Whether it’s adding piping to a commercial building site, or installing a heating and cooling system in a residential home, plumbing and HVACR services are used every day. Consumers need someone they can trust to get the job done right. “Trust” is such an important word and concept — it’s a top priority that contractors should strive for in every customer relationship.

There’s a local, personal aspect of providing a service that separates you from product-based businesses. As a company with a service to sell, a marketing campaign that fosters relationships is essential to your success.

It’s no longer enough to rely on traditional marketing efforts such as radio, television and print. Today, online marketing is the backbone of any successful marketing campaign.

At Comfort Supply we’ve used our technical expertise and service driven philosophy to become a forerunner in using online marketing to increase business. We’ve recently partnered with Angie’s List to offer our contractors assistance with their online marketing efforts.

Angie’s List reviews

I cannot stress enough how important it is for businesses to have a positive and highly visible online presence.

According to Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group, 2013,78% of all shoppers use the Internet to research and purchase products and services. Yet only 24%of small and midsized businesses in the United States currently monitor what’s being said about them online, according to BIA/Kelsey, 2012.

It’s key for HVACR contractors to make sure they are present and positively reviewed on websites such as Angie’s List. Used by more than two million U.S. households, Angie’s List is where consumers search for and review contractors and other service experts.

Consumers use Angie’s List to find service professionals with high rankings and reviews. Compared to other review websites such as Google+ Local and Yelp, Angie’s List offers qualified reviews from paying members. Reviews on Angie’s List carry credibility because anonymous reviews aren’t permitted, and only one review per transaction is allowed. The online review site also allows and encourages companies to respond to reviews, fostering client relationships and customer loyalty.

When we teamed up with Angie’s List to help our contractors better market their businesses, we focused on free and low cost ways to improve rankings.

Our Angie’s List program

First, an Angie’s List representative will work with you through the registration process and help you set up your online profile. Angie’s List then can contact your company’s customers and ask them for a review of your service and their overall level of satisfaction with the job — making the process of getting positive reviews painless for you, the contractor.

These reviews then show up on your Angie’s List profile, reaching current and potential customers searching for plumbing and HVAC service providers.

Once your profile is established, Angie’s List can also provide you with hands-on marketing assistance and over-the-phone training for how to make best use of Angie’s List to market your company, including specific paid offers that can be added to your company profile designed to reach new business.

Tips for your profile

  • Share reviews:Display a link to your Angie’s List reviews or profile on your website. This allows you to reach more potential customers while also enticing current customers to write a review.
  • Ask for reviews: Let your customers know that they have a voice in how you do business. Encourage them to write a review by promoting your Angie’s List profile in print and inside the store itself.
  • Be proactive: Check for reviews at least once per week. Thankcustomers for positive reviews and monitor potentially hazardous reviews.
  • Respond quickly to negative reviews: Send the message that you care about your customers and are taking the appropriate steps to resolve any potential issues. You'd be surprised how many positive reviews spur from negative ones that were addressed properly and in a timely manner.
  • Respond to the good, too: Respond to and spread good reviews as well. Determine the best person to handle your online response — maybe the company service manager or the technician who worked on the project.
  • Promote reviews internally: Share positive reviews with your employees and congratulate the recipient of the review on a job well done. This motivates employees to keep up the good work.

Online reviews are at the forefront of word-of-mouth marketing. Potential buyers can seek out online reviews of products and services and compare them with those of your competitors, making online reviews one of the best ways to ensure that the appropriate people are finding your business online.

Billy Jobe is the sales and marketing manager for Comfort Supply, and has worked out of the company’s Nashville office for five years. With a solid background in commercial and residential HVAC, he also provides contractors with accurate and useful information regarding sales and service. He has more than a decade of experience in sales, and another 10 years as a service technician.Learn more at ComfortSupplyHVAC.com, Facebook.com/ComfortSupply or ComfortSupply.Blogspot.com.