While everything and everyone is on lockdown, how can a “local” business still bring in a little revenue? How can you set yourself up for a strong comeback? And how can you do it from your yurt?
As you might guess, you do it by offering an online or “tele” version of at least one of your services. Customers / clients / patients may need to keep their distance, but many still want or need now what you offer. Only a video, phone, or other online option meets both of those needs.
The problem now is you’re not sure where to begin, because you don’t have examples or blueprints of online-only services that you can adapt to your situation.
I’m not saying a remote option is an option for every business. Some businesses can only do their work in-person, and don’t have a practical online option. (Movers, roofers, dentists, and others come to mind.) Others can ship, or deliver, or offer gift cards or prepay options, so this post isn’t geared to those businesses as much. But if my experience before and during COVID-19 is any indication, a solid 75% of businesses can roll out an online-only service of value to local or non-local customers.
Below are examples of non-ecommerce, mostly “local” businesses that offer an online-only service. (Some of these examples are from current or one-time clients.) The online or remote service they offer is an option both for people nearby and for non-locals. As you go through the list, think of what kind of rigging might just work for you.
Example 1: Online mold remediation by Moldman in Chicago: moldmanusa.com/virtual-mold-consultations/
Big strength: the business makes it clear that there may be a DIY solution to a mold problem. That may save the client a lot of money, and more than offset the small cost of the consultation.
Example 2: Online therapy / counseling by Heartland Counseling Center in Missouri (multiple offices): heartlandcounselingcenter.com
Big strength: the online offering is unavoidable, because it’s in the sidebar on every page. It’s not limited to one page that you hope people see.
Example 3: Telemedicine for pain management by Dr. Jason Attaman and Dr. Cameron Cartier in Bellevue and Seattle, WA: jasonattaman.com
Big strength: it’s clear what the doctors can and cannot do virtually, it’s clear what the logistics are, and it’s clearly geared toward patients in areas locked down by COVID-19 restrictions.
Example 4: Online plumbing consultation by Lutz Plumbing in Shawnee, KS: lutzplumbing.com/about/virtual-plumbing-consultation
Big strength: an extremely clear value proposition: it’s mainly for do-it-yourselfers who want a second opinion on a project.
Example 5: Online dog training by Fun Paw Care in Los Angeles: funpawcare.com/pet-services/phone-consultation/
Big strength: a thorough list of very specific dog-behavior problems and concerns that a consultation can help with.
Example 6: Online electrical troubleshooting by RightWay Electrical Contractors in Jacksonville, FL: rwecinc.com/online-electrician
Big strength: the page has some free troubleshooting tips before the paid-consultation option. That helps people determine whether their issue calls for an electrician at all. If it does, then the virtual option is right there.
Example 7: Online patent law consultation by OC Patent Lawyer: ocpatentlawyer.com/schedule-consultation/
Big strength: a very clear rundown of what to expect, with links (lower down on the page) to posts that get clients’ feet wet before the deep dive.
Example 8: Online divorce mediation by Equitable Mediation (multiple offices): equitablemediation.com/divorce-mediation/online-mediation
Big strength: very solid copywriting. That includes the FAQs, and the way the owners make it clear why many people prefer the online version. (By the way, you can also read my case-study post on this business.)
Example 9: Online tutoring by Boston Tutoring Services: bostontutoringservices.com/online-tutoring/
Big strength: even though the company has a clear local focus, the very top of the page makes it clear that in-person lessons are completely optional.
Example 10: Online voice lessons (in Spanish) by Vox Technologies Vocal Studio in Barcelona: vox-technologies.com
Big strength: it’s implied that many students do online lessons, and that the online offering isn’t second banana.
A couple of examples that get an honorable mention, because although they’re not “local” businesses to begin with, they took a clever approach to offering services that bricks-and-mortar and service-area businesses usually have a monopoly on:
Honorable mention: Online veterinary consultation by NHV Natural Pet Products: nhvnaturalpetproducts.com/veterinarian-consultation/
Honorable mention: Online landscape design by Tilly: tilly-design.com
I hope those examples gave you some ideas for the online version of your service, whether you’re trying to ramp it up or roll it out for the first time. Getting a blueprint is the hard part, and probably the most important part, but here are 5 principles I suggest you keep in mind when figuring out your online service:
- It must solve or help with a problem people have now.
- It must help in self-contained way, and not just serve as initial consultation or a free quote.
- It won’t necessarily provide all the things you can do in-person, and that’s probably OK.
- It should be available and helpful to non-local people, too.
- It should probably be a service you’ll still want to keep around as a permanent component of your business.
What do you like about those examples? Anything you’d improve about them, if you could?
Do you know of any examples of a “local” business with a clever or well-presented online offering?
Are you trying to figure out a work-from-home version of your service?
Leave a comment!