You may think an online store is only aimed at people who have products to sell: clothing, toys, tools, and so on – but this is not true. You can also sell services online, you just need to tweak the retail offering to suit your business’ needs. In fact, as more and more consumers look online first for both products and services, it is almost certain that business ideas expected to make waves are going to be found online rather than in physical premises. So, if you have a home renovation company that is looking to expand and grow into the future why not start as you mean to go and set up online from the start?
Set Up Your Site
Do a little research and find several websites that you like the look of, making notes of features that you particularly like, dislike, or that intrigue you. Once you have a clear idea of what you want your site to look like, you can begin to speak to hosting sites. If you are not very au fait with web design, your best bet is to get a professional designer to do it for you.
Most commercially enabled websites – that is to say, those designed for retail use – have pages laid out for you to insert product descriptions. These often have a certain flexibility, so that you can customise the product offering to suit the needs of your business and to make it easy for your customers to choose the right option.
Of course, with home renovations there will be some homes or rooms that are not as standard, and you will need to have a chat feature or contact page so that any unique characteristics or unusual features of the job can be specified and properly quoted for.
But most homes will have standard features, and need similar renovation work to be done: installing a new bathroom, checking the electrical wiring, painting or wallpapering the walls, and all of these tasks, and many more, can be uploaded just as if they were products. You will need to add a calendar feature to the listing, one that automatically blocks off each hour as a job is input, and you will need to ensure that the customers’ addresses are limited to an area that you can easily cover in between job appointments.
In this way, for example, a customer could find your site and input their post code to be sure that their area is covered. Then they could add to their basket all the things that need to be done to their home: paint so many square metres of wall (you could include a handy calculator to help them work out the coverage), replace and paint the skirting boards, again by the metre, and install a new toilet. It is unlikely that anyone would be happy to pay for the work in full before it begins, so you might charge them, for example, ten per cent (or enough to cover your costs of an initial visit) as a non-refundable deposit, which needs to be paid there and then in order for the time slot to be blocked off the calendar.
The remaining payment could be something like half on arrival on site, the remainder on completion – or any similar payment structure that suits both the customer and your accounting system.
How Can I Attract Customers?
Many home renovators find work through word of mouth: happy customers recommend businesses to their friends and family members. This will not change now that your business is on the internet. Customers and consumers have many outlets these days to leave reviews of goods and services, and many companies actually invite their customers to write reviews and testimonials about the products and services. These reviews are put online for prospective customers to view when they are looking for a bit more information. Some websites only promote the positive reviews, but others put all the reviews up: sometimes what is a negative for one person might be a positive for another, or, the company can take the opportunity to acknowledge any mistakes that were made and lay out how the issue was resolved. Customers do understand that things sometimes go wrong, and want reassurance that any issues will be resolved fairly, promptly and without any quibbling. If you have a customer who is especially happy with your work for them, ask them there and then for a positive review that you can use in your promotional efforts. Often, they will be only too happy to oblige, especially if you ask them while they are still over the moon with the job you have done for them!
Aside from carefully curating your site and any reviews you receive, your website will do most of the work for you, attracting customers night and day, offering them the information they need, and providing quotes so they can see if they have budgeted correctly for the job. A well laid out website can do the job of a small sales team – leaving you free to get on with the important stuff: the actual renovations!