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I am wondering what you guys have gotten out of your web site (if you have one)? We will build the typical site, who we are,what we do etc for now. My goal down the road is to have my customers be able to log in/check their account/see when we are coming next (we are a lawn care co, fertilizer not mowing) and be able to leave notes/pay their bills etc. Does anybody do this now? How is it working out? Has it helped your business?
Thanks in advance,
I can not tell you from experience how well the customer login works, but I can tell you that my customers showed no interest what so ever in being able to do this. The only benefit for me would be if they could pay their bills online, but I havn't found a cost effective way yet. As far as new sales from my website, I got 2 residential this year off of my website that signed up and 2 that didn't accept my bid. The thing is, these were people that got my direct mail and went to the website instead of calling on the phone, I have gotten 0 that I know for sure would not have contacted me if not for the website. Of course there are immeasurable positives for instance, a customer gets my direct mail and the presence on the web gives the customer the confidence in my company to request a bid. Put another way the website gives the appearance of a professional company.
I get approx. 50 visitors a week, nearly all from lawnsite.
05-10-2003, 11:35 PM
we have a customer id number calendar. It allows the customer to be able to see when their next date of service is...probably onl about 15% of our customers use it. Then we offer online billing and online payment. So far only about .08% of people use it.
05-12-2003, 12:44 PM
Be very careful when estimating how much your website brings you. You cannot quantify VALIDITY.
Websites, for service professionals, are not used to gain customers, but rather to validate bids that were received. The customer wants to be sure they won't get taken. Your website presence shows an additional step to the purchaser that you are not a fraud. We all know that contractors in general compete with fraudulant people on reputation and your reputation will state to prospective customers that you are no where near fraudulant.
Do not use your website for:
attracting new customers
selling new customers
bidding on new customers
Use your website for the following:
maintaining records for existing customers
showcasing your work
validate your business
Accepting payments on the web
In your business, your website should be about informing new customers and providing information to existing customers. When a referral comes to you via word of mouth, if they check your website, then that will add the validity to contact you further. In your business you would be wasting money to market your website so that you could get good search hits. Additonally your market area is too small for that purpose....you wouldn't want to landscape a building in Miami if your were located in Maine.
05-12-2003, 01:58 PM
You said: "Do not use your website for:
attracting new customers
selling new customers
bidding on new customers"
This is absolutely wrong. Why do I need to have a site only for the customers I already have? No need, unless you do a monthly newsletter for tips and such. I do need it to attract new ones, use as a selling tool and help them see the work I do is very similar to the work I am bidding on at their place.
I have done web design in the past. And especially for this type of business (Green Industry) it is vital for getting new customers. I do not need a web site to show the customers I already have the job we do......they already know!
I am not trying to just disagree with you, just offering another point to web presence and how others view it.
Yes I do have a site and give its address to potential customers as a selling tool all the time. We have many that look at it and or find it by other means.
05-12-2003, 02:08 PM
The most important aspect of having a website for a business in the service industry is validity. You don't need to have a site for just customers that you already have, but you can't expect people to find you on the web for service related businesses.
Too many business owners think that getting a website will provide new business leads right away, and this is the wrong approach. To achieve this goal you would have to have a huge advertising budget, that is the only thing that will get the site to the top of search engines immediatly.
I have one site that I never submitted to a search engine (based on customers request) and that site has been up for over three years. The site ranks higher than those that have been submitted.
Unless you have goods to sell on the page and ship out the same day or the next day, then your site should not be listed as a revenue stream in your business plan...it just isn't practicle. Additionally, if you put a focus on this aspect of your business then you will be taking valuable time away from your other revenue streams, which will hurt your bottom line.
I respect the fact that other people, including web designers, have differing opinions of this, however when I state my point to service providers, then there is only an upside that will occur and that is leads from the site. If the designer gives the point that it can generate leads, if it doesn't you then have a credibility problem.
We all know that the best form (and cheapest) is word of mouth, but this goes a long way to achieving the close on word of mouth references, as well as other advertising campaigns.
Just remember....it can be done, you can generate leads from your website, but you must be willing to pay the price financially and time wise.
05-12-2003, 02:42 PM
My website has produced almost half of my customers. I advertise in some local chamber of commerce type online business lists and get a great return on it. Most of my customers that I did get from my website have stated that they like to lookup companies online and if they have a good website then they will give them a call. Some of them will email directly from the website and if they get a prompt reply it's better than having to call.
Remember that the web is todays yellow pages. I'm the same way, if I need to hire a company for a service I do a search for their website. With no website I would never know the company existed; therefore, I would not become a new customer.
Granted, word of mouth is still the best advertising you can get, but even with word of mouth, it's better to have a friend tell a friend to checkout your website. For me anyway, it's more convenient.
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