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Websites and social media are small business necessities

 

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Having a company website and being on social media can make a huge difference for small businesses.

For owners of laundromats and dry cleaners, the obligation to create and manage a website or Twitter account may seem like a lot of extra, unnecessary work. With so much effort being put into launching the business, acquiring customers and improving performance, there is very little time to create an online presence or resources to pay an outside source to manage a website and social media outlets. Many owners figure they can wait until they are more established before taking their business online.

However, it actually makes more sense for a small business to be online as quickly as possible. There are several benefits an Internet presence can bring to an up-and-coming organization, including legitimizing the business in the eyes of the public and improving customer service. Being online is worth the time, resources and effort for small businesses.

Websites and social media accounts are each important but for different reasons.The primary focus of a website is to help customers to learn about the business; social media’s greatest strength is helping a company to get to know its customers. Utilizing both can have a great impact for laundromats and dry cleaners.

Being online brings in business
An owner who doesn’t think a website or social media accounts are worthwhile is not alone. More than half of small businesses don’t have a website, according to Inc. magazine. The reasons for that ambivalence vary among different owners depending on the industry of the business. Some don’t want to spend time updating the site or social media pages instead of doing different work. Others said being online would lead to too many orders, and since they are stretched too thin as is, the company would never be able to meet the demand of the additional sales. While these are real problems, thee positives of being online should outweigh the issues for small business owners.

The earlier a laundromat or dry cleaner can establish itself online, the better chance it has to expand its customer base. As more business is done via the Web, being online isn’t just a luxury, it is a necessity.

Search engines such as Google and review websites like Yelp are often the primary tools people use when looking for a business. Users can find the closest and highest-rated laundromats on their computers or smartphones, and then decide from there where they will go. By not being online, a business is essentially making it harder for customers to locate them, Jim Blasingame, the host of “The Small Business Advocate” radio show, said to Inc.

“You might as well be a ghost,” Blasingame said of small businesses that aren’t on the Web. “The customers and opportunity pass right through you.”

A laundromat or dry cleaner doesn’t need a fancy site with a lot of videos or graphics, nor do it need a high-budget social media strategy to lure in customers. Instead, the business should speak for itself. Letting customers know what services the company provides, where it is located, how much goods and services cost, what hours it is open and other basic information will help customers find the business for themselves.

Social media improves customer service
While a company website speaks to the entire online community, having accounts on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook allows for more personal interactions with customers. It is on social media that a business can showcase more than simple information and give the outside world a better sense of what the company is all about, as well as improve the customer experience.

The greatest asset a social media presence can provide to a small business is that it allows for a two-way conversation between the company and the customers. While a website is traditionally the business informing the public about what it does, and review sites are feedback from customers about the company, Twitter and Facebook allow customers and a company to interact. This can lead to a more personalized experience and gives a business great insight on what its customers look for.

By allowing customers to submit complaints, compliments, questions and anything else they’d like with a guarantee the business will respond, a company can learn more about the people who frequent their stores. Customer service should be a top priority through social media, Entrepreneur magazine explained. Gathering information about what customers like and dislike can help a store improve, and sharing positive feedback from customers can drive more people into a coin-operated laundry or dry cleaning business.

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