Home Service Business Guide to Texting with MessageDesk
Home Service Business Guide to Texting with MessageDesk
Sep 09, 2021 - 16 min read time
The complete owner-operator local home service guide to business text messaging.

The Complete Owner-Operator Local Home Service Guide to Business Texting

Communities don’t function without local home service businesses and tradespeople. Plumbers, HVAC techs, contractors, housekeepers, landscapers, and many others represent the army of people who get things done.

But owning and operating a service business takes guts and determination. You do everything from promoting your business to completing the job and making sure everyone gets paid.

And all of that requires a lot of communication.

This is where text messaging with MessageDesk can help.

This guide is all about how tradespeople and anyone who owns or operates a home service business can use MessageDesk to:

  1. Generate more leads with promotional broadcasts
  2. Start more conversations that turn into sales from your website
  3. Text appointment and service reminders to reduce no-shows
  4. Text as a team from a shared messaging inbox
  5. Collect more on-time payments with text-to-pay automation
  6. Get feedback and collect more reviews that lead to business referrals
  7. Retain existing customers with personalized messaging

Read on for more.

Chapter 1

Why Texting is Essential to How Your Service Business Engages with Customers

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Why Text Messaging?

How many times have customers told you “Oh I rarely check my email” or “I never answer my phone these days”?

It's frustrating to hear. Especially when you’re trying to get an invoice paid, ask for an online review or follow up with a service inquiry.

In fact, 58% of customers try to text back after missing a voice call.

Even Apple’s iPhones want people to text instead of answer calls.

So why should your business start texting? Consumers prefer text messaging and texts fill the gap between email and voice.

Texting has some clear advantages because it gives you the best of both worlds. You get more immediate, more efficient messaging and typically higher open and response rates.

In fact, 67% of customers would rather text than talk with a person at a service business. This is especially true for:

  • Updates
  • “On my way” reminders
  • Appointment reminders
  • Billing notices and more

This is where MessageDesk makes it easy for service businesses to text as a team with customers.

Whether it’s using a shared team inbox for 1-on-1 conversations or automating invoice reminders and “thank you for your business” messages - your business can do it all with MessageDesk.

Texting vs. Calling

Phone calls used to be the only way to talk to customers. But today, customers don’t pick up the phone or engage in face-to-face conversations. They’d rather send and receive quick text messages.

This efficiency also applies to businesses. Compared to voice, texting is a more efficient way to send a message to a lot of people.

Customers not only prefer texting, but they also respond better. Around 58% of customers will try to text a phone number back after missing a call from a business.

Suggested Article: Texting vs Calling vs Email | Pros and Cons

Texting vs. Email

Email is the most widely adopted form of communication in the world. Nearly everyone has an email address.

However, emails don’t typically get high engagement rates. Many emails wind up in the trash before they even get opened. Emails usually get around a 20% open rate and about a 6% response rate.

But text messages typically perform better. They get up to a 98% open rate and around a 45% response rate.

This makes texting better suited for things like appointment reminders and billing reminders.

Here’s an example scenario:

If you sent an email to a group of 200 engaged customers you’d get maybe 12 responses (6% response rate). If you sent a text to the same 200, you’d potentially get 90 responses (45% response rate).

1. Stop Calling and Texting From Your Personal Phone Number

Most service business owners start calling and texting customers from their personal cell phone numbers. This is before they look into a business text messaging service like MessageDesk.

And we’ve helped most of them switch to a dedicated business line without any headache.

Let’s be clear: your cell phone isn’t a business (jail) cell

When you use your cell phone for both personal and business communication, it becomes impossible to end your workday.

Imagine getting business phone calls and texts day and night - nonstop.

But with MessageDesk, you can set up text message automation to handle messaging out of office hours. So if a customer calls or texts you outside of your workday they still get immediate (automated) assistance.

Instead, with a business text messaging service like MessageDesk, you’ll text customers as a team from a shared phone line. This keeps your personal life separate from your business reality.

How to switch from your personal cell number to a dedicated business number for texting and calling

The easiest way to make this switch is to text-blast all your contacts from your new business line. This lets everyone know you’ve updated your phone number.

MessageDesk makes this easy with our Broadcast feature. It’s like a group text without reply all or “BCC for texting”. It enables you to message each of your customers instantly in a private fashion.

In fact, if you format your text blast right, you can auto-update your business contact info on your customer's phone.

See how Apple devices will auto-suggest the name of the contact with Maybe: Alan?

2. Text-Enable Your Business Landline

By default, text messaging services like MessageDesk give you a new 10-digit number just for business texting. This works similarly to services like Google Voice, but it comes with more advanced features built specifically for home service businesses.

You can also port in an existing business landline and text-enable it instead. This enables your team to send and receive texts from the same business number that your customers have known for years.

The number-porting process is also quite simple.

Number-porting takes 3-5 business days at most. All you need to do is fill out a letter of authorization. Then MessageDesk works directly with your current phone provider to text-enable your existing business landline.

Learn more about number porting by emailing Josh at josh@messagedesk.com.

3. Promote “Text-Us”

Now that you’ve set up your business line, it’s important to let customers know they can text your business.

You’ve got several ways to accomplish this:

  1. Update business cards and promotional materials
  2. Update your website to say “text or call us”

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Like the design? Feel free to copy our Canva template.

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Like the design? Feel free to copy our Canva template.

As a local business, it’s crucial to have a quick response time to new inquiries. Every second counts since 80% of customers pick the first business to respond.

That’s why business text messaging is the number one way for home service businesses to grow. It reduces your time to reply and makes it easy to acquire and retain customers.

With tools like office-hour automation and automatic reply, you can guarantee each customer inquiry is met with an immediate response.

But SMS isn’t just for the initial response. Here are seven ways you can use MessageDesk to grow your business.

1. Generate Leads with Promotional Broadcasts

Stop worrying about complicated online advertising or paying for local promotion. Instead, leverage group-text without reply-all to share promotions and discounts with your local customers.

As long as your customers were previously opted-in to messaging you’re free to text relevant promotions and targeted deals.

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Once you send out a few promotional messages to your customers try asking them to refer their friends. You can offer additional discounts for anyone who brings you a friend or family member.

It takes a lot of energy to generate leads and perform outreach. This is why there will always be a need for digital marketing and sales reps. Someone has to send emails and make phone calls.

But texting can help automate some of this. It gives you different ways to nurture leads and close deals.

Suggested Article: 5 Reasons Why Text Message Marketing Works for Small Businesses

How to use text messaging for marketing and sales:

  • Nurture leads by texting them links to relevant resources and marketing material as well as pictures, videos, and documents.
  • Send segmented, personalized, promotional messages to groups of contacts.
  • Use clear CTAs that allow customers to take action and move down the sales funnel.
  • Send leads and prospects scheduled, automated, follow-ups for meetings, appraisals, estimates, quotes, and more.
  • Create urgency with text messages that promote a limited-time offer.
  • Get immediate answers and feedback for things like proposals, contracts, and more.

Suggested Article: Guide to Text Messaging for Sales

Marketing and sales text message templates:

Discount Offer:

Hey {{ FirstName }}, thanks for being a great customer! To say thanks, here's a coupon for 15% off your next order [offer].

Promo Offer:

Hey {{ FirstName }}. Book your [service] in July and get $10 off! Reply to this message to redeem your offer! - {{ OrganizationName }}.

Thanks for Joining List:

Hi {{ FirstName }}! Thanks for joining {{ OrganizationName }}’s VIP text list! Get $5 off your next purchase when you show us this text. Expires [date].

Happy Birthday:

Happy birthday {{ FirstName }} from {{ OrganizationName}}! To make today even more we're offering you a 10% discount with your next purchase.

2. Start More Conversations That Lead to Sales from Your Website

How does your website currently convert visitors into customers? Most of the time websites just say “Call us” - which isn’t always that effective.

Instead, add MessageDesk web chat to your website to convert more visitors into customers.

Web chat allows customers to instantly start a text message conversation with your team. It makes it easier for them to get answers to questions and have sales conversations.

With MessageDesk you can fully customize your web chat with company logos and colors.

When a visitor interacts with the chat bot from your website, it automatically sends them a text message. This starts a conversation and makes it easier for you and your team to convert them into a customer.

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3. Text Appointment Reminders to Reduce No-shows and Keep Your Calendar Full

Home service business owners face many day-to-day challenges. Out of everything, many struggle with appointment and service no-shows.

It's frustrating when customers forget about scheduled jobs. Everyone gets surprised when your team shows up on site.

Scheduling text messages and automating your messaging process solves these problems. With MessageDesk you can schedule appointment reminders, event invites, text alerts, and more.

Does your business use a third-party meeting scheduler or meeting scheduling software like Google Calendar, Calendly, or Acuity Scheduling? You can automatically integrate each of these with MessageDesk using our Zapier integration to send SMS reminders.

Suggested Article: Guide to Sending Appointment Reminders: Texts, Phone Calls & Email

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How to use appointment scheduling and reminders:

  • Send invoice reminders to select customers with a link to collect payment immediately or once the job gets done.
  • Sync with a calendaring or appointment scheduling software like Calendly.
  • Copy and paste your scheduling link into a text message template.
  • Once you have your template with a calendar link you can send the template as a scheduled text message.

Appointment scheduling and reminder text message templates:

Appointment Scheduling:

Hi {{ FirstName }}, Are you available next week for the repair of your [project/item]? Here’s my calendar link: [Insert Link Here] — schedule whenever works best for you!

Appointment Reminders:

Hi {{ FirstName }}, this is {{ OrganizationName }} confirming you have an appointment on [date] at [time]. Thanks for scheduling your appointment with us, and if you have any questions please reply. Otherwise, we’ll see you then!

“Hey {{ FirstName }}, just a heads up about your scheduled appointment tomorrow at [time]. See you then! - {{ OrganizationName}}

4. Text-as-a-Team from a Shared Messaging Inbox

Once you have your text messaging strategy dialed in, it's time to bring your team on board.

With MessageDesk, you can invite teammates to your account. This makes it possible for each team member to connect with customers from your business phone line.

Every conversation is viewable by your team. If someone is away or at lunch other employees can jump in and respond to customers on their behalf.

MessageDesk’s powerful team-based features like conversation assignment shared team Inbox, and message templates make it easy to communicate with customers. Each is designed to improve your conversational messaging strategy and customer service.

Conversation assignment

In MessageDesk, conversation assignment lets individual teammates hold separate conversations with your customers from your business phone number.

You can quickly assign or unassign conversations to keep your Inbox organized.

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Inbox custom folders

It’s impossible to make an Inbox that works for everyone. So MessageDesk makes it easy for your team to customize their Inbox folders to their liking.

Need to organize conversations by high and low priority? Or support vs. sales conversations?

No problem - MessageDesk makes it easy to organize your conversations as you see fit.

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Templates

Standardize your team's messaging by pre-saving message templates that can be used by your whole team.

Templates help you avoid costly typos and keep you from having to worry about your employees’ texting etiquette.

Check out our library of free text message templates. Just copy and paste to start texting.

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Text from the (field) office

The most convenient part of text messaging is that you can text from anywhere - on the go or in the office.

But you're probably wondering if that’s still possible when you use a platform like MessageDesk.

The answer is yes. MessageDesk supports texting from any device. This includes computers, tablets, and phones with mobile apps for both iPhone iOS and Android.

How to text as a team:

  • Provide customer support and give your customers the individualized info they need to schedule a service.
  • Share “on-my-way” texts alongside your dispatching.
  • Customers are ready for you on-site when you arrive, saving you and your field technicians time.
  • Send appointment reminders to prevent scheduling and dispatching conflicts and limit no-shows and cancelations.
  • Provide customer service updates and work orders regarding their specific job or project.

Team text message templates:

“On My Way” Message:

Hey {{ FirstName }}. Your tech, {{ UserName}} is on the way and should arrive in 20 minutes. - {{ OrganizationName }}.

Service Updates:

Hey {{ FirstName }}. Your tech, {{ UserName }} completed your service at [time] today. Everything should be good to go. Feel free to get in contact if you have questions. - {{ OrganizationName }}

Hours of Operation Response:

Hey there {{ FirstName }}, thanks for reaching out to {{ OrganizationName }} with your question. Our hours of operation are Monday through Friday 9 am - 5 pm. You can stay in touch with us by responding to this text or give us a call at (XXX-XXX-XXXX).

Location Response:

Hey there {{ FirstName }}, thanks for reaching out to {{ OrganizationName }} with your question. We are located at [organization location].

Support Request Follow Up:

Hey there {{ FirstName }}, thanks for reaching out to {{ OrganizationName }}. We received your request for support and we’re following up.

5. Collect More On-time Payments with Text-to-Pay Automation

Using small business accounting software to manage your estimates, invoices, payments, and receipts?

You can sync MessageDesk’s text-to-pay with both QuickBooks Online and Xero. Then you can start automatically sending invoices and collecting payments at 7, 30, 60, and 90-day intervals.

MessageDesk’s invoicing automation makes it easy to get paid faster and collect past-due invoices.

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How to connect any invoicing app with MessageDesk

With MessageDesk’s Zapier integration you can trigger text message invoices with almost any existing accounting or invoicing software.

Whether it’s adding on support for QuickBooks Estimates or plugging into an entirely different invoicing system - MessageDesk can help you get paid faster.

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Example of a net 30 payment reminder sequence:

  • Day 1: email and text customers a link to their invoice
  • Day 5: text invoice reminder
  • Day 10: text invoice reminder
  • Day 15: text invoice reminder
  • Day 20: email and text link to the invoice
  • Day 30: call customer

Payments text message templates:

Invoice Collection:

Hi {{ FirstName }}, {{ OrganizationName }} thanks for your business! Your balance of {{ InvoiceBalance }} is due on {{ InvoiceDueDate }}. Follow link to pay: {{ InvoicePayLink }}

6. Get Feedback and Collect More Reviews that Lead to Business Referrals

Google reviews and feedback drive a lot of business for service-based businesses. Over 60% of customers check Google reviews before they even visit a business.

Online reviews also have a significant impact on the visibility of your business in regards to Google search results.

But the problem is that the vast majority of consumers leave less than 4 reviews per year. And if your business has a bunch of negative reviews, you’re likely to suffer for it.

So, how do you get more quality online reviews? The key is making the review process as easy and timely as possible for your customers. You can accomplish this by sending a Google review link via SMS after a successful transaction or service job.

How to find your review link

Before you can ask a customer to leave you a review, you’ll need to know where to send them.

For Google reviews, we’ve built a free Google review link generator. You can use this tool to get a special short link to your Google My Business review page.

How to ask for reviews

Now that you’ve got your review link, it’s time to strategize on outreach. In MessageDesk this is easy since we automatically text customers after they complete payment.

But there are additional strategies you can use to ask for Google reviews and more.

With MessageDesk, you can trigger automated messages 7 to 30 days after successful payment.

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All you have to do to start collecting reviews is customize your text message and include your Google review link.

How to use texting for Google reviews, surveys, and polls:

  • To help your chances of getting those 5 stars, you need to make it as easy as possible for your customers.
  • Don’t make your customers go out of their way to leave you a review.
  • 85% of consumers are usually willing to leave a review, but few will actually do it.
  • To make things as easy as possible, send customers a link with clear directions.
  • Tell them exactly how to leave a review or submit feedback in the text message.
  • With a text, all you need is to include your Google Review short link.
  • With the link, your customers can visit your Google My Business page to leave a review.

Suggested Article: The Ultimate Guide to Google Reviews (2021)

Review collection and feedback text message templates:

Google Reviews:

Hi {{ FirstName }}, Thank you for your business! We pride ourselves on great service and it’s your feedback that makes that possible! Take a minute and let us know what you thought! [Insert Google Review Link]

Business Feedback:

Hi {{ FirstName }}. Thanks for using {{ OrganizationName}}. If you have some time, please feel free to leave our team some feedback. Here’s the link to the quick two-question survey: [Insert Link Here] Thanks!

Customer Satisfaction Poll:

Hey {{ First Name }}, On a scale of 1-10 how would you rate your last service from {{ OrganizationName }}? Let us know your thoughts by following this link: [Insert Link Here] Thanks!

7. Retain Existing Customers with Convenient, Personalized and Delightful Messaging

67% of consumers would rather text than talk or email with a business. They want simple, personalized experiences with your business and they want it on their time.

Keep in mind, it’s also far cheaper to retain existing customers than to find new ones. This is where text-based customer service can help.

How to use text messaging for customer service:

  • Use personalization tools like tags to stay on a first-name basis with all of your customers.
  • Customers want you to make things right, regardless of the question or problem they have. Texts can save you and your customer time during this communication process.
  • Automating your responses to frequently asked questions with text message templates improves your customer service process and team productivity.
  • Instead of having to compose the same message response over and over, you can click and send.
  • Customers want issues resolved on their time. The faster you can respond to customer needs the better.
  • Fast response time makes your customers more likely to use your service again and tell their friends about you.
  • Texting helps you take a more proactive approach, helping you send automatic appointment reminders and updates conveniently in a text.
  • Texts allow you to collect customer experience feedback with minimal effort from your customer.

Suggested Article: Guide to Text Messaging for Customer Service

Another easy way to retain customers is to set up scheduled reminders for renewals or next-service dates.

Customers will appreciate you being proactive. You’ll also make it as easy as possible for them to schedule a new service date with you.

Text messaging is the best way to keep your customers informed. It works great for scheduling routine check-ups, next-maintenance dates, or just checking in on past jobs.

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Chapter 4

Bonus: 3 Best Practices For Messaging Customers

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1. Be human and conversational

Whether your business sells B2B or B2C you should be communicating H2H - Human-to-Human. This means interacting with your audience in authentic, human ways.

Being conversational means asking questions, inviting responses, and building relationships with your contacts. Not just sending them one-way messages that ask them for more.

Conversational messaging isn’t just a part of good messaging etiquette. It makes it easier for people to engage with your business and become customers.

2. Be relevant

Business text messaging provides you the ability to text-blast your contacts all at once. This is a powerful but dangerous ability.

The differentiating factor is how relevant your messaging is. If your audience feels like they’re being spammed they’ll simply opt-out of messaging. This makes it impossible for you to reach them again.

Relevant messaging keeps your audience engaged. It also makes it more likely that past customers become repeat customers with messaging that keeps your brand top-of-mind.

So what is relevant messaging?

Ask yourself: does the message you're sending have anything to do with your customer’s needs?

If you’re a home service provider, being relevant means sending messages directly related to your customers' needs. Whether it’s monthly tips to keep maintenance costs low or reminders about upcoming specials that past customers may find interesting.

3. Help, help, ask

This is the mantra we try to live by at MessageDesk. It means try and help your customers and prospects at least 2 times before asking for something in return.

This same mindset applies to your messaging strategy. If all your messages are asking for something - online reviews, special offer redemptions, referrals, appointments - your customers will tune you out.

So try positioning your business as a giver. Helping before asking leads to increased engagement rates.

The best way to “help” is by sending messages related to your community. Are there local events happening? Are nonprofit organizations needing volunteers? Sending non-business messages that are meant to inform rather than sell can help engage your audience in new ways.