You’d be hard-pressed to find a busier group of people than plumbers. Plumbing issues at a minimum can wreck your day, and at a maximum, they can ruin your largest investment – your home. I call plumbers all the time to ask if I can help them with marketing questions, and I get the same answer over and over, “I’m too busy as it is.”
In Montana, especially since COVID, out-of-staters have rushed here in droves to build new homes making plumbers ridiculously hard to get a hold of. Honestly, right now it’s probably easier to schedule brain surgery than it is to get a plumber. (OK, so maybe that is hyperbole, but I have a point to make here.)
Life is good for plumbers right now – they have more work than they could possibly want, and even the one and two-guy plumbing companies are raking in the dough.
So if you are a plumber and you identify with what I’m saying, you likely fall into that group of plumbers that says, “I don’t need online marketing. I can’t handle the business I have.”
I’m going to challenge that notion on three levels…
Are your competitors scooping up your cheapest customers?
If you are a super busy plumber never forget that your potential customer still has options. Lots and lots of them. Once you have a satisfied customer, you more than likely have a customer for life, right? Those are the cheapest customers to have – customer retention is far less costly than finding a new customer.
What if your competition is getting your life-time customers because they have a better online presence than you do?
Let that sink in for a minute. Your competitors may be scooping up your cheapest customers simply because they have better online marketing. Or online marketing at all. I’m amazed when I’m researching plumbers online, how many plumbers don’t have a website!
Think about your customer. They want to remodel their kitchen, they are going to spend a bundle on it, and they need a good plumber. You may be the most amazing plumber that ever walked the Earth, but if that customer is searching for a plumber on their phone and your competitor has a website and you don’t, who do you think they are more likely to invite into their home? If your competitor has a more professional website than yours, the result may be the same. Your online presence builds trust with people you don’t yet know – your potential customer.
An online presence builds trust. It lends legitimacy to your business for those who don’t know you yet – which is a must-have in the contractor world.
Reviews are considered “social proof” meaning that your potential client is scouring the web, looking to read about the experiences your former customers have had with your business in the form of reviews and testimonials. So the second biggest reason online marketing matters for plumbers is because data shows that 91 percent of people regularly or occasionally read online reviews, and 84 percent trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.
Again, I spend hours a week scoping out plumbers online to see if we can help them with their online marketing. I come across dozens of plumbers who don’t have a website at all. Those plumbers may have a Facebook page and perhaps an Angie’s List directory listing.
Occasionally their Facebook page is updated and has reviews, and occasionally their Angie’s List directory listing has several current reviews. But the majority of plumbers who don’t have a website are also not keeping up on their Facebook pages and their directory listings. Believe me when I say that having a poor online user experience can be more detrimental than not having one at all.
Why does all this matter?
If you are a plumbing business that falls into the “I don’t want any more business category,” I have a question for you. How does your business funnel look 3,6,12 months down the road?
For many plumbers, the answer to that question may be, “Still busier than I want it to be.” But for most of the plumbers I ask, they are not sure. They are too busy today to think about tomorrow.
Here again, is your competitor scooping up projects that could keep you busy for months or even a year in advance because you are essentially hiding out from potential customers?
What I mean by that is, if a potential customer has a project that is not of an immediate nature, they are more than likely going to hear the same thing from most plumbers, “I can’t get to that for at least _____ months.” For the sake of this example, let’s say that timeline is five months. But what if your timeline for availability is FOUR months? The potential customer will most likely go with you, and you are building a work funnel months in advance to keep your current momentum going. As someone who has worked in the real estate industry in a variety of capacities over the last 12 years, the reality is that real estate and home building is cyclical when it comes to booms and busts. It may be booming today, and bust a year from now. Contractors have a unique opportunity to plan for downturns during a building boom by creating a funnel of projects for the future.
Are you giving too much of your business away to your competitor?
The takeaway message is this: If you do not have a solid online plumbing presence, your competitor who does have a solid online presence is swiping your cheapest customers and your future projects. You are also missing a golden opportunity to do the most important thing a contractor MUST do: Build trust with their potential customers.