Episode 1 | May 9, 2023

Who is A2O Digital?

Introducing A2O Digital, your go to digital marketing agency for the home service industry. We bring you a podcast by our internet marketing professionals, which cover topics like marketing, sales, operations and more. As an agency we strive to stay on top of all industry trends that affect the home service industry.

Tim (00:19): Hello. Welcome to the A Second Opinion podcast, the podcast about home services, businesses and marketing. If you are a small business owner or digital marketer, you are in the right place. My name is Tim Coleman I am the managing partner of A Second Opinion and Street to Fleet. And with me today is my partner, Doug. Doug, you want to talk a little bit about yourself?

Doug (00:43): Sure. Thanks, Tim. Yeah, so my name's Doug, Doug Bencsko. I am the founder of A Second Opinion, and I am also a business owner with a franchise company called Precision Garage Door. I get my logo on today. And we are a garage door company. If you're in the home service business, you probably have heard of us.

(01:15): I own the franchises to the New York Metropolitan area, Northern New Jersey, Long Island, Westchester, Fairfield County, Connecticut, kind of all the suburbs around the major metro, meaning New York City. I owned these now for, started back in year 2000. We started in March of 2000. And I have grown it slowly but surely, where today the New York Metropolitan franchises in 2022, we just finished the year at $31 million in revenue, and it's been an adventure. And I've been on that adventure with my other company, which Tim is the managing partner for. And we have become successful by working together with our marketing and our tactics from the home service business.

Tim (02:29): Doug, you're kind of in this unique position, as you just did. You own this really successful home service business. But what's unique is you own that as well as the agency upon what you rely for your marketing. Tell me why you wanted to start this podcast, Doug.

Doug (02:50): Yeah, that's a good question. So we have weekly management meetings, typically on Friday mornings, where we sit and we talk about the things that we want to accomplish, things that have been successful. We're constantly talking about what's going on. And I sit a lot of times in silence listening to our leadership team talking about what's going on and I say to myself, "Gosh, I wish our customers could be a fly on the wall watching what our conversations as a agency, what we're talking about." Because we talk about these amazing things and then I go, "God, I wish all our customers saw that." And so I wanted to create that situation where we start having conversations with our agency, where people can actually be that fly on the wall and they can understand more about us as an agency and what makes us successful. Why has A Second Opinion thrived? Why is Precision Garage Door thriving? And this is kind of the start of it. That's what we're doing here.

Tim (04:18): Yeah, it's an interesting point. And so much about that revolves around the agency relationship with the business, the business relationship with their own customers. Doug, you and I have heard throughout the years, we would hear from various customers, "It didn't work for me" or why it didn't work. And let's get into a little bit about those types of relationships that are, just so central to marketing and your relationship with your customers. And let's start with this topic of trust and how that's built.

Doug (05:04): When you think about home service, home services in general have a reputation of being a uncomfortable thing for the homeowner. People have had experiences where they had somebody come to their house to work on something, could be a washing machine, could be a garage door, could be whatever it is. And you have this bad experience, you feel like you were lied to or that you got ripped off or something bad happened that creates this kind of anxiety with a customer when they're calling somebody to come to their house to fix something.

(05:49): And I got this through actual real life experiences with my wife. There's been some horrendous things that have happened where we had somebody working at our house... And I'll tell you some really quick examples. We had a person working on our house, building a deck. And it was morning, it was a Saturday. I took the kids to a soccer game, my wife was left home, the guy's working on the deck. An hour later she has a man, while she's in the shower, standing in the bathroom door. He says, "I heard someone in the house. I thought somebody shouldn't be in here," or something. And my wife's screaming and calling the cops. Obviously, he didn't finish the job. But that's just a horrible experience, someone working on your home and you're dealing with this.

(06:55): I had another thing. A company came in to install carpeting in our house and they did a nice job. And when the guy was leaving, he asked, "Hey, I see you got a broken step." Our step had collapsed. "Are you looking to get that fixed?" And I said, "As a matter of fact, I am." He goes, "I do that on the side." I said, "Sure, give me a price. It's on my list of things to do." Gives me a price. I give him a down payment for the material, I never see him again. I'm putting out complaints in town. He gets arrested two times. The third time he gets arrested, he's put in jail until he pays. But these kind of experiences with home service companies make anxiety for the customer base. So one of the things that we've always talked about, both from an agency of A Second Opinion and from home service company is we need to build trust with our customers. What things do we need to do? And this is a, you got to work hand in hand with this, right?

Tim (08:07): Let's start with the website there, Doug. Because so often the introduction to our business is through Google and then they come to the website. So how are we going to introduce ourselves and try and overcome some of those barriers on the website?

Doug (08:22): Well, yeah. And you know the answer to this too. I'm going to try to keep this kind of short and brief. But we made a decision 15 years ago to take, every time we go to see a customer, we ask them to review our business. Everybody knows how important reviews are, right? And today, Google makes big deals of Yelp. All these agencies want to own your reviews and build your reputation. And we built our whole website around that. If you go to our website in New Jersey, which is pdsnj.com, standing for Precision Garage Door, New Jersey.com, you'll find we have thousands of reviews on our website, thousands. I'll bet you there's 10,000 reviews.

Tim (09:16): I'm going to guess 9,000. It's like the Jelly Bean contest, how many reviews you have. No, it's written there. You can see it.

Doug (09:23): But it keeps growing and we're constantly getting our customers to review us. And not only do we get the review, we get customer's permission obviously, by doing the review. But our customers actually put their first and last names.

Tim (09:40): Very often, they do.

Doug (09:41): On the reviews. It's amazing. You go in and we can sort all our reviews by town, by technician. If you live in Timbuktu, in New Jersey and you want want to know whether Precision Garage Door is a reputable company, you can go in, open up your town, Timbuktu, for reviews, and you're going to read probably 100 reviews from people in your town that are talking about our company. They get exposed. And what's unbelievable about it, a lot of times our customers will go, "Oh my gosh, that's my neighbor. I know that guy." They'll actually get on the phone and make a telephone call to somebody and say, "Hey, did you use Precision Door?" "Yeah, they were awesome." So we get customers that we'll go to that have such a high level of trust already just because they viewed our website and they spent the time and they discovered the people's first and last names from their town. So that starts the whole process.

Tim (11:01): I agree with that, Doug. And just so for folks listening, obviously, we believe just as importantly as reviews on Google and a consistent reputation across the web, but I do think that a lot of home service businesses do miss the opportunity of having unique reviews on their website. I was just thinking about just how when you hire technicians, you do background checks and how we kind of represent that. I was just thinking along those lines, Doug.

Doug (11:32): Yeah, there's a lot to unpack here, and maybe we could do that in a future episode. But when we hire people, we do drug and background checks on people. And of course we do they're driving records because they're going to be driving our trucks, so we got to be sure that they drive safely. But this information, like our drug and background check actually gets attached to... Every technician has his own, I'll say webpage, where their information's on it, their bio is on it, talks about where they live, what they like to do in their spare time. You get to know and learn a little bit about the technician.

(12:18): And then the drug and background check is actually attached in underneath it. They could open it up and actually see that information. And people that have these trust issues will go in and will actually do this, many, many times and have the whole feeling of who they're doing business with change. Trust level goes way up when you expose people to these kinds of things. And that, I'm going to say employee profile, actually gets sent to the customer. When they book an appointment with us at Precision, it is going to go and they're going to get a copy, it'll be a picture of the technician, their bio. I'm not sure whether the drug and background can be accessed on that confirmation that goes out to them.

Tim (13:17): They have to click through. But they have to take it back to the website, they can see it.

Doug (13:22): But ultimately, the customer gets this. So now they start to understand who that technician is. And they read, "Oh, wow, he's a New York Jets fan. So am I." Sometimes they have things to talk about when they show up. "Hey, I saw you're a Jets fan." And they start talking about that and it breaks the ice. It's an ice breaker for them, right? When you book an appointment through the website, they're going to get a confirmation email, they're going to get this bio from the technician. They're going to get a reminder the night before, if it was scheduled in advance, right? They're going to get a reminder.

(14:07): And then the next part is you got to teach your technicians to call that customer two times in the morning. The first time is right in the morning and saying, "Hey, my name's Doug. I'm the technician. Coming out to see you today. I got you on the schedule for between 10 and 12. And I want you to know I'm doing a job right before you. And what I will do is I will call you right when I'm finishing that job so you know I'm in transit to you. But this is my phone number and if something happens, you need to get back to me, give me a holler. But you'll hear from me when I finish that first job."

(14:46): And so that's the first touch. How many companies don't even do that? How many companies leave you hanging? They say, "It's scheduled for the morning." You never hear from them. And then it's 12 and you're looking at your a watch going, "I wonder if this guy is blowing me off."

Tim (15:04): So now, trust is a process. The technicians now building. He's beginning to build a little bit of trust here. The website made an introduction, it introduced the company, it introduced the technician. And now we kind of handed the baton to the technician and they're making a phone call. Well, they got an email. That's continuing the process of building the trust, introduced the technician. They've seen a picture of him, they now know who's calling. He calls and he has a conversation about when I'm going to be there.

Doug (15:37): Exactly. And then when he finishes the job, right before that, he makes the second telephone call. Says, "Hi, this is Doug again from Precision Door. I just want to let you know I just finished up." And then this is all trained in from our company. But it's a partnership with your marketing agency. The next thing you train them to do is, "I'm on my way. I'm going to stop, get something to drink, can I get you something?" And the customer will say, 99 times out of 100, "No, no, no, you don't need to do that. Just come here. I got soda, I got coffee, or whatever. Just come to the house, no problems." Think about the way you're affecting the customer's mind. Is the trust level going up? Is the wall coming down? If we can create that kind of situation before we get there, what's the chances of being successful at turning that into a happy customer? It goes way up.

(16:48): So one of the things that I found, because we do the web marketing for companies in the country. We kind of work with this vertical, the garage door vertical. And that has happened, I'll say naturally. Just from relationships, I got to know the other owners as being a franchisee. You get to know them. You talk about what you're doing. If people don't know much about Precision, Precision's got, I think, it's over 100. I want to say maybe 110, 115 locations across the country. We're doing it for, I don't know, 90% of them, 90% of those franchises. And we're managing the website, internet marketing for them. When you work in a vertical and you work with these owners all have same problems. We've just continued to be able to create a process, help build a process for that home service.

Tim (17:59): As an agency, when we get introduced to a new home service business owner, very often, they've had bad experiences with agencies before. They've had experiences where they have a lack of trust for an agency. Let's talk a little bit about why that's happened. They've had an agency they said they had no leads and internet marketing doesn't work for me, and it's all this type of stuff. So let's talk, Doug, about what are some of the things we have to do to start to create a relationship where there's some trust between us and our customers as an agency?

Doug (18:46): All right. Yeah, let's talk about when someone calls us and says, "I tried what you guys do. I tried pay-per-click." I'll use that as an example. That's one of the things that we're managing. We're managing pay-per-click campaigns for people on Google. And they'll say, "I tried pay-per-click, didn't work for me." If you're someone my age, and you've been in business for a lot of years, you think back, how did people get leads before the internet? It was Yellow Pages. And I started my career in Yellow Page advertising. That's kind of how I got started in the advertising world. And there would be some customers that would say, "Oh my gosh, I get all my leads out of Yellow Pages. It's the greatest thing ever." And then you'd go to some other people and they would say, "Yellow pages don't work for me."

(19:46): And the guy's a plumber or the guy's a pest control guy, and they don't work for him, but it's working for the other plumbers. And the question always comes down to, "Why did it not work? Why is the pay-per-click not working? Why did the Yellow Pages not work for you?" What's the reason? You got to kind of dive down. And of course, the trust level's going to be low. Because I've already done this. I tried three different agencies and never worked for me. Yeah, well, there's typically an underlying reason behind it.

(20:18): It could have been the agency, could have been the agency you were using. They set up 10 keywords for you and thought that they were going to make it work. And they got some phone calls, but the phone calls were so freaking expensive, they turned it off and it just wasn't worth it to them. Right? Or maybe it has nothing to do with that. Maybe it is, they just don't answer their phones. The phone's ringing and it's going to voicemail because nobody answers the phone and nobody calls back. And there's so many things that can make it so that it seems like your agency's not working and it's really not that. What it really is, it's maybe an internal problem that you need to correct first.

(21:10): We've talked about this lots of times about how do we find this out? You could probably even tell some stories about when we listen to phone calls at A Second Opinion and you realize, hey, this particular franchise is booking 40% of the jobs that get called in, or some absurd number like 10% of the jobs, because we've even seen that. But then we have other people that book 80 or 90% of the jobs that come in.

Tim (21:45): That's right.

Doug (21:47): Yeah.

Tim (21:50): The infrastructure of the home service business has to be set up well for digital marketing to work. Now, if it was 10 years ago, when I get you clicks for $2 on Google, I wouldn't say that. But Google clicks don't cost $2 anymore. So the infrastructure in your business needs to be set up in such a way that you're able to move leads through a customer journey where they are satisfied and you are profitable. And that's the first step to successful digital marketing.

(22:33): Now, the digital marketing agency has to have an infrastructure set up to deliver high quality leads as well. But no matter how well that digital marketing agency is set up, if the home service business isn't set up properly, and I could tell your stories and we've listened to phone calls and had customers have 27% booking rate. And you ask, "Who's answering your phone?" They say, "Well, it's my wife answering the phone." So it's hard to give them advice. You know, "Fire your wife." So we reported out statistics only. We will report out on everything throughout. We had a customer where we realized that there are relationships between the people answering the phone and the technicians where the technicians only wanted to go out on certain types of jobs. So a lot of the jobs just never got booked because they weren't good enough. These problems in your infrastructure can creep up in many ways. We listened to phone calls and we believed that the job never made it into the CRM, which meant there was probably some thievery happening. There's all kinds of infrastructure problems that can happen.

(23:50): We talk about how important every aspect of having a service business. How many problems do you have in your home service business if this event happens to you? This is a true event somebody told me. The guy was in his office and a stripper knocked on his door and told him that one of his trucks backed into my car when it was leaving the parking lot. Now, if you own a home service business, how many problems do you have in that business if that one event just happened, to think how many problems you have in your business that create that situation? That's a real story. So you think about how important your technicians and the technician training that has to be done in order for you to be successful in marketing. How do you think, Doug, about your technicians from a marketing perspective?

Doug (24:54): Well, how do I think about my technicians from a marketing perspective?

Tim (25:01): How is your reputation going to be affected by your technicians?

Doug (25:06): Well, everything revolves around the experience once we get in that customer's house. Obviously, if you don't create a wow experience for that customer, something where they're blown away about what the level of service they got, then obviously, you're not going to get a review if you don't create that experience. But if it's a bad experience, they're probably going to tell everybody they know about you. And it's going to create a horrible reputation for you. You want to build a brand, you got to create great experiences over and over and over again. And that technician needs to be following a procedure, a protocol, that was set up and trained and trained again, and trained again. Then checked on to make sure that they're following those protocols, to create a consistent experience.

(26:03): It's kind of like McDonald's, right? Why does McDonald's grow? Because you get consistency. If you go to McDonald's and you order a Big Mac, you're going to get the same Big Mac, whether it's McDonald's in New Jersey or whether it's in China. That Big Mac is going to taste the same. It's consistency. You've got to teach the technicians how to create a consistently great experience for a customer. There's a lot here, and this is kind of why I wanted to do this podcast. Just talk about the things that digital marketing agencies and home service businesses need to work in conjunction with to create great experiences and build a brand, to build your company.

(26:58): I want to do this consistently, and Tim, obviously we talked about this and each week try to talk more about it. Today was a lot about building trust. We talked about building trust from an agency to the customer, by the website, building trust in the experience that you create from the home service business. There's so much that has to go and work hand in hand to create a winning experience.

Tim (27:38): From an agency perspective too, one of the things that is just so important in the relationship with the home service business, regarding trust is beginning with setting expectations. We work really hard with a new customer to do that, to let them know what to expect from the marketing program and when, and I think that that helps them in setting expectations and starting, we have to do a lot of communication with a new customer as well throughout, especially those early days, early weeks, early months in communicating to that person, what's happening in their marketing? What's the return in their marketing? What are we hearing on their phones? Do we detect that we're seeing any problems in their business that we can help them with? Just like your technicians have to have a lot of touches, we have to have a lot of touches on the digital agency side to create that relationship with our customer so that the relationship becomes a partnership.

(28:52): That's really what we're after at A Second Opinion, is having relationships with our customers where we can help them thrive because we understand what their goals are and we can help them achieve them. That's really what we're trying to achieve on the agency side.

(29:10): A Second Opinion, it's an interesting place to be because we have this relationship with you, Doug as a home service business, we have more insight into running a home service business. Many of our people are inside your CRM, which is unique as an agency. We really follow the customer journey throughout. We try to do that for as many customers as we can because we have that level of trust. We can see and hear things that they might miss because you get so busy as the owner of a home service business. As trust, as it builds, whether you're in an agency in talking to an owner of a business, or whether you're in the owner of a service business talking to your customers, it's kind of where it all begins. It's a constant process and it can be lost really rapidly. We're always building relationships and we're always building trust. That's what we're trying to do. Any final thoughts today, Doug?

Doug (30:21): No. I think I'd like to explore a little more about this in the future, a future episode. But I appreciate your time today and I know that our objective is to try to give you that opportunity to be a fly on the wall and how this all works together, and we hope to see you on the next one.

Tim (30:50): Yeah, so thanks for listening to the A Second Opinion podcast. What's the takeaway from today? I think the answer to that is, success in digital marketing, and in home service business is really a partnership between you and your customer that begins with building trust. If you enjoyed the podcast, please do two things, hit the five stars when asked and subscribe and don't miss the next episode. We're going to start to take a dive into some of the elements of digital marketing and running a home service business that I think you need as infrastructure to just be as successful as you can in the future so thanks everyone.

Episode 1
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