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Friday, January 14, 2022

Google recently made a change in their search engine results pages that could exponentially increase the importance of actively managing your Google Business Profile (formerly known as Google My Business). It’s likely to significantly reward painting contractors who put the time into optimizing the profile and thoroughly punish those who don’t.

What Changed?

In the image above you can see a portion of the results of a recent search for painting contractors. Google has made significant changes to the Local Pack and Map area of the search engine results page. The first thing you may notice is that the Map is now to the right of the Local Pack. Previous to this change the Map was above the Local Pack. The new alignment will likely slightly increase the amount of consumer clicks that occur on the Local Pack listings and slightly decrease the number of clicks on the Map.

However, the much more significant change is that Google is now using “Best Match” as the “Sort by” default over “Distance”. You can see that in the image. Previously, in the vast majority of cases Google would use “Distance”, or the business’s proximity to the person conducting the search, as the most heavily weighted factor for what businesses showed up in the Local Pack. In fact, the user didn’t even have the option of “Sort by”.

How Will This Impact What Painting Contractors Google Includes in the Local Pack?

The reason this adjustment is so monumental is because it completely changes the game for painting contractors when it comes to being found in local search. Whereas before a decently completed Google Business Profile could still get you into the Local Pack if you were close to the person conducting the search, now your fate is left up to Google’s definition of “Best Match”.

While we don’t know exactly what Google analyzes to determine what the best match in the Local Pack would be, we have a long track record of how they’ve determined “Best Match” in an almost identical circumstance – the organic search results.

It would seem to be highly likely that Google will heavily weight some of the same factors for Local Pack rankings that they do for websites in the organic search rankings, things like quality content, topical keyword relevance, location keyword relevance and degree of focus on the specific topic or service.

What Should I Do?

Painting contractors who jump on this opportunity by completing and optimizing their Google Business Profile to include topical and geographic keywords where possible and appropriate while also considering how they can leverage the posting feature are likely to get a significant boost over their competitors. Login to your Google Business Profile. Make sure all the information is accurate and then complete everything you can while being sure to emphasize the services you provide. Double down on the advantage you have just created for yourself by being sure to ask for reviews and encouraging your customers to mention the services you provided in the review.

ProPainter Websites sets up, updates and manages our customers’ Google Business Profiles as part of our core service to help painting contractors leverage a strong web presence to gain new customers. If you are interested in having us do that for you, please call us at 919-424-6121 or schedule a meeting for a day and time that is convenient for you.


Friday, December 17, 2021

With so many different ways to communicate with customers it can be difficult to juggle them all. The good news is that a recent survey sheds some light on how consumers prefer to be able to contact local businesses. The better news may be that the results of the survey show that you can focus on a smaller number of communication methods, especially if you are in a market with older potential customers.

Leadferno surveyed 1,000 consumers in November 2020 and then again in November 2021. Here are the results of their surveys:

How Consumers Want to Be Able to Contact Local Businesses

As you can see from the image, nearly 50% of those surveyed said they would prefer to be able to contact a business via the phone, making it far and away the number one choice. Website form and email traded spots over the last two years with fairly close numbers for second and third. At just below 11%, text message came in fourth with live chat and Facebook Messenger fairly distant fifth and sixth choices.

Of further interest is what the survey found when they broke out the results by age groups:

Age Matters When it Comes to Communication Methods

Not surprisingly, those 55 and older prefer the phone by an even larger margin than the general population at 58.5%. This group is also much less likely to prefer live chat or Facebook Messenger.

However, the preferred communication method for 25 to 34 year olds is much flatter with phone still leading the way at 26.5% but by a much smaller margin with text message (23.7%) and website form (20.6%) right behind it. Live chat is also significantly higher for this group.

Implications for Painting Contractors

1. The phone is still number one. Make sure that you are available by phone and that you are willing to connect by phone. If you cannot be available by phone, you may want to consider utilizing an answering service so the potential customer gets a warm voice answering the phone.

2. If most of your market is made up of 55+ year olds, you absolutely want to be sure you and/or your business is available via the phone.

3. Don’t feel like you have to be available on every possible communication platform. You will most likely just spread yourself too thin and just increase the likelihood of a bad customer experience. Using the phone, a website form, email and text will work for the vast majority of your customers.

4. Your best bet is to communicate in the way that the customer most prefers. Ask them early on or respond to them in the way they communicate with you. However, serious things should still be communicated in person or on the phone.

5. If your likely customer base is made up of 25 to 34 year olds be prepared to communicate primarily by text. You will likely need to be available via live chat and Facebook Messenger as well.

If you need a website to help pull in potential customers with your website form, please call us at 919-424-6121 or schedule a meeting for a day and time that is convenient for you.


Monday, November 29, 2021

It’s easy for painting contractors to underestimate the stress and uncertainty that floods the minds of homeowners when it comes to getting their house painted. That’s especially true for experienced painting contractors.

You may be in people’s homes, painting every day. But for the homeowner, this is a once every 5 to 10 years event. They are not sure how long it’s going to take, what the day-to-day is going to be like or what alternative plans they may need to make to stay out of their home.

This creates a significant opportunity for painting contractors. Harvard Business School professor Gerald Zaltman conducted studies that showed that 95% of purchasing decisions are emotional decisions. With that in mind, if you can provide a stressed and uncertain homeowner with the comfort to feel that choosing you is the right decision, then you will almost always win the job.

Proven Process for the Win

With a proven process you can set the homeowner’s mind at ease and give them that feeling of comfort. That’s especially true when you can say that you’ve successfully executed on the process over and over again with the result being happy homeowners.

Do you have a proven process? If so, and if you have it documented then you are ahead of the field. Go ahead and skip to the next heading.

If you have a proven process but you haven’t documented it yet, set aside some time over the next couple weeks to do so. This is often the case with successful businesses that haven’t grown to the point where you have multiple people who have to execute multiple processes. You know the process, it lives in your head and you haven’t had reason to document it yet.

If you don’t have a proven process, you might just not be giving yourself enough credit. Take some time and write down what you think your process is. Now test it over your next two to three jobs. Are you repeating that process? Do you need to update anything?

Consider Your Proven Process in Relation to Your Customers

Since we’ve been talking about homeowners, let’s continue with that example. Since we know they are likely to have stress relating to not knowing what to expect, you want to let them know exactly what to expect. What are those questions that you continuously get from prospective customers?

How long will it take? What are your prep activities? How much disruption will they likely have in the home? What hours do you usually paint? If it’s a multi-day job do you usually complete a room at the end of the day or do you leave all of your materials and drop cloths out?

You get the picture. To the extent that you can, let them know every part of what they can expect. Build out your documented proven process to do this. The purpose of the proven process is to put your customers’ minds at ease. Help them feel that you know exactly what you are doing. Build up their confidence.

How to Use Your Proven Process

Once you have your proven process finalized, you want to make sure that people see it. Put it on your website and highlight it on your home page. You could put the process on a separate web page but include intro text on the home page that reads “Our proven process has resulted in hundreds of happy homeowners.” And add a button that reads “View Our Proven Process.”

By putting it on your website you are working to alleviate customer concerns before they even call you. That could give you a big leg up on competitors. Just remember that you want to live up to the promise of the proven process from the beginning. So, if part of your process is being responsive and communicating well with the customer, you’ve got to be sure you are living up to that before they even become a customer.

Include your documented proven process in any collateral that you give to a potential customer. Even if you don’t have highly designed flyers, a bulleted list can have an impact.

You could also consider creating an image. You can get a lot of ideas for that by Googling “proven process” and looking at images.

You could use the image on your website. You might also want to create a separate flyer that features the image.

Anxious, nervous, stressed and uncertain are all words that describe the feelings of many homeowners who are considering using a painting contractor. You want to make them feel comfortable, confident and certain about picking you to do the work. By having a process, documenting it as your Proven Process and getting it in the hands of prospective customers as soon as possible you can increase your calls and your wins.

We can help you highlight your proven process on a great-looking website that will be found by potential customers in your area. Schedule a meeting to talk about the details at a time that’s convenient for you on our Contact page.


Friday, October 29, 2021

We have heard several painting contractors tell us, “We don’t need a website, we are on Facebook.” If you have all the business you’ll ever need from current customers, don’t need to build any more business relationships AND have gotten all of your customers to follow you on Facebook, then that statement might be true.

That’s not to say that Facebook can’t be a valuable tool. It certainly can be. But, for the vast majority of painting contractors a Facebook profile will be a very poor substitute for a website. Here’s why:

People use Google to find local businesses

According to a late 2020 survey from BrightLocal, 93% of consumers use the internet to find local businesses. The first place people go when they want to find those local businesses is Google…by a very wide margin. And a website is going to give you the best chance to be found on Google by those potential customers. That’s because they are used to typing the name of the service they want into the search bar and then combing through the organic search results to look at the websites of the options they want to consider.

The story is very different on Facebook. Unless somebody specifically searches for your painting business by name, the only place you’ll be seen on Facebook is in the news feed of people who already follow you when you make posts. So, you are significantly limiting your audience by trying to substitute a Facebook profile for a website.

Facebook determines what posts are seen in news feeds and it doesn’t like to show business posts

Facebook has an algorithm that determines what posts a user will see in their news feed. Their goal is to give the user more of what they want so that they will stay on Facebook as long as possible. Because people interact more with posts from friends and family, Facebook is more likely to show those posts (plus ads!) than they are the posts that are coming from your business.

And you are posting, right? Remember, your only chance to be seen is by posting frequently. Contrast that with a website for which you do want to make small updates fairly regularly (like adding new photos one or two times a month) but certainly don’t have to remember to post every day or every other day.

People expect credible businesses to have a website

Right or wrong, perception is reality. While consumers may be willing to buy a t-shirt directly from Instagram, they expect more from a business that is going to have employees spending time in their home. Credibility is extremely important for home services businesses. Your website can provide that credibility.

When consumers can’t find a website for a business, they are going to think twice about calling them. They’ll question the credibility. “Is it new? Is it a fly-by-night operation? Can I trust them?” You don’t want potential customers asking those questions about your business.

You control your website, Facebook controls Facebook

Whether you build and manage your own website, or you work with a service provider like us, you get to make the decisions on the images, content, design, etc. You have a very high level of control over the messages and pictures people see when they go to your website.

On Facebook you are at the whims of what Facebook wants to do. Just like they control their users’ news feeds, they control what you are able to do with your profile. So, while you may like the “control” you feel you have over your Facebook profile today, that could change tomorrow.

While Facebook is a good forum for engaging customers and building your brand, a Facebook profile does not provide the benefits a website does when it comes to attracting new customers and building credibility. In addition, Facebook is in complete control. What you like most about the platform today could be gone tomorrow.

Need a website? We can help! Call us today at 919-424-6121 or email us at Team_PPW@ProPainterWebsites.com to learn more about how ProPainter Websites can bring you more painting business!


Friday, August 6, 2021

If you are like most painting contractors, you are as busy with work as you want to be right now. In fact, you might be much busier than you want to be. The last thing on your mind is generating more business.

But in reality, times of packed schedules and business growth are ideal for making marketing investments:

  • Cash flow is better and the expense is easier to absorb
  • Most marketing takes time to make an impact and could be timed perfectly to keep your work steady even after massive demand slows down
  • Working with more customers as you are launching new marketing initiatives gives you the opportunity to organically spread the word faster

So what types of marketing investments made when you are really busy can deliver a strong payoff later? Here are five:

Professional Photography

Yes, it’s true – today’s phones can produce photographs that are better than yesterday’s best cameras. But how often are you really taking pictures of the work you are doing? If you are doing it consistently and using the photos, then go ahead and skip on to the next one. But, if you are not, hiring a professional photographer to take pictures of your recent jobs can provide you with photos to post to your website and social media for months.

Your potential customers want to see great photos of your work. A professional photographer can provide you with those and they’ll have an eye for shots that you likely won’t think about that could have a big impact when potential customers see them.

Video

People love video these days and posting videos on your website and social media channels can significantly increase your engagement. Your local video production agencies will have great ideas for the types of videos that will work in your market. You could do several short ones or a couple longer ones that really highlight your work. You are much more likely to get bigger bang for your buck with “this is who we are and what we are all about” videos than you will with a highly polished advertising video.

Flyers

While they are more traditional, flyers can still be effective, especially when they use images of some of your best work. When considering hiring a painting contractor, consumers are looking for shortcuts that prove credibility. A well done flyer is one of those things that can quickly enhance your credibility in the eyes of potential customers. Be sure to use great photos, list your services, include some testimonials and highlight your Google reviews star average if it’s good.

Sponsorship

Is there a community event that you’ve always thought you’d like to sponsor but never really wanted to spend the money to do so? If your profitability has been great, now may be the time to take the leap. People remember the sponsors of community events. The participants will often go out of their way to give business to sponsors, especially if it’s a running or cycling event where the proceeds go to charity. And if you get your logo or name on the back of the t-shirt, people will be wearing it for years.

Website

Well you knew we were going to include this one, right? A brand-new website or a new investment in SEO for a website is usually going to take three to six months to really pay off. The competition is strong and Google likes to give credit to web pages that have proven to be relevant over time. Invest in a new website now and your investment will start paying off just in time for when things slow down during the winter season.

If you are busier than ever, now is the time to leverage that income to set your business up to achieve continued, consistent success going forward. By making wise investments in marketing you can ensure a steady flow of work even after today’s crazy rush slows down.

Need a website? We can help! Call us today at 919-424-6121 or email us at Team_PPW@ProPainterWebsites.com to learn more about how ProPainter Websites can bring you more painting business!

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