Use Vehicle Wraps, Website Services, and Word of Mouth to Increase New Customer Leads
By Candace Roulo
As a new homeowner, I quickly realized how important it is for contractors to market and advertise their companies online. In our modern culture, contractors need to be utilizing online marketplace services such as Angie’s List and Home Advisor. Street advertising is important as well, such as truck wraps. Let’s also not forget about the power of “word of mouth” referrals! If you think word of mouth referrals are for old timers, think again. Respect the word of mouth referral because good referrals can make you while bad referrals can break you.
I think most of us in the contracting industry, whether residential or commercial, can agree that the days of the Yellow Pages have come and gone. When looking for plumbing contractors to work on my kitchen and bathroom plumbing projects, I didn’t even think of flipping through the local Yellow Pages. The majority of Generation X and millennial consumers, like me, reach for their mobile tablet or phone when in need of a professional contractor.
According to the article Yellow Pages vs. Digital Marketing: Is the Phone Book Really Dead? by Isabella Andersen, older generations and people living in rural areas are still using phone books to find local businesses, however, it’s unlikely you’ll find Generation X or millennials using anything but their phones to lookup local businesses.
Here are some sobering statistics noted in Andersen’s article:
- A few years ago, ComScore found that more than half of the U.S. population has replaced the phone book with an online search.
- 70% of Americans don’t even open their phone books (only 11% use the White Pages) according to MSN.
- Based on Brightlocal’s yearly survey, 97% of consumers have used the Internet to find local businesses in the last year.
Consumers can easily research contractors (or any type of business for that matter) online. Contractors need to remember that the Internet is a powerful tool. Consumers can educate themselves by reading contractor reviews and gathering knowledge regarding products, systems and costs of those systems. Like it or not, some popular websites consumers turn to are Angie’s List, Home Advisor and Yelp.
- Founded in 1995, Angie’s List is an American home services website. It is an online directory that allows users to read and publish crowd-sourced reviews of local businesses and contractors. When searching out plumbing contractors, this was my go-to website besides reviewing the contractors’ business websites.
- HomeAdvisor is a digital marketplace that connects homeowners with prescreened, local service professionals to complete home improvement, maintenance and remodeling projects. Just last October, HomeAdvisor’s parent IAC/InterActiveCorp acquired rival Angie’s List in a deal valued at $500 million. The name of the new company is ANGI Homeservices and took Angie’s spot on the Nasdaq exchange.
- Yelp.com and the Yelp mobile app publish crowd-sourcedreviews about local businesses. The company also trains small businesses in how to respond to reviews, hosts events for reviewers, and provides data about businesses.
Even though it’s important for contractors to have a digital presence and be on one of these websites since it’s an avenue to customers (plus contractors need to keep an eye on these websites for any negative reviews that may appear), they are not a “be all end all” for the consumer. For example, I used Angie’s List to find a reputable plumbing contractor (at least I thought I was finding a reputable contractor based on reviews and reviewing the company’s website), but the contractor that came out, despite all the positive Angie’s List reviews, didn’t fix or even troubleshoot the plumbing issues I was experiencing. Instead, the contractor made assumptions as to what was wrong, which was an easy fix on their end, but my kitchen and bathroom plumbing issues were not resolved – more on that later.
Benefits of Truck Wraps
Because I was in home improvement mode with my kitchen and bathroom plumbing projects, when commuting to and from my job I started taking notice of all the plumbing, HVAC, and electrical contractors that had graphics on their work trucks.
Just think about how many people drive on the roads daily. Often, consumers first learn of a contractor while commuting thanks to vehicle wraps.
According to the article America’s Ongoing Love Affair with the Car by Richard Florida, a report on commuting habits from the U.S. Census Bureau notes that when it comes to getting to and from work, the U.S. remains an auto-dependent nation. The report, by Brian McKenzie of the Census’s Journey to Work and Migration Statistics Branch, notes that 86% of workers drive a car to work.
When on the road, look around at all the work trucks and vans you see (some of them are probably your competitors). If you are a contractor driving a plain cargo van, you have a blank canvas that is screaming for some eye-catching advertising to be applied to it, not to mention you are missing out on a great opportunity to get your company name out to the driving masses. Think of the benefits of being in a traffic jam when you have your company advertised on your vehicle!
Benefits of Word of Mouth
After using Angie’s List and looking at all the wrapped work trucks on my daily commute, word of mouth is how I found an experienced plumbing contractor to work on my kitchen and bathroom plumbing projects. I asked one of my industry associates what local plumbers are members of the PHCC-NA. I figured I wanted a cream of the crop contractor to fix my kitchen and bathroom plumbing woes.
Even though I was confident in the plumbing contractor I was referred to, I still researched the company’s website and checked some online reviews. All looked well, so I picked up the phone, made an appointment, and now all my kitchen and bath plumbing projects are complete. Plus, I will gladly recommend this company to any friends, family, or coworkers that are looking for a plumbing contractor.
Some website marketplace services and vehicle wraps will cost contractors money, but having an online presence and utilizing trucks wraps is imperative for all contractors. You cannot afford to not get your company name out there. It is branding at its best! Nevertheless, do not forget how important word of mouth is.
Candace Roulo, a graduate of Michigan State University’s College of Communication Arts and Sciences, and is a technical writer covering topics in the mechanical contracting and manufacturing industries.