Sponsored Content: 4 Hacks To Maximize Your Sales in 2018
I’m not sure about you, but I think it’s unbelievable that we’re almost halfway through 2018. At this point, you may have a pretty good idea of where your sales are heading for the remaining few months. Maybe you’re on pace to do record sales (way to go, rockstars!). Or, maybe this year is looking a bit flat (don’t give up!). It doesn’t matter where your’e at- I’ve give you 4 practical things you can do to start seeing an increase in your run rate.
1) Let Google’s AI Work For You
Unless you live under a rock, you probably understand that Google is the king of search. Every year, Google hosts a conference called Google I/O where they showcase their newest technology and highlight projects they’re working on that will undoubtedly change how people interact with technology. In previous years, they’ve talked lots about Android, smart speakers, or virtual reality.
This year (and last) had one huge focus: artificial intelligence.
As a marketer who loves tech toys, I won’t lie to say that while the technology truly is remarkable, I’m half-expecting to wake up one day to see my laptop becoming self-aware and ready to take over the world:
Ok, so it’s maybe not quite that dramatic, but Google is seriously disrupting the status quo of how your customers will looking for a contractor.
Don’t believe me? Click here to watch the video of a human talking to a computer on the phone without having any idea that they’re not real.
For years, HVAC contractors have been competing for page 1 results on Google search (a status that, I’m proud to say, we’ve achieved for our companies over-and-over). But now, people will more and more be using their voice to issue requests to Google without ever using a phone or a computer. This means that, just like using phone books in days of old, if you’re still thinking 2-year old techniques are still going to be just as effective, you’ll be dead wrong.
One of the easiest ways to leverage this new trend is to make sure your company is using Google Local Services and the new upgraded Google AdWords. Both of these products tie nicely into Google’s ecosystem so that when a customer is searching for you, you’ll be found. If you’re not quite sure how these products are the same or different or why they matter, drop us a line, and we’ll help you sort through the confusion.
2) Develop (or improve) a strategy for gaining online reviews.
Fact: 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.
Fact: Personal recommendations have the highest conversion ratios of all marketing channels at roughly 1:1.
Fact: Google uses online reviews in your SEO score, and it’s also important for the AI algorithm of our first point.
And, while we’re speaking truth, people tend to not have a super high level of excitement when they need to find an HVAC contractor. I guess on the list of people-that-you-don’t-really-care-for, it’s probably:
- Used Car Salesmen
- Service Contractors
Honestly, it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise- people don’t usually sit around on their couch on a Thursday afternoon sipping a cool beverage looking for HVAC contractors. The only reason they’re looking for you is because a) their AC isn’t cooling like it should, b) their furnace isn’t heating like it should, or c) they’re planning a remodel, renovation, or construction project.
Look, if you’re a contractor, reviews are money in the bank. They help show your customers that you do great work, that you have happy customers all over the place, and that you’re always busy serving folks all around your area.
Let me prove my point.
I won’t pull up any reviews for HVAC contractors for fear that maybe your company might pull up. (That’d be pretty awkward for both of us.) So, let’s pick on our lawyer friends.
Which one would YOU choose?
Final fact: every star rating in your review is worth about 5-9% of revenue. You can do the math on how much those star ratings are worth to your business.
One of the best ways to start getting reviews is simply to ask for them. On the sites we launch, we actually put links on easy-to-find places on the site so customers can leave reviews directly with Google, Facebook, or Yelp. Additionally, we provide an app on every tech’s phone that’s proven to increase the amount of reviews you generate. (Actually, a company we’ve recently started working with has seen an increase in their Google reviews of 400% per month since we’ve deployed our tool to their team.) There’s several paths you can choose, but the point is: make a systematic approach to creating & collecting great online reviews. You’ll be amazed at just how effective those reviews are to generating more traffic for you.
This is the actual report showing the increase of Google-only new reviews for this HVAC company after we helped them put some strategies in place.
3) Your BEP is a sword with two edges.
If your shop hasn’t moved to flat-rate pricing, you’re missing a huge opportunity to maximize your profits, and make sure that your business is financially viable for years to come. If you’re already using flat rate, you probably understand the the basis for your pricing comes from understanding your BEP, or break even point. (You can read our step-by-step guide to using flat rate for your HVAC business by clicking here.)
So, whether you understand your BEP or not, here’s an ‘a-ha’ for lots of contractors: it actually works in both directions.
Let me explain.
For service industries like HVAC & Plumbing companies, your BEP is determined by a method called cost-volume-profit analysis. In this method, you determine your overhead, your actual job costs, and the average billable hours that you serve in a year to determine your profit margin. If you were learning about this in an accounting class, you’d probably see a diagram that looks like this:
For smart contractors who understand their BEP, they realize that they cannot bill their service at an hourly rate for less than their BEP and still pay bills. Keep in mind- the BEP isn’t about your profit margin, it’s about the minimum you need to bill per hour to not go in the negative. For most contractors already using flat-rate, you probably have a good grasp on this.
However, here’s the hack: once you achieve your BEP in volume of hours in a given period (month/quarter/year), every additional sale significantly adds directly to the profit margin your business. So, if you plan on billing 120 hours per tech for service calls in a given month- if that’s the number your BEP is based on- as soon as you bill 121 hours, you’re begun to maximize your profit margin [if you care to know, you’ll maximize your profit by the amount of your contribution margin]. So, use this to your advantage! Hit your target number of billable hours, then come up with creative ways to squeak out an extra 5, 10, or 25 hours in a given period. For you, those additional sales are icing on the cake, and are treated as extra revenue above and beyond your normal business operations. In other words, it’s more profit for your business, and it drops straight to the bottom line!
4) Stop it with the ready-fire-aim stuff.
If I had a quarter for every contractor I’ve met who makes snap decisions without trying to synchronize momentum, I’d be a wealthy man. On one hand, I get it- you’re busy, you’re in a van, you only have small pockets of time to do things. On the other hand, it’s a lot of movement that doesn’t… you know… work very well.
Like this guy:
I mean, he’s busy. But it’s uncoordinated, and there’s lots of wasted effort.
The exact same thing is true with your marketing plan. Let’s look at some of the pieces that are likely in place for an HVAC company with $3-4MM in revenue:
- Home Shows
- Customer Loyalty Programs
- Vehicle Wraps
- Paid Traffic
- Home Advisor
- Local Services
- Bing Ads
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Traditional Print
- Door hangers
- Mass Marketing
- Business Directories
- Press Releases
Honestly, it can get overwhelming. But, what would happen if- instead of doing a bunch of individual marketing efforts- you focus on optimizing your strategies to work together? To keep this simple, let’s talk about digital, namely the things that provide a mix of organic or paid traffic:
- This is one of Google’s most popular products, and it’s easy to see why. You give Google money, and in turn, they give you access to their customers who are searching for certain phrases.
- Organic (SEO). This is one of the most competitive areas for aggressive HVAC companies. But, unlike AdWords (which has near-instant results), SEO can take anywhere from 4-12 months to really notice the benefit.
- Map Pack. This is often overlooked by many companies. With 30% of the click volume going to the 3 companies listed in the ‘map’ section of a search results, it’s 3x more effective than AdWords. Also, it relies heavily on your company’s reputation.
In this simple example, each of these marketing strategies have pros and cons. AdWords is great for short-term results, but it can be costly in the long run. SEO is powerful volume for maximum lead flow, but it doesn’t happen overnight. The map pack requires optimization and excellent customer reviews. So, you can use any of those independently from each other… but, if you’re smart, you can leverage the benefits of each channel to give you a synergistic benefit. Check this out:
Here’s the point: there’s plenty of 2018 left where you can truly make some smart decisions to significantly impact your lead flow, your call volume, and your profits. Don’t think of each opportunity in a silo, however, because it’s when you use them together that you’ll really see the most impact.
At DP Marketing.Services, we literally breathe this stuff. We have a passion for helping HVAC & Plumbing contractors maximize their leads, make more money, and achieve the quality of life they want. Because of this, our own growth has been incredible over the past handful of years- and we’d love to see if we can help your company reach new levels. If you’d like to connect for a strategy session, simply go to https://www.dpmarketing.services/lets-go, and we’ll make it happen. We only work with one contractor per service area, and it’s first-come-first-serve. If you’re ready to take your business to the next level, we’d love to connect!
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Posted In: Sales & Marketing
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