Mike has been my family’s plumber for 20 years. He’s seen us through two houses and two children who tend to flush things down the toilet that they shouldn’t (even at 17 years old, but that’s another story). The last time Mike was at our house (one shouldn’t flush paper towels), I asked him how he drove leads to his business.
Our conversation went something like this:
Do you use HomeAdvisor?
“No, those leads are poor and they share them with a lot of other plumbers”
What about Google My Business?
“That works for me, but I’m a small firm and only get a few reviews. It’s hard to stay at the top of the listings”
AdWords or Facebooks Advertising?
“I tried that, it took a lot of work for not a lot of return. Plus, it can get expensive”
So how to you drive business?
“Well I’ll tell you if you stop asking these annoying questions. I get most of my business through word-of-mouth”
Word-of-mouth? That really surprised me.
In 20 years, Mike has never once asked for a referral. He’s never asked for a review. In 20 years, I don’t think we’ve ever recommended him to a friend. Mike is a great plumber. He is honest and does good work. If he asked, we’d refer him to any friends that needed a plumber or the new neighbor across the street. We’d write him a review in a second. Five stars. This is 20 years of lost opportunity. Mike’s word of mouth could be better.
It’s likely that your word-of-mouth could be better as well. If you don’t systematically work on your word-of-mouth, you are missing a very large opportunity. Here are some helpful hints:
- Make sure you never forget to ask for reviews by using a service (like Signpost) that sends out a review request via email or text every time you complete a job or get paid.
- Make sure you/your crews/techs are trained to ask for reviews when they complete the job.
- You make it easy for happy customers to refer you: leave a card for them to pass on to friends and neighbors. Offer them a referral fee if someone that they referred books a job with you.
It doesn’t take a lot, but it drives huge benefits.