In this day and age, everyone should have a website. There are many people who don't have brick-and-mortar locations but have a website. As such, your website is actually often your primary business "location" instead of your physical address.
Your website matters no matter what kind of business you have. I have been approached by so many people about websites, and I’ve approached tons of people about websites. Everybody falls into one of two categories: either “I have a website,” or “I need a website.” Whether you have one or not, you know that your business needs one. That said, it seems like there are some businesses out there who just have a “splash page” because they don't actually believe a website is worthwhile, or they don’t know how to utilize what they do have. Then there are some businesses that don't even have a website.
The Value Of A Website
It's important to understand the value of a good website, so I’m going to address a few points pulling from my experiences. In my community, there's a local locksmith who is a great guy and an amazing locksmith. However, his website was probably one of the worst I had seen in a long time. Fortunately, I recently was allowed to help him push an updated version out with a clear call to action. The old website, however, had outdated information (i.e. lists two phone numbers, the first one being a disconnected number) and the logo was cut off, to name just a couple things that might turn off potential clients. Looking at the site, you might think the owner works out of his house, threw the site together, and just doesn’t care.
This is an example of a small service business that people are often going to have to search for online. I’ve used a different locksmith in the past, yet when I moved and got my house rekeyed, I just typed in google, “Locksmiths near me.” His business came up first, so I, like most other people, clicked on him. People generally click on the top search results, go to that website, find the contact information, and read some reviews.
If you can get people to your website, you want to be able to keep their interest. A good website doesn’t have to have a lot of pages; it could even be one page. Whatever pages you have need to be accurate, make you look good, and make you look like you're actually in business. In the example of my locksmith, if I didn't know any better, I would have definitely not done business with this guy based on his website. However, since I knew the guy, I went ahead and went with him, and I'm very glad I did.
Websites Speed Up Service
Another example of the importance of a good website can be found in an industry that I know and care a lot about and have been working with a lot lately: the coffee industry. Specifically, those one or two location coffee shops/drive-throughs, not the Starbucks or other coffee chains out there. These small coffee businesses typically do not have a website at all. They give a couple of arguments or excuses as to why they don’t have one. One is, “We just can't afford it; margins are tight." If you're in the coffee industry, you know that's 100% true. If you only own a couple of drive-throughs, you don't have a lot of extra money. Even if you keep those drive-throughs hopping 24 hours a day, you're not going to get rich off of your stand.
The other reason that I’ve heard for not having a website is that when people are driving in their cars they're not supposed to be on their phones and nobody looks up a drive-through at home. While it’s true you should not be on your mobile phone looking things up while driving down the road, that doesn't stop a lot of people. However, often there is a passenger in the vehicle. Imagine a couple driving someplace and one of them wants to look up the coffee stand menu so they can be deciding what drink to order. Going quickly through a drive-through is great for the business because more cars can come through. It’s also good for the customers because they go to a drive-through because they want to save time. Without a website, customers can't pre-plan or plan on the go. Sometimes I’ve bought a latte just because that’s what I usually get, but afterward, I think, “I wish I had tried something new.”
Websites Are the New Business Card
Besides the menu aspect of a website, a website is also a really quick way for people to figure out what your services are and how to contact you. The locksmith and the drive-throughs have that in common: quick contact, quick directions, quick necessary information. Brand Shouter has been working specifically with coffee drive-throughs on a program that will help those with a small budget have a good website that functions and helps their businesses do well. I started working with them based mainly on knowing that not having a lot of money for marketing is a big deal. However, not having a website can lead to not having a lot of money because sometimes people get fed up when they can't figure out what they need. These small drive-throughs are competing with customers who are used to downloading the Starbucks app and having lots of options at their fingertips for ease of use and quick service. If you have a small operation or location, your website serves not just as a business card but also as a menu of services or products to people who are interested in what you have to offer.
Websites Are the Face of Your Company
A good business with a poor website doesn't look like a good business. I still come across some of the old school businesses that are run well and making money but are running on inertia from the past, and their website looks like it hasn't been updated since the 80s or 90s. If you go to look them up and are also pulling up a competitor, you will instantaneously put more faith into the company with the better-looking website. There can be a very established trustworthy business that you lose trust in because of a lack of a good web presence. Conversely, a small business, or maybe even a brand new business, with a great well functioning website can look like they are amazing.
I’ll often go online to look up a service for a plumber or electrician and will almost always go with the company with a better website. Of course, reviews do come into play as well. There are rare times where a business with good reviews but a bad website will trump somebody with a good website. Generally speaking, all things being equal, I give my business to the more professional and modern looking website.
Bonus: Google My Business Page
On top of having a well functioning, clearly spelled out website, you should also make sure that you get your Google My Business Page updated. Google has a place where you set up your business in Google My Business and put in your hours, location, website, and images. People can also leave reviews here. It becomes a hub within Google as it serves as a mini non-customizable web page. Google places a lot of value on it, and therefore it's very valuable. Your My Business Page should not just be up to date, but also should look good in terms of images and how it reflects your business. If there are negative reviews, respond to them right away with kindness but also showing that you know what you're talking about. If they claim something that's not true you can say, "I am sorry you had a horrible experience. Let me explain why I don't think this is what happened…but here’s how I will make it up to you." Find a way to make it right and that goes a long way.
In conclusion, no matter the size of your business, you need to have a good website that is clear, tells who you are, and tells what you do. It needs to be mobile-optimized, especially if you're a smaller destination business like a drive-through. Also, your Google My Business page should be managed well.