Posts Tagged ‘business’

A recent study by Ryan C. McDevitt of Duke University lays claim that plumbers who bid on Google’s PPC ads have a high likelihood of being poor quality plumbers.

The article makes a comparison of PPC ads to the former yellow pages. The argument begins with the home based services whose names begin with the letter ‘A’ or a number. They found plumbers with ‘A’ or numeric names charge a 8.4% price premium. They used a study from 2005 based on the Chicago yellow pages which documents ‘A’ names and number names by percentage of total listings in each category to point out plumber’s beat the average 9.3% of business with ‘A’ names. This study they used is pretty eye opening.

Rank Yellow Page Headings by Percentage of “A” or # Names

1
 Locks & Locksmiths 65.90%
2
 Towing-Automotive 28.90%
3
 Taxi & Limousine Service 21.20%
4
 Convenience Stores 21.20%
5
 Plumbing Contractors 21.00%
6
 Associations 20.80%
7
 Insurance 19.90%
8
 Roofing Contractors 15.20%
9
 Cellular Telephone Services 14.90%
10
 Art Galleries & Dealers 14.90%
11
 Employment Agencies 14.80%
12
 Automobile Repairing & Service 14.50%
13
 Electric Contractors 14.10%
14
 Travel Agencies & Bureaus 13.50%
15
 Painters 13.30%

Source: American Business Disc,2005

Does it correlate that yesterday’s Yellow Page spammers are today’s internet spammers?

The fact that Locksmith’s tops the list reminds me of the notorious Locksmith spammers in today’s SEO world. Albeit it may not be entirely fair to suppose an ‘Automobile’ category is gaming the system by using ‘A’ names as the category itself begins with ‘A’.  It is also insightful that roughly 6.2% of competitive categories use ‘A’ or numeric names. If name selection for a business were unbiased we would likely see an average closer to 3.9% ‘A’ names, which is where Lawyers and Attorneys fall due to regulations requiring firms use names that match the lead attorney. Pizza companies actually fall below that mark with a 3.4% ‘A’ name ratio.

My Thoughts

The idea that plumbing spammers are more likely to bid on google PPC ads is intriguing. However I found that the study by McDevitt of Duke makes a lot of assumptions. Further, it used Yelp as a primary source for counting reviews and comparing complaint averages. I highly doubt that the data included Yelp’s obnoxious filtered reviews. Plus, as Larry Kim added, 25% of Yelp’s reviews are suspected as fake.

And if the conclusion has some merit among the plumbing industry, I find it hard to believe it is applicable to all home service industries. Granted I am a bit biased to the pest control industry, but even still, I find it hard to imagine a business model that could afford the current cost per ‘pest control’ click and not retain customers.

The study does have some tenable findings in the yellow pages with regards to A and numeric names associated with quality. I believe the choice to take the AAA name for phone book ranking is an indication of choosing short term gains over long term strategy. A well developed quality service takes more careful aim with long term strategies in the crosshairs.

But… “Hey, I am just the pest control guy.

for further discussion on this study visit HBR : http://blogs.hbr.org/2013/11/beware-the-plumbing-firm-that-advertises-a-lot/

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Simple metrics can put you and your company on the road to continuous improvement. Bulwark Exterminating’s Adam Seever shares how.

Business Sign X

Business Sign X (Photo credits: http://www.roadtrafficsigns.com)

Big firms save millions by reducing errors and waste through Six Sigma, Kaizen and Lean Management. But for small and mid-size companies, these principles can be hard to apply. It’s easy to get lost in the jargon, said Adam Seever, CEO of Bulwark Exterminating in Mesa, Ariz.
His suggestion? Keep it simple: Focus on measurement.

Commit to the power of metrics.

First, your organization must embrace three key values:

Hamilton path in graph. Arrow: edge of graph, ...

Hamilton path in graph. Arrow: edge of graph, Blue dot: vertex of graph, red arrows show Hamilton Path. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  1. Measurement is good.
  2. If it is measured, it will improve.
  3. If it is not measured, quality will not exist.

“You have to accept that measurement is necessary for improvement,” said Seever. “You may have great employees, but if the systems they work in aren’t measured, they can’t see how they’re doing compared with each other and you can’t see how the systems relate to the overall money-making capacity of the business.”

Take a reality check.

Get managers together and discuss what employees should be doing but aren’t. Write these “shoulds” down. “That’s a success in and of itself,” said Seever.

This process is all about discovering reality, which is “whatever your average employee is doing when no one is looking,” he said.

Here’s an example: You want your technicians to start the day’s first service in the first 20 minutes of the 8 to11 a.m. time block. Your average technician, however, isn’t showing up until after 10 a.m. Technically he’s not late, but delaying this first service can throw his entire day behind schedule.

Should you fire this employee? Give him more training? Neither, said Seever. “You just can’t throw the axe every time the average person isn’t doing what you want them to do,” he said. And lecturing is useless, especially when the employee is protected by the work habits of the majority. “They will not change. You will not find increased productivity,” he said.

According to Seever, “They’re not the inadequate one. You are.” When you have the mean of individuals in your system acting contrary to what the management team thinks should happen, that’s the fault of management not employees. The goals you’ve developed and the systems you built are insufficient.

Prioritize and measure.

rel-author-tagIdentify one or two of the “shoulds” and brainstorm how to measure them. Start with something you easily
can get your arms around.

“It’s a learning process for everyone in the company.” If you’ve collected people who like to ride the gravy train, there’s going to be friction. Bulwark Exterminating put GPS devices in service trucks to monitor when technicians arrived at their first call. A simple spreadsheet — check yes or no — recorded whether employees showed up in the first 20 minutes of the time block.

Do the math.

Calculate the economic impact if the majority of employees changed their behavior. This can be a little involved, but it doesn’t have to be overly complicated, said Seever.
What would happen if the average technician showed up 95 percent of the time in the first 20 minutes to his first appointment? How much more money per day would he generate if he could service more accounts by 5 p.m.? Would you have new capacity to handle emergency calls? Would customers be more satisfied?

Pay for it.

Develop a bonus system to reward employees who change behavior. Bulwark Exterminating found it could save $200 per month per technician if employees showed up to the first service call within the first 20 minutes. Technicians who do this 95 percent of the time get a $100 monthly bonus. The bonus helped employees accept the GPS monitoring.
Some business owners have a problem with splitting the difference with employees, said Seever. They figure, why should I pay them more to do something they’re already supposed to be doing?
“You are paying exactly for what your average employee is doing right now,” he explained. Say you have 100 employees and 70 are not doing something to your expectation. You can’t expect one of those 70 people to change when 69 of them are protected by the norm.The employees who do meet your expectation are getting robbed. “It’s all about putting your money where your mouth is,” he said.

This approach can make annual pay reviews obsolete, as salary and hourly wage increases are based on increased productivity. Without real measurement, annual reviews are subjective and vague, and metrics almost always prove managers play favorites, said Seever. The human element is important — Do customers compliment him, is he personable, does he smile? — but without real
measurements, how do you really know?

Watch culture change.

English: Bulwark Exterminating

English: Bulwark Exterminating (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Eventually, employees will embrace the expected behavior. Almost all of Bulwark Exterminating’s technicians now show up to their first call as expected and receive the $100 bonus each month.
If you get the average to comply, it’s easy to isolate a minority 20 percent not meeting expectations and train or terminate them, Seever said.
This approach cannot be accomplished by one person, he cautioned. At Bulwark Exterminating, a team of believers makes metric-based management happen.

And don’t expect results if you merely have the “warm and fuzzy” need to make your financial statements look better. “That type of engagement in any program, especially in regards to metrics, won’t work,” he said.

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Someone asked me for advice on “HOW TO CLOSE”

Plain simple and sweet, here is my response.

English: Picture of an example of a cardboard ...

English: Picture of an example of a cardboard sign used to advertise tag sales. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sales Tip on How to Close

Ask for the close. Ask again. Ask again. So many people are ready to buy, but never get asked to close the deal. Be direct and ask. They may say “No”. Then you ask “why”. Solve their problem and ask again.

Asking for a close doesn’t end the conversation… unless they say “Yes”.

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Facebook-Birthday-Sponsor-spot

I am not going to lie, it’s pretty freaking ingenious. Especially if Starbucks is paying on a per click base. I’m guessing that this little ad is worth it’s weight for both facebook and Starbucks. If only pest control were as cool as coffee. Unless… maybe… do you think customers would buy pest control for their friends??? Uh… Nevermind. Snap out of it. Wake up and smell the coffee!

Facebook Birthday Targeting

Apparently at one point they had birthday targeting. Then it seems they relinquished it. Perhaps now it has a 2nd life in this new ad layout.  Facebook birthday ads are back. Perhaps this time to stay since they may actually be targeting the birthday present buyers rather than the birthday present receivers??

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As the New Year begins many will spend time reflecting upon the year prior and setting New Year’s Resolutions for the year to come. Why?

“If its measured it will improve.” – Adam Seever

Sun Dial

Sun Dial (Photo credit: Khirol Amir)

The New Year is a measurement of Time. As such, the act of measuring the passing of time causes us to reflect on how our time is spent. We evaluate what we did or did not do in the year past. We then look to the new year ahead of us and vow to do better. We set goals based on our reflection of where we are and where we want to be. In science, the Observer Effect states that the act of observing something changes it. While this is debated within certain sciences by the likes of Heisenberg and Einstein, the business world and human nature make the Observer Effect very real. Making employees aware of business measurement will cause the employees to act differently. Emphasizing the importance of those measurements by tying it to pay multiplies the effect. When it comes to human nature and observing consistent measurements, with few exceptions, “if it is measured it will improve.”

Life Improves

Measuring a year means consistently measuring time. Time is Life. Therefore, the New Year brings with it the measurement of Life, of our life. We then make adjustments to improve that life. Measuring each New Year leads us to improving life.

Improvement is relative to each observer. Some may look back and determine the goal they achieved was not worth the work and that they would be happier not trying so hard. Or they may opt to simply not set goals, because a goal is another form of measurement and they fear failure. Others look at themselves in the mirror and decided that their life would be better if they were healthier. Hence, the first 2 weeks of each New Year are the busiest weeks any given gym will see. Improvement is aligned to each individual’s ideals.

In the end, each goal we set requires time. If we choose to set no goals the time will pass and we will once again be reminded of our time spent a year from now. Each New Year measures our time. Time is limited by life. I implore you to consider this as you set your New Year’s resolutions. Each moment is life and death. We gain another moment of life as we approach an ever pending death. Choose what is worth living for. Know what is worth dying for. Invest time in both, for you are doing so each moment. A year from now you will once again observe your standing in life. Choose to make each year as a whole better than the last.

Happy New Year to all.

The good the bad and the ugly… Batman Smells… Or at least stinks at Reputation Management20121221-091434.jpg

Jingle Bells… Batman smells…

We all know that Batman has been stinking it up for years! Well the caped crusader has had enough of these shenanigans. It has finally gotten to him and he has taken action.

POW!

Whack!

Batman’s Christmas Reputation Management

Who knows when it happened, or even why. Perhaps it was innocent enough. Maybe Batman had a long rough day and really did smell.. But does one bad deed warrant this onslaught of Christmas Caroling abuse? I think not. Think of all the good deeds he has done. I have another very good source that confirms he is on the “Nice List”. Perhaps his foes are secretly chanting this tune below the dark of night to bring Batman crumbling down! And YOU… YOU take part of it every time you make mention to this fake Ripped OFF Jingle Reprise. Your curiosity is helping the bad guys win! Darn you unbiased algorithm that wants diversified results without checking your facts, or at least giving the poor Batman a gold star rating where legitimate first account individuals can attest to Batman’s overall stinkage. I know that Batman could easily overcome some of this if he would just list his location, but there are some negatives in his case for giving away his whereabouts. So for good reason, his secret lair remains unlisted. But that is no excuse for the this abuse…. PLEASE ISN’T THERE ANYONE OVER THERE THAT CARES?

So Smacking Your Side Kick Around May Not Be An Appropriate Response…

I must say, you would think that Batman was above smacking Robin around, but an identity is being crushed here.. And even a super hero has a breaking point. One can sympathize with Batman’s frustration. I mean, how does one go about retracting unwritten lyrics? How can Batman even begin to fight a foe that he does not know? One that hides behind the singing mouths of innocent children… Batman finally let it get to him and let loose on poor Robin. Heck, Robin freaking laid an egg… Maybe it was Robin’s fault that Batman was even in the mess. Maybe his association with Robin, and Robin’s guilt in laying the stinky egg, has destroyed Batman. But smacking Robin around for it, probably isn’t going to win back the hearts of the masses. Really, Batman just needs to take a breath and find a real online reputation management company. A company that perhaps could right this whole thing by weaving a magical jingle of their own that replaces the bells of yesterday.

For all of you onlookers… STOP

Stop and consider the damage you maybe causing Batman before singing that verse. Stop and ask yourself if it really is warranted. Take advice from the cat..

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And if you need pest control don’t call Batman!… He’s not even real!

Call Bulwark Exterminating. This message is brought to from the pest control guy.

You will find the following “Consumer Alert” on yelp:

We caught someone red-handed trying to buy reviews for this business. We weren’t fooled, but wanted you to know because buying reviews not only hurts consumers, but also honest businesses who play by the rules. Check out the evidence here. ( http://s3-media3.ak.yelpcdn.com/saphoto/RU7bd3h2f6pBlf8BfAyxGQ/o.jpg )

Clicking the link provided will take you to an image caption of the correspondence between the yelp sting operative and the company. This jeweler was offering $200 for a review, per the craigslist post they had created. And apparently they are not the only ones using this technique… per google search for “Craigslist.org Yelp review”:

Does this Yelp Penalty Affect Ranking?

Levi Jewelers still ranks #1 in the yelp search “Jeweler” from a desktop, as of today. It still shows the 5 stars and 91 reviews. ( Interesting to note that they do have 366 filtered reviews. )

When you travel to their page the consumer alert is below the fold:

The mobile version does not currently show the consumer alert whatsoever. And the yelp deal with Levi, one that pays yelp, is still active.

What is the verdict?

Honestly, I think yelp could show some more teeth here. But for the sake of making a public example of this company, I believe they are opting to keep them up. This is also a recent update and I am sure that the future versions of Yelp penalties will be modified. The email correspondence occurred beginning Oct. 11th through Oct. 13th. It appears that it was leaked to the press very quickly and thus the public relations team is getting their message out.

However, from a previous yelp broken filter blunder in which Yelp quickly reacted to remove the reviews, I feel yelp still fails to make a solid stance. Their previous blunder only called for a quick cover up, it did not remove the members who violated the guidelines. Will yelp protect the other members that the Jeweler paid off to get good reviews? Will there be a point when businesses get an advocate to combat yelpers gone wild?

Pest Control Guy Penalized on Yelp for Reviews

Rumor has it that there is a pest control guy that was caught red handed buying reviews on yelp as well. I have not been able to find this bugger. I am shocked however that a Phoenix pest control competitor of mine openly offers a credit for a yelp review on his website. It seems that this should certainly be a red flag for yelp.

“Love Us? YELP! Post a positive comment on YELP and receive $5.00 off any service. Let us know through our Contact Us page”

Apparently a yelp review is only worth $5 for pest control companies. That is a bit shy of the $200 the jeweler is offering and the $100 a restaurant in Sedona is offering.

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__________________________________________________________
SEP 04, 2012 | 02:33PM PDT
Hi Thomas,We’re writing to let you know that we’ve removed your headline “Pest Control Guy… taking care of the little things.”Our Support team has determined that it violates our Content Guidelines (http://www.yelp.com/guidelines), specifically as it relates to business owner reviews. Please note that you shouldn’t be using your user account for promotional purposes.That said, we think it’s important for businesses to be part of the conversation, and have created a suite of free tools to help business owners get the most out of Yelp. By unlocking your listing and creating a Business Owners Account, you can:
- Communicate with your customers via private message or public comment
- Track the User Views on your business page
- Add photos and a detailed description of your business
- Convert Yelp users into customers by posting a Yelp Deal to your listingTo join the conversation, click here: http://www.yelp.com/business/unlockingRegards,
Holly
Yelp User Support
San Francisco, California

____________________________________________________________________
Dear Yelp,
Thanks for the laugh. This pest control control guy could use it on occasion. I have decided to not fight the system and am willing to change my title to “<TITLE VIOLATION> Guy… Taking Care of the little things.
…If I could just figure out how to login…

Really… Your captcha is “Conformity”? No. Really.

:)

Oh and thanks Greg for the “Pest Control Guy” in your Yelp Compliment. THAT WAS AWESOME. And to be completely clear, I am not asking my friends to add compliments with the title “pest control guy” in their comments.

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Google
by Thomas B.
I was approached about setting up a booth for a Home and Garden Show in San Antonio, Texas. Pest control should do well in a marketing effort targeting homeowners, right? The promotional material sent to me included the following quote:

“Dollar for dollar, consumer shows continue to offer the
most significant return on investment and are the most
effective use of the marketing dollar.”

- The Wall Street Journal, Feb. 2007

Intrigued, I searched this article out online. …It was no where to be found.

Reviewing the Quote

Beyond the fact that I could not find this quote anywhere online, I see some flaws here. The quote is 5 years old. A ton has changed in 5 years. Internet marketing is still in it’s infancy. Frankly, I find it hard to believe that internet marketing can be beat on ROI. But that’s only speaking from my experience as a pest control guy. As it were, the fully report cannot be located online, therefore I cannot even determine if internet marketing was considered in the study. The quote alone a reveals nothing as to the business or businesses that they used to determine that Home Shows were the best ROI for marketing dollars. Sorry, but this quote does nothing for me. I need real data please.

Marketing Dollar for Marketing Dollar best ROI

market 1

market 1 (Photo credit: tim caynes)

Where would you put your money for the best marketing ROI? Well… that really depends on who YOU are. If you expect to get the exact same results as everyone else in a specific marketing avenue regardless of your business, of you location, or of your target audience then you don’t understand marketing. “Consumer Shows” probably work extremely well for the wedding industry. It’s a very niche audience, the attendees are looking to buy your service. But for the vast audience of “Homeowners”, not all of them will need new flooring, new windows, or new appliances. And many of them will not show up at a Home Show with the sole intention of finding a pest control company. Therefore, it becomes a harder sale. An exterminator’s ROI is not going to be the same. And the San Antonio Home and Garden show isn’t cheap, well not by my standards. How many pest control services would one have to perform to recoup the money and time investment?

Weighing Marketing ROI

Don’t buy into the “Branding” concept. Don’t just assume that you have to brand your business and that the ROI can not be determined for every marketing endeavor. The best way to determine ROI is with hard numbers. Find a measuring stick and use it. And work it backwards. How many widgets do I have to sell to break even on a given marketing campaign? Does that number seem feasible with the size and demographics of the audience? When it comes to numbers, my accountant has taught me to error on the side of caution. Be realistic. Look at the worst case scenario. Once you determine how you will measure the success and considered the value at the worst case scenario, then you can proceed and report on the success or failure.

but hey… i am just a pest control guy.

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I’m sitting in McDonalds amazed at the restaurant that it now is compared to what it once was.

Modern art on the wall. Lounge chairs with coffee tables. Menu changes with smoothies, lattes. Sure the iconic happy meals are still available, but now you can order those with apple slices. The milkshakes are still on the menu as well, but I honestly don’t remember the last time I had one. What, 15, 16, maybe even 20 years ago? And I haven’t seen a styrofoam hamburger box around for awhile.

The decor is what most intrigues me. I would venture to guess that the menu changes are the quickest and least costly changes. Adding a disposable item is much less risky than adding the permanent fixtures of booths and the tile backsplash. Such interior make overs aren’t cheap. So just what is the cost benefit? Does replacing perfectly usable tables, chairs, and booths really pay off?

I don’t have the answer for McDonald’s, but I’m confident that they do. I’m also certain that not every restaurant needs an interior decorating overhaul to stay profitable. But what I do know is that staying relevant is vital to every business. Businesses need to check the lay of the land and make sure they are staying current for their market and their customers. Stay relevant. Know when a little painful and costly interior redecorating is needed to make sure your business is still alive in the future years.

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