Flow on effect - get your website right and everything else follows
Entrepreneur and former plumber Matt Jones talks with Amanda Ogilvie from Biz Better Together about founding two successful businesses where trades and technology converge.
You have two businesses. Are they connected?
Tradie Web Guys provides digital solutions for tradespeople, including websites, marketing and customer nurturing. The Site Shed is a business podcast for tradespeople and we offer advice, tips, tools and tactics for growing a trade business.
These businesses are separate entities, but they are to a certain extent complementary; a lot of the people who have used Tradie Web Guys for digital solutions have come to us through listening to the podcast.
What led you to start these businesses?
I’m a plumber by trade and I took a fairly traditional path into the industry, working as an apprentice in Sydney when I was fresh out of school. Plumbing took me around the world and while I was overseas I started taking an interest in business. When I came back to Australia, I saw that there was a need for education around things like using digital technology and marketing.
I built someone a website so they could better market their new product to their customers, and then I did another one. I saw a good market opportunity for a company that could service the specific needs of trade businesses in the digital space, so I established Tradie Web Guys.
Through this, we were able to educate and empower a lot of business owners in the digital landscape. Then I started thinking about how I could get the information out to a larger audience. I investigated options including podcasts and seminars, with a lot of encouragement from family and friends to give it a go. I started The Site Shed podcast in February 2016; it made the New & Noteworthy list on iTunes within the first five days and we’re still there today. Now we’ve got huge brand recognition locally, as well as a massive audience growing in the US.
One of the great attractions of a podcast is how mobile it is. Back when I was working on sites we didn’t have podcasts, we’d be listening to the radio. Podcasts are perfect for tradespeople, because they can listen on the way to a site as well as while they’re working, whether that’s on the tools or on the computer. Think outside the box and you can turn your car into a university and learn something.
We offer solutions, service and support and we help people learn about it. Sometimes they want to look after the digital side of the business and sometimes it’s something they don’t have the time or interest to do. We teach them the fundamentals so they understand the principles and have a metric of what’s happening and what they’re paying for.
Getting to grips with digital
There are probably very few businesses that couldn’t use some improvement in some aspect of their digital presence or their use of digital tools. In some cases, larger businesses struggle more with this; the larger a company gets, the bigger the disconnect between different areas of the business.
It’s critical to start with a good website; as a trade business, everything will eventually tie back to your website. Everything is at the customers’ fingertips today, with the phone or tablet in their hand. If you haven’t got a professional website, it puts potential customers off. Even if you’re using traditional methods of advertising like a flyer, or maybe you’ve got signage on your ute – these days people will look up the business on the web before they even call the number.
You own and control your website and once people get there you can leverage that. You can capture information, you can get them into your database, you can nurture them, and you can communicate with them.
Education is the key to becoming digitally savvy
I’m a firm believer that in business you are either green and growing or ripe and rotting. If you’re not constantly learning and constantly improving yourself and your business and evolving in general, you will find yourself falling behind. Things are constantly changing. The digital landscape is one example; in the last 10 or 15 years things like SEO and digital marketing have been flipped on their heads. If you’re not up to speed with that kind of thing then how are you going to evolve and compete in modern business?
The digital transformation has opened up some amazing opportunities for businesses. It just takes a willingness to learn and try things and there are enormous opportunities for growth.
5 STEP FRAMEWORK FOR ATTRACTING AND CONVERTING PROSPECTS THROUGH YOUR WEBSITE
1. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. If that takes market research or phoning around, then this needs to be done. Ask questions like ‘How would you find my business?’ ‘Where would you go after you found me?’ ‘Where were you right before you found them?’ This kind of information helps you target your marketing.
2. Now that you’ve learned how your customers would find you, make sure you are represented professionally in that space. Start with a clean, well-built website that has all the critical conversion elements and is attractive and engaging.
3. Ensure that once prospective customers get to your website, you’re capturing their information and opening up a communication channel. You might offer a free e-book or a discount coupon. You are aiming to make sure you get them into your database.
4. Once the communication pattern is set up you want to nurture the relationship with automation.
5. Make sure your sales cycle and sales process is down pat. You’ve nurtured your prospect into being a lead, and then nurtured them to the point of being a customer, and now you need to make sure the sales cycle goes smoothly. And last but not least, ensure proposals are followed up; make sure you collect information that could lead to opportunities to upsell or cross-sell.
As a former tradesman, Matt knew the difficulties that he faced in relation to obtaining relevant information pertaining to the successful running of trade based business. More to the point, it was even harder to get access to networks and resources that could leverage and the experience and wisdom of those that have trodden the path before.
Matt dreamed of creating not just a platform where relevant education, resources, tools and information were made available, but also a community where business owners could come to network from around the world and share their story.
The Site Shed is a tool, designed to fill the gap between what is learned in college and what is needed to run a successful business. It’s about delivering real life, practical information that can be implemented. To get on board visit thesiteshed.com
Amanda Ogilvie is the Senior Content Coordinator for the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s “Biz Better Together” productivity initiative: When employers and employees work together, business is better.
Join the conversation @BizBT www.bizbettertogether.com