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Don’t Let the Slow Season Slow You Down

Adobe Spark (30)

You probably feel like you’re running around like a crazy turkey (sorry, I couldn’t help the Thanksgiving pun). But the craziness will end soon, and then the REAL work begins!

It’s Go Time!

For many of you, whether you like it or not, the colder part of the year is upon us. As much as you’d like to check out and just go skiing for 4 months (my dream), now is the time to double-down and prepare for the new year.

Look back over this year and think about what your goals were. How are you doing comparatively? Ahead? Behind? Right on track?

What about marketing? What did you want to try out this year that you never got around to? Here are my recommendations for things that should be on your radar for this winter.

Slow Season Recommendations:

Google My Business Posts: These free additions to your public Google listing are free and get you more real estate on the search results page when you make relevant posts and specials.

Doing PPC Right: Pay-Per-Click is a very lucrative opportunity for most markets in the country – and it’s grossly underutilized by our franchise network. You should take a look at starting an appropriately budgeted campaign.

Getting Online Reviews: Online reviews on Google, Facebook, and Yelp doesn’t have to be complicated, but it should absolutely be a priority for you in 2018 – especially with the anticipated advent of Google Local Services Ads. (The link will take you to the Gateway login page. Click on the Learning portal, and then on Webinars. This one is entitled “Getting More Google Reviews – the Quick, Easy, and CHEAP Way”.)

Social Media: Facebook can be a HUGE time sucker (just ask my wife), but it can also be an incredibly useful tool for your business to get more exposure. Take advantage of features that are inexpensively available to you.

Big Takeaway:

This is a great opportunity for you go get ahead of your business for the year. Don’t let it get away from you!

Have questions about what you should work on or want to get some input? You can click here to schedule a 30-minute coaching call with me. Otherwise, you can simply reply to this e-mail or call me directly at 435-890-1055.

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An Update on Google Local Services Ads

Adobe Spark (28)The Latest from Google Local Services

Some of you may remember a while back I mentioned the advent of a new project from Google called “Home Services Ads”. While there’s always something new coming from the wonderland of Googledom, everything about the program tells me that these ads will be a game-changer for businesses within the home services industry.

They are Google-backed promotion for service companies that get top-of-the-page exposure with a little seal showing that Google has reviewed the business and given their “approval” (which I think will add a lot of value in the eyes of most consumers).

Now, this poses an opportunity for Chem-Dry franchise owners. Here’s why:

Here’s What We Know

Lots of this information is still forthcoming, and since Google isn’t running ads for the carpet-cleaning industry (yet), we don’t have a lot of insider info. But here’s what you can expect according to my research.

Pay-Per-Lead (Not Pay-Per-Click):

Google is running this program in such a way that you pay for the lead you get rather than the click. Meaning, that you don’t pay unless the person who made the search makes some sort of effort to get in touch with you. Usually, this will mean a phone call from a mobile device, but it could also mean sending you a message, or filling out a form. In order to charge you, Google’s going to have to determine that the customer “converted” in some way. In other words, they called, messaged, etc.

Physical Location:

As far as we know, Google is going to require some sort of verification of your physical business location. Even as a service area business (they use the acronym “SAB”), they will require that you have a publicly listed location with signage that you can verify either via video chat or with street view on Google Maps. This may pose a challenge for many of you, because many Chem-Dry’s will operate out of their homes and choose not to disclose their actual location. The address you list cannot be a hired mailbox or UPS store. It has to be somewhere that people could physically drive (or walk) to in order to contact you. So, you may want to consider showing your physical location anyway because this, I think, will be the single biggest hurdle to participation on a large scale. However, I think the change will be worthwhile.

Reviews:

Google will be using the quantity and quality of your business reviews to calculate not only your display ranking (it’s not the only factor), but also the cost you pay for each lead. So make sure you’re getting reviews!!

Background Checks:

Another cool aspect (but not really a problem for many franchise owners) will be how Google runs their security and background checks on businesses. If they’re going to put their stamp of approval on your business, you can bet that they’re not going to do it casually. Google plans on conducting background checks on anyone that will be stepping foot inside a customer’s home at any time. They will be conducting the background checks with their own agency, but you can expect that to take place in order to participate in the program. This will help to keep low-performing competition out of the running.

What You Can Do

I think Google has been pretty careful in vetting this program. Right now, their plan is to roll this out to at least 30 major metro areas by the end of this year. So far, they’ve been focused primarily on west coast cities like Seattle, San Francisco, LA, San Diego, etc. However, I’d expect them to be coming to places like Denver, Dallas, Houston, Chicago, Atlanta, Boston, Miami, Nashville, Detroit, Las Vegas, and others. (*Note: These are not confirmed locations, but my estimate of where they’ll be heading next).

Since carpet cleaning is not a service they’re catering to (yet), one of the best things you can do if you’re interested in helping us get Chem-Dry into this service is to click the button below and fill out your business information, making a request for Carpet Cleaning to be added and getting your name on the list for admission into the program.

Tell Google I Want In

Once you’ve done that, make sure you’re getting reviews! Even if you’re not planning on participating, or it won’t be immediately available in your area, the more (good reviews) the better!

Big Takeaway:

Google Local Services ads could be an absolute game changer. Do your best to be up to speed and ready for them.

  1. Fill out the form and get your name on the list.
  2. Start collecting reviews on Google.
  3. Keep any eye out for more news coming soon!

If you’d like help click here to schedule a 30-minute coaching call with me. Otherwise, you can simply reply to this e-mail or call me directly at 435-890-1055.

ScheduleCoachingCall

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Look at the BIG Picture (Leveraging the Network Part 3)

Look at the Big Picture 2Over the past couple weeks, we’ve been discussing a question from Amy Diamond Ray, of Johnson County Chem-Dry that I think is worth addressing in the Digital Minute. She said (in part),

“Can you put out some information on how franchises can help other franchises using social media networking? …What helps most, as far as improving my google ratings while also improving the ratings of my fellow zees? Links? How and where is the best place, or way, to create Links with other sites within our chemdry family? Tags? Does it do any good to tag another franchise in my posts? Or In my comments? 

“I see that Links and link structure are important, but can you explain where and how to get those links on a level that the franchises can understand? It seems we have a large base of franchise business sites that should be able to really help each other if they understood better just how to do that.

“I want to know what I can do on Facebook? On Instagram? Twitter? Google+/GMB? LinkedIn? Pinterest? Blogger? Tumblr? If I hashtag another franchise in the comments, does it help them at all?”

The first week, we discussed how being a part of the network is a great advantage that you should use. Last week, we talked about linking carefully. This week, we cover Part 3:

1) You’re part of a network. USE IT.

2) “Think before you link.”

3) Look at the big picture.

Here we go!

Look at the BIG Picture

One of the things I love most about digital marketing (and often becomes the bane of many business owner’s lives) is how you can look at it on so many different levels. You can get very granular with it, or you can zoom out to see how it all plays together.

Here’s what I would say about managing your presence on all these different platforms. Look at it like you’d look at a Thanksgiving dinner spread. You could get caught up in whether the mashed potatoes have enough salt and cream in them, or if the pumpkin pie was made with fresh or canned pumpkin. But, in the long run, it won’t have THAT much bearing on whether or not the meal is a success. What really matters is that all the “required” elements are in place and the end goal of feeding those present is achieved.

In the big picture, as long as you and your fellow franchisees are putting forth efforts to have their tables full (having as much presence as they can manage), you’re all going to benefit.

Big Takeaway:

There are great advantages to being part of a branded franchise network. Use strategic partnerships with other franchisees to grow your business. Remember the following principles:

  1. You’re part of a network. Don’t waste it. USE IT.
  2. Think before you link. Use links to and from your business that will help build your credibility online.
  3. Look at the BIG picture when it comes to online presence and social media. Don’t get too granular.

If you’d like help figuring out what you can do better, or just want to show me what you’ve done, click here to schedule a 30-minute coaching call with me. Otherwise, you can simply reply to this e-mail or call me directly at 435-890-1055.

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THINK Before You LINK (Leveraging the Network Part 2)

THINK Before You LINKLet’s get caught up. Last week, we started discussing a question from Amy Diamond Ray, of Johnson County Chem-Dry that I think is worth addressing in the Digital Minute. She said (in part),

“Can you put out some information on how franchises can help other franchises using social media networking? …What helps most, as far as improving my google ratings while also improving the ratings of my fellow zees? Links? How and where is the best place, or way, to create Links with other sites within our chemdry family? Tags? Does it do any good to tag another franchise in my posts? Or In my comments?

“I see that Links and link structure are important, but can you explain where and how to get those links on a level that the franchises can understand? It seems we have a large base of franchise business sites that should be able to really help each other if they understood better just how to do that.

“I want to know what I can do on Facebook? On Instagram? Twitter? Google+/GMB? LinkedIn? Pinterest? Blogger? Tumblr? If I hashtag another franchise in the comments, does it help them at all?”

 
We discussed last week how being a part of the network is a great advantage that you should use. This week, we’ll cover Part 2:
1) You’re part of a network. USE IT.

2) “Think before you link.” (I like that, I might trademark it.)

3) Look at the big picture.
Let’s do this.

2) “Think Before You Link”

Links are funny things. Search Engine Optimization as it pertains to local service area businesses is more than just making your website attractive to Google. It is about making your website very user-friendly, but it’s also about forming connections all around the web. The more websites that link to yours (organically), the better recognized your website will be. That’s why there’s so much importance on having your name, address, and phone number (NAP) consistently listed across the Internet (this is how companies like Yext or Moz.com are helpful).
The types of links that you can provide to other franchises might be somewhat helpful, but what will be more helpful is getting links from other local businesses. For instance, local news network directories, notable establishments like universities, libraries, the BBB, and other municipalities.
Links also have to be done in such a way that it doesn’t come off to Google as “stuffing” which will get you blacklisted and makes it so you’re basically in Internet jail. You won’t get any attention from Google after that point. It’s a lot harder than it sounds, which is why it’s best left to accomplished vendors.

If you’re wondering how sharing other franchisees’ links on social media will help them, see last week’s entry.


Big Takeaway:

Links are one of the most important aspects of SEO, BUT it has to be done correctly. Remember the following principles:
  1. Links have to be relevant: to your industry, your area, and your customers.
  2. Links need to be prominent. They need to come from websites that are either well ranked themselves or otherwise authoritative with regards to Google. An SEO’s specialty is finding those places to be listed.
If you’d like help figuring out what you can do better, or just want to show me what you’ve done, click here to schedule a 30-minute coaching call with me. Otherwise, you can simply reply to this e-mail or call me directly at 435-890-1055.
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Leveraging the Chem-Dry Social Network (Part 1)

Leveraging the Chem-Dry Social NetworkOne of our own, Amy Diamond Ray, from Johnson County Chem-Dryasked me a great question the other day on the Facebook group that I think is worth addressing in the Digital Minute. She said (in part),
“Can you put out some information on how franchises can help other franchises using social media networking? …What helps most, as far as improving my google ratings while also improving the ratings of my fellow zees? Links? How and where is the best place, or way, to create Links with other sites within our chemdry family? Tags? Does it do any good to tag another franchise in my posts? Or In my comments?


“I see that Links and link structure are important, but can you explain where and how to get those links on a level that the franchises can understand? It seems we have a large base of franchise business sites that should be able to really help each other if they understood better just how to do that.


“I want to know what I can do on Facebook? On Instagram? Twitter? Google+/GMB? LinkedIn? Pinterest? Blogger? Tumblr? If I hashtag another franchise in the comments, does it help them at all?”
 
I’m going to try to address this as succinctly but fully as I can. To keep this digestible, I’ll break it into three parts and cover them over the coming weeks:

1) You’re part of a network. USE IT.

2) “Think before you link.” (I like that, I might trademark it.)

3) Look at the big picture.

Well, here we go.

1) You’re Part of a Network. USE IT.

One of the great advantages of being part of a franchise network is the opportunity it gives you to connect with people in the same boat as you. As we’ve seen many times over the years, you become like family and support one another professionally and personally. Some of you will attest to having some of your best friends be fellow Chem-Dry owners.

When it comes to networking your businesses online, I only have one suggestion. As my friend Starsky would say, “Do it.”

It would benefit you as a business owner to connect with other Chem-Dry owners to help each other grow. BUT, you have to do it carefully. Here are some examples of what I mean:

Instagram “Pods”: A recent trend among social media influencers (people with a large-ish following that are paid to promote products) is the concept of having a “pod” which acts like a co-op. A group of 10-30 people or businesses get together and they agree to help each other play the algorithm by commenting on each other’s posts to boost the engagement numbers. This, in turn, tells Instagram that the original poster is providing engaging content and should therefore be recommended to even more people. It’s a way of gaming the system that’s working for now, but may not work in the future.

So, if you want to, you can work together with other Chem-Dry owners to engage in each other’s content, but you have to do it in such a way that the comments and interactions feel “organic” and not robotic. For example, on a before/after that a fellow franchisee shares, you can comment with something like “That’s a great example of what Chem-Dry can do!” instead of typing “Amazing!” (which will quickly get marked as spam).

Sharing on Facebook vs. Google+: As much as I want to tell you that Google+ is a dead platform that nobody uses (which is true in some senses), it still poses some opportunities that Facebook doesn’t. When you post to Google+, make sure it’s something that refers to your website (a new blog post, a new YouTube video on your site, etc.). You can also do something similar to what I mentioned with Instagram where you co-op with other franchise owners to share each other’s content, which links back to your partner’s website and boosts SEO value. HOWEVER, sharing similarly on Facebook, doesn’t boost SEO because all Facebook traffic is tagged with a value of “no-follow” to Google, which means that when someone gets to your website from Facebook or interacts with what you post there doesn’t influence Google’s algorithm or your search rankings. But it DOES work into Facebook’s algorithm (essentially the same as Instagram because they’re the same company) and make it more likely that you’ll be recommended to a potential customer or follower.

In plain English, feel free to share each other’s posts and content on Facebook, and tag (mention the company name to create a link) your partner Chem-Dry franchisee on Facebook, but don’t expect the post to benefit you or them outside of Facebook. If you want to help each other boost your SEO (again, carefully and not to be overdone), you can share your fellow franchisee’s Google+ updates. Work together to share the brand.

Big Takeaway:

There are great advantages to being part of a branded franchise network. Use strategic partnerships with other franchisees to grow your business. Remember the following principles:

  1. You’re part of a network. Don’t waste it. USE IT.
  2. Find a group of “friend” franchises (There are 1,000+ of you, so that shouldn’t be hard).
  3. Work together to share content and support each other’s posts.

If you’d like help figuring out what you can do better, or just want to show me what you’ve done, click here to schedule a 30-minute coaching call with me. Otherwise, you can simply reply to this e-mail or call me directly at 435-890-1055.

ScheduleCoachingCall

 

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Hunting for Customers

Adobe Spark (20)It’s that time of year again. Here at headquarters, we see people all around preparing for whatever hunting season it is right now (I’m not one of them). I also see social media posts about getting ready for their annual deer/hog/duck/jackalope hunts. Even if you don’t hunt, let me explain why this is on my mind.

Like Picking Apples

Envision with me, if you will, that you’re wanting to hunt ducks. You happen to live on a large plot that’s right next to a marshland FULL of mallards, teals, and wood ducks. You could literally walk out 100 yards with your dogs and your shotgun and bring in your limit within an hour or two. It would be as easy as picking apples from a low-hanging tree.

Would you rather do that or drive into the city and try your luck at the local park pond?

Now, ignoring the obvious infringement of city limit hunting ordinances, which one makes more sense? Of course, the first one! It’s obvious!

Your past customers are like these ducks sitting in the marsh behind your house. You know they’re there. They’re “expecting” to hear from you at some point. They’ve worked with you before and know you. Why would you ignore them?

Rule #1 for owning a Chem-Dry during the pre-holiday season: MARKET TO YOUR DATABASE. Use what you have available:

– Postcards from Postcard Guru or Franchise Print Shop.

– E-mail with ConstantContact.

– Voice/Text Messages w/ Specials with CallFire.

Whatever you choose (hopefully a combination of ALL of them), just DO IT!

Going for New Game

Think for a moment about hunting for new customers. Say you’d never hunted deer before and you asked a seasoned expert where you should go. He told you to get up into the mountains where they’ll be looking for available food. Would you go to the foothills and then wait for one to walk down out of their way and right past you? NO!

If you want to land new customers, you go where the new customers are. Yes, I’m speaking again of Pay-Per-Click. PPC has proven to be far and away the most reliable source for new customers for virtually every Chem-Dry franchise I talk to. Very rarely do I come across anyone that it hasn’t worked for.

New customers are searching daily for your services. Why wouldn’t you want to be one of the results they see?!

One of the great things is that we’ve done some of the hard work for you. We’ve found vendors that are not only reputable, but that are reasonably priced as well. Check out vendors like Net Search DigitalLocal Search MastersWeb Marketing Services, or Centermark. They know their stuff. If you EVER have any questions about whether or not their services will work for you, call me!

Big Takeaway:

Fall is an INCREDIBLE time of year to be a Chem-Dry franchise owner. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be working full days every day. But make sure you have your bases covered.

  1. Market to your database. Use postcards, e-mail, and phone or text messages.
  2. Find new customers through Pay-Per-Click marketing.
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Social Media, Local SEO, Pokemon & You

Adobe Spark (9)

A virtual phenomenon swept the country last year aiming to get “gamers” who stereotypically live in their parents basements, wear sweatpants, and subsist on hot pockets out into the real world, interacting with the elements. You may have heard of it – “Pokemon Go.”

While I have to admit that I tried it out and enjoyed it for a while, it became a waste of time. HOWEVER, my son has recently taken it up and since he’s only 8, I have to go around with him.

Essentially, the game consists of walking around your neighborhood or city hunting and “catching” virtual and fictitious animals with ridiculous names that you can then use to battle against other players’ collections.

But part of the game is “checking in” at various places of interest to collect supplies. They’re called “Poke-Stop’s.” Walking around with him got me thinking, “This is what Chem-Dry owners should be doing!”

You Want Me to WHAT?!…

Okay, so I don’t literally want you to go out playing a video game. You have more important things to do. But I want you look at it this way:

As a service-area business, you want to be local. SUPER local. A great way to do that is to tie your business to local places of interest. What does that mean?

Here are a few ideas:

  • When your technician gets lunch, does he/she go to a popular local diner? Have him/her snap a quick picture of their plate along with your business card.
  • Cleaning for a business? Take a picture of your team out front of the establishment before you begin. Encourage people to come by the next day to see what a great job you did.
  • Participating in a town parade? Share your parade position and what you’ll be handing out.

Ideally, you should pair a picture every time you do this (it improves engagement). But the biggest thing is that you “check in” when doing so. It’s easy.

How Do I Do That?

On Facebook (Desktop):

Click to start writing a post from your business page. Then “Check In” to a local place. If you’re not actually nearby, you can search for it and select the location.

 

Facebook Mobile:

pencil

Just touch the “Publish” icon to start typing a post (the pencil & paper one like you see over to the right).

Then, from the next screen, touch the “Check In” icon at the bottom right of your screen. Again, if you’re nearby, the place should come up automatically. If you’re not, simply search for the business and tag the listing.

It’s that easy. Now, not only will your post show up on your own Facebook page, tying you to the noteworthy location, but the place/business’s page will get a notification that you checked in there and THEIR followers will see your post as well.

It’s a win-win for everyone.

Instagram (Mobile Only):

If your company is doing Instagram (which I highly recommend, in this webinar), you can kill two Pidgey’s (or birds) with one stone.

After you selected your picture and typed your caption (using the appropriate Chem-Dry hash-tags), you can flip the Facebook switch (and Twitter if you like) for your own page and then use a locale that’s recommended under “Add Location”. When you do that, you’ve accomplished the Facebook Check-In AND the Instagram one.

Big Takeaway:

Social Media and location tagging is a great, easy way for you to connect your business to the community. It doesn’t take much. A few pictures/posts each month will go a LONG way.
  1. Check in at local places of interest.
  2. Find a way to tie your business to the place.
  3. Invite customers to check out the other business to see how you did. Their customers will see your activity as well.