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One of the great things about living in the modern era is that you can hire somebody to do almost any task you can imagine. Our lives are busier than ever, and sometimes we need help around the house. Home service franchises are increasingly common, and they run the gamut from housecleaning services to pet care to health care.
One of the benefits of selling franchises – or buying one – is that you have brand recognition from the start. Most customers need to be exposed to a product or brand several times before they make a purchase. When a name is already familiar to a potential customer, it increases the likelihood that they will utilize your services. An example of a home service franchise with great name recognition is Comfort Keepers, a company that provides non-medical home health services.
Challenges of Marketing a Home Service Franchise
In spite of the name recognition you bought along with your franchise, there are some challenges associated with marketing a home service franchise.
- No physical location. For services like home repair, home care, plumbing, electricians, etc. you probably won’t have a brick and mortar location. Because your franchise is service-based and mobile, paying for office space probably isn’t necessary. That can be a good thing in terms of your monthly budget, but it does mean that you are going to have to rely on online marketing, especially having a well-designed, high ranking website to help you attract customers.
- Updating local listings. When you are marketing a business that has multiple locations, keeping your online listings consistent and up-to-date is crucial. Google’s algorithms deliver search listings that are specific to each searcher’s location, so it is essential to have your local listings in line.
- Duplicate content. You might think, because you want customers to know that your services are consistent from location to location, that each franchise’s website should have the same content. However, that is not the case. Google can and does penalize websites that have duplicate content. While you might need to have similar content on each location’s website, you also need to make sure that the content is original to avoid taking a hit in your search ranking.
- Localizing your mobile websites. It is absolutely essential to have a website that is mobile-adaptive for your company. More customers than ever before are accessing websites using their smartphones, and they are notoriously impatient. Your site needs to load quickly and be easy to read and use on a mobile device to be successful. You also need to make sure that your mobile sites are customized for the local area so they are easy to use.
- Managing your reputation. One of the downsides of being part of a company that sells franchises is that sometimes, a single franchise location can get into trouble and, by association, taint the whole brand. When each location is fully localized, it becomes easy to reap the benefits of brand recognition while also distancing yourself from any trouble or negative press.
For many people, the benefits of being associated with a franchise – especially one with a great reputation – far outweigh the risks.
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Marketing Tips for Home Service Franchises
Now that you understand what the challenges of marketing a home service franchise are, let’s talk about some of the ways you can overcome those challenges.
- Standardize your local listings. Your NAP (name, address, and phone) listings are essential for local SEO and marketing. Even a small discrepancy in the way your name is listed (such as writing out ‘Avenue’ in one listing and abbreviating it as ‘Ave’ in another) can have a negative effect on your search ranking. Review your online listings and make sure they are consistent.
- Make the content similar, but your own. Take the information on the company’s main website as a suggestion and rewrite the content to be specific to your area and customers. That way, you will improve your local optimization by including keywords specific to your service area, and avoid the inevitable penalties from Google for having duplicate content on your site.
- Check out local options for your mobile site and make sure to use them. You want customers to be able to access your site from anywhere, and that means not skimping on having a mobile-friendly or (even better) mobile-adaptive website. Your site needs to be quick to load, easy to read, and simple to navigate. It also needs to have the same information and functionality as your regular site.
- Separate your franchise. If one franchisee runs into a reputation problem, do what you can to distance yourself from the problem without badmouthing the company. For example, you might make a point of telling customers on your website or social media that you are “independently owned and operated” or something like that. There are ways to create a buffer zone and preserve the reputation of the company while also reassuring customers.
- Make use of two important services, Amazon Home Services, and Google Home Services.
- Amazon Home Services is currently available in 15 major metropolitan areas. The way it works is that when customers buy a product on Amazon that’s related to your service, they see a suggestion of local service providers that can help them with it. For example, a customer who buys a new air conditioner might see a selection of HVAC companies in their area who can help them install it. The service is also usable as a stand-alone option to search for services. Providers pay a small fee to Amazon to be included.
- Google Home Services works on a similar principle, but it is specific to Google searches. This service is currently being tested in the San Francisco area with plans to expand. When you search for something, part of what you will end up seeing in your search results is a list of local service providers. There are two basic ways to get your company included. First, you can optimize your site for keywords and hope that it shows up in a list of organic search results. Second, you can pay for a Google ad to have your company featured when someone searches for the service you offer.
As long as you pay attention to the five areas detailed above, you can be sure that you are getting the most out of marketing your home service franchise.