Steve Emmerson, MD of heating franchise business, Homeserve Alliance looks at the changing face of entrepreneurs and the traditional business owners that are determined to stay ahead of the competition.
It is an inspiring time for entrepreneurs in the UK as it produces some of the most exciting business start-ups in the world, from mobile-based enterprises to tech innovators.
However, despite the well-publicised success of many technology start-ups, the world of entrepreneurship is not reserved exclusively for the techno whizz kids. There are several characteristics that make an entrepreneur whatever business they are in, and these are as follows; self-motivation, drive for achievement, preparedness to take risks with no fear of failure, and determination to stay ahead of competition.
In the modern world, businesses that have historically rested on their laurels, due to the lack of competition and steady stream of loyal customers, are becoming increasingly enterprising. Industries such as construction, plumbing and electrical installation are seeing a growing number of businesses being led by self-motivated, driven individuals who are equally as pioneering as their techie counterparts.
No longer satisfied to sit back and rely on the odd advert in the local paper to bring in the custom, these businesses are seeking out ambitious ways to grow, and using the latest technology and marketing techniques in order to stay ahead of the competition.
There are even programmes that have been developed to specifically focus on digital marketing for tradesmen. The HomeServe Alliance franchise scheme recognises this growing ambition in the plumbing and heating sector. The scheme offers expert digital marketing and business development to local firms (those with a proven track record and an appetite for growth).
Working with local plumbing and heating firms, the aim is to help double their business both online and offline. This is achieved by merging online with traditional forms of marketing to develop a multi-platform strategy. A strategy which helps companies to build their reputation, enables the business owner to focus on delivering excellent customer service, and ultimately allows growth to the next level.
Traditional businesses such as plumbing and heating companies have come to appreciate the value that online marketing approaches bring. By building a credible website, investing in SEO and PPC (to drive traffic to the website), social media activity, and email marketing, they are increasing their installation, repair and servicing volumes like never before.
They are realising the reputation-building benefits of combining online with conventional forms of marketing such as print advertising, direct marketing and public relations. Furthermore those really determined to stay ahead of the competition are adopting customer data capture and performance measurement techniques – historically uncharacteristic practices in the world of plumbing.
The entrepreneurial spirit is alive across all sectors as the marketplace becomes increasingly competitive. Growing a business to the next level requires resolve and franchises often have an important part to play; even traditional businesses have to use innovative methods to survive in the 21st century.
Walker Gas Services is one of HomeServe Alliance’s heating franchisees. Stephen Walker, MD of Walker Gas Services commented on his experience of the franchise scheme: “Moving to using digital techniques has made a huge difference to our business. We have seen a conversion rate of 45% on boiler installs and there is potential for even more.
“This partnership has given me the guidance I needed to propel Walker Gas Services to the next level – in a less traditional way. I’d go as far as to say, that it feels like a new company is forming for us here at Walker Gas Services – such exciting times.”