I had to have a plumber out before getting a new dishwasher installed (to change a valve). Unlike some of my other recent experiences with SMBs, the guy was prompt in responding to my email and came out this morning.
I thanked him for being so prompt in getting back to me whereupon he said that he “loves technology.” That opened the door and I asked him a little bit about what he meant and where he was getting most of his business these days.
He was probably in his 30s and Hispanic. He told me that a couple of years ago he was advertising in print yellow pages: three different local books. He had a very small display ad for which he was paying roughly $1,500 per year (all three books). He said it didn’t bring him business and so he quit.
A friend did some optimization work for his one-page website and he says that he shows up in organic (my word) searches for plumber. I didn’t find him on the first page of Google in any of several plumbing related lookups I did however. He said he paid the guy “a few hundred dollars.”
The plumber is, by contrast, highly visible and well reviewed on Yelp. He’s got 62 reviews, most of which are five stars (well deserved). He said that one of his customers created an account for him a couple of years ago while he did a job at her house. He’s since claimed his profile and made changes to it.
He said that about 95% of his leads now come from that Yelp profile (he’s not an advertiser). I said that if he were a Yelp advertiser that he wouldn’t see a competitor on his profile page (not trying to sell him). He responded that his ratings were better than the advertiser-competitors that show up on his page so he wasn’t worried.
He also spoke about his reliance on his smartphone as a tool in the field and how he uses it to take payments (Square) and quickly respond to emails and make call backs.
This guy was smart and very good at what he does. He wasn’t very sophisticated about online advertising or marketing but he knew that Google mattered and Yelp really mattered and that a smartphone was now an essential tool.