Regardless of what stage your business is at—whether you're just getting started, or you've been up-and-running for a few years—if your business is not already present and easy to find online, it should be. A Yelp survey as far back as 2012 found 85% of consumers used the internet to find local businesses. Since then, that number has remained pretty steady. Most consumers depend on finding local businesses online, and reading reviews from others, to decide if they want to do business with a company like yours. If you’re not online to be found by potential customers, it’s likely your competitors are.

One of the main reasons local service businesses aren’t online is because it can be pretty overwhelming. The internet is a complicated place, and getting online usually requires a lot of steps, which can be confusing without guidance. Luckily, we’re here to help, and we’ve put together a short guide of things you should do to bring your business online, and some things you should avoid altogether.

1. Get a website

The first, and most important, step of getting your business online is establishing a website for your business. If you’re thinking you can skip this, you shouldn’t. Several of the services you should sign up for expect you have a website. You’ll also want a website to take full advantage of one of the best sources of new customers: Google. Some of the information you’ll want to feature on your website, so customers can easily find the information, include:

  • A description/history of your business
  • The services you offer
  • The areas you service (assuming you’re a service area business)
  • Photos of your work
  • Customer testimonials
  • Your contact info or a contact form so customers can reach you
  • A good website address for your website (for example, handymanpro.com or superiorpainting.com)

Another important consideration, especially in 2017, is that your website should look good and function well on a mobile phone browser.

In 2016, mobile phone traffic was more than half of all traffic on the internet. If your website doesn’t look and work well on mobile, you’re missing out on half of your potential new customers.

This might seem like a lot to worry about if you don’t know a lot about websites. Don't worry. There are a lot of services out there that will help you get a business website up in no time—just search Google for business website. Of course, it's still going to require some work from you, so be prepared to set aside a couple hours to understand how it all works, and put together a really good-quality site.

Not wanting to do it on your own? Don't worry. We've got you covered. If you build, run, and grow your service business with WorkWeek, you get a zero-effort website for your business. We don't ask you to know anything about websites. We'll ask a few questions about your business, like what kind of services you provide and where you work, and we'll take it from there. Your website will be online in about 2 minutes, and we'll even keep it up-to-date as your business grows. No muss, no fuss. It does all of the things we mentioned above, and more.

If you’ve already got a website, and it covers everything we mentioned, you’re ready to move on. If not, why not signup for WorkWeek and claim your website?

2. Get a Facebook Page for your business

Now that you’ve got a website—you do have one, right?—you’ll want to set up a Facebook page for your business. 79% of online adults in the United States are on Facebook, and there’s a good chance you’re one of them. The good news is, if you’re already on Facebook, you’re halfway to having a business page. Setting up a page is pretty simple, and we’ve written a complete guide on how to do it.

Once your page is setup, make sure you’ve done the following with your page:

  • Verify it
  • Add all of your contact info
  • Add the link to your website
  • Add as much info as possible to the About section
  • Add a cover photo
  • Post images of your work
  • Talk about your work and engage with your customers
  • Ask friends, family, and past customers to like your page

Wondering what to do next with your Facebook page? Read our interview with 313Clean about how to engage with people, build your brand, and grow your customer base with Facebook.

3. List your business on Google

Your website and Facebook will both tell customers about your business, what you offer, and what your customers think about you. Unfortunately, the internet is so crowded with websites and businesses and information of all sorts, you need to make sure you can be found by your customers somehow. Google is the easiest resource to take advantage of for that. We’ve written a full guide on how to get your business listed on Google, which will help ensure that, if you're a handyman in Peoria, people who live in Peoria will see your company in Google searches for handyman, and they'll see your business listed in Google Maps. They'll even be able to leave reviews so other potential customers can see what your customers think of your work.

4. Instagram

We mentioned above that 79% of adults are on Facebook (they recently passed the 2 billion user mark!). A lot of the people who aren’t on Facebook are on another social network. The second most popular network is Instagram, with 700 million users. While Facebook is great for acquiring new customers, engaging and responding with those customers, and getting your business found on Google, Instagram is the place for sharing photos and videos of your work, and engaging with other professionals that do what you do. They have separate uses, but you can use them together—Instagram allows you to post on both Instagram and Facebook at the same time, so your photos and videos will appear on both of your accounts. We’ve written a guide about the 5 posts you should be using on Instagram to share your work.

Keeping up with and regularly remembering to post on social media can be a pain for a lot of small businesses unless you have someone dedicated to taking care of it. You don't have to post every day, but don’t ignore it—there’s a good chance your competitors are using it.

5. Add your business to Yelp

If you haven’t heard of Yelp, don’t worry. Yelp is a review platform and app that built itself up with restaurants, but it’s slowly becoming more popular with businesses of all types—including service companies. Signing up is free and simple. It’s very similar to what you do for listing your business on Google, and only takes a few minutes. Consumers in your area may be reviewing the work of service companies like yours, so you want to join Yelp, claim your business, and keep an eye on reviews. You can even respond to the reviews to help make customers happier, or thank them for the kind words. To get your business on Yelp, check out our guide here.

You’re online ... Now what?

Alright, if you’ve made it this far, you should be online and hopefully signed up for WorkWeek. So now what? Well, don’t sit around and wait. Keep your profiles up to date, engage with customers, and stay aware of new opportunities to promote your website and list your business. Search Google for local competitors and see what results pop up. If you find a competitor listed on a website you haven’t heard of, it might be worth checking them out and seeing if there’s a way to get yourself listed.

If there’s one thing you should keep in mind about being online, it’s that it’s harder to take yourself offline. What we mean is that if a customer posts a review—whether good or bad—on Facebook, Yelp, or anywhere else, it's there forever. Always do your best to make each customer happy. You can't always please everyone, but you should always try to engage people who review or post about your business—thank them for the review, offer to make them happy if they're dissatisfied, and so on.

84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation

Don’t be afraid of feedback—in fact, you should ask for it. Ask your customers to review you on Yelp, Google, and Facebook. You could get creative and offer a discount or some kind of thank-you gift if they do. With WorkWeek, when you complete a job, we'll ask your customers if they’re happy with the work automatically—and when they’re happy, we even ask them to go review you on facebook.

The web usually changes faster than your business, so we work to offer you the best advice and tips on how to make sure your business doesn’t fall behind online. Subscribe to our newsletter to be notified when we publish other great posts and guides to help you build, run, and grow your service business.