When They Need You In A Hurry

When I ran intoRoger Peugeot(Roger The Plumber in Overland Park, Kan.) a couple months ago at the PHCC convention in Las Vegas, I reminded him of something he had told me in an interview several years ago. At that time, he had assured me that homeowners would not surf the Web looking for a plumbing service contractor when their toilet was overflowing or their water heater was leaking. Not when the Yellow Pages were so handy.

The reason I reminded Roger of this earlier conversation was that I had just spoken at the PHCC meeting with another plumbing contractor,Jim Steinleof Atomic Plumbing, Heating and Electrical in Virginia Beach. He had told me about the nice uptick in his business in the past year.

That’s always good to hear, especially these days. But what astonished me is that 80 percent of his new leads have come from customers who had visited his Web site. He also said he had scaled back his Yellow Pages ad.

By the time I reached Roger, I had overcome my surprise. After all, I couldn’t remember the last time I had hunted for a phone number or street address in the Yellow Pages. Not when I could Google the same information on my computer.

Today, Roger realizes his customers and yours are getting essential information - including where to find you in an emergency - in new ways. So much so that the Quality Service Contractors group, which co-located its Power Meeting with its parent PHCC meeting in Las Vegas, dedicated virtually all its educational sessions to topics such as Web site design and social media.

Those two topics aren’t mutually exclusive, by the way. At one session I attended, the speaker pointed out to QSC members that “social media is a key to a good Web site.”

In the “Web Site Review” session devoted to critiquing the sites of a handful of thick-skinned contractors, she said that www.websitegrader.com gives extra points to sites with bloggers. Current content on a Web site is a must.

Among the calls to action for a service contractor’s Web site should be to schedule a maintenance appointment, sign up for a service agreement, get a system evaluation, learn more about energy systems, register for the contractor’s newsletter and, yes, call for an emergency repair. Phone numbers should be prominent on every page of the site.

“Update your site regularly!” was the speaker’s advice. “Unlike the Yellow Pages, which is ‘set it and forget it,’ your Web site is an active marketing channel.”

That’s good advice whether you’re a plumber or a publisher. InPM’s case, we hope you make use of ourBrand Information Guide, which we publish every year in our December issue. Many readers hang on to the B.I.G. Book as a reference tool to find a product or a manufacturer in a hurry.

As aPMreader, however, you also should make use of the enhanced online version atwww.pmmag.com/thebigbook. There you can search products by company name or browse by product categories. You’ll also find clickable links to go directly to a supplier’s Web site for detailed product information, including spec sheets and photos.

Technology gets information to you faster when you need it the most. Make sure it’s easy for your customers to find you when they’re in a hurry.