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Using Technology in Your Business

June 15, 2010
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Satchel Paige gave some great advice many years ago when he said, “Don’t look behind you, somebody may be catching up.” The legendary baseball player was referring to age, but his meaning can be applied to many situations.



Satchel Paige gave some great advice many years ago when he said, “Don’t look behind you, somebody may be catching up.” The legendary baseball player was referring to age, but his meaning can be applied to many situations.

Unless you are utilizing the technology available to our industry, your competition will soon be overtaking you and your profits will be shrinking. I just turned 59, and so it is not easy for me to stay current like younger folks, but I know it is a necessity.

Here are just a few areas that can dramatically improve your business and keep you at the forefront of the industry.

Scheduling and Client Management Software
I hope you are not using a paper planner to book your jobs unless you just started in business and don’t have much going on. Today’s software programs can keep all your information handy and enable you to send out 12, 18 and 24 month reminder notices with the touch of a button. They can track your sources of business and give you needed information to monitor your marketing.

The program we use enables our technicians to see all their jobs on their smartphone, make all their invoices on the it and then the invoice goes directly to Quickbooks online. Once the office person puts the job in the system there is no need for any more entries because it is then all done online eliminating second and third entries!

Additionally, this program is all online, so the schedule of jobs can be entered from any computer, smartphone or iPad!

Nice.

Computerized Accounting
A computerized accounting system is essential in this day and age and there are many great programs out there. Online programs are great because your data is stored on the web so if your computer crashes, you won’t lose any information. Computerized accounting systems are faster, more accurate and banks don’t want to lend to companies that are not using them.

Phone Message System
I do not mean an answering service but a phone message that greets your callers prior to someone speaking live. When someone calls our office, they are told of our company’s many awards and then they are given the choice to speak to someone about booking a job or speaking to a member of management. This way all of our clients know about our great service, and this system also discourages solicitors from bothering our busy receptionists.

Website
If your company is not listed in the top three organic listings for Google in your service categories in your city, you are losing out big-time. More and more people use it to find qualified service companies. The initial cost for setting up a good website may vary from $600 to $2,000 or more, but once that amount is paid, monthly fees are small or nothing.

Other search engines are important to monitor, but Google captures about 65% of the market, so do whatever it takes to be on the first page and in the top three. Our company averages anywhere from three to 10 calls a day from the Internet, and these are usually good leads because the customer has looked at our website in depth and wants to use our company.

Blog
Along with your website, a blog is another wonderful marketing tool to establish your company as a leader. Update it at least weekly and more often if possible and this will also help your website to climb higher in the rankings.

Video Testimonials
Included in our website are video testimonials from Realtors, carpet retailers and satisfied clients. This is a fabulous tool to make your company really look great and it speaks volumes to prospective clients.

We had an open house at our facility and used that occasion to employ a professional videographer to film the guests who showed up. That was much easier than going to twenty different locations to film people (take a look at www.procleannotsomekid.com )

GPS Mapping
Surely you don’t have your technicians finding locations by looking at maps in books anymore? Current technology allows your techs to find locations using the many GPS devises and the map app on their smartphone is terrific. Additionally, technology is available so that you can know exactly where each one of your vans is currently located. A great tool, especially if you have techs who take forever to get somewhere or disappear sometimes!

E-mail Campaigns
We get each one of our client’s email address by asking them to give it to us when we book the job so that we can tell them how to get ready for our arrival. Obviously, we use that information to send email blasts that tell about current specials we may have or to just let our customers know the latest and greatest news items. This is a very cheap way to advertise but the down side is that only about 11% of the emails get opened according to industry surveys.

Account Manager Database
This database is for marketing purposes. All the people that we are currently marketing our services to are included in this more detailed database. This program allows us to make comments concerning our visits and to categorize each entry so that we can have special mailings or events for different markets. These programs can be bought very cheaply and are not to be confused with the data program that holds our cleaning and restoration clients.

Facebook, Twitter and Other Social Networks
You may be able to discover how to work the social network market yourself, or you may have to hire someone to help you. This is just in its infancy, and many companies are using it quite successfully, so why not give it a try?

Make sure that you do it the right way and that you don’t get people upset by barraging them with constant postings about your company. Use some common sense.

Video Up-sells
Do you have some technicians that absolutely can’t sell a thing? Why not videotape you or someone else giving the up-sell presentation, put it on a DVD and have your techs show it while they are measuring and inspecting the carpet. This idea alone could be worth thousands of dollars if you do it right.

Technology can be a scary thing for old folks like me, but it is a vital part of every business in 2010. I am sure there are many other forms of technology that I have not mentioned, but these are certainly a good start toward making your company a 21st century industry leader.

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