The Definitive Guide to Using Your Story to Attract Customers & Build Loyalty

by Corey Philip
May 29, 2018

Every business has a story to tell, from the humble one person operation just starting out to the expansive nationwide company with thousands of employees. The story behind a business and a brand can be a powerful sales tool, but it’s also an honest and true account of what inspired an entrepreneur to get their start. A story isn’t a recitation of what you do; rather it’s the explanation of why you do what you do.

Storytelling has long been an effective way to enhance marketing and increase sales because it allows you to connect with customers on an emotional level. If you haven’t been using your own story in marketing and sales, now is the time to get started. In this definitive guide, I’ll break down:

What is a story and How it will help your Home Service Business earn more customers

Every entrepreneur has their own unique story to tell about how and why they started their business, including you. You may not have given it much thought up to this point, or even considered using it to connect with your customers. However, no matter how simple or complicated the start of your journey has been, it presents you with an excellent opportunity to relate directly to your target market.

Being able to share your story in a natural way during the sales process can make your company more appealing to people. It could be the key to making a connection that leads to a long term relationship with customers, building loyalty, and bringing you more business.

  • Your Story Sets You Apart

    While there are many plumbers, roofers, pool cleaners, electricians, etc. out there, no two are going to have the same background and the same reasons for how and why they started their home service business. Your story sets you apart and differentiates you from your competitors. It can make you more relatable and more memorable to your customers.

    Although everyone has their own story, very few are actually telling it!

    Once they know your story, it gives them something that sticks out and helps them to remember you. It could spark that sense of familiarity that will get them to pick up the phone and give you a call when they need your services, instead of looking for someone else to hire.

  • Stories Build An Emotional Connection

    Storytelling has a long history of being used in the sales process because a good story can create an instant link between the storyteller and the listener. In terms of sales and marketing, it gives us an emotional connection during a transactional process that can often seem impersonal. It can help to humanize a business. This takes you and your business off a note list and moves inside the customers head.

    Whether you realize it or not, your story can be an integral part of making an emotional connection with customers. When people relate to you on a personal level, it’s meaningful for them. It makes them feel good about hiring you to perform a service for their home, because they’re inclined to want to see you succeed.

  • Stories Create Credibility

    Every small business has had to overcome obstacles at some point. That element of facing challenges, tackling them, and finding ways to persevere helps to give credibility to your company in the eyes of customers. They may not only relate to your struggles, but they may also feel inspired by your ability to push forward and jump over the hurdles that stood in your way. Customers will be able to see your dedication and commitment, and they’ll appreciate that.

  • Your Story Can Attract Employees

    Another benefit to sharing your story is that it can help you attract and recruit quality employees. You want a team that believes in the services you offer and the vision that you have for your business. Potential employees may hear the story about how you got your start, connect with it in some way, relate to your goals, and want to work for your company.

    Your story can inspire passion in your team, and that can be a great for building a better workplace culture and boosting sales. Stories give the whole team something positive to get behind and to believe in, which motivates them to seek greater success.

  • Stories Don’t Matter To Everyone

    Keep in mind that your story won’t matter to everyone who hires you, or considers doing so. Some folks just flat out do not care about the background info, and that’s okay. There are plenty of customers who are unmoved by personal details and are only interested in getting the desired job done. They may just be looking for a home service provider who offers them the best price, the shortest timeline, or something else. In those situations, your story will have a minimal impact.

5 Examples of Home Service companies Using Story in Their Sales Process

These home service providers are excellent examples of how a good story can be a powerful tool in the sales and marketing process:

  1. Louis Bruno, Bruno Air

    Louis Bruno spent his childhood watching his parents earn a living as entrepreneurs, selling handbags and Rolex watches on the streets of NYC. He got his professional start working as a repair man for a family run HVAC business. After spending 5 years of working long hours and doing dirty jobs for someone else, he decided it was time to strike out on his own. Over his time there, he had learned the ins and outs of running an HVAC operation, as well as how to do the work well. Armed with that insight and knowledge, he became his own boss. He founded Bruno Air with $40,000 that he’d saved up over the years. He knew that the key to his success would be providing excellent customer service.

    There was one problem, however. As a brand new business owner, Louis couldn’t afford to hire skilled HVAC technicians. Instead, he took a novel approach and focused on recruiting individuals with strong customer service backgrounds. He hired employees from the hospitality industry and provided them with the technical training needed to become HVAC techs. This unusual and unorthodox approach proved to be an excellent decision. By focusing on providing the best customer service, Louis has built one of the most successful HVAC companies in Florida. One of his proudest moments as an entrepreneur was when he was able to purchase his own Rolex watch.

  2. Charlie Ferer, Paradise Greens and Turf Company

    Charlie Ferer always had an entrepreneurial spirit and a passion for what he calls “exotic toys”, like sports cars and bikes. As a child, he wanted a dirt bike, but his parents made clear that he’d have to earn money for it on his own.

    He worked as a newspaper boy at 11 years old, learning how to manage both money and time. In just a year, he was able to save up enough to buy the dirt bike. As a teenager, he ran a local lawn mowing business, but then headed off to college to earn his degree. He thought that a 9 to 5 corporate job that paid six figures would be the key to a comfortable life. In 2005, that all changed.

    Charlie’s entrepreneurial spirit was strong, and he knew he wanted to work for himself again. As a lover of the outdoors, he saw an opportunity when being sponsored as a dirt bike rider by a turf installation company. In Arizona, water restrictions make it difficult to grow natural grass, so artificial turf is in demand for both commercial and residential properties. He also enjoys golf, and saw an opportunity to support one of his hobbies in a practical way.

    Charlie used that motor bike sponsorship to grow a relationship with the company’s owner and to learn more about the turf industry. Eventually, it led him to found Paradise Greens and Turf.

    Charlie took a passion and a problem and turned them into a solution. Today his company is one of the most successful in Arizona, working with commercial companies, home builders, landscapers, and more. He’s in a position now where he’s able to pursue his passions outside of the office, and can afford to buy much more than just dirt bikes.

  3. Marcus Sheridan, Rivers Pools and Spas

    While he’s a founder and owner of River Pools and Spas, Marcus Sheridan is more than just an entrepreneur. He’s a well-known and well respected public speaker and a master of marketing.

    Marcus’s most transformative experience came when he served as a missionary in Chile from 1997 to 1999. He didn’t speak Spanish and had a fear of public speaking, but had to spend time speaking in front of large groups. He discovered how to be an effective public speaker by taking difficult topics and breaking them down in easy to understand ways.

    After graduating college and getting married, Marcus needed a job. He was approached by friends who started their own pool company, and agreed to work for them until he found something better. Little did he know at that time that they would quickly grow and expand River Pools into a thriving company.

    Then, in 2009, the housing market came crashing down. As business slowed, Marcus and his partners were faced with the possibility of closing up shop. He knew he needed to do something different in order to keep it afloat. He started blogging for their website, and honing his inbound marketing skills. River Pools was able to overcome the tough economy and continue to expand. Today, the company is as successful as ever, and Marcus turned his inbound marketing expertise into one of his greatest assets.

    Marcus’s public speaking and sales skills helped him find success and overcome challenges. He was able to turn what was initially a fear of public speaking and transform it into an asset for his career and his home service company.

  4. Mark Stoner, Ashbusters Chimney Service

    Mark Stoner’s story takes him from a one man chimney cleaning operation for 17 years to owner of one of the nation’s largest chimney cleaning companies. He set off on his own as a chimney sweep, working alone with one truck for nearly 2 decades. Being a solo business owner came with a great many challenges and mistakes. It took a terrible and terrifying fall off of a ladder to make Mark change his mindset.

    As a one man business, he was unable to work due to his injuries, which meant no money was coming in. From his recovery bed, he decided to sell his business, but couldn’t find a buyer. It was then that he realized that a one man operation wasn’t a smart way to run a business. Rather than giving up and accepting the demise of his business, Mark turned his biggest failure into an opportunity.

    Mark understood that embracing a different vision for his company was the answer. Rather than folding his company up, he determined to expand it. He hired dozens of employees and grew the business quickly, but that proved to be a mistake in itself.

    Once again, Mark considered closing up shop. Instead, he took an honest look at his mistakes, and he resolved to become a better leader. He grew his business more slowly this time, and saw incredible success with his new approach.

    In addition to running his now multi-million dollar company, Mark literally wrote the book on taking a blue collar home service business of one and transforming it into a nationwide company with millions in annual revenue. Today he oversees franchise operations and helps other home service business owners become better leaders.

  5. My Story

    On paper I started Gulf Coast Aluminum in 2012 right as I was graduating college with my longtime friend. But it actually started long before that.

    In 2004 my friend Tom, who would go on to become my business partner, and I were teenagers when hurricane Charley devastated our home town; the Charlotte County area. Our first job was doing screen enclosure work.

    The companies we worked for were extremely unorganized, and poorly managed. There was no schedule. Poor quality standards. It resonated with the customers. None of the customers were satisfied; they were all disappointed and frustrated.

    We were sitting at the lunch table one day and one of us said to the other, “If we started a screen enclosure company one day, and just focused on customer service, we could really build an awesome business”. We both agreed and said we would do it one day.

    Through college we both worked in the home services industry handling various management, sales, and permitting roles which let us see better how to run the company. As we were getting close to graduating one of us said to the other “Remember when we were in high school and said we would start that company…” The other said “Yea, now is the time”.

    So we got to work. At first it was just the 2 of us and a truck working out of the garage of our rented house. A far cry from the dozens of trucks, and big facility we have now.

Critical Components: Dissecting Winning Stories

What makes a well-crafted story so effective is its power to connect with people. The example stories of the business owners mentioned above have played a role in shaping their success. The founders of each company, including me, have taken the why behind our businesses and used it in a natural way to help make a connection with our customers. Let’s dissect the critical components of a winning story:

  • Authenticity and vulnerability

    Being honest and authentic and showing vulnerability makes customers want to help you. They’ll be inclined to hire you because they want to see you succeed. The key to being vulnerable is being your authentic self, so don’t shy away from telling the truth in your story. Include your struggles, no matter how small they may be, to demonstrate how you’ve overcome them to get where you are today.

    In Mark Stoner’s story, he shows his vulnerability by admitting that he made many mistakes, the most significant being that he was relying solely on himself as a one man company. He took that tragic accident of falling off a ladder and transformed it into a story of triumph.

    Everyone can relate to that fear of having an accident that suddenly changes everything. The fact that he was able to overcome it and push ahead is inspirational in itself. Mark’s customers can admire him for taking a tough situation in which it would have been easy to quit, and instead using it as fuel to learn and build a bigger and better business.

  • Define Your “Why” and What You Believe In

    It’s important to know the reason behind what you’re doing. Define your “why”, not only for your customers, but for yourself, too. Your “why” is the reason you get up every day and continue doing what you do. You have to truly believe in it before your customers can.

    For Charlie Ferer, his “why” is a combination of his passions- being an entrepreneur and working for himself, and supporting the activities and hobbies that he enjoys by providing an important product and service related to it.

    Louis Bruno’s “why” is striving to continually provide the best customer service in the industry. In Florida, HVAC services are in high demand year-round, and Louis wants to be the trusted go-to company for customers throughout the state. He believes that better customer service sets him apart from his competition.

  • Position Yourself As an Expert

    You want your customers to see you as a trusted professional. They don’t want to hire just anyone to perform the particular home service that they’re in need of. They want to choose the right company and know that they’ll get quality service. One way to ensure this is by positioning yourself as an expert, even if you don’t have a ton of experience in doing what you do.

    Louis Bruno spent 5 years working as a HVAC repair tech for someone else. By the time he launched his own company, he could demonstrate a level of expertise in the field, even though he’d never run his own company before. Just having that hands-on experience in HVAC shows customers that he has insight into the industry, and they’re more likely to trust his company.

  • Be Unique And Memorable

    A good story is both unique and memorable. It will stick out in the minds of customers. It doesn’t have to be something exciting or extreme to be effective.

    Louis Bruno couldn’t afford skilled HVAC techs, so he hired people with a customer service background and gave them the necessary training. Today he runs Bruno University as a part of his business, educating those with a desire to become HVAC technicians. That’s a memorable detail about his business that can stand out to his customers.

  • Relate To a Struggle, Pain or Desire.

    Think about your ideal customer. What are they struggling with? What do they want? If your customers can relate to you in one of these ways, they’ll be inclined to want to help you succeed. They’ll be loyal to you, and building loyalty can be critical for many home services.

    For Marcus Sheridan, the economic crisis in 2009 nearly ended his business. Many people suffered and struggled to come out of tough situations as a result of the collapse. People can relate to the pain that was felt by so many then, and they’re likely to admire Marcus’s ability to push forward and thrive, despite the difficult odds.

    In Louis Bruno’s story, he struggled with hiring skilled HVAC technicians due to a lack of money. He focused instead on workers with great customer service skills, opting to train them along the way. Many of his customers can relate to that struggle of wanting to do something, but lacking the financial resources. He came up with a creative and interesting solution, overcoming his money struggles, and turning it into one of the most unique and memorable parts of his story.

  • A Story Is Not a Resume of Your Experience

    It’s important to note that a story is not about your resume, and it’s not about highlighting your experience. For many business owners, including a few shared in the examples, they had minimal experience with running a company or even providing their specific home service when they first started out. While your portfolio can be important during the sales process, it’s separate from your story.

How to Craft Your Winning Story

If you haven’t already, now is the time to think about your own story. It helps to write it down and then read it out loud to someone close to you. They can help you cut out the unnecessary parts, and may even have a little insight that you may not think of right away.

  • Find your “why”

    As mentioned several times, you need to define your “why”. Why did you decide to launch your business? What motivates you or inspires you? Your “why” can be one of the most important factors that influence people to hire you. Figure it out, and then determine how to best communicate it in your story.

  • Be yourself

    Be honest and authentic so that you’re relatable and customers feel a connection to you. They’ll feel like you understand and share their values. When customers feel like they can relate to you on a personal level, they may be more inclined to choose you over your competitors.

  • Provide a solution

    Your story should in some way convey to customers that you have the solution for their problem and that you’re best positioned to meet their needs. When it comes to home services in particular, people want to feel good about who they hire. They want to know that they’re going to get the best results from a trustworthy and skilled source. Customers have to trust you in order to want to allow you into their homes and onto their property. Make sure that your story includes the reason why you’re the right one to solve their problem.

    Keep your story brief so that you and your potential customers don’t get bogged down in details or sent off on tangents. Over time, you’ll be able to practice your story and see which parts of it are the most powerful and effective. Once you’ve got it down, you can use it in a variety of ways in the marketing and sales process.

How & When to Use Story in Your Sales / Marketing Process

When it comes to using your story in the sales and marketing process, don’t limit yourself. You can and should include it as an integral and natural element in your marketing and sales plan. A compelling, honest story can become a central part of who your business is and what it represents. Here’s where to use your story:

  • On your website

    First and foremost, you want to include your story on your website. The best place to share it is in the “About” section that identifies the people behind the business. Since you’re the founder or the owner, you can use your story in your bio section. Include a photo of you, as well. When people are able to see the face and read the story, they’ll feel more of a connection. It’ll do a lot for humanizing your business.

    You can also use your story on the homepage. If you can condense your story down to a few sentences, you can use it as part of the persuasive sales copy. Visitors to your site may make the decision to hire you based off of that brief bit of your story that they connect with, whether it’s through relating to a struggle, desire, or a pain that they share or have also experienced.

  • Social media

    Social media gives you an easy and effective way to connect with customers. It’s a great tool in personalizing and humanizing your business. You can interact one on one with customers, and it invites open communication. When posting on Twitter, Facebook, etc., share details from your story that can capture the attention of your audience.

  • Online directories

    As you probably already know, web directories can be one of the critical places where people turn to make a sales decision for home services. When listing your business in online directories, you can often include a brief bit about your company.

    Don’t just share your name and what you offer. Take advantage of this space by integrating your story in some way into your description. Use it to humanize your business and set you apart from your competitors. Having that unique or memorable element attached to your business could be the one thing that gets a customer to contact you.

  • Face to face with customers

    Connecting with customers is much easier to do face to face, so when you have the opportunity, it’s helpful to share your story. As a home service provider, you have more opportunities than many other types of businesses, so do take advantage of it. Don’t force it on them as a part of your sales pitch, but if they ask something like, “how did you get started in roofing?” that’s the perfect time to tell your story.

    Many home services are personal to people, and depending on what you offer, you may be visiting their home for an estimate or evaluation. In that case, having a friendly face to face conversation before making a sale is a normal part of the process, and presents you with an ideal opportunity to make that connection with a customer.

  • Get media coverage

    One of the best free marketing tools you can get is media coverage. Take advantage of opportunities that come up to share your business with the public. Having a condensed version of your story, much like you can use in online directories, is great for these situations. It could be in the local newspaper, a local TV news segment, or some other publication

Back your story up with actions
This comes back to being honest and authentic with your story. You need to believe in it and back it up through your actions. Show your customers that you can be trusted because it’s one of the keys to building loyalty.

How Your Employees Can Use a Story, too

Their story, as it relates to the business, would be how they became familiar with your company and how and why they got started working there. To expand on that, they can include why they enjoy working for the business, and why they’re passionate or dedicated to the services that the business provides. Building a company that appreciates its team members will help make it easier for your crew to come up with their own stories, and to want to share it with potential customers.

Moving Forward

Take some time to consider “do all our customers know how we came to be?” If the answer to that is no, there’s room to improve and increase your customer base…. and the best part is it’s free. Get your story out there and make a connection with your community! A blog post on your website or quick video with your iPhone shared to your Facebook account is a great way to get started!

About the author

Corey Philip

Corey Philip is a small business owner / investor with a focus on home service businesses.

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