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EXECUTION Overall Look at a Local Service Business

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I don't expect much attention on this thread, but wanted to start it as my progress thread and also a way for all the local service guys on here to brainstorm and share ideas with each other for best marketing, software, hiring, and customer service practices. I am launching my business in the next couple of weeks so currently working on getting everything ready. And I am currently not going to share what the business is yet. If all goes according to plan, there will be an e-commerce side to the biz as well with our own private label brand of products that are complimentary to the service we provide. We will be able to upsell service customers with these products and also sell online and be able to have a ton of videos and content like social media posts of us using the products.

About the business:
Without disclosing what I will be doing, what I can say is this: it's a service that pretty much anyone can use, but they aren't actively searching for it. So, adwords won't really work. There are companies all over the country that do this, but literally none in my area. Is there a big need for it? I am going to find out by engaging the market.

What I've done so far:
Thought of a good name for the company, got a logo made, built the website, bought most of the supplies needed to do the service, formed the LLC.

What's left before/during launch:
Business facebook account, instagram, set up GMB location at a friend's office building (because I won't actually have a location besides my house), take a few more pictures to put on the website, start running FB and instagram ads and google ads, get on yelp, angie's list, homeadvisor, rakuten, and other local discount websites. Going to do this service for family and friends for free and get them all to post about it on their social media with specific coupon codes for each person.

The plan:
Do service calls on the weekends until I get so busy that I have to quit the day job or possibly keep the job longer and hire somebody to do the work and quit the job later. Time will tell on that. Have a family to feed first and foremost.

The tools I'm using:
Wordpress website. Hello Elementor theme with the Elementor Pro plugin
Zenbooker for online booking, scheduling, payment processing (stripe integration), dispatching, CRM, etc. Been testing that vs. Housecall Pro for what I need. Can't decide
Fiverr for the logo
Probably Grasshopper for the phone system. Don't like Google Voice even though it is free
Mailchimp

Current costs are right at about $600 for supplies, logo, website, etc. before any advertising.

What I need advice on:
What would be the most effective and affordable form of advertising? Since people aren't actively looking for the service but could definitely benefit from it, I'm thinking FB/instagram ads, try to get in a local publication, all my friends and family to share it on their social media, possibly bandit signs in the higher end parts of town, possibly direct mail, local influencers, radio, etc. Any creative ideas?

@Johnny boy @minivanman @Andy Black @IceCreamKid @rjrobbins2
 

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Davejemmolly

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Obviously it’s hard to say without knowing what the business is, or any idea of the margins.

But in an increasingly advertising saturated world, personal word of mouth recommendation is king.

I’d seriously consider if you can build in a double sided referral program, ie you refer a friend, you get $25 off and they get $25 off, that sort of thing.

Obviously you need two things to make this work.

1) sufficient margin in your service to offer a compelling referral
2) a quality product or service - people aren’t going to risk their social capital by referring a crappy service just to make a couple of bucks off!

Hope this helps
 

Dan_Cardone

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Postcard marketing.

Postcard that offers something of value such as free report -> They have to call in to tell you where to send free report -> Try to sell them when they call in -> send them free report that adds value -> continue to follow up until they buy
 
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tmb22

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Obviously it’s hard to say without knowing what the business is, or any idea of the margins.

But in an increasingly advertising saturated world, personal word of mouth recommendation is king.

I’d seriously consider if you can build in a double sided referral program, ie you refer a friend, you get $25 off and they get $25 off, that sort of thing.

Obviously you need two things to make this work.

1) sufficient margin in your service to offer a compelling referral
2) a quality product or service - people aren’t going to risk their social capital by referring a crappy service just to make a couple of bucks off!

Hope this helps
Thanks for the idea. I will have the margins to be able to do something along those lines and will definitely try it. I just wonder how to implement it into Zenbooker, since I will probably be using that for online booking and payment. So I wonder if/how I will be able to track referral codes people use
 

minivanman

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If there are companies all over that do this, why so secret? There are only 2 reasons no one is doing it in your area.
 
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tmb22

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If there are companies all over that do this, why so secret? There are only 2 reasons no one is doing it in your area.
Was waiting for a comment like this. All I'll say is.. I personally believe there is a need for the service and am willing to go for it and find out what the market thinks. There are a lot of companies in other states doing this and a couple of national franchises doing it actually. But there is no one doing it in my area except for one company an hour away from here and they are a joke.

And I'm being secret because this is a public forum and have seen where people get copied on here
 
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tmb22

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So tell me.... what are the 2 reasons?
It feels like I'm being set up or something haha but I'll bite....
1. There's no need for it
2. Business model doesn't work

Idk.....
 

Sizemore

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Was waiting for a comment like this. All I'll say is.. I personally believe there is a need for the service and am willing to go for it and find out what the market thinks. There are a lot of companies in other states doing this and a couple of national franchises doing it actually. But there is no one doing it in my area except for one company an hour away from here and they are a joke.

And I'm being secret because this is a public forum and have seen where people get copied on here
If it’s a local service and it makes money, it won’t take long for you to get copied anyway.
 

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minivanman

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No, it would take effort for someone to copy what he wants to do and most people will never take action. It sounds as though he is in a smaller town so the odds of it being copied are only high if by some miracle someone puts out some effort to copy him.
 

ZCP

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Lot of ideas for channels in the book Traction. Find the top one or two and double down on them. When they saturate / you have more budget hit the third. There are like 19 channels suggested. Finding the ones that 'echo' is as tough as Trying Them.
 

Andy Black

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What are the companies all over doing (that you can see)?

Me? I’d start anything by finding people in my own network who might need help, helping them, and starting to get known as The XYZ Guy. Then I’d find other businesses who already have my clients and build relationships with them.

Have you let everyone in your network know what you do (or plan to do)?
 
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tmb22

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Thanks for all the great responses @minivanman @Andy Black @ZCP I love this place.
It sounds as though he is in a smaller town so the odds of it being copied are only high if by some miracle someone puts out some effort to copy him.
It's actually not a small town. Like 1.2 million people in the area, so I fully plan on being copied but not copied by someone like me.
Lot of ideas for channels in the book Traction. Find the top one or two and double down on them. When they saturate / you have more budget hit the third. There are like 19 channels suggested. Finding the ones that 'echo' is as tough as Trying Them.
I read Traction like a year ago and definitely need to revisit it now. Don't know why I haven't thought to do that yet, thank you
What are the companies all over doing (that you can see)?
I've found a video of one of the companies in their city's local news. All of the companies doing this have terrible websites it's hilarious. A lot of it is probably word of mouth and seeing the car driving around town with a huge decal on the side saying what they do. I know a lot of my business will be word of mouth, but it will be done on social media by my friends and family who can reach probably 10,000 people in the area. I am blessed to have a lot of extended family here in town and a big group of friends from high school here
Then I’d find other businesses who already have my clients and build relationships with them.
I think this would be huge. I really want to do this with a couple of companies. But how does it benefit them when I don't have any customers yet to send their way? Just confidently give them a guarantee that I will? Or offer some free website/marketing advice? Or pay them a referral fee?

Have you let everyone in your network know what you do (or plan to do)?
Working on this. So far just immediate family and close friends. I have to be careful here. I can't just blast it on social media because my boss would see
 

RazorCut

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Also should've tagged @ZCP and @RazorCut probably
I see I'm late to the party. OK, an online and offline tip.

A friend of mine does car detailing. He gets the majority of his work via Facebook but for the most part he doesn't pay for ads. He gets on lots of local FB groups and posts before and after images on those. Some he gets booted out from as it is not a relevant group to the stuff he is posting but it works as, by the time he is kicked out, he might have got half a dozen customers from it. These hit and run guerrilla tactics work well for him even though they maybe considered a little unethical.

Offline tip.

Having had Pizzeria and Carpet Cleaning businesses in the past I know how powerful leafleting and cold canvasing can be. The best way to do this is to do it yourself as walking around a neighbourhood on a warm sunny weekend can drum up a lot of work as you find a lot of people pottering around their home and garden, and if no one is home you just post the leaflet. One job in one street usually adds up to 3-4 as word of mouth spreads.

In fact I had a text just yesterday that started out:

"Hi, I got your number from a friend who recommends you."

I have no idea who her friend is but when they return from their travels next month they are keen for a meet up to discuss their plans.

Getting the postal service to do your leaflet drops can be cost effective. Another option would be leaflets in the local free papers if there is one that is delivered in your area. I think a leaflet stands out much better than an ad in the paper itself as it unmissable. I have had poor results with traditional ads in the papers as you are lost in the noise of all the other ads it contains.

I expect the book @ZCP recommended would include leaflets. For many Pizzerias as soon as sales start to decline they do a leaflet drop. Its why you get a domino leaflet through your door every 3-4 weeks. Being constantly reminded of a product conditions you to think of them first when you fancy a take out. Especially if you can entice them with a good offer.
 
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@RazorCut good stuff there. Now that I think about it, I occasionally get a magnet stuck on my mailbox from a local pizza place.

I run a lot, so here’s my idea that I should try....get a ton of magnets made for the business and stuff them in my camelback that I wear when I run like 8 miles or more and stick them on every mailbox in my area while I run. And then another day drive to another nice neighborhood and do the same thing
 

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They aren't searching for it?....

I have a little story.

Last winter, I printed out some door hangers, made up some fliers and brochures and started knocking on doors every day.

Now, I'm selling lawn care. All these people have lawns. I'm pretty sure they'll need someone to take care of it in the spring. So I go out and do 100 a day.

100 homes. Every. Single. Day. Rain or shine. Usually rain. It's winter in Washington state at the time.

I go out for a month and do thousands of homes. Everyone gets a door hanger that's well designed and clear about our services.

I got 1 signup.

Then spring comes around.

I've had craigslist ads up the whole time. But once the grass starts growing, THEN I get calls.

I'm signing up like 2 people every single day, and for $3,000 yearly contracts each. I had a great spring.

People don't give a shit. You will cry yourself to sleep each night when trying to grow a business against low demand.

So ask yourself why you're doing something nobody is searching for. All I have to do is speak english and have all my teeth and I'm better than my competition. And when they call in the spring and desperately need someone, they'll happily sign up for a fat yearly contract and it's the greatest thing ever.
 

Dan_Cardone

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Johnny just gave you some gold advice.
 
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tmb22

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Haha good story @Johnny boy thank you for sharing. Im not doing lawn care though. People here just don’t know this service even exists. There are companies that are doing well doing this. How do I know this? I’ve called them to try and set up appointments to figure out what their prices are and got a voicemail saying they are too busy to accept new appointments and to try back in a month
 

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tmb22

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If you can’t tell us what it is then I’ve got nothing else for you
I understand. Thanks for the advice you already gave here and your lawn care thread. I got a lot from it
 

Merging Left

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Look into joining a local BNI group. They're essentially local service business groups, with one person per niche, and you refer clients to each other where appropriate. For example, a house cleaner might be able to refer a power washer, or vice versa.

Second, with 1.2M people in your area, how certain are you that nobody searches for it? Is it possible people are searching using different terms than how you're considering it? Is it close enough to another service that you could tag on to their keywords? Like if you cleaned gutters, you could probably still advertise using yard cleanup keywords.

If people aren't searching and won't see your online ads, flyers may be the way to go. USPS offers "Every Door Direct Mail" that could serve you well.
 
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tmb22

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Look into joining a local BNI group. They're essentially local service business groups, with one person per niche, and you refer clients to each other where appropriate. For example, a house cleaner might be able to refer a power washer, or vice versa.

Second, with 1.2M people in your area, how certain are you that nobody searches for it? Is it possible people are searching using different terms than how you're considering it? Is it close enough to another service that you could tag on to their keywords? Like if you cleaned gutters, you could probably still advertise using yard cleanup keywords.

If people aren't searching and won't see your online ads, flyers may be the way to go. USPS offers "Every Door Direct Mail" that could serve you well.
Good call on the BNI group. Just looked into it and there are several to choose from. Thank you for that. And when I try 5 different keyword combos for what people might search on google keyword planner, they all say 10-100 average monthly searches. And that sounds like not a lot at all to me.... @Andy Black ??
 

minivanman

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1st rule about SEO.... forget about the keyword planner. Type in your keyword and see what comes up automatically in the drop down. That's what you need to go by.
 

Tourmaline

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Andy Black

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Good call on the BNI group. Just looked into it and there are several to choose from. Thank you for that. And when I try 5 different keyword combos for what people might search on google keyword planner, they all say 10-100 average monthly searches. And that sounds like not a lot at all to me.... @Andy Black ??
1st rule about SEO.... forget about the keyword planner. Type in your keyword and see what comes up automatically in the drop down. That's what you need to go by.
Run a test campaign (load it and see).
 
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tmb22

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Just had a call with the accountant for some advice on business set up and licenses. When I told him what I'd be doing, his first response was to sign him up and that he would spread the word to everyone. Definitely good to hear
 

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