Learn how an online review can separate you from your competition.
By Brant Shiefler
For water well contractor business owners, this often means relying on what worked yesterday in order to have business longevity tomorrow. It’s a trap, and most company owners fall right into it.
If this describes your situation, it’s not your fault. It’s natural to follow the herd. But I’d like to help you avoid this common pitfall and debunk a couple myths along the way. I realize you’re busy working today, but my goal is to help you have an even stronger business tomorrow.
This article will reveal the easiest, least expensive, and most effective way to grow your business and also “future-proof” it for the next generation. We’ll focus on an overlooked strategy every water well company can deploy that can make the single biggest difference for your bottom line.
This same tip led to a 300% increase in growth for a Mom and Pop company in Texas.
Now let’s attack a couple age-old myths that sound like Gospel-truth but do water well business owners a great disservice.
Myth No. 1: Do good work and the rest will follow.
Before you get mad, let me be clear. Of course, quality work matters. You need to do good work and take care of your customers. You also need to stand behind your service and treat people right. You need experience, skill, great employees, and reliable equipment.
But none of these things matter if the customers who need your service in the future don’t know you exist or choose someone else over you. This may not be a concern today, but I guarantee it will be soon. Tomorrow’s customer is different, and their changing behaviors and preferences mean we all need to adapt.
Our economy is littered with examples of what happens when companies focus on doing good work as their main business strategy, but fail to embrace change. Here is one example of a company that believed good products and services were enough, and for a while, they were. But it turned out to be a lie. Let’s discuss a company that discovered this reality named Sears.
It turns out that being around since 1893 as a multi-generational business wasn’t enough to stay in business today. Sears is referred to as the Amazon of the olden days, and they recently entered a chaotic bankruptcy filing. Why?
Did they have great products? Of course. Sears was home to brands like Craftsman, Kenmore, and DieHard. And even if you think better products exist, you’ll admit Sears’ products were good enough. Did they have good service and name recognition? Yes. People knew about Sears, and customer service isn’t what sank them.
So, what led to their sudden demise? It turns out it wasn’t sudden until it was too late. They rested on what worked for them in past generations and entered a long-term relationship with the status quo. They turned a blind eye on changing consumer tastes, preferences, and conveniences—even when there were plenty of signs consumers were acting differently.
If you were Sears, it would be easy to respond to new trends such as online shopping like this: “We’ve been around since 1893, so we must be doing something right. Our focus is on our stores and products, and that’s what we’re good at. We don’t understand online shopping, and we don’t want to.”
And as busy as they once were, who would question them?
When Sears finally realized that consumer behaviors overcame the company’s unwillingness to adapt—it was too late. The company’s overhead was too high and their systems too far behind that it was impossible to catch up. If only they had adapted little-by-little starting in the late 1990s. Hindsight is 20-20.
Obviously, Sears’ peril was related to online shopping, and that doesn’t apply to water well businesses. However, the lesson is in recognizing changing consumer tastes and responding before it’s too late. This applies to any business that services customers today.
One big step.
Hopefully this gets your attention because the goal is to give you a simple strategy to position your company in a better place than Sears. Any local water well company can use this strategy and reap healthy dividends in the future. Plus, it applies to any size well company, in any location, and with any budget. You can even implement it at no cost.
But it’s crucial you first understand the mindset of today’s consumers.
Today’s consumers are busy, seek low-risk options, and go online to find solutions.
Unfortunately, nearly every customer doesn’t understand what’s important when it comes to service or installation of a water well system. They aren’t informed enough to make quality decisions. And unless they are retired, they are too busy to conduct thorough research.
For these reasons, customers are looking for the easy path with the lowest risk possible when they need service or a new well system. Despite its significance, solving their water problem is just one item on a long to-do list—and they turn to the Internet to solve their problems as quickly as possible, looking for the lowest risk option that stands out.
For the local water well company, this means customers care more than ever about your online reviews. Amazon has trained them to do this, and nearly every other product or service decision they make is guided by customer reviews. Why would they think differently about water well service?
In their minds, customer reviews are the best way for customers to quickly determine the best option with the lowest risk. You might not like it, but companies that don’t embrace this powerful trend will find themselves losing out on more and more business. You may not feel it today, but you will tomorrow.
As a business owner, you may point out a company may have good customer reviews but still not provide quality work. You’re right. I can’t tell you how many times business owners tell me because of this they don’t think reviews really matter. Well, they do!
Remember, consumers aren’t business owners. An amazing 72% of consumers report trusting online reviews as much as recommendations from friends or family members (Local Consumer Review Survey, 2012). That means seven out of 10 people think reviews matter as much as a word-of-mouth recommendation, even if those of us reading this make up the three people who might know better.
Companies that have the most online reviews are going to win more business. This is how word-of-mouth works today. Online reviews are today’s version of word-of-mouth referrals, but on steroids because they reach more people and live forever. Companies embracing this reality will be way ahead tomorrow. You don’t have to like this trend, but Sears would tell you not to ignore it.
Myth No. 2: My business is different.
Is it really? Your company might be in a different state than me, use different equipment, and charge different prices. But let me ask you this: Are your customers different? Are they not busy? Do they not use the Internet to solve problems? This conversation is really about your customers, and customers are the same. Let me explain.
Jim needs a water well contractor to give him an estimate on a new well. His neighbor tells him about your company. He needs your phone number, so he Googles your company name. In the process he sees your company, plus a couple more options. Now he has choices. He is busy and wants the least risk possible in his decision.
He notices one competitor of yours with 25 good reviews and your firm listing with three reviews. Not only does your company have only three reviews, but one of them is really bad. (You remember that crazy person who was impossible to please and misunderstood everything you patiently tried to explain.) That person left a bad review saying you’re a rip-off artist. They concluded by writing, “AVOID AT ALL COSTS!”
Because happy people don’t leave reviews unless you ask, you only have a couple good ones to offset the bad one. Your case is not strong.
Of course, we know that one particular review isn’t a fair representation of your business. The truth is actually the opposite: you have great employees, fair pricing, and do exceptional work.
But Jim doesn’t know this, and now the bad review is stuck in his head. It’s 33% of the information in the three reviews he’s been presented with before talking to you. So, he reads through the reviews of your competitor and is impressed with all of the great feedback they have on service and pricing. After all, they have 25 really good reviews.
Who is Jim going to call? He will hopefully still call you based on his neighbor’s recommendation, but there is a strong chance he’ll also call the other well company because they look like a low-risk choice. Multiple calls often result in the price game. Do you see how this could not end well for you?
This could have been a slam dunk if you used customer reviews to your advantage. For every referral you get, there are plenty of other Jim’s that research your company and you may never hear from them. These are lost opportunities easily captured by placing a small focus on getting more reviews.
How does this strategy work? It’s simple; there are only three steps that make a huge difference on your bottom line. Let’s discuss what they are, and how that one small company mentioned earlier saw a 300% increase as a result.
Three simple steps.
- Ask customers to provide feedback on your service.
- Follow up and remind them via email.
- Provide an easy system directing them to Google.
Yep, that’s it. But don’t be fooled; these won’t work without your effort.
There are a few more tricks to supercharge the review process, but we’re running low on space. In the shaded box there is an email address where you can contact me to get more details on each step. You’ll be able to download a free step-by-step plan for your company to put these into practice.
In summary, let’s conclude with a story that answers the skepticism of “Does this stuff really make a difference?”
My background is in web design and digital marketing, so service companies often ask me for advice on how to grow and future-proof their business online. A few years ago, a local Mom and Pop service company approached me for help. They were up against big competitors that had marketing budgets of $20,000-plus per month. They were at a huge disadvantage.
I explained the importance of online reviews and how to use these three simple steps to get them. They implemented them right away, and the results were amazing.
They were already doing great work, began asking for people to share their feedback, and made it easy for them to do so. They amassed a ton of positive reviews and buried the large competitors because this strategy had nothing to do with spending more money.
Despite seeing fewer customers than the bigger companies on a weekly basis, this process brought in so many good reviews they had to add three more trucks to the one they began with to keep up with the new work! When the big guys finally caught on, they were the ones at a disadvantage because it takes time to get good reviews.
This story illustrates a huge opportunity for water well companies because few have caught on to this strategy. Google “well company in (city) and (state)” and you’ll see for yourself. Do it for areas all around the country.
You’ll see most well companies have less than 10 reviews and many have none. It’s surprising considering how many customers have been served for how many generations.
Remember, good reviews don’t happen on their own. Use the three steps. Those who put them into practice will be rewarded with the lion’s share of business in their area and stand out as the clear market leader for years to come.
Brant Shiefler is a well owner in North Carolina, and the founder of Automatic Outreach, a company that has helped small businesses across America grow through local online marketing. Email him today at brant@
automaticoutreach.com for the free “3 Simple Steps” review sheet mentioned in this article to help you get more customer reviews. Learn more about Automatic Outreach.