By David Jones, VP Operations, Caudill’s Electric
My company, Caudill’s Electric, has been around since 1973. Over the years we’ve grown to be one of the Piedmont Triad’s largest electrical contracting companies, and in addition to traditional electrical work (wiring structures, installing lighting, etc.), we also sell and install high end security systems, audio/video systems, and home automation systems. Today those four areas are the focus of our business, and one of our biggest challenges is finding ways to reach the audiences we want to reach, because those audiences have changed a lot in the last few years.
For a long time we worked with both end users (business owners and homeowners) and contractors who were constructing homes or business structures. This mixture of projects worked for us and helped us grow our business, and it didn’t require a lot of marketing. Homeowners might find us through the Yellow Pages, but most of our business came about over years of working with the same folks, developing a great reputation and getting referrals. Word of mouth was always our best marketing. Then the economic collapse of 2008 happened, and the majority of our work with contractors dried up. Buildings that aren’t being built don’t need to be wired.
Luckily we were able to weather the storm by shifting to more end user projects, and that’s where we are today. We work much more directly with homeowners or business owners, and those are our target audiences. Word of mouth and referrals are still how we get a lot of business, but we also need to do more actual marketing to make people aware of our different services. One way we’ve gone about doing this is through social media, which has become a 21st Century version of “word of mouth.”
We currently have a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. We’re most active on Facebook because that’s the site that lends itself most to what we do. I have our installers take photos of our completed work – home theaters, automated shades, outdoor lighting, and so on – and then post those photos on Facebook. It gives us a chance to both talk about what we do and show off the quality of our work. I post other things, too, but it’s the photos of home installations that get the most Likes and Shares. We also “boost” our posts occasionally, effectively turning them into Facebook ads.
At present we have over 1,300 page likes on Facebook, so we know we’re reaching a lot of people. Being on social media gives us a chance to interact with our customers, who are often generous in their comments and reviews of our work. We’re also able to get analytics that show how Facebook gets people to our website, which was recently updated by our friends at Reuben Rink to better reflect what we do and the services we offer. As a result of our Facebook activity I know we’ve gotten calls for new projects, so I believe it’s well worth the time and effort I put into it.
Marketing a business like ours has unique challenges, as I said, and I’ve found Facebook and social media to be an effective tool. And in the future this type of “word of mouth” may be even more important, because research shows millennials rely on peer referrals and friends’ recommendation even more than past generations. Our next wave of customers will have grown up on social media, and if we’re going to find them, that’s where we need to be.