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Want Some Hot Action Now?

Want some hot action right now?

This is the saying of a lot of guys in the water damage restoration biz who want leads quickly, and I really understand it. Everybody wants now, now, now in today’s society. That’s life today.

However, if you want something more for fulfilling, something more real, and something more sustainable & long-lasting, of course you have to dig a little bit deeper.

Let’s liken my point to dating.  Sure, maybe you want some hot-action on the first date, but will that result in a long-term relationship where you get everything that you’re looking for?  Will it help you grow personally?  Will it give you all of the feelings and emotions and lifelong for fulfillment that you really need? No. It may give you some short-term fun, but it’s nothing to really build on. Its kid’s stuff. When you’re ready to grow up, you want more.

The same goes for your Internet marketing strategy and building your business for real. There’s a lot of guys that are hooked on buying leads. It’s like buying drugs. It’s a short-term fix with no long-term solution and actually in the end, can be quite damaging and everything can disappear, forever with no long-lasting results. No big business, ever, was built by simply buying leads.

Am I saying don’t buy leads? No. If I were running water damage restoration company I would also be buying leads. But I would be also developing several long-term strategies that I own, and that I can depend on that are not fly by night and will not disappear the second that I shut down my lead generation campaign.

It’s easy to get stuck on the quick fix. But the quick fix is never a long-term solution. This is a concept that you probably understand in many other parts of your life, but you really need to understand when you’re talking about business development in growing your company to real and sustainable sizes. The largest companies you see out there in this business, believe me they have that concept down. That is why they’re so big.

 

If you want to be the “kid” in the relationship who is looking for the quick fix, fine, but you’ll reap the consequences. I suggest you grow up and be the man and make a real relationship. Figuratively speaking of course! Your business will do what you really need it to.

Best of luck out there.

 

Dan York, CEO

Stellar-eMarketing, Inc.

www.water-damage-marketing.com

 

Is your Lead-Gen Company sending you phone calls meant for the big Franchises?

Is your Lead-Gen Company sending you phone calls meant for the big Franchises?

 

I’ve been in this business a long time & I know just about everybody out there. Because of that, I know where everyone’s calls come from. Here’s something no one really talks about and for good reason: A lot of you are getting calls meant for large franchises from the Lead Generation companies you’re using.

 

At the last The Experience convention I was approached by a lot of guys asking me if the calls I send them will be for other large Water Damage franchise companies. I told them no. And why.

 

Let’s first cover what I’m talking about for those who may not know. You hire a lead generation company to send you phone calls. They send you a water damage call, you pick up the phone and the person on the other line says, “Is this Servpro/Servicemaster/Etc.? Clearly this call was not meant for you. The Lead Generation company you’re using is obviously marketing using Trademarked names and then driving that business to you.

 

Now you, not wanting to lose the call, may ignore this and say, “What can I help you with?” Rather than acknowledging they were looking for that franchise.  Some companies I know straight up lie and say, “Yes, it is, what is your emergency?”

 

Look, I get it.  You need more calls.  But let’s examine this:

  1. This can be sue-worthy and you’re putting your whole company at risk for hone calls that were meant for that Franchise. Don’t fool yourself, they do sue companies over this. A case can be made for Trademark Infringement.
  2. In the marketing world this is known as ole’ bait-and-switch.  Showing the customer one thing and then giving them something else. It’s a credibility killer.

 

I know most of you are trying to build a solid & ethical business and you know deep-down that it’s not right or maybe consider it a “necessary evil.”  I know some of you won’t care, and that’s your view.  But here is the truth – you can’t keep doing sketchy things in business and think it won’t come back to haunt you at some point. It will recoil eventually and you don’t want your whole business at risk because of this lazy move.

 

So, how exactly is your Lead-Gen company doing this?

  • They buys ads from Google on your behalf (called Pay-Per-Click Ads, where you literally pay per click). Those are those ads that show up at the top of Google when your potential customer is searching for you.
  • When the Lead Gen companies set up these ads with Google they have to pick the words your ad will show up for, they’re called keywords.  They then use the Big Franchise group’s names in the background so their ads show up for their names.
  • Then when someone looking for the big franchise company clicks on the ad and calls them, they forward that call to you, which is why the customer says, “Is this Servpro/Servicemaster/etc?” That person obviously Googled for them, not you.

“But isn’t that Trademark infringement?” you say. Well, that’s the question isn’t it?  Is using the big franchise group’s names as keywords in Google ad setups Trademark Infringement? Well, Google currently allows this somehow.  The ads your Lead Generators are creating are not allowed to say those big franchise’s names in the ad, but they do allow them to use the franchise name as a keyword to market for, in the background. This is exactly how you’re getting phone calls for them.

 

Again, this won’t last forever. This will recoil at some future point on the people who are doing it the most. When? Who knows. You can’t do questionable things at high levels for a long time without expecting “what goes round to eventually come round.”

 

So how do you keep your nose clean and still get calls? Easy. The biggest companies I work with don’t do what I’m talking about in this article. They don’t need to.  Keeping your business ethics tight is a good start though. Don’t risk your whole business on something stupid.

 

Sincerely,

Dan York, Founder of Stellar-eMarketing, Inc.

www.water-damage-marketing.com

Top 3 Things the Largest Water Damage Companies are Doing that You’re Not

Top 3 Things the Largest Water Damage Companies are Doing that You’re Not

 

Working with literally hundreds of water damage restoration companies over the last decade, running their marketing programs and seeing their successes and failures, gives you a very streamlined viewpoint of what works and what doesn’t in running a water damage business.

It is a frequent question asked of us when new client signs on for our program, “Should I be doing anything else?” The answer is always yes. But what?

I’ve written articles about this before (click here to read it) that are spot on, but I’d like to try and narrow down the top three points I’ve personally observed.

I’ll start by saying that I wish it was just as simple as they work really hard at it. It isn’t that simple. Of course you have to work hard, but that won’t get you into the top tier of water restoration companies out there.

 

  1. They work hard at getting their company noticed by EVERYONE. They have loud vans/trucks, they are in every paper, they have billboards on major highways, they have top rankings in SEO, top placements in PPC, they do Lead Generation (usually with several companies), they network contractor groups and plumbers and property management companies and other potential commercial accounts, they care about their branding (everything looks the same – like them). They realize there is no single “magic bullet” to building a huge company. You’d think their jobs would take up most of their attention, but they don’t. Eventually they appear to be everywhere and then look like market leaders and before you know it, they are.
  2. They never turn away work.  You think this wouldn’t happen, right? But you’ve probably done it. A big storm rolls in, you can’t handle the volume, so you turn off the phones and kick on the answering machine. Done. But here is what the bigger guys typically do – they grow with each major occurrence. A storm rolls in for example, they don’t turn off the phones, they invest in and buy more equipment to handle it, they hire contractors to handle the extra calls, they have their crews running all hours of the day until everything is handled, on and on. You see then, even though things slow down after a storm, not only are they more prepared for the next big storm, they’ve made a killing on the last one so they now have more part-time contractors and more equipment to drop in customer’s houses. They also now have all of these additional resources they’ve invested in, so they market harder and faster for more business as the additional income and resources are now available. The never “turn off” marketing for slow seasons or storms where everyone is getting work. This simple cycle I’ve seen keeps companies growing going up to $25m+.
  3. They fire the wrong people. Now this is business 101 I suppose, except that we’ve all violated it. If an employee isn’t pulling their weight, you let them go. The biggest most successful companies have great staff. They have great execs that make great decisions, proven estimators and sales staff, their techs are clean and thorough. They base their hiring decisions on numbers and production, not friend-type relationships. If someone isn’t hitting their numbers, they’re gone. If someone isn’t expanding their department, they are replaced. If they have a bad apple, they don’t let it ruin the whole damn bunch. They don’t waste time on family squabbles within the business or long-term petty disputes with staff or execs. They are focused on getting more business.

 

I know it aways seems like there is some secret trick to building huge companies, but there isn’t. The secret is that there is NO secret. It’s simply what you do with your time, and where you put your attention and effort. These are my personal observations of the biggest water damage companies I’ve ever worked with. You yourself, no matter your size now, can make these simple changes above and grow faster every year than you did the last.

 

Sincerely,

Dan York

Stellar-eMarketing, Inc.

www.water-damage-marketing.com

What is your internet marketing company actually doing for your business?

What is your internet marketing company actually doing for your business?

There’s great sales people out there. There’s a lot of well-meaning people out there too. But in marketing, business is business.

Sure it helps to like who you’re working with, building great relationships and scratching each others back, but in the end if it doesn’t result in more revenues for your company, what’s actually happening?

And with water damage restoration marketing, we’re talking a seriously specialized market where “just anyone” is not able to get the job done.

Fact: Building a successful marketing program takes time and patience, it can be frustrating and even downright maddening, but in the end it works if you persist through all that. But what should the product of all of that work result in for you, the water damage restoration company owner?

One thing: Phone Calls. The rest is up to you guys.

Those are the results you want from your internet marketing company. Just getting high up in Google alone doesn’t result in more phone calls, there’s other things that need to happen. Just updating your website doesn’t mean more phone calls. Just getting on Facebook or Twitter doesn’t mean more phone calls.

So, when you are listening to sales pitch after sales pitch, listen up for the key point: “we’re generating real phone calls for our clients.” Not “we’re increasing web traffic” or “we’ll get you more likes on Facebook” or “we’ll get you 1,000 Twitter followers.”  All of those things sound interesting and on the cutting edge of business development, but in the end, is it actually resulting in new business?

So, after the sales person has pitched you, make sure you ask them, “are you actually getting phone calls in from that for companies?” If and when they say “yes”, then ask, “for water damage restoration companies?” If that answer is no, beware. This biz is a different kind of beast. Getting business developed for auto parts stores or Electricians is very, very different.

So, in the end, what is your internet marketing company really doing for you? If the answer is not getting you more phone calls, why do they still have your business?

Maybe you should call Shana at my company and ask her why  😉

 

Sincerely,

 

Dan York

Founder, Stellar-eMarketing

How to avoid customers who post negative reviews.

How do you avoid customers who post negative reviews about your company? Is it possible?

We’ve all had them, it is almost impossible to avoid these days -the customer who spreads negative reviews about your company all over the net.

You know how it goes… you’re out there working hard to please everyone, doing your job, pricing things fairly, and then it happens. Some customer, usually the one who is impossible to please anyways, threatens (or ends up) posting bad reviews about your company on Google Reviews, Ripoff Report.com, Angie’s List, etc.

First, for any of you reading this that run fly-by-night companies and are getting lots of bad reviews…you need to do some serious soul searching and clean up your act. For the rest of you running good businesses who get that “one bad review”? Read on…

So, is it possible to avoid these people who will inevitably write bad reviews BEFORE they even write them? Or even better, what if you could predict them even before signing them up? Well, you’re in luck, I have some tricks up my sleeve to help in predicting these types of people so you don’t even sign them up for your service in the 1st place.

 

There is one thing that you have to practice first though to be able to eliminate these people from your company:

 

Do not get desperate for money.

You somehow have to get over this. Whenever you are desperate for income, you will take money from customers that you know, deep-down, that you should not. And they are the ones that give you the problems, every time. So once you are over the desperation of income, use these following tricks to say no to certain customers, generally the ones who will leave you bad reviews:

Watch for theses indicators of trouble, and try not to sign them up:

  • Do they listen to your advice as THE PROFESSIONAL doing the job or do they tell you your job that they hired you for? 

Typically this person will not be happy no matter what you do, because he knows best…even though he hired you, the professional, to do the job. So why the hell did he hire you in the 1st place? We won’t get into the psychology of it, but let’s just all remember this guy, we’ve all had him.

  • They either will not, or are unwilling to sign paperwork 

This is a HUGE red flag. Paperwork makes the business world go round’. Any professional knows it. Amateurs learn it the hard way…the 1st time they get a lawsuit. Agreements are done in writing, if it isn’t in writing it isn’t true. If someone has a weird unwillingness to fill out your paperwork, this is a catastrophe in the making. Anyone who is going to be a good client, will be fine with filling out your paperwork generally.

  • They talk trash about the last (however many) companies that came before you and how they creamed them with bad reviews on the internet. 

I love this one. Some guys  hearing this from their potential new customer might think, “yeah, all those other guys suck…he’s right, they deserved bad reviews.” But…why do you think you’re going to be any different? Do you think that ALL of those other companies sucked? And even if they did, what kind of person brags about spreading bad reviews about a company all over the net? Don’t be naive. Sign up this guy and you’re potentially his next bad review, this is what he does in his free time, don’t become his future free time.

  • Their payments bounce right away. Can they actually afford the service? 

Card/check bouncers are always suspect. Why? Because it shows right away by bouncing their 1st payment that they cannot afford you in the 1st place. And, once they find themselves in a financial bind and have no more money, you know what they might do?  Call you and threaten bad reviews unless you give them their money back.  So financially qualify your client a bit to see if they can afford you. If not, don’t become part of their future financial hostage negotiation.

  • Trust your gut.

This should be obvious. Think about it – Every single customer you’ve ever had a problem with, I’m willing to bet, you knew was a problem when you were signing them up. So trust your gut. If you think they are trouble, do not sign them up. Do not be blinded by money. Signing them up when you really know you shouldn’t will cost you way more than money, it will cost you your sanity!

 

Best of luck out there!

 

Sincerely,

Dan York

Stellar-eMarketing, Inc.

Are Your Google/Yelp Reviews Killing Your Phone Call Volume?

Are your Google/Yelp reviews killing phone phone call volume?

Well, the answer is, very possibly.

And if you’re like most of our customers, you would like to maximize the output of every single source of phone calls you can get your hands on.

But even today after years and years of reviews being posted, it seems like old news to most of us, but still yet you’d be alarmed at how many people do not care or even pay attention to their reviews. And they ignore it to their own damage. Yes, if it is ignored, no matter how good you market online, you factually will turn away some if not most of your customers.

Face the facts: people look at reviews! You do, and they do. On Amazon, Google, Yelp, Angie’s List, etc…

 

There are a few scenarios here that we will examine here and the results of each:

1. You have no reviews.

2. You have tons of positive reviews and no negative reviews at all.

3. You only have negative reviews or a majority of negative reviews.

 

Each of these will produce less phone calls than you are capable of getting. This is how:

 

  1. You have no reviews. This is simple. They Google and see this:

Screen Shot 2017-10-24 at 10.55.54 AM

 

Guess who they AREN’T picking? You look unestablished or like a fake company or however else you’ll be look ed at, all resulting in NO CALLS. And those guys look FAKE.

 

Next, 2.  You have tons of positive reviews and no negative reviews at all. Now this one is tricky, because most business owners think this is what they want. They rant and rave when they get a bad review. However, this is not necessary, and in realty much better for your reviews! Having too many perfect reviews actually in fact backfires on you. Why? Because it looks like you’re buying or placing fake reviews all the time. You actually want some bad reviews, not many, but a few. People are smart out there. They pick someone who has a majority of good reviews, but a few bad ones, so they know you’re real. Every company out there gets cockroaches that leave bad reviews, everyone knows it too.

 

Screen Shot 2017-10-24 at 11.05.24 AM

Guess who looks like they are buying reviews or putting up tons of fake reviews? Hmmmm…..

 

3. You only have negative reviews or a majority of negative reviews. Now this one is obvious, or I’d like to think so anyways.  It should be super clear how you’re viewed when you only have bad reviews and no good reviews. You look like a charlatan who will probably steal from them or do a bad job. Simple. I knew a guy once who had 6 negative reviews on Yelp and 5 negative ones on Google, and only one positive review. And no matter how good his online marketing was, no one was calling. Why? BECAUSE PEOPLE WILL LOOK AT YOUR REVIEWS BEFORE THEY CALL YOU. The result of this is simple. No one calls you, period.

 

Screen Shot 2017-10-24 at 11.13.04 AM

Now in this one above, I’m not sure which is worse? The guy with no reviews or the guy with 4 three star reviews? I’d pass on both of those guys.

Guys, spend the time and the effort on your reviews. You don’t have to like it, but believe me it is worth it. SEO, PPC and Reviews are not areas where you want to cheap out in your companies marketing budget.

 

Sincerely,

 

Dan York

Founder Stellar-eMarketing

www.water-damage-marketing.com

 

 

Cleanfax Live Interview – How long does it take for SEO to work?

How long does it take for SEO to work? Here is a live interview with Cleanfax Magazine’s Editor-In-Chief Jeff Cross covering this common question:

https://youtu.be/kYgGBphz26s

If you would like to know when new articles are posted, submit your name and email address below.

Cleanfax Live Interview – Will SEO ever disappear?

Here is a live interview with Cleanfax Magazine’s Editor-In-Chief Jeff Cross covering this reoccurring topic:

https://youtu.be/iSXOe-isPXg

If you would like to know when new articles are posted, submit your name and email address below.

The Magic Bullet for Phone Calls?

Does it exist? The Magic Bullet to get more phone calls?

 

Every year, new water damage companies and young new water damage company owners emerge and try to discover that magic bullet to get more phone calls. The “one” thing they could do to get the leg-up on the competition. I see them asking this question weekly in the Water Damage online forums and when you talk to them at the trade shows.

 

The issue is: There is no magic bullet. There never was and there never will be. Not in this business or any other for that matter.

 

New water damage company owners will soon learn what the older, more experienced owners know: You have to build a business the old-fashioned way. You have to develop relationships, find and stabilize various different types of marketing lines and advertising lines, change with the times and  technology to not get pigeon-holed into old unworkable advertising sources (phone books, etc.) and of course, do good by your customers. I always tell the newer busines owners to get that get-rich-quick garbage out of their heads as fast as possible as it is clouding what they really need to do.

 

Young guys, ask the older guys out there, what do you do that really gets you the new business? First, if they tell you (why would they train their future competition?), you’ll find out that they do many different sources of generating new business. They do SEO, Pay-Per-Click, some still do phone books, networking and building relationships with insurance companies and Insurance adjusters, networking with plumbing houses, paying lead generation companies and other business development activities. Some even buy into Franchises just to get that business that comes from being part of a big Franchise group.

 

So mentally, get set up for the long-hauls, the relationship build, the one by one customer building that needs to inevitably happen. Don’t shortcut it. We’re one of the oldest water damage marketing companies out here, believe me, we’ve seen what happens to the guys that shortcut this process. They don’t last long.

Sincerely,

 

Dan York

www.water-damage-marketing.com

 

How Do I Get More Google Reviews For My Water Damage Business?

Anyone who has been in business for a long time knows this fact: Your satisfied clients rarely (without prompting) write positive reviews about your business.   But then there’s that one nasty client who you probably shouldn’t have sold in the first place, who will slam you all over every review site he can, starting with leaving a good ole’ Google Review, which is one of the most viewed on the internet for local businesses.

We’re not really talking about the subject of Marketing when we talk about Google Reviews, we’re talking more about the subject of Public Relations – How people perceive your company,  your public image.

Let’s also confront the fact that we all use these reviews personally, even though we all sort of know that out of all of the reviewers, that one scathing review was probably one of those guys who is never happy with anything. We all view them and “average out” the number of stars or reviews on Google, Yelp, Merchant Circle, etc. So this is a subject that needs to be understood and controlled by us. If you leave this one to chance, you’ll look bad.

I  was working with a Cosmetics Dentist once, a good one at that, who never spent any time on his internet marketing or presence at all. He had 1 positive Google review and then one psychotic client of his just lambasted him on Google Reviews. So he looked 50/50, one good, one bad. Now, in that there is only 2 reviews, this will give people pause when future potential clients are checking him out (97% of all people will check out the reputation of a service they are going to use online PRIOR to even calling or using them).  This would not have occurred if he had 38 4-5 star reviews and one 1 star review.

So, we have to put this under our control. Luckily this is simple.

There are several ways we can do this:

First, let’s email them. If you’re not collecting your clients email addresses, you should be, so this assumes that you are.

1. Go onto your company’s Google Map listing/Google Plus page.

2. Go to the About Tab, you’ll see your reviews to the right.

3.  Copy the full Address in the address bar of your browser into an email.

4. Send this link, with very, very short and clear directions on selecting “write a review”, asking them politely to do so.

So easy. Do not make it complicated, it must be able to be done by your clients in 5 minutes or less, otherwise they will not do it, and not because they do not like you, but because they are busy people. Do not underestimate the shortness of people’s attention span these days. Always politely appeal to their satisfaction with your company in asking them to take 5 minutes to write a positive review.

 

Now, if you have an office, such  as a Dentist or Chiropractor you would:

1. At reception, set up a computer.

2. When a client is finished with their service, after they have paid and set their next appt. with reception, reception will ask them, at this computer, to please log into their Google account and leave a positive review.

3. Once again, it has to be fast or else it will not get done. So, make sure there is a browser already open, a fast one like Chrome. Then make sure that Google is open so they can quickly log into their account.

 

You can come up with many ideas on how to get this done, it is not complicated, it is more that people just don’t do it. You could also do this for Yelp, Merchant Circle or any other major Reviews Site.

 

It may seem like a simple, maybe unnecessary thing to do for your “PR”, but ask your clients how often they read these reviews on Amazon before buying, ask your husband or wife how often they read these kinds of reviews before going to a restaurant.  The answers to those questions should re-adjust your view on the importance of spending some time getting some good reviews.

 

Sincerely,

Dan York

 

 

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