In the service industry, your website is your storefront these days. But more than telling your potential customers about your services and prices, your site is a way to introduce your company and what it’s all about.
“Most people, when they’re looking for a landscaper, even if it’s through a referral, are going to go to your website,” says Paul Maskill, operations manager at Just Green Lawn & Landscaping in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Just Green’s plan was to tell the company’s story, not just prices and services. “We really want to show the value of what we do and how it’s going to save customers time, why we’re different from other people and kind of tell people who we are from that standpoint,” Maskill says.
Matt Hayko, president of Complete Lawn Care & Landscaping in Dale, Indiana, launched his first website five years ago and says it’s a night-and-day difference. He puts it this way: “I wanted (my site) to tell a little bit about who we are and what we’re trying to achieve – things like that,” he says. “Why should I spend a bunch of time telling people I landscape and I mow grass when the name of the company is Complete Lawn Care and Landscaping?”
Steve Scanlon, owner of Scanlon’s Lawn & Landscape in Fair Haven, New Jersey, wanted to create a snapshot of his services as well as show that he’s been at it for more than 35 years. He also wanted to highlight the quality of his work, so he set out to get testimonials.
“I basically went through my whole database, saw who had Gmail, and so I was able to get testimonials on Google, which was cool. And then I was able to use those same ones on my website,” he says, adding that he got some through reliable clients who didn’t have Gmail as well.
He also included an elevator pitch to give first-time visitors an idea of what his company does and how long they’ve been doing it.
And it’s paying off. The site only went live over the winter but he’s already getting traffic to the site and finding customers who have told him they read the testimonials and felt more confident in hiring him because of them.
Think about your design.
Just Green wanted to give customers the impression that their services will make their homes somewhere they want to come at the end of the day. “Our goal is that we’re taking care of their lawn while they’re at work and when they come home it’s like, ‘Oh, that’s really nice and I can enjoy it on the weekends,’” Maskill says.
Scanlon’s No. 1 priority was making the website easy to navigate. When he launched his website, he originally had some more content on the homepage, but after speaking with his future brother-in-law, he decided to clean it up.“It’s not so simple it’s lacking, but it has some punch,” he says.
He started with a template on Wix.com and edited it to the point where he was happy with it. “If you saw what I started with and what’s live now, they look nothing alike,” he says. “That’s because the site’s so easy to use and I’ve edited it like crazy.”
Maskill also did all of the design himself after he got Just Green out of a contract with a third party. “Definitely avoid signing a contract,” he says. “I say that because even then when the contract is up, if you want to keep the website, for instance a 12-month contract is up, then they charge you like $1,000 if you want to keep the website.”
He came into the project looking at the website as an outsider, thinking about what he would want to see on a landscaper’s website. He started looking at other landscaper’s websites and thinking about the user experience.
“A lot of times, that’s going to be their first impression of your company, so we wanted to make that a good one,” he says.
Don’t wait to get started.
All three landscapers we spoke with said their websites were up and running in about six weeks, but they’re still a work in progress. Hayko and Scanlon both redid their websites over the winter, and so they’re planning to take more photos over the summer to add to the sites.
“We did this in the winter when the grass was dormant and everything like that, so I didn’t want to go out taking pictures then of the projects that we’d done when it wasn’t the quality that I want,” Hayko says. “So, we’re going to be updating it and it’s really under construction still. I just wanted it launched.”
Scanlon also plans to add a video introduction to his company to keep visitors on his page longer, and to add a personal touch. “Google knows when visitors are on there for a split second and bail out, or if the visitor is there for minutes on end and really staying on the page,” he says. “If you do a video, there’s a good chance people will click on it, they’ll start watching it, they’ll stay on the page a little bit long so that’s a good approach for SEO.”
Maskill says websites are never truly done since you should always be updating them.
“Where business owners get stuck is it’s a very big mountain to climb so they never start, whereas we wanted to get started,” Maskill says. “We wanted to get it out there and now that everything is in place, we can improve it.”
“A lot of times, (a website’s) going to be their first impression of your company, so we wanted to make that a good one.” Paul Maskill, operations manager, Just Green Lawn & Landscaping
Help customers find you.
For any of this work to be worthwhile, you have to make sure your customers can find you, and that means SEO. That’s what made Maskill get started on a redesign in the first place.
“Basically, we weren’t even on the first 10 pages of Google when looking for a lawn care/landscaping company in Raleigh,” he says. “So that was one of the first reasons, and then making it more mobile-friendly since most people are coming through mobile now.”
Before he launched scanlawn.com, Scanlon’s only online presence was his Facebook page.
“I wanted to rebrand myself and I knew that it was time for a website,” he says. “In this day and age, everyone’s finding a vendor with a Google search.”
Through Wix.com, he was able to put keywords on his pages and tag his photos with both the name of the town and the work he did on a project to help him rank higher.
Now, when potential customers search for a particular service like mowing in their town, they’re more likely to come across Scanlon’s website.
As he makes edits, he says he can see changes in his search rankings as early as 10 days after.
“I have a couple of competitors and I was like, ‘I want to get higher than those guys on the search results,” he says.