If you haven’t already, it’s time to embrace technology.
Like it or not, it is not going away. If you own a business, you NEED to have a website, and an email address, (and probably a Facebook page, but more on that in a later post). If you don’t, you are leaving customers on the table for your competition.
There are several local businesses that have been in business for years, some for generations. They do a great job, and people trust them, and they don’t have a website, or even an email address. They do fine, and phooey with this new-fangled internet.
First off, let me say that providing superb service/products is extremely more important than having a web presence. After all, you can have an amazing website, but if what you provide is terrible, you won’t stay in business long. I’ll say it a different way: a website is not a replacement for the hard work and dedication that goes into caring for your customers. BUT, if you do have a business that provides good service and/or products, embracing technology will supplement your sales, possibly exponentially.
By now, you probably know AT LEAST one person who uses the internet to research a service business or product before buying. Probably way more than that. You are on the internet now reading business tips, so you yourself have probably used the internet to research services or products. So what about the business that don’t have websites?
There are two ways that I can think of that these are researched. The first is that they aren’t. You do a search. Those with websites come up in a search, those without, do not. The second is on a list with other like-businesses (if you do a Yellowpages search). Basically it will list all the (we’ll use plumbers as an example) plumbers in the area. Some will just have a phone number or address, and some will have a website as well. Chances are, you are going to skip the non-websited results, and at least explore the websited businesses. If the best plumber does not have a website, but the fourth best does, chances are the 4th best is getting the sales.
In both these examples, potentially great businesses are losing sales to the competition, solely because they don’t have a web-presence. Email, is another example. If your business does not have an email address, you may lose a customer. Many people do not like calling a phone number for whatever reason. (no time to talk, anxiety speaking on the phone, etc) But if they can write an email and send it off, it is convenient for that customer. With the younger generations growing up and wielding buying power, you cannot afford to utilize this medium.
“But, Jason,” you say, “what about the time and money it costs to create and maintain all of this?” That is entirely up to you. It can take minimal time once and no money at all. Or you could sink many hours and many dollars into this. It is really your choice. As always, research things before investing in them. But, for sake of argument, I will share with you the quick and easy (and free) way of getting email and a website set up.
The quick and easy (and free) way. Before I started Green Owl Enterprises and all the sub-businesses within it, I caned chairs. It was just a little operation out of my garage. The work was not at all steady, but it did provide a little income now and then. There were a few other caners in my area, but people only knew about them from word of mouth. (I’m certainly not knocking word of mouth, it is extremely important) I decided I needed to set myself apart, to give myself that edge, an advantage. I also had very little extra money to spare. So I set up a free website. You can see it at https://greenowlcaning.wordpress.com/ if you want.
I happened to use WordPress, but there are several web hosts that provide the free option. The trade off? Your site is not white-label; meaning you have to put up with branding (or sometimes advertisements) that are not your own. You’ll notice pretty quickly that wordpress is smack in the middle of the URL. Anyone visiting my website knows who is hosting it. If they want their own website, they know to head over to wordpress (that is actually how I learned of it myself).
If you want a white-label website (like greenowlenterprises.com), you have to pay for it. The website you are currently on is also a wordpress site, but you wouldn’t necessarily know that. The “proudly powered by WordPress” at the bottom of this page is removable if I so desired.
There are several pages on my caning website, but you really only need one. The information that should appear at minimum on your site is the business name, address, phone number, and your email address. And if you own a restaurant, your menu. Certainly you will do better with a more refined website. But if you are a technology hold out, please, please do at least this.
A quick word about email: it too, can be free. Using my caning business again as an example, the email address is GreenOwlCaning @gmail.com. Good old Gmail. Or Lycos, or Yahoo, or Hotmail, or any other of the many free email providers. Does a white-label email address look better? Sure. But if you need a quick easy email: YourBusinessName@FreeEmailProvider.com works just fine.
So in closing, I implore you to set up a webpage with at least the bare minimums. Pay your 14 year old nephew $20 to do it, if need be. But just do it.
I’ll cover more on embracing technology in a later post, where we will look at the social media side of things.