This page is designed to give you a walkthrough of my 'philosophy' for a local lifestyle business.
Did I just say that?, using words like 'My philosophy', it sounds so 'stuck-uppish' it almost makes me want to throw up, but I suppose what I'm trying to say is that after trying to build a business that 'worked for me', for over 20 years now, it's fair to say that I've got a grasp of what works and what doesn't, for this type of 'lifestyle business'.
If you're looking to grow a £100 million or £billion empire, I'm not your guy (if that's you, all you've wasted is 90 seconds and two and a half paragraphs), and I wish you the best of luck in your pursuit.
That was never my thing, my dream was to build something that would support mine and my families dreams, be something I was proud of, and be an asset that would support my pension once I'd got too old to run it, by either selling or putting someone in place to replace me.
If you feel like you are on a hamster wheel and every day seems about the same, as the saying goes "Same s@*t, different day",
If you have a desire to get your life back and have your business 'work for you', then this page will give you the overview of how to do that, get a handle of where you are now, and then you can decide which rabbit hole is the best one to start down.
This involves work, over and above what your current day looks like, there's no way around this, and I've tried hiring others to do it for me, but let's be honest here, there's a lot of over inflated BS'ers out there who say they can do a lot but the results suggest otherwise.
If you're looking for Get Rich Quick or siver bullets, then again, I'm not your guy, sorry for wasting your time.
So here's the REAL talk, none of this is really difficult, people will try to convince you otherwise to justify their fees, but it's not...
It just takes time, and you have that, in a year you will be a year older, in 5 years you will be 5 years older, time will pass and you'll either have these systems in place or you'll be moaning about the same stuff you're moaning about now.
But I bet you can remember the last Olympics, or the last Football (Soccer) World Cup, or any other sporting World Cup, they come around every 4 years, time goes fast...
And as long as you stay focused, stay committed and keep taking small daily steps in the right direction, the day will come when you'll look back and see how far you've come and the progress you have made.
So please, stay the course, you're in the right place.
My goal is to be you helpful guide, giving you the tools, resources and guidance to achieve your goals, and if you have the same mindset towards your customers, the journey will be a rewarding one.
I never tire of telling my outlook on life that was given to me by Zig Ziglar, "Help enough people get what they want, and you can have Anything You Want".
It has worked for me and I'm positive it will work for you too.
So, in a second I'm going to give you an image of what I think is the Success Formula for a modern local business.
I say this because you don't have to look too hard to see that the major conglomerates are trying to put the final nails in the coffins of local businesses, and I want to be a part of some sort of rebellion, or resistance to that.
Years ago we saw the major supermarkets and chains moving out of towns to retail parks, having a massive impact on the local high street businesses that relied on the footfall for their custom.
Now with Amazon wanting to be the one and only 'Everything Store' as owner Jeff Bezos puts it in his book of the same name, it is no wonder that local business numbers are dwindling and the feeling of local pride and society is at an all time low.
I do however think that you can compete, and that local communities actually want to rally around their local businesses if given the choice, but not at any cost.
You have to be as good if not better than the big boys, a sense of loyalty will only get you so far.
But if you put in the work, I believe that local communities yearn for the personal touch that these large companies can't give.
We all hate the chat bots, the phone queues, the 'your call is important to us' sentence while on hold for half an hour listening to mind-numbing 'on hold music'.
Come on, surely we can be better than that can't we?
So my rallying call to you is not to fade into obscurity, but meet the challenge head on, roll up your sleeves and start taking the steps to building the business of your dreams, whatever those dreams may be.
Let me help you on this journey of helping your local community with their problems and frustrations, and alleviating their pains with your skillset.
Your first goal: Financial Independence
Wikipedia's definition of Financial Independence is:-
So before we can build you a true dream business, we have to make sure that it's built on a solid foundation, right?
In order to do that, we have to give you a target that you can see, because fuzzy targets never get hit, but big red targets can get hit consistently.
I wandered through life and my business suffered so many ups and downs before I had this realisation of what Financial Independence is and the formula for achieving it, and I've never looked back since.
So do you know how much it would take to be financially independent based on today's outgoings?
If not, find out your financial freedom number here (link).
Once you have your financial freedom number, we can start to make some sort of a plan on how to get there, and as your goals change and your lifestyle improves, you will know exactly what it takes to maintain your financial independence.
Does this make sense?
So now, let me give you an image of my Success Formula and then I'll break each component down and put some definitions of milestones or things to have in place so that you can guage where you are. Read each thoroughly because the devil is in the details, and putting the cart before the horse or thinking you have something in place that doesn't meet the criteria can set you back in terms of time and monetarily.
I know that looks confusing so let me break down each step, and as I do, you may have an epiphany as to the reason that perhaps why you have been stuck, as many students have told me before.
Step 1: Who Do You Want To Serve?
(Your Target Audience and Dream Customer)
This is so crucial, but often overlooked by local business owners, and I was the same for the first 12 years of our cleaning business.
We would take anyone on who had a heartbeat.
This is a major mistake for several reasons, firstly because you can't fully understand the pains and frustrations, needs and wants, or dreams and desires of a wide ranging demographic or psychographic audience.
Secondly, your messaging will be vague and you won't have anyone who reads it saying "This person really gets me", which is so crucial to building trust, rapport and becoming the 'go-to' for your target market.
So let me give you example of what we changed and how it benefitted our business.
When we first started, we would do what every other wheelie bin cleaning company did, we would knock on doors in the evening of areas that would be getting their bins emptied the following morning, our sales pitch lasted 10 seconds.
"Would you like your wheelie bin cleaned on a regular basis?" we would ask anyone who came to the door, the reponses fell into 3 categories.
1: Yes please, how much is it? and we gave them the price and that we would start tomorrow if the price was acceptable, and at £2.50 per clean it wasn't a massive commitment they'd need to think about or consult their spouse or partner over.
2. No thanks, it's a bin and it's supposed to stink (each to their own I suppose)
3. No thanks, we already have someone who does it.
Now the thing to know about wheelie bin cleaning is that the first clean is always the hardest, and is pretty grim 95% of the time, you can find everythig from pet poo to babies nappies (diapers) stuck to the bottom and once the jet wash hit it, it would fly up in your face... disgusting.
At such a low price for the service, you always lose money on the first clean when you factor in the canvassers cost, the labour involved doing the first clean, etc etc.
This was a price worth paying when we considered the Lifetime Value (LTV) of a customer, we've had some customers for 20 years now.
Here's the point of having a target audience. What we didn't realise at first was, and we had to factor this in later was that the majority of people who said Yes had already used all the other competitors before, and had been bad payers or unscrupulous people who abused your service and got it done once before saying "It's clean now, we don't need you anymore".
Another bugbear was the amount of outstanding cash that was left 'on the street'. Because the greatest conversion rates used to take place in lower income areas, this is where the canvassers used to thrive. They knew they could knock on 400 houses in a few hours and get a 3-5% conversion rate, that's 12-20 customers at £5 a pop (we used to pay them the first 2 cleans).
This worked out at £30-£50 an hour for them, not bad back in the 'early naughties'. The problem for us was, that these lower income families predominantly lived hand to mouth, and you had to catch them on the right day in order to be paid.
The number of times we would get the "Can you come back on Friday when I get my money?" response, and on Friday, depending on what time you knocked determined whether you got paid or the they'd spent your money on the takeaway.
It was a constant nightmare, you'd go out on a Friday night thinking you were collecting hundreds of pounds and come back with next to nothing.
So in 2014 I made the decision to change our business model.
1. We would never canvas for custom again.
2. Customers would have to seek out our service rather than be interrupted by a knock on the door.
3. We would no longer accept cash as payment from new customers, it was purely direct debit from now on.
This was a game changer, when I built our first site / blog and started writing content to show up on the search engines when someone searched for our service locally, we found that the retention rate was higher.
We also found that if ever we had an issue with a breakdown or the bin men had had some issues resulting in us having to go back the next day, all our customers would leave their bins available to us to clean, so there was no lost revenue by bins being locked away when they were paying cash.
So can you see the difference?
Within one year, we were now getting the right customers, being paid on time or in advance, we weren't losing revenue when s@#t happens, and we were retaining customers for longer.
Now did we lose some potential customers who didn't want to pay by direct debit and wanted to pay cash?, yes, of course...
But I looked at it that those were the type of customers who probably wouldn't be with us for the long haul anyway, and it was a price worth paying.
The positives far outweighed the negatives.
So let me now ask you, do you know exactly who you serve or is it a case of whoever calls and whatever the job is, you're there?
If it's the latter, it needs to stop, you will never fully realise the potential of your business if you continue to serve everyone, and your customers will never feel the levels of loyalty you should be aiming for.
In a later section I talk about your value ladder and your product and service portfolio, but right now let's concentrate on your Dream Customer Avatar, namely describing in great detail who you want to serve at the highest level, at the expense of everyone else who wants your attention.
Just like there are 5 star hotels and 2 star hotels, and who they attract is at polar opposite ends of the spectrum.
You have to get crystal clear on who your audience is (your dream customer), and how you want to serve them.
I have a Dream Customer Avatar training that can help you get total clarity on your audience. (link)
Step 2. Knowing What Your Dream Customers Are Searching For
Once you have total clarity on who you want to serve, the next step is to fully understand them.
As a successful local business owner, you are in the business of solving the problems for your dream customers. So we need to get a full understanding of what these problems are, how they verbalise them, and how to solve them, and we do this by doing Keyword Research.
When we do this keyword research the right way, we can then start creating content that 'meets them where they are', and this is one of the major keys to having a loyal following who wouldn't go anywhere else.
Can you see how step 1 and step 2 are linked?
If we're sketchy on who we serve, we can't do targeted research to find out how we can serve them best.
And this is key to your dream customer feeling like you are talking directly to them and thinking "this person gets me".
Have you ever been in a situation or on a web page and you think to yourself "has this person been stalking me?, have they been secretly living in my house recently?"
This is when the target market and the correct message to that market is well researched and implemented properly. And you can do it too.
Now there are some free and paid tools that will help you do this, obviously the paid ones do a more thorough job and I'll give the one I use in a few moments.
But before I do, I want you to think about your last week, or last month if you're capable. Can you remember the calls you received or enquiries you received?
What was said?, how was the problem verbalised to you?
Can you go back in your records to see how things were said in any emails or contact form submissions?
Buy or use a notebook over the next month to start collecting these phrases that are used by your prospects now, use a notepad on your mobile phone if need be to start gathering this gold. It will serve you well when it comes to communicating with your target market and creating content that can be picked up by the search engines.
When I started doing this for our cleaning site, we noticed our visitor numbers started increasing, and then our conversion rates started improving also, as I got better at understanding what they were searching for (problem or need), and communicating better how I could help them.
To do the research you can use the free tool called the Google Keyword Planner, you just need a gmail account to access it, which is free also. The information is limited and you don't get to see how strong the competition is for the keyword, it's essentially for the Google Ads program and they only give you ball park ranges of search volume.
But it's a start if you can't get the paid tools yet.
I personally use KW Finder and been using it daily for years now to research high volume-low competition keywords that I can ranked highly for, I have a training that you can watch here which will show you how I use it to dominate my market.
Step 3: Build Your Content Hub
(Build a blog, build trust and authority)
A sad fact about local business owners is that they have been sold the line "You need a website in this new digital age", and this is a half truth...
There is a massive difference between (i) a website (floating somewhere in cyberspace, never to be seen by potential customers who don't have your business card with the domain name (website address) on, and (ii) a well optimised customer converting machine that brings in customers and sales every day on autopilot.
I've been online since 2004 and I still get bombarded weekly by companies selling me some snake oil tactic or way of getting to the top of the search engines. So I know exactly how inexperienced and highly motivated local business owners can be seduced by these web design companies promising Google riches.
The bottom line is, they're designers, they're not marketers. They ask you what keywords do you want us to make a page for and you say the most competitive keyword (that every other person in your industry and location wants to rank for too) which is impossible for a new website to rank for.
Take a look at the screenshot below, now imagine you are a Plumber in Warrington, which has a population of about 200,000. You get talked into having a pretty website built for you, and they ask you what would you like to rank for?
You tell them, 'Boiler Repairs Warrington' which is your main service that you offer. Take a look at how many results you are competing against.
So you've got a snowball's chance in hell of being found on the search engines with a new website and no additional skills on day 1. There's a funny saying that is common in the Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) world which goes something like this...
"If you're looking to hide a dead body, put it on page 2 of Google", meaning no one will ever find it... and it's true, when was the last time you had to venture on to the 2nd page of the search results to find what you're looking for?
So there's obviously a better way on doing this, and it comes down to finding out what you're dream customers are looking for, and being a helpful guide and giving them great content that can help them, and a free resource to assist them in solving their problem.
Now, if you have a website already, let me ask you... Is it a well optimised customer converting machine that brings in customers and sales every day on autopilot?
Or, is it... a website (floating somewhere in cyberspace, never to be seen by potential customers who don't have your business card with the domain name (website address) on?
If it's the former, you can proceed to step 4 without Passing Go (Little Monopoly board game joke there for anyone old enough).
Otherwise you can either see if you can have access to it to start creating content without breaking it, or leave it alone and take my training on getting your blog up and live in the next 20 minutes here.
For about £60 you can have pay for your domain name and hosting for a year, and you can start learning the skills to have a well optimised customer converting machine that brings in customers and sales every day on autopilot.
Step 4: Build Your Email List
(The path to long term wealth)
When you go into a local store with the intention of buying an item, whether it be clothing, shoes or even something for the house, and a member of staff asks can they help you, what do you say?
"No thanks, I'm just looking" right?
We all do, and so do your potential customers who visit your site.
However, now that you have a blog, we have an advantage over all our brick and mortar competitors who see their prospects walk out of the door, some to never return.
There is research that states that only 3% of people are in the market right now and ready to purchase, a further 7% may be persuaded to buy.
So what about the other 90%?
Well, with the correct keyword research that was done in a previous step to get them to our site, and a good content strategy that educates the person and lets them know that we understand their problem, and their current situation, we can weight the odds that they buy from us in the future by helping them for free right now.
And we do this by giving them a free guide, or a free resource to help them along the decision making process. Let's use our local plumber from earlier to cement what I'm saying and hopefully help you fully grasp this concept.
Let's say that our plumber has recovered from his website never being found for boiler repairs, and has set up his blog and started creating helpful content to help with the problem and not just look to be the end solution (like everyone else does).
He writes a piece of content about
The Baseline (Where are you now)