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Category: Digital Wrap

Best Mechanical & HVAC Trade Shows for Commercial Service Contractors

ServiceTrade reps smiling at a trade show

There are many HVAC and mechanical trade shows vying for your attention and attendance. And we know it would be great to attend them all as these events are so often valuable and invigorating—but we also know that’s not normally possible. Too many shows, too little time, and a limited budget! That’s why we’ve compiled this list of the top seven U.S. and Canadian conferences for HVAC and mechanical contractors. These are the heavy hitters that offer the most value in terms of networking, speakers, exhibitors, and fun. 

Not all of these events are perfect for every business, but all of them offer valuable opportunities to learn about new trends in the HVAC and mechanical industry, network, and check out new products from suppliers, manufacturers and technology partners.  

AHR Expo 2024

The AHR Expo is a leading event for HVACR professionals, especially contractors who are looking to innovate with new technology. It features a comprehensive gathering of industry manufacturers and suppliers of all sizes and specialties. Exhibitors unveil the latest additions to their product line-ups, demonstrate what is new and innovative about the technologies, provide product details, and answer questions. 

2024 Date: January 22 – 24

2024 Location: Chicago


MCAA Convention 2024

The MCAA Convention is one of the largest and most robust mechanical events of the year. The conference offers many opportunities for contractors to learn, network, and engage with partners and vendors. The conference offers impressive keynote speakers, entertainment, and packages for family members, including children. 

2024 Date: March 17 – 21

2024 Location: Orlando, Florida



ServiceTrade team at SMACNA

CMPX 2024

CMPX is Canada’s show for HVACR and plumbing contractors. The show, which features over 500 exhibitors is a valuable event for Canadian contractors who want to learn about innovative new products, stay current with the latest code and regulatory trends, and network with industry peers. 

2024 Date: March 20 – 22

2024 Location: Toronto, Canada


Digital Wrap Conference 2024

Digital Wrap Conference is back in person this year! DWC is the only event created to help commercial service contractors grow their businesses. The conference features networking opportunities, peer-group sessions, and educational sessions. This year’s speakers will focus on how to use technology and modern business practices to provide an amazing customer service experience that increases the value of your business.

2024 Date: April 29 – 30

2024 Location: Austin, Texas


MSCA 2024 Annual Education Conference

This leading conference, specifically for mechanical service contractors, features current issues and trends in service and service sales management, personnel, finance, marketing, training and recruiting. The conference consists of networking opportunities, educational sessions, peer-group sessions, and exhibitors. ServiceTrade will be among the exhibitors. We hope to see you there! 

2024 Date: September 22 – 25

2024 Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado



A four-day event for SMACNA members, chapter executives, and associate members. This conference features educational sessions, networking opportunities, and a product show with dozens of the industry’s most prominent suppliers, manufacturers, and service providers. 

2024 Date: October 27 – 30

2024 Location: Palm Desert, California


MCAC 2024

MCAC offers a robust program for Canadian contractors, focusing on networking and educational sessions. The conference is a leading event for Canadian commercial service contractors to reconnect, learn about future industry trends, and check out exhibitor solutions. 

2024 Date: November 27 – 30

2024 Location: Austin, Texas


The events above offer the best in networking, engaging educational speakers, innovative exhibitors, and fun for your team. We hope you make room on your calendar for some (or all) of these events. And if so, we’ll see you there! 

You can check all of the events ServiceTrade participates in here.


Join us at DWC April 2024!

Highly Recommended Holiday Reading

This might not be for you, but most of us in sales need help knowing what to say and when. Take a look at this two-minute clip of Phil M. Jones from the 2019 Digital Wrap Conference.

This exercise demonstrates how the right words can change how we think. At DWC19, Phil revealed some of the magic words that motivate people – the people you want to buy your products and services – to take action. 

Our highly recommended holiday reading is Phil M. Jones’s book, Exactly What to Say: The Magic Words for Influence and Impact. In it, Phil shares 21 magic phrases and when to use them.

I purchased the audiobook shortly after DWC19. I listened to the 1 hour 15 minute recording once, then immediately replayed it because I wanted to absorb every idea. Anna McMahon, who leads ServiceTrade’s inside sales, is running contests in her team for the best use of Phil’s magic phrases. They’re tools that work and Phil shares them in ways that make sense.

If you heard Phil’s DWC19 presentation, let us know in the comments which magic phrases have stayed with you and which ones you’ve started using. 

That’s a Wrap! Takeaways from the 2019 Digital Wrap Conference.

The 2019 Digital Wrap Conference was a huge success thanks to the more than 200 commercial service contractors and industry partners who joined us for three days in Isle of Palms, South Carolina. Along with two days of content (more on that in a minute), attendees enjoyed fishing, a golf tournament, a kayaking excursion, amazing food and drink, and beautiful weather. 

Monday was the first of two days packed with insightful content designed to help commercial service contractors learn how to increase customer loyalty and revenue by creating an effortless customer experience.  

The presenters didn’t disappoint – read on for key takeaways from these subject matter experts. 

Drive customer loyalty by delivering effortless customer experiences.

Keynote speaker Matt Dixon shared research (from his book The Effortless Experience)  that shows what today’s customers are looking for. And it’s not what you might think. Delighting customers with over-the-top service doesn’t lead to repeat business. But a low-effort experience does. Creating a low-effort customer experience means providing self-service options online so your customers don’t have to call, and while also proactively resolving issues before they happen. 

Now is the time to develop a strategy for thriving in the economic downturn. 

It’s not a question of if a recession will hit, but when. ServiceTrade CEO and DWC keynote speaker Billy Marshall shared how to prepare now so you can use the inevitable market dynamics that accompany a recession to your advantage. Billy shared his step-by-step strategies on how to identify and strengthen relationships with your best customers, smartly target companies who are currently working with your competition, and use your brand and online presence to recruit the best technicians. 

Selling subscriptions isn’t just for Disney.

It can be for you too. The subscription economy is powered by customers who are searching for maximum value in a sea of options.  Anna McMahon, ServiceTrade’s VP of Inside Sales, discussed how you can convert more customers and keep them longer. It requires a relentless focus on their needs (not your offerings), and delivering specific outcomes that meet those needs. Anna shared how Caterpillar, one of the largest construction equipment manufacturers, is evolving their business model to create recurring revenue. They are doing so with a move into digital services that enable them to deliver valuable insights that customers pay for on an ongoing basis. On Tuesday, Anna followed up her presentation with a workshop for attendees who wanted to learn how to package their services into a tiered sales program for their customers. 

It’s time to find your technology guru. 

Award-winning actors (and ServiceTrade Project Managers) Dax Beaton and Patrick O’Neill shared their talents on stage in a TED-style talk on finding your technology guru. Their message? Holding out for the perfect all-in-one software is a losing game. Instead, find someone who can identify the software and systems that meet your varied business needs, and implement them in a way that they can communicate with each other. Dax and Patrick shared three ways you can make this happen (hiring a full-time employee, hiring a consultant, and finding your tech guru from within) and key considerations for each scenario.  

Feelings fool. Data rules. 

Shawn Mims, ServiceTrade’s Director of Marketing, gave attendees a reality check, and showed attendees how confirmation bias can affect decision making in your business. Shawn illustrated how to use data to cut through the lies, while also better serving – and earning more from – your customers. He also shared the 3 tenets of creating a data-focused culture in your organization – a must for companies who want to be competitive in today’s market.      

Your data is valuable. And vulnerable. 

Dax and Patrick were back on Monday afternoon to talk ransomware. Their talk was especially timely as ransomware attacks have been on the rise in commercial service businesses. Ransomware is a form of malware that can encrypt your files, effectively locking you out of your data. The attacker then demands payment to restore your access. Dax and Patrick shared how your own employees may be the biggest security threat (if they fall prey to common phishing scams), the dangers of relying on placebos, and best practices on backing up your data in the event you find yourself victim of a ransomware attack. 

Focus on customer success, not customer service

ServiceTrade VP of Customer Success, James Jordan, shared how a change in his department’s focus from customer service to customer success resulted in happier, loyal customers. Based on research in The Effortless Experience, loyal customers repurchase, spend more, and advocate on your behalf. James outlined an effortless experience strategy for attendees to implement in their own businesses, including measuring the right numbers, minimizing your customer’s effort (with self-service options like the Service Portal), incorporating customer feedback, and empowering your team to not only resolve the issue at hand, but to take steps so that your customer will never have to reach out about that issue again. 

You won’t get anything if you don’t ask for it.

Tuesday kicked off with a high-energy presentation from keynote speaker Phil M. Jones, who challenged attendees to get out there and ask for what they want in ways that work.  Phil’s engaging session revealed how words can break through the barriers between you and your buyers and move them to action. Minds. Blown.

Use your technology with a purpose (and watch revenue grow.)

ServiceTrade Account Manager David Teeter reviewed customer usage density data around MIPS (marketing impressions per service) and other key features of the application. He also shared data to illustrate why attendees need to prioritize adoption within their companies. Usage data shows that ServiceTrade customers using Service Links and online quoting grow service revenue by 20% more than customers who don’t. How can you improve your usage density? By setting a vision and purpose, the WHY behind your adoption of technology, and then communicating this vision throughout your company. 

Plan your ServiceTrade roadmap for 2020. 

ServiceTrade CTO Brian Smithwick closed out Tuesday’s presentations with his always popular discussion of recent product updates as well as what’s coming up on the ServiceTrade product roadmap.  The audience started buzzing as he discussed updates to contract functionality and recurring invoices (which were recently released) and upcoming features like Invoice Link and Service Forms – all of which are designed to help ServiceTrade customers lock in loyalty with their customers by creating an effortless experience.  Brian challenged attendees to plan their company’s roadmaps for 2020, as ServiceTrade features are only valuable if implemented. 


Want More Ideas from DWC19? 

We are going to share a lot more in the coming weeks and months on these topics.  If you want access to the content as soon as it’s released, sign up for our newsletter (in the sidebar on the right) and you’ll be automatically added to the mailing list. We will also keep you posted on plans for the 5th Annual Digital Wrap Conference in 2020!

How to Grow Your Service Contracting Revenue 23.4% Year Over Year

On average, commercial service contractors who use ServiceTrade grow their invoice revenue by 23.4% year over year. All you have to do is buy ServiceTrade and you’ll grow! Our work here is done. The end.

If only it were that simple. There is a big difference between the best and worst performers. For example, contractors that engage their customers online, quote more repair work, and drive more revenue per customer and per job grow much faster than those that don’t.

These conclusions came from an analysis of millions of data points. Over the last year, ServiceTrade customers invoiced over $1 billion through 1.5 million invoices on 1.9 million jobs. On top of that, their customers approved 140,000 quotes to the tune of $450 million. That’s a shedload of service work! We measured YoY revenue growth for companies generating invoices in ServiceTrade since 2017Q2 and here’s what we found:

Drive more revenue per customer and per job to yield faster growth

We wanted to know where the fastest growing contractors earn their new revenue. As it turns out, the old business adage that it’s easier to drive more revenue from your existing customer base than from acquiring new customers is true even for service contractors.

We found that a company’s growth rate is proportional to how quickly they grow the average revenue per customer (chart) and revenue per job (chart). Surprisingly, a company’s ability to attain net new customers does not impact revenue growth. In fact, some of the fastest growing companies have a shrinking customer count because they fire lots of their worst customers and win a smaller group of new customers that represent more revenue.

So, how are you going to drive more revenue from the work you already have? Read on!

Engage customers online to create revenue growth

We divided ServiceTrade customers in half based on how often their customers engage with Service Links*. The top half, whose customers viewed Service Links more often, grew their service revenue an average of 29.1% YoY. The bottom half only grew 9.2% YoY. Your customers want to trust that they are getting the value they are paying for. If you provide more transparency with a convenient, online experience, you build that trust and differentiate yourself from your competition. Being different and better makes it easier to command a premium price and earn more revenue from each customer.

*With ServiceTrade, you send online summaries of the services you are performing with a feature called Service Link. Here’s an example. Much like the notifications you receive for every Amazon order about shipping, delivery, and feedback, Service Link keeps your customers informed about the value you deliver on each service. We call these Marketing Impressions Per Service (MIPS) and they reinforce your value while keeping your customers informed about the service process.

Sell more repair work

Then we divided our customers based on a ratio of the number of approved repair quotes to overall job count — how often are they earning new repair revenue for each completed job? The top half grew their revenue at an average rate of 27.7% YoY. The bottom half only grew 10.8%.

Sending online quotes to your customers that are easy to approve and include details, pictures, and videos reported from the field is quick and easy with ServiceTrade. And, as I showed in my last data-driven blog post, quotes that are sent quickly, that include rich media, and are convenient for the customer have much higher approval rates.

At the beginning of this post I joked that all you have to do is buy ServiceTrade to grow. The fact is, when used effectively, ServiceTrade is a powerful tool to help you drive more revenue from the customers you already have. ServiceTrade will help you grow by engaging your customers online and executing more effectively on repair sales.

The data analysis and graphs for this blog post were all generated with Amazon QuickSight that is available to ServiceTrade customers to analyze their own service data. Call us at 919-246-9900 if you’d like to learn more.

The Economic Downturn is Coming. Are You Ready for Greedy Growth?

Trade wars have sent steel prices up twenty five percent and farmers are getting killed by the collapse of the agricultural commodities market.  Job growth slowed to a paltry 75,000 in May, and the two prior months of April and March were revised downward by 75,000.  The European Central Bank is already easing monetary policy and hinting at future stimulus measures to fend off weakness in the Eurozone economy.  Jerome Powell, the head of the US central bank, just telegraphed a rate cut. Brexit is a mess with all manner of political and economic uncertainty driving the UK economy into a contraction. Chinese investors are pulling out of the US real estate market due to retaliatory regulations associated with the trade wars.

A downturn in the economy is coming.  It always comes, and the signs are everywhere that the happy days are close to an end.  When the easy-money construction market dries up, will your contracting business still be poised for profitable growth?  Will you be ready to take advantage of your weak competitors? Or will you be one of the weaklings that struggles to keep the wheels on the bus as competitors sharpen their knives in the battle for the stability of a highly profitable service business? 

Warren Buffet is fond of saying “When others are greedy, be fearful. When others are fearful, be greedy.” What steps should you take to exercise fear now and be greedy when the downturn comes? Here are some ideas to prepare for greedy growth during the downturn.

Lock In Service Contracts Now 

The last thing you want during the downturn is for your best customers to be shopping for service or responding to the desperate sales pitch of the low price competitor who is getting killed in the downturn (and hence getting more desperate and lowering prices even further).  Customers can always breach a contract, but most will not want to do that, or they will simply ask for some consideration (payment terms, maybe a slight rate cut) in a down economy. Get on the right side of this negotiation now by offering a good contract that commits you to the services that will keep their facilities in top shape during the boom times when others are out chasing new construction opportunities.

Optimize Website SEO with Reviews

When the weak competitors begin to go belly up, or more likely they fail to make payroll and their technicians begin looking for the next opportunity, you want your company to be the number one hit (and number two and three and four as well) on the search engines.  The downturn is prime-time to lock in new technicians who discover their employer is a weak player. They will be looking online. Will they find you? They will if you have your online reviews juicing your SEO results.

Get Your Careers Page Looking Spiffy

Hiring is difficult, but it is even harder when no one knows what types of positions you are offering.  Always list openings for skilled technicians on a careers page on your website. Be specific about the skills that you value and the unique capabilities of your company, including any special technology capabilities that you deploy in service to your customers.  Being specific about these things is better than simply declaring your company is better because you work harder, care more, been around longer, love mom and apple pie and blah blah blah.

Upgrade Your Customer Service Technology

When competitors begin their desperate attempt to keep customers at all costs, you want to be the one that has the most leverage in the fight for keeping the best customers.  If you have put in place systems that help you understand customer contract performance, equipment maintenance condition, and technician productivity and revenue performance, you will be in the best negotiating position possible. 

You will be able to reward good customers that follow maintenance protocols and repair recommendations with better rates while letting the customers with a history of poor maintenance and disruptive emergency calls fall to the competitor.  Let them have the aggravation and low rates for these customers.

You will also be able to provide more competitive rates when you can use technology to maximize technician productivity and minimize wasted unbillable time. If you can increase their billable productive time by 10%, you can lower rates by 10% if necessary to keep the good customers from making a mistake and switching to Desperate Don.

Offer Customers Unique Capability and Insights

Although this is a capability that should be part of your customer service technology upgrade, it is worth mentioning as a separate item.  In a world of Amazon and Uber, customers will expect their suppliers to give them more than just the labor and parts they bargained to buy. They expect information and insights as part of the customer service experience, and they expect them to be delivered online. 

Challenge the customer that is about to make a mistake by switching to Desperate Don to make Don prove that he can provide the unique, information based and convenient experience that comes with your service. If the customer works with Don, can they:

Maybe they will turn Don’s desperate offer down when he cannot provide any of this customer experience value.

Are you ready to be greedy when others become fearful?  The key is having the confidence that you are operating with the best information to provide the best experience with maximum technician productivity so that you can aggressively hire and sell.  When you know that the sale is going to stick and technician productivity is going to be high, you can hire and sell and hire and sell when others are struggling and become tired as hell of trying to figure out how you do what you do.  Let’s hope the downturn is soon so the best competitors can wipe the floor and benefit from some greedy growth.


The Must-Attend Conference for Leaders in Commercial Service Companies

Today’s market is fraught with challenges for leaders of commercial service companies. From operations to recruitment to customer service – fighting to the top of your market (and fighting to stay there) can overwhelm even the hardest working business leaders.

While technology can seem like another obstacle, commercial service companies that want to lead their markets are learning how to use technology to do more with less, build loyal customer relationships, and win more business from bigger customers.

If you are one of these leaders, you can’t afford to fall behind, and you can’t afford to miss the Digital Wrap Conference (DWC) this November.  DWC is now in its 4th year and 2019 is set to be our best year yet. Here are 3 reasons you need to be at DWC19:

  1. Get actionable ideas for your 2020 planning. DWC educational sessions teach new ways to use technology to run a modern, profitable commercial service company from service management, to operations, to sales and marketing, and more. According to a survey of past attendees, two-thirds left with 6 or more ideas to try in their businesses.
  2. Rub elbows with like-minded professionals. Meet and network with other leaders from commercial service companies from across the US and Canada who share your challenges related to running a commercial service business.
  3. Have fun at the beach! DWC19 will be at Wild Dunes Resort in Isle of Palms, South Carolina, just outside of Charleston. Hit the links at our annual golf tournament, join the fishing tournament, and explore the “South’s Best City”.  (And did we mention the food?!)

We pack A LOT of learning into two days of educational seminars and breakout sessions.  You’ll learn how to leverage technology to:

Our early bird special is available until June 30.  Register today for $200 off the registration price. See you at the beach!


Questions about DWC19? Contact Shelley Bainter at

What the Series Finale of Game of Thrones Teaches Us About Service Businesses

“What unites people? Armies? Gold? Flags? Stories. There’s nothing in the world more powerful than a good story. Nothing can stop it. No enemy can defeat it.”

This was part of Tyrion Lannister’s last great speech on Game of Thrones. His words, delivered so brilliantly by Actor Peter Dinklage were a nice nod to the unique and powerful story created in the books by Author George R. R. Martin. A story that gave its watchers a new world, a new vocabulary. Characters to love and to hate. Stories of redemption. Complicated family relationships (there’s an understatement!) War. Heroes. Villains. Dragons. Ice zombies.

These words, “There’s nothing in the world more powerful than a good story,” also made me think about how story is a big part of a digital wrap. Which was inconvenient at the time because I was trying to enjoy the end of this beloved show. To paraphrase the character, nothing can stop the story that you tell your customers, and no enemy can defeat it after it’s made them feel and inspired them to act.

The story you tell your customers most likely will not contain dragons or ice zombies, but as these blog posts point out, they certainly contain heroes (your technicians) waging war on the threats lurking in your customer’s kingdom.

What exactly do we mean about the importance of story for a business like yours? Stories are part of making a commercial service contracting business more valuable to its customers, these posts explain how.

Building Your Brand Through Storytelling

What Contractors Can Learn From the Mechanic

Snakes on the Roof!

Are your services significant?

Are you writing a happy story?

We wish you good fortune in the wars to come.  

p.s. If you watched the series, we’d love to read your comments about how things wrapped up.


How Commercial Service Contractors can Dominate with Mobile Tech

This post is the second in my discussion of how to use mobile technology to dominate your market.  If you haven’t read my first post, you can find it here. In that post, I discuss the basics in taking your customer service mobile – you’ll want to meet this milestone before jumping into milestones two and three: Marathon Training and Race Day.

Milestone 2: Marathon Training (Research and Development)

Once you achieve basic fitness, you are already in the top 10-20% in your market regarding ability to compete. Now it’s time to begin the specific marathon training in earnest. Again, this is not a quick tune-up; it’s a commitment to building up the muscle and stamina to be competitive in a marathon race. Don’t expect it to happen overnight, but instead develop a training plan that will get you there over a period of one to two years.

Marathon Training in Practice

When ServiceTrade was just starting out, we spent about five months and about $80,000 on our first mobile app design iteration. It never went to a single customer or prospect, because we threw it away and started over. We had picked the wrong combination of technologies, and the result really sucked. It worked (sort of), but it was not up to our expectations for our brand, so we literally threw it in the trash heap. We did, however, learn a lot about what we really wanted, and that was a valuable experience. We began the effort anew with a different set of partners who were true experts in the mobile space.

Even large companies need a long training period to get ready for a mobile marathon. About 18 months prior to Chick-fil-A having a mobile app, I noticed that many of the locations began sending cashiers into the drive-through line with iPads to take orders. I’m willing to bet that this was a deliberate marathon training activity to understand exactly how to achieve effective mobile order-taking. Chick-fil-A got more than a year of feedback from “friendly” users to help them get it right for the major launch of the Chick-fil-A One app to the masses.

What Marathon Training Means for You

For the best results, undertake similar training. A small subset of your best customers, or perhaps your salespeople and customer service staff acting on behalf of customers (like the Chick-fil-A cashiers in the drive-through line), are great partners for getting a truly scalable customer mobile experience to the market.

Start with a few simple things like having a basic customer service portal on your website where an existing customer can request service and browse a limited set of service history. Make yourself into a customer contact and see what your customers see by spending some significant time browsing with your mobile device and using the interface just as a customer would. Be critical. Remember, this is marathon training and not the middle of a race that you are already losing. There is no point in desperation or exasperation. Take deep breaths and carry on with the training. Expand your muscle and fitness and move ahead to make the adjustments that move toward a competitive marathon outcome.

Milestone 3: Race Day (Your Branded Mobile App)

To win the mobile marathon, you need a branded mobile app for your customers just like Starbucks and Chick-fil-A. In addition to the obvious capabilities that are simply carryovers from your website service portal (service history, equipment assets, contract details, quotes, etc.), here are additional capabilities you’ll want to include:

The most successful service brands have a mobile app as a defining feature of their premium program. If you want to win, a mobile app is your future. I was very deliberate with the marathon metaphor so that you would envision a long-term plan with multiple plateaus of achievement leading up to race day. If you don’t commit soon to the fitness plan, however, it is unlikely that you will be racing with the best competitors in your market a few years from now.

When race day comes in a few years, you do not want to be an out-of-shape, flatfooted bystander watching the racers while you hand out refreshments. Start getting in shape now. Work your way toward maximum fitness. Mobile marathon training will begin shortly, and race day is going to be a ton of fun.

Winning the Mobile Marathon as a Commercial Service Contractor

There are plenty of examples of companies that have built market success because of their use of mobile technology, including Domino’s, Chick-fil-A, and Starbucks. Starbucks launched their mobile app in early 2011, and it included a mobile pay feature similar to a gift card. Mobile innovation has paid off for Starbucks. They reported that in the third quarter of 2017 approximately 30 percent of sales were transacted using the mobile app. The real win, however, is that mobile app users are spending three times more than other customers! Starbucks delivered an innovation that helps assure the loyalty of their best customers.

Starbucks and other stories of leading markets through mobile make perfect sense if you look around anytime you’re out in public. Fifty percent of the folks you see have their noses in their phones, and the other 50 percent all have their phones within arm’s reach. The phone has bridged not only the last mile to the customer but literally the last three feet.

What Market Leaders Know

If you are committed to leading in your market – if you expect to be the premium brand that is known for outstanding customer service – you must be committed to leading in mobile customer service just like Chick-fil-A and Starbucks. Fortunately it doesn’t have to happen overnight, and there is still plenty of whitespace in the market. No one owns this space or has such a lead that you are forced to follow their example. You can define your mobile future.

The race to mobile customer service in service contracting is going to be a marathon and not a sprint. Just like a marathon, competitiveness begins with a commitment to a training routine. Using the marathon metaphor, let’s lay out a basic program to get you prepared to compete for mobile dominance in your market.

First Milestone: Achieving Basic Fitness

No one serious about marathon competition just wakes up one day and decides to run a race the following day or even the following week or month. A basic level of fitness is required to even begin a serious training program; otherwise injuries plus mental and physical fatigue will seriously hamper achieving your goals. Basic fitness in this case means your current interfaces with customers are mobile-friendly.  Let’s look at the three steps to achieving this first important milestone.

Start with a mobile friendly website

Use Google’s mobile friendly analysis tool to test whether or not your current website is recognized by search engines as being easy for customers to use with a mobile device. Clearly your site needs to pass this test. Beyond that you should also be critical of the presentation of your brand value online in the mobile interface.

If you are not comfortable about passing this basic fitness evaluation, and you are also not comfortable with your current digital vendor, find one or two that will give you a second and third opinion. They should happily do this for free for an opportunity to become your supplier.

Optimize your company’s information in search

Next, make certain someone searching for you online can easily find your company, regardless of the device they use. Be especially critical of how the search results are displayed on mobile. Search results on mobile and desktop should be identical, but there are unseen variations that need to be in place for the best mobile presentation. In any case, anyone searching directly for your name should get lots of options for connecting with you online via their mobile device. Test it. If you aren’t happy with the result, either hold your current vendor accountable or ask for a second and third opinion. Chapter 8 in my first book, The Digital Wrap, is a great place to start in understanding the basics for a service contractor website.

Ensure customer communications are mobile friendly

Finally, assess the mobile fitness of all of your other routine communications with your customers. This begins with a commitment to have both email and mobile contact information for all your important customer contacts. I have never once answered a call at my office landline. If someone leaves a message, it comes to my mobile phone and I decide whether or not I want to call them back by pushing a button. Any of my customers or important partners who really need me have my mobile number and my email.

You should be able to reach your customers the same way. Make collecting email addresses and mobile contact information a routine part of your customer intake process. If you are sending them any sort of email or text correspondence that requires them to download and print a document, find a way to change that pattern to a “just click here” routine that presents the information in a way that allows them to take action right away without the hassle of a download.

ServiceTrade’s Quote Link and Service Link features are great examples of engaging the customer in a manner that invites them to appreciate your work and take action to award you more work without leaving the mobile interface. Send yourself test samples of several of the important correspondences you regularly exchange with customers. Evaluate whether or not you get the value from these messages without putting down your phone. If you are not happy, rework and reformat until you are.

Beyond Basic Fitness

Once you achieve basic fitness, you are in the top 10 to 20 percent in your market regarding ability to compete. Now it’s time to begin the specific marathon training in earnest. In next week’s post, I’ll discuss ways to build beyond the basics to truly dominate your market and win the mobile marathon.

If you want to read more about the mobile marathon and how to compete in the future of commercial services contracting, check out my books Money for Nothing and The Digital Wrap.

Mapping Your Customer’s Journey

Do you have ambition to become the leading service contractor in your market? Does it feel like operational and administrative inefficiencies are holding you back? We get it. It’s not easy to lead the market when it feels like you can’t even get your own house in order.

We’ve helped hundreds of our customers streamline operations so they can stand out from their competitors to grow their businesses. They don’t, however, stand out from the competition simply because they have a better work order process. Instead, they lead their market because they have a better customer journey.

What is the customer journey?

A customer journey is the complete sum of experiences that customers go through when interacting with your company. From the marketing and sales cycle to service delivery to account management, the customer journey includes every transaction and every communication.

Actually understanding what makes your customer tick and offering a convenient journey will set you apart from the competition, reinforce how you are different and better, and help you win more business.

Stages of the customer journey 

The journey can be difficult to map because it will vary from customer to customer and won’t follow a perfectly straight path. However, there are five general stages that you can use to start.  These are:

  1. Seek: They need a contractor and will begin the search.
  2. Buy: They’ve narrowed down their options and will sign a contract.
  3. Onboarding: They’ve signed your service agreement and will prepare for their service relationship with you.
  4. Service: They are counting on you to keep their assets operational.
  5. Performance Evaluation: They assess how the relationship is going. This can go one of two ways: 1) they continue to work with you or 2) they don’t.

Mapping your customer’s journey

To start mapping your customer’s journey, ask two simple questions for each of the five stages.

  1. What do they need? Remember, what they really need might not align perfectly with what they think they need.
  2. How can you best meet their needs?

Let’s walk through the framework to help you get started to mapping out the journey unique to your customers.

Stage 1: Seek

What do they need?

They need to find a new contractor.  It could be that another contractor failed them, or they have a new building to manage with no existing contracts.  It’s difficult to find good contractors so they’ll search online, ask their professional peers for recommendations, conduct an RFP, or reach out to contractors they’ve trusted in the past.

How can you best meet their needs?

Make it easy for them to find you online. That’s their first stop and it’s relatively easy for commercial/industrial service contractors to show up in the top Google results compared to their residential counterparts. For more word of mouth recommendations from their professional peers, deliver a memorable customer journey that stands out from your competition.

Stage 2: Buy

What do they need?

They’ve narrowed it down to 2-3 potential contractors.  They need detailed information about how you will make their lives easier, save them time and money, etc. They’ll compare the quality, convenience, and price of options. Which contractor is different and better?

How can you best meet their needs?

Stand out from the competition by demonstrating how you will deliver a Money for Nothing program that minimizes downtime, outages, and emergencies which are cost prohibitive due to the shortage of skilled labor. Show them how they’ll receive rich information online about every service so they can trust that they are making the best decisions about their facility spend.

Stage 3: Onboarding

What do they need?    

They need a clear understanding of what to expect from you, and how they can prepare their team to work with you. They need to be reassured in every interaction with your company that they made the right decision in choosing to work with you.  

How can you best meet their needs?

Collect the names and roles of everyone that is on the customer’s team that will be involved. Implement a structured onboarding program to educate them on what to expect throughout the service cycle from appointment reminder to invoice and from equipment deficiency to quote. Set up their online account(s) and show them how to access their past and future inspection and maintenance details. Show them how you will make their lives easier.

Stage 4: Service

What do they need?

Historically, they’ve dealt with shady vendors, disruptions, phone-call rodeos, and piles of paperwork. They need to trust you and your ability to get rid of the inconveniences.

How can you best meet their needs?

Eliminate the paperwork and phone-call rodeos with a convenient online customer experience that makes your customer’s life easier and provides them with rich detail about the work so they can trust that you are delivering on your promises.

Stage 5: Performance Evaluation

What do they need?

They need confidence that they are making the right decision to continue to work with you.  They want to know they are getting their money’s worth. 

How can you best meet their needs?

Set up a series of regular check-ins with your customer to guide their facility spend plan to optimize planned repairs and maintenance to avoid unplanned emergencies. Use these check-ins to collect feedback about the relationship and act on it as necessary.

Make it easy

Offer a journey that simplifies your customer’s life and differentiates you from your competitors. Becoming the leader in your market is difficult. As Journey said, “Some will win, some will lose.” However, winning will be a lot easier if you spend more time thinking about your customer’s journey instead of your work order’s journey.