Michael Utley: Hey! Welcome, everybody, to the 43rd episode of the Dodgeball Marketing Podcast. Really excited today to introduce a guest, Jeff Wraley. Jeff Wraley is with Groundwork, and they're in Indianapolis. And really, if I had to sum it up, I would say it's about handling leads better and doing a better job of managing one's leads so that one is not wasting time and struggling. So excited to talk to Jeff today. We're going to kind of go through some questions, do our typical Q and A format. And so Jeff, first off, what is Groundwork? What's your mission? Tell us about yourself.
Jeff Wraley: Yeah, first of all, thanks for having me on. Groundwork is a virtual sales system for home improvement contractors. So we facilitate, we allow contractors, and I'm referring to contractors of all different types, to get better information from their prospects, homeowners, in an easy, convenient way.
Jeff Wraley: So instead of the in-person sales appointment, that many are used to, we've provided a way for contractors to get video walkthroughs of projects ahead of that sales appointment so that they're not running around town chasing projects and opportunities that aren't going to end up being a good fit for them. We put a big X on tire-kickers, and really, homeowners find a good way to interact with contractors as well.
Jeff Wraley: We're certainly not the Angie's List type of thing. We're more so providing contractors with a smoother way to manage their lead flow and to give, basically, their homeowners a way to get started with a project in a quick and easy way.
Michael Utley: That's cool. Yeah, it feels like COVID-19 sort of shifted a lot of things permanently. And I think a lot of companies now are saying, "Man, we've got trucks burning up the roads and we really don't need to be out there every time. Sometimes just kind of getting a look and getting a general idea is a lot better and more profitable for us."
Michael Utley: Tell me if I'm right on this, but it sounds like you're kind of positioned for where things are headed with a little bit more interactive use of smartphones and a little bit more FaceTiming, maybe. That sort of thing. So yeah. Am I getting it right about where you all are positioned as a company?
Jeff Wraley: Absolutely. Yeah. It's kind of two trends that we are drafting off of. One is definitely on the homeowner side of things. Homeowners get a package to their door with just about anything that they want in 48 hours. So the immediacy and just the general buying habits and buying behaviors of homeowners, consumers in general, by the way, including business owners of contracting businesses. It's a pretty immediate process.
Jeff Wraley: So when I started the company, I just looked at the way the traditional sales process had gone for contracting in the home improvement space. And that sales process was, "Hey, we'll be out there next Friday," or sometimes even two, three weeks out. And it just doesn't quite compute with the way that homeowners buy just about everything else. So we offer that alternative that not only provides convenience to the homeowner, but definitely provides convenience for the contractor. So that's one thing. Just the way homeowners buy things has changed and that informs a lot of what we do and how we designed the product.
Jeff Wraley: But as you mentioned, COVID-19 has made a lot of contractors really reevaluate how they're running their business and how technology can bring efficiency into their business. We got this going before Covid, but when that happened it was kind of just wind in our sails, right? It's a lot easier to get some of these old-school contracting outfits to say, "Oh wow. Yeah, I could do it a little differently." And so there's a lot of realization that's happened in the process of kind of just navigating the last 12, 18 months.
Michael Utley: Yeah, that's tremendous. It feels like, and this takes ut to our next question. I'm kind of looking at my notes here. What do companies forget when it comes to customer experience? It feels like you're focusing on not just your customer's experience, but their customer's experience. So it seems like you're thinking a lot about the customer and the value, the sort of chain of value creation, and how it's going to affect these different audiences. But what are some of the things that have sort of been highlighted? I mean, one of them right there is just that immediacy, but also just the "don't make me wait, just come and tell me some information." But where does Groundwork and sort of customer service intersect?
Jeff Wraley: Yeah, I think there's a book called They Ask, You Answer written by Mark Sheridan. It's really just a play on really what it says. They asked, you answer. What does your end customer want? And our approach has been to provide contractors with a way to provide some answers and provide that collaboration much quicker than the previous process. So that's one interesting aspect we've run up against and kind of realized as we've gone through this, is if you can be the answer points, the guide, the Sherpa on the journey for your end customer, then you're in a really, really good spot. And a lot of times take that doesn't take lots of time to just provide some information. You start to be that guide. You could do it with digital content. You can do it with a tool like we have, provide a little more granular feedback. But when you get that approach to helping to become a guide, that can be really powerful.
Jeff Wraley: The other thing that I'll mention here is just consistency in the experience. We have seen that contractors don't have a process in their sales process. It's willy-nilly. You're not telling somebody what's coming next. When you create those gaps in the process and there's communication gaps, that creates a trust gap. And you're really fighting uphill once you get to that point. So those are a couple of things that from a customer experience perspective.
Jeff Wraley: We see a lot of that with digital products, in that world from like an Apple, Tesla perspective, when service businesses are just the same, the buyers are the same. And I think matching those digital experiences and the kind of consumer brand experiences with the service side of the business and that business model is just making a whole lot of sense.
Michael Utley: That's good. Yeah. That the sales process starts, or the customer service experience starts before the deal is closed. So before someone actually becomes a customer, they're already building an impression. And they may not have a better option on who they're choosing as a service provider. So they're sort of chalking it up to, "Ah, this is not looking good," or "Oh, I'm nervous about this." And all of that insecurity from the sales process being rough bleeds into, and is probably accurately assumed to also be the case during the service delivery.
Michael Utley: So yeah. Tightening up the sales process is good discipline across the board for creating a better experience and maintaining trust before someone becomes a customer. That's really good. Next step. How have you seen digital marketing come together with in-person service? So that's kind of interesting, and you all are very digitally oriented. So the worlds of digital and customer service, how have those intersected for you all?
Jeff Wraley: Yeah. So what we have seen contractors do very well, and really some of the things we've worked into our product is building authenticity in your content on the digital collaboration side. We work a lot from the digital process of getting a lead in the door, qualified, and start that collaboration process. If you do that well, in an authentic way, then you are very well positioned to close that deal at a higher rate in the in-person side of things.
Jeff Wraley: So we preach that if you do your work on the digital side, your job on the in-person side is a whole lot easier. That can go for a lot of different types of businesses, but that's definitely something we see. I think there's ways that I've seen that done well in personalized messaging. I mean, some of it can be automated, but we'd like to see things that aren't necessarily automated, or at least good at effort at, very simply, putting a picture in an email signature. Like that's a very, very simple thing to do, but it puts your face. It provides some personality to the experience so that when that digital experience turns into an in-person experience, there's continuity there.
Michael Utley: That's great. Yeah. We've been getting good results with a website where we just have a modal that pops up that just says, "Hey, talk to Jay. Jay is your guy and he's ready to talk. And here's the number.' And so it's interesting, the conversations that that client of ours has received, someone will call in and say, "Yeah, I just thought Jay just seems like a real guy, and I can just talk to him." It's not some wall of customer service that I have to get through to get to somebody who really knows something, but Jay is very knowledgeable and knows their industry inside and out. And so he can speak to anything they want to talk about and immediately be that Yoda, that trusted advisor, on that customer's own hero's journey right off the bat.
Michael Utley: So that's a continuity for them from their digital all the way over to the in-person, and to the service delivery, that we've seen work out exactly like you just described. Yeah. So here's a kind of crazy question. But what's been one of your biggest surprises from digital marketing, or even just kind of working in the digital space overall?
Jeff Wraley: Yeah. So an interesting story from just yesterday. We had a prospect reach out to us and one of my guys was talking to him. He said, "I searched YouTube and you all don't have anything on YouTube yet." I was like, "You know what? We don't have anything on YouTube yet. We need to fix it." You know? So we are a young company, certainly not masters and all in all channels quite yet.
Jeff Wraley: But I think my experience from that is people search for it. There's so much of the buying process that happens before that first contact, right? The Google machine is a very powerful thing, right? And, yes, that includes YouTube. That includes all social channels. I mean, there's a whole universe. You can't necessarily play well in all of them, but if you figure out how your buyers are looking for you, you need to be there. Because they are looking for you and you need to figure out the answer to that question. How are people searching for you? And you need to be there.
Jeff Wraley: So even for us as a software company, you might say, "Oh, you sell services to contractors, and those guys are all crusty, whatever else." And that's not the case. It's a big, big misnomer about the trades industry [that it] is just [about] the old school nature. I mean, there's a stat out there that all Baby Boomers will be age 60 by 2025. So the picture of the crusty, old-school contractor is changing incredibly fast. So for us, and for many, many other small businesses that we sell to, and just other general service local businesses, people are searching for you. And the more you can show up and provide that just one more touch of trust, the better.
Michael Utley: That's good. Yeah. A lot of our clients are younger than Boomers, but what we've been surprised by is the adoption of technologies. So we do a lot of work in the healthcare industry, and something that I'll tell our healthcare clients when we start with them is, "Listen, we work a lot with commercial painters, residential painters, landscapers, roofers, and these people are better at marketing than you." That's always shocking to them, and I've had times when they kind of pushed back from the table a little bit.
Michael Utley: But what I've learned is the ones who respond and say, "Really? Tell me more about that." They're humble, and they're able to learn. So I'm able to tell them, "Yeah, these contractors have a very live-or-die relationship with their marketing. And so they're very aware and very in tune and, frankly, working in a little bit more of a direct way with both the analytics, the opportunities, everything about digital marketing, or just the digital space in general. They're very in tune with it in a way that people who are maybe a little bit more educated or have MBAs, they tend to overthink some things and not have really a visceral connection with what's happening that would sharpen their wits and make them more aware and appreciative of detail." So, yeah, I found the trades folks to be the ones to follow in that way.
Jeff Wraley: One of the other things that has surprised me about the trades folks in general, many more of them than anybody realizes have a digital marketer, if not a full-time videographer photographer on staff.
Michael Utley: That's amazing.
Jeff Wraley: There are many that do, and they are investing. And if not, they have a third party that's doing it for them. They are on it. There's a lot of contractors that are very focused on that world because they have started to realize that if I'm not doing that, I don't get the customers, that I don't get the lead flow. And if I do get the lead flow, it's not the kind of lead flow that I want. So there's some qualifications and some marketing stuff, that full muscle for marketing in the trades is stronger than many, many people realize. And that plays to a lot of different trends in the market.
Jeff Wraley: You know, I think there's going to be a big shift to reliance on third-party resources for lead gen and outsource marketing, like Angie's List and some of those marketplaces. I think a lot of that's shifting back to these business owners who are figuring it out. They're saying, "Hey, I can do this." Whether it's help of a third-party marketing agency type of deal, or whether they in-house some of it, there's some easy ways to get started there that I'm seeing a lot of contractors start to pay attention to.
Michael Utley: Yeah. Yeah. It's surprising to me how you do think. It's like, "There's a truck and then there's a ladder and they pull up and all this." It's like, "No, no. There is a marketing engine. You're watching a marketing show." The service delivery is just them cashing in on what they've built, and doing the service delivery. But they really do.
Michael Utley: Yeah. And then let's switch to this. So last question for the day. We'll wrap up with this. What marketing tools do you like or recommend? Or just broadly, what are some things you've seen lately that you want to share with folks out there who are interested in marketing?
Jeff Wraley: Yeah. So I'll throw in a little bit, I don't know if this is quite an answer to your question, but hopefully, we can roll with it here. I think a killer copywriter, or at least the tool of taking some time, if you have the skills, to write good copy yourself or inform good copy for your marketing friends or marketing department. That is a tool in the tool belt that many people don't have. But the efficiency of words, if you can get your value prop, if you can get your customer thinking the right thing with the header one of your website, or with a quippy social post. That is a tool that serves any type of business well, is to just focus on not paragraphs, but short sentences that really land with your customers. I mean, I think it's overlooked.
Jeff Wraley: The other thing I'll say is that anything that you can do to provide convenience to your end customer, and make them take action and get engaged in their own buying process, which is a lot what we do, that is usually a win. If they're taking steps forward and they're associating that progress with your company, it's a good thing, just like you mentioned Jay on the website. I'm not a big fan. I've seen websites with the stock image with a guy with a headset on, and it's just like, "That's not a real person." Right?
Jeff Wraley: You know, as long as it's authentic and really lands, it feels good to the customer. I think those things can be really effective to bring somebody along the buying journey, help make them feel like they got something done, and that they're moving forward, and that they're a part of it.
Michael Utley: That's right. Yeah. That's good. I often tell people that the biggest, most important thing about an incoming lead, either phone or form, is as soon as they talk to a human and they feel like someone's in that role of, "This is my person. I'm dealing with a person now. I'm not on the internet searching for opportunities, but I'm interacting with a human and I'm building relationships." Suddenly they don't want three or four of those. They just want to stick with that one and let it go all the way through or not. But it gets them out of that hunting mode across the landscape.
Jeff Wraley: Absolutely.
Michael Utley: And so being authentic and personal kind of makes that connection, and gets that connection started before the contact's even made.
Jeff Wraley: Yeah. And one more thing to add in there is video. We're a video-heavy platform, and even just taking a selfie-style video. Like, let's say you've got the basic of basic form fill on your website, whatever type of business. How difficult is it to take a video of you as the business owner, just selfie-style, say, "Hey, thanks for filling this out. Here's what's going to happen next. Appreciate you showing some interest in what we do. And when we look forward to the potential to helping you."
Michael Utley: Yeah, that's tremendous.
Jeff Wraley: You can put that on the success page. Why not? That is the beginning of what you said of like, "Hey, I'm dealing with a real person." And even if that's not, "Who gives a callback," or whatever. It's such a unique touch and it's so flipping easy to do, and it really works with probably any type of business out there, at least in the small business service side.
Michael Utley: Yeah. That's tremendous. Yeah. We're big fans of video, so I think that's a great recommendation. I appreciate that. Jeff, this has been awesome. How can people find you? Hello Groundwork? Is it hellogroundwork.com?
Jeff Wraley: Yep. That's right. hellogroundwork.com and all the social stuff is Hello Groundwork. So yeah. Give us a follow and all of our contact stuff is on the site. If you go to the site, you can actually do a self-guided demo. It's kind of practicing what we preach a little bit. You know, you can get started, see what it looks like yourself. It's interesting. Give us a shout, and yeah, happy to chat marketing, sales with anybody who would like.
Michael Utley: Tremendous. And yeah, if we hear of anybody or anybody messages us, we'll get that handed off to you as well. And Jeff, thank you. Have a great Friday, and a good weekend, and stay safe. We're really glad we got to spend time with you today. Thank you.
Jeff Wraley: Yep. Thank you for having me.
Michael Utley: Excellent.