I do not have a copy of the yellow pages. My wife throws them out, and we look everything up on line — even restaurant menus. If and when my furnace or air conditioning breaks, or if I’m looking to make renovations or upgrades, I’ll go to the Internet. If your field service or HVAC business isn’t online, you have no hope of getting my business. I’ll end up calling one of your competitors who is.

My wife and I are not alone. Most of our friends, all home and business owners in their late twenties to mid-forties, do everything online. If you want to attract customers under the age of 45, you need a website. Don’t cancel your Yellow Page ad quite yet; my parents still use it (well at least some times when they’re waiting for me to fix their computer).

Websites and the Internet aren’t that difficult

Techno geeks want you to think websites are difficult. Sure, they can be, but it all depends on how much you’re trying to do. Moreover, many techno geeks are guilty of writing confusing and incomplete instructions and trying to intimidate/overwhelm/confuse regular people with HTML, CSS, SEO, JavaScript, MySQL, etc … much of this is just noise.

Two Truths About Online Success For Businesses

1. Your real enemy is the Web Browser Back Button

As much as you might hate the business down the street, your real enemy online is the Internet Browser Back Button. Anything that might encourage a potential customer to hit that Back Button and leave your site should be avoided at all costs.

  • Page loads too slow — Back!
  • Forced to watch annoying animation — Back!
  • Not sure if they’re in the right place — Back!
  • Can’t find contact information — Back!
  • Can’t figure out if you serve my town — Back!
  • How old is this website? — Back!

It’s not 1999 anymore, even the average Internet user is sophisticated and they expect your website to work properly and quickly. They also have come to expect a certain level of quality; a shabby website with misspellings, out-of-date info and difficult navigation won’t cut it.

If you don’t win the battle against the Back Button, you will lose the online war.

2. Your business in on the Internet; you not an Internet business

Zappos, Amazon and iTunes are online businesses. Without the Internet, they have no business at all. They are constantly updating and investing in the performance, appearance and functionality of their websites. For you the Internet is simply a tool — one of many tools you use to conduct your business, and many of those other tools are going to take priority over your website. Sites like Zappos have set the bar very high. However, one of your prospective customers does not expect all the features and cutting-edge technology from the guy installing his heat-pump. What he or she expects is a site that functions properly and has the information that he or she is looking for.

Before adding a feature or service, such as online quotes, live chat or bill pay, make sure you have the manpower, money and will to support these features. Be honest with yourself, you’re much better off with an excellent stripped down website than a complicated clunker. Also avoid being trendy. Trendy wears thin very quickly, and then who’s going to update or replace it?

Just as a good quality blue suit never goes out of style, a well-executed website the follows the basic rules of both graphic and website design doesn’t either.

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ABOUT Patrick Peterson

Avatar photoPatrick Peterson of ZenHVAC has seen the HVAC industry from all angles, serving as a technician, manufacturer’s tech rep, salesman, technical trainer and business owner.