Online business has been considered “the future” for many years now and for many of us it’s very much already our “right now”. And over the past 18 months, the pandemic has undoubtedly increased the favourable nature of an online business environment.
More organisations are adopting remote working policies, and coupled with a massive boom in software which makes communication and co-working easier, working as a partly (or fully) online business is becoming more achievable. For some industries more than others, obviously.
So how can pest controllers and building inspectors move their business deeper into the digital world? Though you won’t be able to go completely online, you can jump on the technological bandwagon and streamline many of your everyday processes.
Here are some factors to consider in moving your offline business online.
1. Digitise business documents and store them online
Gone are the days of huge amounts of filing cabinets. One element of online business that almost everyone can action is an online file storage system. Not only is it easier to navigate, you’ll have much more free space in your business premises and you’ll be able to keep files with you wherever you go.
Maybe you can even shift to a smaller (and cheaper) office as a result of the space savings. Or give your home a breather from all the paper piles.
For instance, consider using a real-time pest and building inspection reporting app like Rapid Inspect for your reports. Sign up to a cloud storage service such as Dropbox or Google One and make sure to sync reports, communications, insurance documents and policies, and any other important documents to the cloud.
You might have to spend a week or more getting everything set up and organised, but once you’ve done that, the admin is minimal. And it’s so convenient!
2. Provide valuable online content related to your business
When people are stuck at home for days on end (whether that be because they’re working remotely, are in lockdown, or are isolating) they tend to look for ways to spend their time. You might be able to use this to your advantage by producing content they find valuable.
Perhaps you could share some expert pest knowledge in a blog or a YouTube video? Or give some tips on what potential homeowners should keep an eye out for when they view a house? Maybe you could even suggest what’s most important to know when choosing a building inspector or pest controller (like ensuring they’re appropriately qualified and insured!).
These people might not need your services immediately, but rest assured that when they do, they’ll remember you and make a positive association with your business. So hopefully, you’ll increase your customer base as well as brand awareness. This is the basis of content marketing. Read more about it here.
3. Embrace apps and technology
What are the parts of your day which take up the most time? Or the processes which are the least efficient? There’s almost certainly an app, website, or piece of software which can help lighten the load. And it’s an element of online business which is easily accessible through gear you probably already have. Like a phone or laptop, for instance.
Look into five of our top app suggestions for working on the go for some initial suggestions. But remember, you should tailor these to your specific business needs.
Maybe you need an app which makes invoicing easier, or perhaps you need a quicker way to accept payments? Or something to help with tax deductions and returns? You might even need something which allows you to dictate notes and turn them into written words.
4. Get a website for your business
If you haven’t got one yet, a website should be one of your first steps towards developing an online business presence. Your own website will allow potential customers to find you easily, gives them a simple channel to contact you through, and could be a place for you to post content that demonstrates your expert industry knowledge.
Depending on how big your budget is, you could even have a customer portal, quote function and/or a way for customers to book and pay for your services.
You don’t have to pay a fortune for a good website, but it’s the single biggest thing you can do to move towards an online business. And if you don’t have an online presence, will potential customers, referral partners and other external stakeholders easily believe you’re a professional business?
If you already have a website, make sure it’s mobile-friendly. Most people these days browse the web on their phones, so it’s important your website looks good on a mobile screen as well as a desktop.
5. Online training
Now’s the time to upskill yourself (and your team) and/or brush up on any knowledge or processes you’ve been meaning to sort out. Online training is a great way to expand your skill set, and it will put you in an even better position when business picks up over the peak summer period.
Whether you want to do industry-specific training (in which case, check out Rapid Training) or go for more general business skills like online business marketing, computer literacy, or social media is entirely up to you. Choose whatever you think will add more value to your business!
Insurance for your (offline or online) business
While we’re on the subject of future-proofing your business, have you checked your insurance is up to date and sufficient? Making sure you’re properly covered can save you a fortune in the event of a claim.