Building your SMB Tech Stack

How to start using technology to automate small business processes

In this episode, Josh talks with Alex Lathery, owner of Blue Collar Builds, about adding technology to small businesses after an acquisition and/or to improve business efficiency and profitability. 

Alex started on this path because he had a friend who acquired a landscaping business from an older owner who was retiring, after running a lifestyle business. His friend had gone in, as a lot of people do when they acquire a business, to something that was really just pen and paper, no website, very minimal digital presence that was doing more harm than it was good due to some bad reviews. He decided to help his buddy build up his digital presence, and that’s how his business was born. 

From there, he expanded into providing services for different businesses like junk removal, house cleaning, pressure washing, window cleaning, real estate and more. The typical playbook is to convert this pen and paper model to digital marketing, to automated systems and it’s important to choose the right software to use, without breaking the bank. That’s where Alex’s team comes in. 

Check out the full episodes for tips and tricks on how to build and expand your SMB tech stack:

Upgrading the digital presence of a pen-and-paper business post-acquisition

  • If the business has a very minimal digital presence, it may end up doing more harm than good. For example, with only 10 reviews, two one star ones will damage your reputation.
  • The first thing owners can do is leverage Google LSA, which is the local service ads, for  high quality leads. That in conjunction with getting more reviews from customers you serve will set you on a path to rank at the top of Google Business listings for your category.

Using the same website template like other businesses in your area

  • For home cleaning or similar home services, you can find two or three different companies that have the exact same copy-pasted website template. While this could be a shortcut to an online presence, it decreases customer trust over time. 

Choosing the right tech tools for a modern small business

  • The top priority for any SMB owner should be getting a solid CRM set up for your industry. It will enable you to run email campaigns for marketing, as well as organize and access your customer information
  • Give BookingKoala a try, it has a price calculator that goes right onto your website that gives prospects a quote and then they can just book the service right there. Other more general purpose options are Jobber or ServiceTitan.

Deciding the right budget to improve your SMB digital presence

  • People that are acquiring businesses are either going to have a lot of money and not a lot of time, or they will have a lot of time and not a lot of money. The ones who want to save time should work with an agency like Alex’s, and the others can try using templates/lower cost services. 
  • There are people in this market that say they can create a website for $100, others for $10,000, so it’s important to understand the level of customization and branding for your website. For $2,000-$4,000 you can get a website that’s got 10 different pages running on a CMS, and costs will scale with added functionality. 

Getting the most ROI from your SMB tech investments

  • If you have a website with your phone number, you can start getting ROI on your digital presence by just answering the phone. 
  • Start charging based on a very determined pricing model – using tools like BookingKoala, where you can provide a live quote right on the website, as well as take bookings right then and there.
  • Leverage Google business tools and listing for leads – if you rank no.3, for example, for pressure washing, with 62 5 star reviews, 80% of your revenue might come from this channel

SMB success stories with new tech stack

  • SqeegeeGod is the owner of a window cleaning business and they use a tool called ResponsiBid to identify a pricing model that worked for their industry, and that allowed them to run quotes online based on data their customers input on the website. They use the same tool to book them online right after they get the quote, eliminating the need to visit the customer and do manual work with the back and forth communications. That allows them to operate that business a lot less hands-on.
  • A landscaping business owner that recently acquired it came across LMN, Landscape Management Network, a CRM dedicated to landscaping. With it, he was able to learn that he was making less margin on his services than the industry average and was able to adapt pricing and pay to improve profitability.

Using technology to operate a home services business

  • With the right tech stack and approach, you can operate a home services business fully remote. Casper, based in Buenos Aires, is running his cleaning business serving Chicago. He follows a subcontractor model, where does the marketing and then has subcontractors fulfill the orders. He leverages a CRM and marketing automation to enable online bookings, and then he just has to find somebody to fulfill that job

Be sure to check out the full episode for more details on each of the topics we discussed with Alex.

Our goal is to ensure that entrepreneurs have access to the services and knowledge they need as they settle in as new owners of SMBs. Tune in to our next episode on our Twitter Spaces every month, ask questions and let us know what topic and/or guest you would like us to bring to the next conversations.

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