LOOKING TO INCREASE their workload and keen to showcase their expertise to a
wider audience, Manchester-based Dave and Mike Smith, father-and-son roofers,
invested ;;,;;; in a professionally built website three years ago. It worked. Since
putting their business, Hallmark Roofing Services (hallmarkroofingservices.
co.uk), online they have seen inquiries double.
“We’re now picking up jobs all over the country rather than just our immediate
locality. Some are big contracts, while we still get local calls looking to get simple
roo;ng work done,” explains Mike. “People seem to have more trust in you if they
can check you out online. We’re considered much bigger hitters now, and the site
has paid for itself many, many times over with the increased income.”
Their experience re;ects new research that suggests the internet is replacing
word of mouth as a way for homeowners to ;nd professionals to carry out essential
jobs around the house. Tech-savvy tradespeople with their own websites pick up an
average of ;; more jobs a year than those without, according to a study by Nominet,
which handles the management of the .uk domain registry.
This translates into an increase in business income of, on average, ;;;,;;;
annually. Thirty-nine per cent of tradespeople with a website are winning jobs
beyond their local area and ;; per cent are pulling in jobs from big-budget clients.
Hiring a professional designer to create a slick website is a wise investment,
but if funds are tight and you are reasonably tech-savvy, you might check out companies that o;er easy-to-use templates that allow you to build your own, including
Costco’s service through
Digital marketing strategist Natasha Courtenay-Smith (natashacourtenay
smith.com), author of The Million Dollar Blog (Piatkus, ;;;;), says that however
you go about it, having an online presence is key to success. “Increasingly, people
are looking at websites, domain names and emails as proof that you exist,” she
explains. “It’s all about building trust and professionalism.”—Rachel Halliwell
If you build it ...
REMEMBER THE Pensions Act 2008,
which imposed new duties on employers to make mandatory pension provision and staggered the deadlines in a
series of staging dates to enrol employees for pensions? Time is running out
for businesses to auto-enrol employees
into a workplace pension, and figures
released by workplace pension provider NOW: Pensions (nowpensions.
com) show one in five employers are
missing their deadline.
Those with 50 to 249 staff members
had staging dates of April 2014 to April
2015, those with 30 to 49 members had
August to October 2015 and those with
fewer than 30 employees had staging
dates ranging from January 2016 to
Employers who established their
businesses after 1 April 2012, however,
have longer to introduce workplace
pension schemes, ranging from May
2017 to February 2018, depending on
when they began trading.
NOW: Pensions has reported that
21 per cent of the companies that
signed up with it did so after their
deadline in the second quarter of
2016—the highest default to date.
The default rate during the same quarter the previous year was 13 per cent.
The firm’s figures suggest that it’s the
smallest businesses that are least prepared to meet the new requirements.
Those that miss their staging date
risk an initial £400 fine, those with
fewer than five employees can incur a
£50-a-day penalty for every extra day
that passes and those with five to 49
employees risk a penalty of £ 50 a day.
Morten Nilsson, chief executive of
NOW: Pensions, says it is becoming
increasingly clear that smaller employers are either planners or procrastinators. “While it’s worrying that one in
five are missing their staging date, it’s
also reassuring to see that a third are
planning well in advance,” he says.
“Small-business owners have a lot
to think about and it’s easy
for auto-enrolment to be
put on the back
burner, but the fines
are steep, so missing
the deadline can
small-business owners and sole traders
get their PR campaigns going.
•Social media has made it easier than
ever to do your own PR and get your story
out there, but the right approach is crucial. Start by looking for journalists who
are already trying to get help with stories. Follow Twitter hashtags like ;journo
request or ;HARO to connect with news
outlets that are looking for case studies or
businesses to feature.
•Don’t think of social media just in
terms of Twitter. While fewer journalists
are looking for people to talk to on sites
like Instagram and Facebook, it can be
easier to stand out in a less crowded space.
•Journalists use Twitter as a search
engine, particularly when they’re looking
for people to talk to, so having an up-to-date pro;le, sharing content that relates
to your area of expertise and using pertinent hashtags can be a good move.
•Launching something new isn’t
always enough to get journalists interested in covering your product or service,
but holding an unusual event to mark your
launch can be a clever way to get coverage.
Think silent disco or tropical ice-skating
(over the top, but you get the picture).