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    20 Replies Latest reply on Jan 8, 2009 9:28 AM by LyndaB

    Why can't I find customers?

    PamperedPaws Newbie
      I'm in Pinellas Park, Florida and started my business in July this year. Unfortunately I have not been able to get it off the ground. It's run from my house so the only overhead would be gas for travel and office supplies. I have an area that I would like to serve and am told that it's way too big (all of Pinellas County) but I thought it would be good to start out large and then establish smaller boundaries. Why would I want to turn down a potential customer when I'm just starting merely because they're five miles further? Didn't make sense to me. I joined a petsitting association and they provided me with contracts and the necessary paperwork to cover my backside from a legal standpoint. I have a website, did the leg work, mailed out postcards, posted announcements in restaurants and pet food stores, joined a networking group, got the licensing, etc, but still cannot seem to get my first customer. Does anyone have any suggestions? There's got to be something I'm doing wrong, I just can't figure out what that is; perhaps a fresh eye could figure that out for me. Any assistance you can offer would be greatly appreciated. The website is http://pamperedpaws727.vpweb.com.

      Michelle
      Pampered Paws of Pinellas
        • Re: Why can't I find customers?
          LUCKIEST Guide
          Why can't I find customers, Welcome Michelle

          Start by being positive. Why did you go into this type of business??

          Have you checked out your competition?? How about your prices??

          My best suggestion is to come up with a gimmick, do something special or different. (Have a fund raiser for pets) then contact your local newspaper, get a reporter to write a story. Almost FREE advertising and great exposure.

          Good luck, LUCKIEST
          • Re: Why can't I find customers?
            aamoore Wayfarer
            Hi! I clicked your link, but it goes directly to Vistaprint.com, but when i copied and pasted your site, it goes to the website you specified.

            You have a great day and all the best with your business.

            Ainsworth
            • Re: Why can't I find customers?
              DussaultPR Newbie
              Hi Michelle,

              Searching for "pet sitters pinellas" in Google, It looks like you have quite a bit of competition, so I would compare how you match up price and service wise with your competition.

              If the service fees are two low for your liking, then you will need to differentiate yourself from the competition to justify your higher fees.

              I also suggest that you get your own domain name to promote your service, and search engine optimize your website to get high rankings.

              You can go to https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal to get some keyword ideas, and there's hundreds of sites available that can guide you on how to optimize the website.

              Good luck,
              • Re: Why can't I find customers?
                val_cards Scout
                michelle, Vista Print is cool...why lead us directly there?.what are they paying you for each click? and is that the way it was designed when one pays per CPA ? I don't think that's the right way to do business Michelle. http://www.pottytrainerforpups.com
                  • Re: Why can't I find customers?
                    PamperedPaws Newbie
                    Val, not sure what you mean by "why lead us directly there?" The website address goes directly to my site, not to vista print. Also, what do you mean "are they paying you for each click and is that the way it was designed when one pays per CPA." Sorry, totally don't understand what you're talking about.
                      • Re: Why can't I find customers?
                        BrassJmes Adventurer
                        Hi Michelle
                        There are several ways to get your site into search enginges' first page
                        It's called SEO or SEM (Search Engine Optimization/Marketing)
                        In SEOing you modify your website to index and rank better in search engines (like Google) and using other tools
                        In SEMing you pay to be high up on results (usually using PPC, which stands for Pay Per Click. this service puts your website first for a specific keyword (or other criteria) and charges money whenever a user clicks)
                        Those are the very basic
                        I would suggest getting help regarding this field..

                        Something easy and which doesn't consume too much time that I would suggest, is establishing an online presence through personal pages. Places that build a page for you in a matter of minutes, that are built for SEO and allow you to link back to your website

                        For example, you can search my name (James Brass) on Google and I'm on the first page, on hit number four. It took me less than 10 minutes to set up my profile and in a matter of a bit more than a week I rank highly on Google

                        All in all, I wish you the best of luck

                        Jmes
                        1 of 1 people found this helpful
                        • Re: Why can't I find customers?
                          Iwrite Pioneer
                          What she means is that when we click on the above link it takes us to the Vista Print website. I had to cut and pste the address to get your website.

                          I don't think Vista Print told you the whole truth about how it works, apparently when you offer up a link like you did the user is first routed through the Vista Print website. This is a way to generate clicks for them and evaluate their search status. I have seen a couple of post here like that. You may want to review your contract and contact them about disabling this feature. There is no telling how many visitors you have lost because of this.

                          You can't find customers because they can't find you, not through this link.
                          1 of 1 people found this helpful
                      • Re: Why can't I find customers?
                        logikonline Newbie
                        I am not sure a website is what you should be focusing your money on right now. To be honest, in a recession (a severe one at that) - pet serivces will suffer (especially if not directly tied to health of the pet). I would stop focusing on the website and continue to focus on local efforts (flyers, mailers, maybe cross marketting efforts with vacation rentals). And make sure all Vet offices have your flyers!

                        I saw your rates (and as long as they are competitive) - I would emphasize "drop-ins". You want low impact value added services right now. Make sure your message emphasizes your ability to be flexible.

                        regards,
                        Dave
                        1 of 1 people found this helpful
                        • Re: Why can't I find customers?
                          val_cards Scout
                          Why can't I find folks that want stuff for free just for visiting? http://www.thesaintclub.com
                          • Re: Why can't I find customers?
                            webmss Newbie
                            Hi, Michelle
                            You have a good business and a cute website. I love the orange but you might enlarge the rates and make them clearer. I cannot read them. Also, trying to start a business around the holidays and in a recession will take some time to get established. You might try joining local networking groups and getting out to talk about your business as much as possible. People have to see you and get to know you before leaving their babies in the hands of strangers. Remember, pets are like children to most people.

                            Since 1997 we have provided word processing, data entry, desktop publishing and transcription at very reasonable rates to individuals and businesses throughout the United States.

                            Cindy Freland
                            Maryland Secretarial Services, Inc.
                            www.webmss.com
                            • Re: Why can't I find customers?
                              horsesupplies Newbie
                              I have an idea that worked for a local dog grooming company here on the West Coast. She is a customer of mine as I am in the pet industry as well. http://www.horsesandthings.com

                              She hosted a free bath day - You might start some leads by doing something free to build word of mouth confidence. I have found word of mouth to always be the best for us.

                              I also agree that your website link should go directly to your site - first impressions are very important, and your rates could be more visible and less complicated. I think about your target and that local groomer I told you about targets high end clients as her market and she said the "recession" has not affected her.

                              Another something that comes to mind (as I am a 4-dog owner too), when I look for a sitter, I think about cleanliness and referrals. Your policies on that and who can refer you (your experience) did not jump out at me from your website.

                              So, I wish you all the best - Have fun!
                              • Re: Why can't I find customers?
                                gmcheeseman Newbie
                                I think you should have your own domain name and put short blog posts with certain key words used several times, such as pet sitting. The goal is for your website to pop up when someone is searching for a pet sitter in your area.

                                GoDaddy.com is very affordable to purchase your own domain name. I like Wordpress for blog posts.
                                Gina-Marie Cheeseman
                                • Re: Why can't I find customers?
                                  richmang Wayfarer

                                  yeah your link even looks link an affiliate link, i can't even get to your site clicking or pasting it. Pluse that domain is kinda long and intricate. i like the pamperedpaws but the rest is just too much. And that free pampered paws party is a great idea to your business out there, go to the park talk to people have a conversation.
                                    • Re: Why can't I find customers?
                                      PamperedPaws Newbie
                                      Hmmm, I wasn't aware that when you clicked on the link it went to vistaprint first. I don't use the site as a link in anything but here. It's got to be something just with the Bank of America site because when I click on links in other sites, it goes straight to my page not vista print. I'll keep checking though.

                                      Thanks for the "heads up."
                                        • Re: Why can't I find customers?
                                          webmss Newbie

                                          Yes, it must be something with the link that is in your first message. I was able to type it just as you have it and it took me right to your website.

                                          Since 1997, we have provided word processing, data entry, desktop publishing and transcription at very reasonable rates to businesses and individuals throughout the United States.

                                          Cindy Freland
                                          Maryland Secretarial Services, Inc.
                                          www.webmss.
                                      • Re: Why can't I find customers?
                                        MoneyGuy Adventurer
                                        You are welcome to visit this site for some free tips and techniques
                                        www.keithdavey.info
                                        • Re: Why can't I find customers?
                                          johnnyjoy Wayfarer
                                          Hello
                                          To get more customers do the following because
                                          You have come to the right place at the right time
                                          1 Know your Target Market
                                          2 Set a point-of contact"web content"
                                          3 Create a hook impression on blogs,forum,Social community sites and local news groups
                                          4 Generate your leads
                                          5 Build your Keywords
                                          Would you like to build a successful business?
                                          • Re: Why can't I find customers?
                                            charlesgrayfx Newbie

                                            You have the classic marketing problem. Here are some suggestions:

                                            Define who your customers are - is there a list anywhere? What are their typical concerns and problems? Don't just consider what you intend to provide, go beyond that. Consider all kinds of pet related problems.

                                            Next, you need some bait to lure the customer to you. You could offer some free pet care advice, but I like addressing a problem even better. Is that some threat to the pet population that pet owners should know about? Give them a reason to visit your website.

                                            At the website you need to cature who is visiting. In Internet lingo, you need a capture website (aka gateway, squeeze page). Behind that you need an autoresponder that will (1) provide the promised information and (2) build a list of customers that you will stay in contact with - providing useful tips on pet care.

                                            The capture website (the bread and butter of Internet marketing) requires the visitor to sign up (subscribe) to your email service.

                                            In so far to what free information you provide, just about any book on pet care would be good starting place. Talking with Vets could provide additional helpful information that you can be pretty sure your competition is not providing. The key is staying in touch, but not over doing it. One or two emails a month is probably all you need.

                                            Make sure your website is registered with at least Google: http:/www.google.com/addurl/

                                             


                                            If some of this made sense, then consider taking a free online training course at GrayFoxConsulting.Net. While it is directed to those interested in MLM, the model could easily be used in other businesses.

                                             


                                            Best of luck.

                                             


                                            Gray Fox
                                            • Re: Why can't I find customers?
                                              koz4change Adventurer
                                              PamperedPaws,

                                              The entire county is far too big to be focusing on, even if you only have to drive an extra five minutes. Have you ever heard of a +trade area+? Your trade area is the radius around your business in which all of your business exists. This can be measured in miles or minutes. You have to find where the competition is and create your own trade area, or else business will be tough, (i.e. competition). Think about it, there is a reason that multiple Mcdonald's or multiple BP gas stations are located within miles of each other. The company places another retail site because every time one trade area ends, another one begins. Build a few customers close to home and expand, that would be the best way for your business to grow and your trade area. If you do spend time revamping your website I would recommend http://www.TheBlueKingdom.com for web hosting, great for a small business. Hosting at $3.99 and some good SEO tools for your site.

                                              Good Luck,

                                              koz4change
                                              • Re: Why can't I find customers?
                                                LyndaB Newbie
                                                You obviously do this because you must love animals. But as someone said earlier, we are in a recession. So you might have to work a little harder or go for quality vs. qty when it comes to your advertising. Not sure what your paying for advertising, website, but if it's alot, I agree with someone who mentioned that may not be necessary at this point to spend your money there. You truly provide a "local" service. I would suggest meeting people, door to door if you have to or take your postcards/business cards down to your local grocery store or PETSCO parking lot or in an area you would like to service, where people can meet and build a rapport with you, bring your own well behaved pet. Pets are like children to people, would you trust your child to a stranger, someone you never met before? No, you wouldn't. Think like the consumer. What would it take for you to trust your child or pet with someone. Your answers are there. But I do suggest the one on one for a business like this, for now, then referrals will come.