While technology continues to make it easier to shop, participate in educational courses, and conduct some business completely online, the one thing that many businesses lose as they become more digital, is the human touch.
Although home service companies still want to make in-person visits to find a refrigerant leak or fix a broken furnace blower, a customer’s initial contact with your company might be walled off by online reviews or digital schedulers. Often, HVACR technicians have no contact with a customer before a home service visit. This is exactly why your home service business should have built into its brand, a cohesive narrative that can reach your potential customers. And, a good brand story is a mix of emotionally connected messaging and hard facts – a story that is unique to your brand and evokes the marketing “feeling” you wish to convey. Establishing a public relations strategy that promotes your humanness and the reasons why your home service company is the right choice, helps you gain that understanding.
Creating a Unique HVACR Brand Story
Facts vs. Feelings
While you might offer the same services as a competitor down the street, you aren’t the same company and haven’t had the same experiences. If your great-grandfather started your company at the turn of the last century and you’re still in business today, that legacy is a unique part of your brand story – use it. Why? Because it says, you are family-oriented, and you believe in tradition and history. But also, it elicits feelings of trust and security – the community has trusted your company for a century.
• Fact: You are a family business that has earned its success and reputation among community patrons.
• Emotion It Evokes: We believe in family. We love this community. You can trust us with your home.
If you’re a newer company, but your service techs all have advanced certifications making them the experts in your service area and your company routinely includes community philanthropy you may combine those two aspects into your brand story.
• Fact: We train our service technicians, so they earn the most advanced certifications from organizations like North American Technician Excellence (N.A.T.E). This fact will distinguish your brand in the eyes of prospects and customers.
• Emotion It Evokes: Giving back to the community through organizations like Habitat For Humanity can elicit a warm feeling that says, “we care,’ about our community and we believe in giving back.
Bottomline: Find what sets you apart from the competition. That way, you can compete by being the different option, rather than trying to copy the competitor. The very thing that makes your company unique, is your superpower in brand storytelling. Write that story into your branding – in your blogs, on your website, in your advertisements, and in public relations campaigns.
People are Still Your Company Backbone
Even though technology has made it easier to click a few buttons to receive service, it’s still your service experts who go into homes or businesses to make repairs or installations.
Many home service companies often rely too much on selling the features their HVACR systems have or single out reasons why their technology helps save energy, but fail to mention the people who are doing the work.
Sharing your company’s culture is a great way to build unique and interesting content.
Instead of simply mentioning that your service techs have earned certain certifications, explain to customers the benefits of the training and certification and why your employees and company are the perfect service experts to handle their needs.
Value or Price?
Some market consultants advise business owners that they can compete in this market by reducing prices to attract more customers or selling to “value” when their service is more expensive than their competitor(s). But, a good brand story can bolster your position, further validating why your home service company is the best value for the price.
Your PR strategy should emphasize the ongoing training your technicians receive. Your accounting departments should have a firm understanding of overhead and the cost of service to ensure your pricing strategies are accurate. Understanding, your overhead and market forces will help you to be the most profitable you can be. If you have these two foundational building blocks in place, then your brand story can go a long way to increasing business.
Selling the branding story about your well-trained and certified service techs offer customers added value and will help you offset pricing complaints, especially in today’s volatile economy.
PR in HVACR
For many home service business owners, the willingness to tell your company’s story isn’t a stretch. Rather, the ability to communicate effectively is the issue. This is where an excellent PR strategy comes into play.
A public relations expert can not only help you brainstorm ideas that will communicate your company’s story, highlight your people, and explain your value, but a specialist can also organize the information into a cohesive strategy that becomes the brand story throughout the company – for sales, operations, technicians, and CSRs. A public relations professional can also train you and your team on how to deal with the media and the public, and the best way to tell your brand story.
A marketing and advertising team well-versed in building campaigns, and capable of training your technicians how to speak about your brand as they meet and chat with customers in the community, can do well to propel your company’s position in the market.
But beware: a brand story needs to be meaningful, personal, and emotional while remaining factual and authentic. If your story isn’t unique or doesn’t make people feel personally connected to your content, it’s not going to do you much good. Merely creating content for content’s sake won’t capture anyone’s attention.
There are dozens or even hundreds of home service companies in your area vying for customer attention. Analyze how are you different and develop your own story, your narrative should be your own.
Putting PR Into Practice
The best thing you can do is remember that despite the bricks and mortar, the logo, and the technology that make your business a company, it is a person who was behind starting the company – whether that was you or your great-grandfather.
Putting your face behind your brand story and building campaigns that explain who you are, what you do, and why you do it, is a start.
Whether your campaign includes blogs that provide readers in your community with household tips or promotes a charity you are involved with or simply lets customers know of your latest specials, you need to stay on brand when you create the content for these campaigns.
Your story doesn’t change because there are new ways to do truck wraps or a manufacturer develops a more energy-efficient water heater or HVAC system. Your company is unique because of where it came from or who established it or why it exists. It is not successful because of a gimmick.
Once your target audience knows more about you, they begin to trust you, and, the more they trust you, the more likely they will become your customer. Then, you will have created brand advocates who will cheerlead your products and services for years to come.
Heather Ripley is the founder and CEO of Ripley PR, an elite, global public relations agency specializing in skilled trades, franchising, manufacturing, and B2B Tech. Ripley PR has been recognized by Entrepreneur Magazine as a Top Franchise PR Agency five years in a row and was named to Forbes’ America’s Best PR Agencies for 2021. She is the author of “NEXT LEVEL NOW: PR Secrets to Drive Explosive Growth for your Home Service Business.” For additional information, visit www.ripleypr.com.