Travis Carter isn’t just Scorpion’s Vice President of Sales—he’s also the former co-owner of a home improvement business. Genius Works Flooring & Home Improvements in Canton, Ohio was in Travis’ family for 20 years. He and his brother served as co-owners of the business for 5 years.
Now at Internet marketing firm Scorpion, Travis works with home service business owners to drive them more calls, more jobs, and more revenue. He helps his clients take steps to revamp their websites and improve their online presence so they can grow their businesses like never before. In this Q&A, Travis talks about the struggle of trying to grow a small home service business, what common mistakes business owners should avoid, and how digital marketing has been a major game changer for some of his clients.
Keep reading for some valuable insights!
Q: Tell us about the home improvement business you owned? What was that like?
A: It was roofing, siding, windows, flooring, kitchen and bath remodels, and additions—so full-service. I had a retail location where people could come in and shop, and then I would sub-contract the actual labor. When I did remodeling work, I’d partner with plumbing and HVAC contractors.
It was tough, but it was a great experience. It was very challenging in a good way because I had to be the marketer, the accountant, the salesman, the crew manager, and so on. The other challenging part was getting our first retail location so we could become a miniature Home Depot. It was a tough start, but it became very successful.
Q: What type of marketing did you do for your business, and how did it work out for you?
A: We did everything: canvassing door-to-door, advertising in our local coupon magazine, sending out mailers, doing some cable commercials, and hiring telemarketers. We also started doing some Internet marketing: some SEO and dabbling in AdWords, but having inexperienced people do that for us. I think the easiest thing was when people would come in from driving by or when they saw our website.
We wanted to get progressively more entrenched in the digital world and be on that cutting edge, but it was difficult trying to figure that out in the early 2000s. If I knew then what I knew now about Internet marketing, my life would have been a lot easier.
Q: If you could go back and change one thing about how you marketed your business, what would it be?
A: I would have capitalized on the digital space because it was growing and I would have been able to really launch my business into success. My business was a small fish in a big pond, so it could have used the boosted exposure from a stronger web presence. If I could go back, I definitely would have honed in and learned and had someone help me out with my Internet marketing strategy a lot more.
Q: What do you think stops many business owners from truly embracing online marketing?
A: Many home service business owners get set in their ways. I think they got used to finding clients through “old school” marketing tactics. Also, if they’re a mid-sized or small company with an owner who is doing the installs or labor, they simply don’t have the time to get educated about marketing, and that keeps them kind of behind the times.
Q: As someone who has been in this industry, what do you think are some marketing challenges that are unique to home service businesses?
A: I think what’s very unique to home service business owners is many of them have to go be the salesman because they are their best salesman. So they have that challenge of: “How can I really work on the business and make it better when I don’t get time to do that?” Another challenge I see, when I do my own research on home service companies, is that their websites seem to be a little archaic. For example, you could tell the site hasn’t been updated or changed much, but because they are so busy, they just let it go.
Q: What could these business owners be doing to better market themselves today?
A: I think the very first thing is home service companies have to be open-minded to change and to getting educated in the digital world because people aren’t just driving down the street like they were before looking for signs. Now, people shop for a home service professionals on the Internet from the comfort of their own homes or in their offices after work. If they’re not on Google or Bing or Yahoo, they’re on Facebook asking their friends for recommendations. They’re doing their homework.
And then home service business owners have to get educated about giving people good knowledge. Here’s an example from one of my own searches: Living in Los Angeles, my water and electric bill was just astronomical. So I went on the Internet and searched “energy efficient tips.” Blogs were coming up by an HVAC company educating me on the topic of energy efficiency and letting me know it may be time to replace my equipment. That person was doing it right. That would be the person to get my business. So my advice is to put your business on all platforms on the Internet so you can get found and make a strong impression on potential customers.
Q: What do you enjoy most about what you do?
A: It’s helping home service guys win. I’ve walked in their shoes. I’ve had my own crews coming to me saying, “I have kids to feed. Do you have any work for me, Travis?” I was responsible personally for putting food on the table for not just my family, but many families. Now as a home services marketing professional, it feels really rewarding to get those phone calls back from clients saying we solved their problem and got them more jobs because I know that I didn’t just help those businesses—I know that I helped their crews, their families, the secretary at the office, and so on.
Q: Do you have any specific stories you can share?
A: There was a plumbing company we were working with that gave me the same story that I hear a lot: “I’m working with a marketing company, but I don’t know what they’re doing for me. It’s just not working out, and I don’t even trust the Internet anymore.” They signed on with Scorpion, and they were still with the other company while we were building their website. They later called us saying they hadn’t received a lead from their other marketing company in three weeks and they needed to fast-track their new website so they could stay afloat. We launched their new website and four days later, they booked 19 jobs in one day—and that was without us raising their previous budget. Getting them out of their slump that quickly was huge. This is exactly why we do what we at Scorpion... to drive more business to our clients and see them succeed!
Q: Why should home service businesses choose Scorpion for their Internet marketing?
A: At Scorpion, we know it’s a challenge for home service business owners to stay educated and up-to-speed on all the latest digital marketing trends. That’s why we step in and take the lead for our clients. We don’t just stay up-to-date on what’s going on in our industry—we’re always on the cutting edge. If you’re looking for award-winning digital marketing experts who will deliver the smartest strategies and get you more jobs, Scorpion is the company to call!
If you would like to learn more about Scorpion and how we can help you grow your business, contact our online marketing team!