyone likes a deal, so if a client sees that line, that might actually prompt them to remember that one friend who was asking for service help.

Spending money to get a high quality client is a good investment. And if you’re constantly driving more customer referrals, then adding another client to your list will just help you grow exponentially.

4) Share useful content

As you grow your client list, you’re essentially building your own audience. You can actually take advantage of that in creative ways.

Whether your business is in home services, photography, pet services, beauty, education, therapy, or any other industry – I’m sure you follow a variety of industry news. Topics like DIY (“Do-it-yourself”) or newly (and complementary) tools / technology are typically interesting for clients to read amount.

I know you’re probably very busy, so just once a month (or every other month) share some of that interesting industry news with clients via email. Even if your client doesn’t read the content you send them, I guarantee they will be impressed at the fact that you’re continuously on top of trends, announcements, and industry happenings, that will boost their respect for you. Not to mention, this is also a very easy excuse to keep your brand top of mind with customers, while at the same time giving your client something that’s easily ‘forwardable’ to their friends to recoup that referral J

Good service and the above starting tips will help you leverage your client based and turn them into avid cheerleaders for your business. The truth is 83% of your customers are willing to refer you to friends, but on average only 29% actually do. That means over 50% of your customer base is low hanging fruit for you to take advantage of and grow like crazy.

6 Ways to Deliver Better Customer Service

Improve Customer Service

As simple as it sounds, when it comes to running a small business, customer service can make or break your company.

While telecommunications giants can get away with badgering customers or being downright rude, when your profit margins are thin and access to capital isn’t a phone call away, entrepreneurs cannot afford to gloss over the act of making clients happy.

When it comes to providing great customer service, a bad impression can ruin any goodwill a business may have, causing customers to take their business elsewhere. Great service can differentiate your businesses from the competition – even if those competitors are lower in price.

If you want your business to grow, satisfying customers should be part of your long-term strategy. And when it comes to customer service, the most essential aspect is communication. Here are six tips to help you build a strong relationship with your clients through communication:

1. Be responsive

Nothing is worse than sending a business a question without getting a response. Customers feel disrespected, ignored and can unfortunately take something like that personally.  

Besides offending an interested (or even long-term) client with a lack of (or delayed) response, there is a correlation between the time it takes to respond to a customer and the probability the customer will contact someone else to hire (or churn).

To mitigate this risk, on your website or social media presence, tell customers when they can expect a response within a certain timeframe. Give interested parties some context or an expectation as to when you will be able to respond – and then keep to that commitment. If you happen to be free when the person reaches out, then your immediate response will be a nice surprise.

As your business grows from just you to more employees, you can scale your staff to have more customer support roles, which will ensure a shortened response time.

2. Brevity is the source of wit (and customer satisfaction)

While you should be thorough and complete with your responses, aim to be as direct and brief as possible. That goes for the medium through which you are communicating, as well as the substance of your communication.

Email is not always the best way to respond. Most times if clients have questions or concerns, they want an immediate response. The do not want to have to refresh their inbox on their phone to check if you have (or someone on your team has) responded yet. They want to be notified instantly. Text message can enable you to supply that quick, direct response to ensure customer satisfaction.

Responses should also be structured with a single theme in mind: to the point. There is not a need for lengthy replies, but more so just a few sentences addressing the crux of the client’s question or concern. If you feel supporting information is necessary, provide that afterwards in a separate paragraph, so they can look at it if they have the time.

Getting right to the root of the problem will save both you and your customers time and aggravation.

3. Encourage group engagement

Social media sites are not just for friendly connections and advertising. They can actually allow you to build scalable customer support models.

Letting inquiring customer tap into networks of current customers to help them get their questions answered – in real time or by looking through past threads – can save you enormous amounts of time; while also delivering great customer service.

Encouraging this group type of engagement does not have to be elaborate. Facebook Groups can allow your business to grow an active customer base within each group, and directing inquiring customers to the platform to ask the community. It might surprise you, but some of your happiest clients can actually be your biggest supporters when it comes to converting new clients.

Additionally, you can also support commenting threads on your business’ website as a next-level FAQ section to allow clients to post and also consume relevant information that could help them.

4. An intuitive, accessible way to ask questions

Having you or your staff “ready” to respond to inquiring customer service inquiries is just part of the equation. The other is giving your client an incredibly easy way to ask their questions.

If clients struggle to find the “right” contact information as to who to ask their question to, they will get annoyed quickly. If the client can’t easily look back at the recent questions they have asked, that can cause uncertainty on their end as they might not be 100% sure all the questions they had posed got adequately answered.

There are companies that are known for making it difficult to contact their customer service departments – don’t fall into that trap.

Make your phone number, email or however the best way it is to reach the appropriate person front and center at all time.

5. Limit the transfers

A report from the Harvard Business Review found that customers were more satisfied and more likely to be loyal to a company if the business limited the number of touchpoints the customer went through.

That means limiting the number of transfers or hand-offs to other internal team members or departments. For young companies (under 1-10 employees) especially, all team members should be available to answer customer questions. This ensures ultimate client satisfaction as no matter who the client ends up reaching out to, they will be satisfied. In addition, this ensures that your team members are all on the same page as to the services you offer – knowing your business inside and out.

6. Show your personality

Try not to read from a script. You’ll get to scripts when you become a 100+ person company.

Many times customers forget that your company is made up of a group of individuals when they are reaching out to your business. They can often consider a business a commodity without any human element to it. The more you show your client that you are in fact a person and your team members are real people, that can add a huge impact.

A good sense of humor, being empathetic to the client and asking the customer questions about themselves can all build a human connection with inquiring clients. Your business will stick out in their minds and will develop goodwill that no other competing business will have.

Mastering Service Drives Growth

Customer service is an art form. And what works for a small business may not work as your business expands.

However, as you’re growing, it is crucial to note that great customer service is not a short-term win. The clients you win over with your service, many times become your biggest cheerleaders to help you grow your company to where it needs to go.

Take customer service seriously, grow your business and never stop improving the way your treat your clients – both old and new.