We’ve had a few issues at home recently with our heating and a leak in the bathroom, which means I’ve been seeing a lot more of our plumber than I’d like. Not that I dislike him, he’s a lovely chap, but we only really see him when something bad has happened.
While chatting to him about things other than the nasty damp mark on the wall, I was interested to know why he didn’t have a website for his plumbing business. When you put his company name into Google, his company is there. He has a Google My Business page (very important), and a link to a website. Click on it, and it goes through to his company page on the website Check a Trade. He even owns a potential URL for his business, this also redirects to the Check a Trade page.
Interestingly, Check a Trade is where we originally found him, as we’d been let down by a previous plumber and I wanted to ensure we got someone in who was reliable and would actually turn up! So it’s undoubtedly been a great source of business for him, as he’s also very busy with work. All good, right?
Well that depends….So let’s say business dries up for our plumber – there are certainly plenty of competitors in the area. Or someone gives him a horrid review and potential customers are put off.
I did a search on Google for “plumbers near me” while writing this and he didn’t come up on the first five pages. He’s also moved slightly further away from where we live, so he didn’t show up on the top ten of the list on Google My Business pages as that tends to list via distance from your current location. Check A Trade’s website showed up on the first page of the Google search, however he’s not the only plumber on there, and again I struggled to find him. And his current rating on Check A Trade is a literally perfect 10!
“I get all the local business I need from Facebook”
The rise of social media has undoubtedly been of benefit to local businesses, allowing them to join groups dedicated to the local area and customers are often extremely loyal to businesses they know and trust. So social media has a massive role to play as part of an online business strategy.
However, did you hear about the local business whose customers struggled to find them after MySpace shut down? I’m kidding, right? Well possibly, but always bear in mind that Facebook is there for Facebook’s (or should that be Meta’s) shareholders. When the time comes that local businesses are of no use to Facebook, things could change, and change very quickly. Individuals and businesses are also at the mercy of being kicked off Facebook if they (ie Facebook) believe they have broken their rules. Facebook could decide it’s going to charge a premium rate for business pages to increase their profits.
What I’m saying here is that social media, review websites like Check A Trade and similar are not your business’ property and you are completely at the mercy of what those companies decide to for their business, not for what is right for yours. They are not what could be described as your own real estate. A website is the one thing that, subject to the whole internet disappearing, will not disappear. And only you can decide what reviews go up there, what information is on there, what adverts show on your pages and how people can get in touch with you.
It’s important to have a plan as how you will bring in customers not only today, but next week and next year, and to be in as much control as possible. Don’t be the local business losing your loyal customers to your competition because they simply can’t find you.
Photo by Dan Burton on Unsplash