Groundwater Week 2020 Q&A

CHARLES KILE OF ADAPT DIGITAL SOLUTIONS

Online marketing professional will lead session on promoting your business on the internet.

By Thad Plumley

Among several presentations focusing on improving business management skills that are part of the virtual-only Groundwater Week 2020 is one titled “Marketing Your Business for the Future.”

And it couldn’t be taught by someone more qualified.

Charles Kile is a website designer and digital marketer for Adapt Digital Solutions in Hayden, Idaho, and marketing businesses is exactly what he does every day for his company’s small-business clients located all around the country.

He also practices what he preaches. His second business is a home remodeling firm, and he has applied his web design and marketing skills to grow the company.

In his presentation, Kile will go over how the internet and a professionally well-constructed website can be used to proactively market groundwater contracting companies and not force businesses to rely on word-of-mouth referrals and good luck.

“The internet is a competitive place and it’s great at exposing our weaknesses,” Kile states in a quote on Adapt Digital Solutions’ website. “I believe we should take our online reputation as serious as we take our offline reputation. You provide your customers with an amazing experience and that should be reflected with what people learn about you online.”

Water Well Journal was excited to catch up with Kile to discuss online marketing and his Groundwater Week 2020 session.

Water Well Journal: What are you hoping attendees take away from your presentation?

Charles Kile: I want the business owners in my audience to better understand the internet playing field when it comes to finding customers in their local area. There are a few fundamental things they can do to take advantage of the resources that are there and compete in their local industry. These fundamentals are Google Maps, a professional website, and a standard process for making sales.

WWJ: In talking with contractors in our industry, what are some of the biggest obstacles in preventing them from utilizing today’s technology to manage their business?

Kile: I would say the biggest obstacle is change. It’s hard to change, especially when you’ve been operating the same way for decades. Like it or not, the world has changed and continues to change rapidly.

The companies that adapt to the new environment the quickest get all the rewards. It’s like the gold rush so to speak. The water well industry is lagging behind other similar industries when it comes to internet marketing. Looking at industries such as residential construction can give us all a preview of what is to come in the groundwater industry. The early adopters are already reaping the benefits while everyone else is wondering why no one is calling them.

Change doesn’t mean everything has to change. There are a few simple things that, if done correctly, will make a huge difference and probably be enough for 90 percent of the small businesses out there.

WWJ: Are there still a lot of industry professionals still using file cabinets full of documents filled out by hand and marketing with ads in phone books?

Kile: Yes, and it isn’t always a bad thing. It’s only bad when it starts to work against you. If people in your area still use the phone book to find local services, then by all means keep using it.

As business owners, we have to adapt to our clientele because they aren’t going to go out of their way to find us. They want what they want now and to find it easily wherever they look. For most people in 2020, that’s their phone or computer.

WWJ: Do you think this presentation being recorded and viewed online by Groundwater Week attendees shows industry professionals that there is a lot they can do with web technology?

Kile: Of course. My company, Adapt Digital Solutions, is one of the few pioneering internet marketing companies for the groundwater industry specifically and we are seeing great results from the fundamental strategies we use.

By sharing our experience and the information we find, I hope to help others move towards profitable, secure businesses. Those who take the time to watch videos online in order to learn more will be the ones who are the most successful in the years to come, not necessarily because of the content they watch but because of the attitude they have. Learning and adapting is how businesses survive and thrive.

WWJ: For those looking to create or upgrade their company websites, what are the top things to consider?

Kile: First of all, I don’t recommend people try to build their own websites on these ‘easy-to-use’ platforms such as Wix or Squarespace. Building a website is like drilling a well. Anyone can put a hole in the ground but doing so the right way so it produces water is another story. Every single business
owner I know who has built their own website ended up scrapping that idea after wasting a lot of time and money.

Find a professional to help you and invest appropriately. When done right, you’ll make your money back and then a lot more.

On the website itself, the most important thing is to put the customer first. Make it as easy as possible for them to find the information they’re looking for and then make contact with you when they’re ready. It’s all about them, so keeping them in the forefront of our minds while we build websites is
how we get the best results.

The next consideration is search engines. We build websites for people first and search engines second. After all, it’s the search engines like Google that show our websites to people. By understanding how search engines work, we can make sure our websites are found by those who are looking for their services.

I’ll give you a hint: Optimizing for customer experience usually equals better results on search engines. Google wants to provide the best experience to people searching on their platform, so providing the best experience will leave you rewarded with the top position on the page.

Although it’s not part of the website, Google Maps is also a critical piece of the puzzle. Google has made it free to create a listing and collect reviews from customers. Google Maps is featured on the top of the search results page so if you’re in there, you will get the most attention. Every single business I work with gets most of its customers through Google Maps. It’s just the way it is. If you don’t have a listing, you’re giving customers to your competitors who do.

WWJ: Online reviewers can impact a company’s bottom line. Is there a way they should be displayed on a company website to maximize their impact?

Kile: Reviews are huge. The reviews found on Google Maps are particularly powerful because they are not easy to fake. They are also presented as one of the main elements on Google search results, so they get noticed a lot.

People trust online reviews more than their own families these days, so having reviews is key. Think about it. When you search for a plumber on Google and three pop up at the top of the screen, are you going to choose the company with zero reviews or the one with 55 five-star reviews? It’s a no-brainer.

Another thing about reviews is that people are scared to ask for them. Don’t be. If you are providing a good experience for your customers, they will be happy to leave a review. If they say they will and forget, gently remind them. Most businesses invest a lot in marketing. Over time, each one of those five-star reviews can be worth thousands of dollars. Would you walk by a thousand dollars and not pick it up? No. So, don’t pass by opportunities to get reviews for your business.

WWJ: The industry’s toughest challenge is finding the next generation of workers. What does a company website need to have to market to the next generation?

Kile: This is a good question. My main business is marketing, but my second business is residential remodeling and we are having the same sort of struggles with finding the next generation of builders. There aren’t many kids coming into this industry and all the guys we find to hire are nearing retirement.

I think the best thing we can do is treat our business like it’s cool. A lot of us are passionate about what we do, so we should display that on our website. Put stuff out there and show the world why you’re excited about what you do.

Eventually, economics will take care of this issue for us. As demand increases and supply diminishes, the prices for these types of services will go up. As prices go up, so will wages and that will spur people to want to get into this line of work. People joke that in 10 years it will be plumbers and well drillers driving around in Mercedes. I think they’re right. If you are having trouble keeping up with demand, it might be time to raise your prices and pass some of that on to your employees.

As for the website, having an employment page can help a lot. One of our websites gets multiple job applications submitted each month through the employment page because when people search for jobs in our area, our website shows up.

I think getting involved in education and public outreach will be important too. The schools have been pushing college degrees for many decades. Now, the amount of people out there with degrees is astonishing, yet most of them can’t even afford their student loans. People are going to look for alternative paths.

The water well industry is never going away, and the opportunities are everywhere. We just need to get the word out.


Click here for more information about Adapt Digital Solutions or to connect with Kile.


Thad Plumley is the editor of WWJ and director of information products at the National Ground Water Association. He can be reached at tplumley@ngwa.org, or (800) 551-7379, ext. 1594.