September 26, 2018

Why Mobile Service Businesses Need to Offer Online Booking

Written by
Graham Lee

Not just here in North America but all over the world, smartphones are everywhere. Your parents probably have one, and likely default to using it to help with web searches and even online shopping.

Mobile service companies, like movers, cleaners, junk removers and other trades are missing out if they don’t offer online booking. More and more consumers are choosing vendors that offer the most convenient options. Booking a service on one’s own time and syncing it with the calendar on their phone is, for many, the preferred option.

Convenience alone is a strong case for why service providers have to provide an online booking option, but here are some more reasons why it’s time for them to make the switch.

1. It Saves Customers Time

Many customers of service businesses don’t want to be tied up on the phone on a sales call. When they’re looking for a vendor to perform a service at their home, they typically start with a Google search. They’ll be faced with a number of options, including the paid listings at the top of the search engine results page.

If one of those options offers a chance to get an instant quote and to “book online now,” they’ve got a better chance of winning the business. In fact, they may be the only horses in the race. Sure, comparison shoppers will visit more than one site, and they may even check for prices on a number of them. But the vendor who satisfies their query first and can answer the question of availability soonest is most likely to win.

Taking messages online isn’t enough, and even a call center leaves the door open for competitors. “It’s not enough to have a website and do online marketing through Yellow Pages anymore,” says ServiceMaster franchisee Scott Reid. “The traditional way of doing business is out. Convenience is key; some customers don’t even want to make a phone call. They just want to see service options online, get a quote and book it.”

2. Administration Costs are Reduced Considerably

Taking calls for bookings, and returning phone or online messages takes time. Depending on your call volume, it can require a significant amount of staffing, especially if it’s your only option.

Online booking saves you a lot of administration time because the customer makes the booking themselves. They access your pricing, choose the services they need, and reserve a time in your available schedule. At most, your office team will have to confirm the appointment, but even that can be an automated process, handled over email.

This time savings doesn’t mean that you should close down your call center completely. Some customers do still prefer to speak to a live person, and that conversation can prove lucrative in the form of upselling and cross-selling.

Handling sales over the phone isn’t always the most profitable way to make your services available, however. If a sales agent has to list and confirm your services on the phone, the customer might not get an accurate picture of what’s available to them. If they’re choosing from an online list, it’s not out of the ordinary for them to opt into more services than if they are choosing during a phone call.

3. Online Booking Opens Up a New Customer Base

As the population grows savvier and smartphone use continues to become more prevalent, online booking is growing in popularity. In the example above, we highlighted a scenario where the customer has a choice between several vendors and chooses the most convenient one.

For many, they simply won’t look any further than the vendors that offer online booking. Mobile service businesses that don’t offer online booking can miss out on this growing sector and lose loyal customers to the competition.

It may even surprise the business to see how many customers prefer to use online booking. “We saw a huge increase in our online sales, which we hadn’t expected, really,” says Reid. “We’re tapping into a customer base that we didn’t have before.”

4. Extra Bookings and Admin Savings Equals More Profit

Mobile service businesses that gain access to a new market of customers also see a boost in revenue. If they save costs on getting those bookings into their calendar, then not just their revenues but their profits will go up.

Investing in software that enables online booking will come with an initial and ongoing cost, but it will be a net savings when compared with the cost of administration for your team to handle things the old-fashioned way. All things considered, a consolidated software suite that offers online booking and scheduling will be better for the bottom line.

5. Online Booking Offers Better Records and Reports

Online booking has another key advantage: the ability to keep accurate records of bookings and results. When all bookings are logged digitally, companies can accurately assess what’s working in your business and marketing.

For example, it will be easy to track how many jobs came from online booking and how many from phone calls. And how many each crew completed per day or week. A company that measures its performance will be better suited to make improvements and further augment their profitability.

With online booking, you can also offer unique promotions, and keep accurate records of their performance. For instance, you can track the success of a promo code that is offered to a specific neighborhood or email list. When that promo code is used to secure a booking, the records will show it and offer a clearer picture of the effectiveness of the promo.

With so many benefits, it’s no wonder so many service businesses are already choosing to use online booking and gain an advantage over their competition.

By Graham Lee, Marketing Manager of Vonigo, makers of service business management software.