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Websites

  • 1.  Websites

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 07-10-2019 10:53
    Increasingly I've been having issues with the digital drama department with my business.  As things change with providers so must I and the process to keep up with those changes, be it software or administrative changes.

    In my case the website is simply eye candy.  I don't book online or take comments with my website.  It's simply a place holder to substantiate my business as being, for some, a viable source of service.  As I get closer to sitting in a chair with a beer and watching the sun go across the sky all day, I'm finding the idea of spending the monthly fee to appease the needs of the few less and less important.  I had a website long before anyone else did but now some 30 years later I'm ready to close that olde dog down.  Have any of you closed your websites for lack of productivity or other reasons?

    ------------------------------
    Larry Fisher
    Owner, Chief Grunt, Head Hosehead
    Vancouver WA
    503-310-6965
    Working the gravy zone for the rest of my days.
    ------------------------------


  • 2.  RE: Websites

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 07-10-2019 13:35
    Never set up one in the first place.

    In the end, it comes down to figuring out whether you want more work or less work. I find word of mouth works the best, and it's free.

    That might be a topic of a convention class some day: how to ease into semi-retirement gracefully with the least bother to both the piano tech and the clients.

    ------------------------------
    Susan Kline
    Philomath, Oregon
    ------------------------------



  • 3.  RE: Websites

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 07-10-2019 16:21
    I think it depends on the size of one's community. In really large communities a site is likely to get lost in the noise, in small communities everyone knows each other anyway. In a medium size, like mine, with just a handful of technicians, it's easy to get on page one on the search engines and get listed on the first page of directories.
    Most of my new customers have found me online, either my site or one of the directories. It seems to be the first place people look these days, I don't miss paying $140/month to the yellow pages for a one inch ad.
    (my site is static, has contact information but no calendar, appointment set up or anything like that.)

    ------------------------------
    Steven Rosenthal
    Honolulu HI
    808-521-7129
    ------------------------------



  • 4.  RE: Websites

    Posted 07-11-2019 19:16
    So here's the ironic thing about Susan never having a website. I did a Google search and her name and information came up from several sites. She has a 5 star Google review, although it says she is permanently closed. What I take away from this is that for Larry it's probably going to be impossible to NOT be on the web, even if you cancel your website. You're out there and there's kinda no going back. So I say, if you want to slow down a bit and you're looking at retirement just cancel your website and take the business that comes from other web sources.

    ------------------------------
    "That Tuning Guy"
    Scott Kerns
    www.thattuningguy.com
    Tunic OnlyPure, TuneLab & PianoMeter user
    ------------------------------



  • 5.  RE: Websites

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 07-10-2019 21:28
    Hello Larry,

    I hope to provide a bit of a different perspective than what I think you're looking for, but hopefully it will be of some benefit to someone.

    My observations are: Nobody uses the phone book anymore. Waste of money. (This could just be my area, but I don't think so.) Word is mouth is good, but requires a large client base to work on its own. That, or a very small community.

    Coming to websites: All businesses are expected to have a website these days. Either have one or people will assume you are retired or almost retired.

    My observation has been that 3/4 of small business websites are ineffective. They can be super beautiful or cleaver, but the message is so confusing that the website is ineffective.

    The best guide that I’ve found to building an effective website is Don Miller's book Building a StoryBrand. Tim Barnes turned me onto this, and it does not disappoint.

    Hopefully I'll have time to add more later. Best to everyone,

    ------------------------------
    Benjamin Sanchez, RPT
    Piano Technician / Artisan
    (805)315-8050
    www.professional-piano-services.com
    ------------------------------



  • 6.  RE: Websites

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 07-10-2019 23:23
    While I basically agree with Benjamin, I think I get more calls from people who found me on the review sites than contacted me directly from my website even though they sit right next to each other on the search engines. Sites such as Yelp have a lot of credibility.

    By review sites I mean Yelp, Angies List, Google reviews etc. One doesn't need to have a website to get reviewed by those sites, you do need an email address in order to get a (free) business account business account with them. If you have a gmail or Chrome account then you already have a Google account.

    There is no charge for the referrals. These all basically give free advertising, if you have an account you can provide extensive information about yourself including pictures and you can update them as often as you want. And these sites are generally on page one of the search engines (actually competing for space with your website). So one can have a significant presence on the search engines without having their own website, they are a good way to direct people (and search engines) to your own site as well.

    Of course one has to get good reviews...

    There are also non-review directory sites, these are useful be cause the more places your web address shows up on the internet the higher the search engines will rank your website if you have one. These could include local municipal business directories or music centric ones like pianoacoustics.com. Actually, if one googles themself (name + piano tuner) they are likely already on several directories such as yellowpages.com

    If you don't have a website, these are good places to start one's web presence.

    ------------------------------
    Steven Rosenthal
    Honolulu HI
    808-521-7129
    ------------------------------



  • 7.  RE: Websites

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 07-10-2019 23:52
    Hi Steven,

    I completely agree with you. Reviews are paramount! It's the stories that people tell about you that either make or break you. That's part of why the internet is such a powerful tool. In a way, though not exactly, it's like word-of-mouth 2.0.

    My other thought is this. SEO is sooo overrated. By that I mean this: so many people focus and focus and focus on SEO and neglect the content of their website. Even if your website gets the most clicks per month, it won't make a difference if the site is so confusing that it doesn't sell stuff. IMO it's far better to invest in a clear message (from the customer's viewpoint, not your own) than to pour thousands of dollars into SEO.

    These are just my opinions, of course; they're not set in stone, nor are they infallible. But, they are based on observations from the millennial (computer geek generation) perspective. (Ugh, I really hate having to admit that I'm a millennial....)

    ------------------------------
    Benjamin Sanchez, RPT
    Piano Technician / Artisan
    (805)315-8050
    www.professional-piano-services.com
    ------------------------------



  • 8.  RE: Websites

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 07-11-2019 01:19
    Benjamin, lol, the world wide web covers all 196 million square miles of the earth, most of us are trying to take care of pianos within 1or 200 square miles. Most of us would also be happy with 4 or 5 new customers a week. Our hyper local interests are at odds with the internet ethos and SEO consultants have a hard time understanding this. I've never spent any money trying to promote my site. The list of piano technicians on the review sites all fit on the first page so buying ad space from them isn't of value either. I haven't found the metrics of much use either, 90% of the hits my site gets are from web crawlers, bots, etc., I really don't care if someone notices my site in South Korea and I don't aspire to sell a million widgets a day.
    Like you say, an informative site and very specific keywords are the important things.

    ------------------------------
    Steven Rosenthal
    Honolulu HI
    808-521-7129
    ------------------------------



  • 9.  RE: Websites

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 07-11-2019 12:11
    I know, LOL. But I also know of small business owners (both in our field and otherwise) who've invested thousands of dollars a year into their SEO. Most of the time this is money paid to someone they've never met in person. WASTE OF TIME AND MONEY, especially because the actual results are very small compared to the investment.

    The only thing related to websites that I think is worth paying for are Google AdWords. For me they tend to yield a new paying customer once every $7-9 or so. Much cheaper than most other forms of advertising. YMMV, of course.

    ------------------------------
    Benjamin Sanchez, RPT
    Piano Technician / Artisan
    (805)315-8050
    www.professional-piano-services.com
    ------------------------------



  • 10.  RE: Websites

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 07-11-2019 19:08
    Like Mr. Fisher my web site is really just a business card online. I don't really expect it to drive tuning traffic. The reason I have it is to keep from changing my email address every time my ISP changes. There was a time back in the early aughts when it seemed like my ISP was bought, sold or taken over every second week. Each time they turned over I had to start using a new email handle which meant new business cards as well. G mail hadn't really taken off yet so I got myself a domain name and I've kept the same email address for the past 18 years. It'd have to get really expensive for me to want to take it offline at this point.

    ------------------------------
    Karl Roeder
    Pompano Beach FL
    ------------------------------



  • 11.  RE: Websites

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 07-11-2019 22:38
    Karl makes a good point that I overlooked. Stability and security of one's email address. The "free" email providers do change over time and are bigger targets to attack. Yahoo got hacked for 60 million account passwords a few years ago. Also, the reason gmail et.al. are free is because they are surveilling you and selling the data, not reading one's mail but logging your online and email behavior. One has a certain degree of sovereignty by having an email addressed through their own domain.

    ------------------------------
    Steven Rosenthal
    Honolulu HI
    808-521-7129
    ------------------------------



  • 12.  RE: Websites

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 07-12-2019 09:13
    My ISP is local. Its first clients were university people. Peak.org is named for Marys Peak, the largest molehill in the coast range, just west of Philomath. It has a real local office, complete with 24/7 technical help, real live ones right there in the office.

    Once in awhile something goes wrong and it's down for a little while, at most a couple of hours, but it isn't all that frequent. I've had the same email address since I signed up with it, many years ago. I also had had email addresses change twice in a couple of years, one of them taking out a batch of business cards. After that I got cards without the email address, which I sometimes write in by hand.

    Interesting what came up on the web about me. I haven't officially "permanently closed" anything, but it's all right if that somehow spontaneously appeared out there. I prefer local clients who found me by word of mouth. If they had to work at it a little bit, that really is also okay. I have started sending a few nondescript tunings (new clients, modest pianos usually long untuned) to my assistant, who used to be my trainee. I really should find some way to send him a few grands, but he has been protecting me from battered spinets tuned 30 years ago quite well. He gets the experience and a little side income, the public get their needs met without a long wait, and I am saved from some overwork. Luckily he's good at it and likes doing it.

    ------------------------------
    Susan Kline
    Philomath, Oregon
    ------------------------------



  • 13.  RE: Websites

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 07-11-2019 23:43
    I used to do web design for a high profile concert promoter. So, when I quit to go into piano technology I naturally designed and built my own site. Like Karl, my site exists mostly because I have a business domain name for email, so why not? Like Karl, the benefit of owning your own domain name means that if your ISP shuts down, or you learn to hate them, you can move everything without it affecting either your email addresses or your website address. Since I don't have to pay a monthly fee to a web design company for maintenance and hosting service, the couple of bucks a month it costs to maintain my hosting service and domain name make it a negligible expense.

    When I first started out in this business I signed up for Google Ad-Words. It took less than a year for me to learn that because of the market I'm in, the competition for placement was making it prohibitively expensive for the number of click-through's I was getting vs the number on calls. Also, it was bringing in the wrong clientele, so I shut it down as much as Google will let you. Which means you are stuck with the account, and the contact information it will display online, for life no matter how much you attempt to destroy it. Same thing goes for Yelp!, so don't sign up unless you are planning to marry the arrangement. After a year of Yellow Pages ads with not a single call, the Yellow Pages salesperson told me, (in confidence), that the Yellow Pages are not where you want to be to garner new business. The Yellow Pages are for people that already know you but have forgotten how to find you. He knew he was losing a sale but he new that he had made a customer happy.

    My website does not have the ability to schedule a tuning. In fact, by design, my website doesn't even have my email address. My phone number is prominent on every page, however. People that make first contact with me via email are generally customers I do not want. Likewise, no, even more so, people that attempt first contact with me via text. If a customer is serious they will call so we can discuss their needs and my services. Because of this, I rarely get price shoppers contacting me. Almost everyone who calls also schedules a tuning. I guess I'm doing something right because almost everyone who does call has gotten my name from one of my existing customers. I get a couple a month from my website, and one or two every couple of months from the PTG directory.

    The information on my website is there for easy reference more than anything else. If a potential customer has taken the time to actually go through my website they already know how much I charge, what my service area is and what services I offer. By design this turns away most looky-lu's and bargain hunters and encourages those serious enough to make the call. I'm as busy as I want to be with a customer base that is within easy driving distance and that have pianos that they love and want to maintain. They are almost all very likable people, too and never question a rate increase.

    I guess my point is that if you are doing good, honest work, developing a rapport with your customers and keeping them satisfied you will not be wanting for new customers whether you have a website of not.

    ------------------------------
    Geoff Sykes, RPT
    Los Angeles CA
    ------------------------------



  • 14.  RE: Websites

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 07-12-2019 07:39
    This comment may not really apply, but I feel I have to add: I get business from the PTG website. Not a lot, but  since the only other RPT in our medium size college town is way busier than I am, I often get the work that comes from PTG referrals.

    ------------------------------
    Cindy Strehlow
    Urbana, IL
    ------------------------------



  • 15.  RE: Websites

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 07-12-2019 10:16
    Thanks all.  Like Cindy stated, I get most of my internet traffic from the PTG website, not mine.  I think one new customer admitted using a phone book in the last two years, maybe three.  I don't even get a phone book any more.

    I have my own domain but it doesn't expire until 2023 according to WHOIS.COM.  I'd certainly like to change providers and I'm looking into that although I'm not that driven to do so just yet for numerous reasons.  Bottom line, in the next year or two, I'm hoping to eliminate about half of the digital drama in my life.  I have weak cell service at this location and will be investing in a signal booster to rid myself of the twisted pair.  (cell service is brand V and the twisted pair hard wire service is CL)  Once I accomplish that I'll be closer to closing down the current website and living a less complicated life.  YES!!!

    The big lesson I'm learning here is how connected I've become and how involved it is to slowly close or redirect these connections.  I feel like I'm putting out one final digitally repulsive effort to cut my connections or at least redirect them securely for the rest of my days.

    The concept of moving my domain to a different provider will be looked into although I've been informed that that isn't possible.  One of you I think indicated that owning the domain makes it possible to move it to a different provider.  I'm all ears  (inherently by profession by the way, duh-oh duhr).

    ------------------------------
    Larry Fisher
    Owner, Chief Grunt, Head Hosehead
    Vancouver WA
    503-310-6965
    Working the gravy zone for the rest of my days.
    ------------------------------



  • 16.  RE: Websites

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 07-12-2019 11:59
    Larry --

    Changing your ISP and moving your website is actually quite easy.

    When you create a domain name you are basically taking ownership of an IP address. An IP address looks something like this: ###.###.#.#. Consider it your internet name. And like you, and your name, you can move wherever you want to but your name will stay the same. Look up your name and you can find where you live.

    Think of the internet as a world wide contacts list, or phonebook. ​That phonebook is called the Domain Name Service, or DNS. You want to go to someones website so you type in the website address, as a name. JoeBlowsWebsite.com. Your browser then goes to the DNS to find JoeBlowsWebsite.com and gets the IP address for that website and then the DNS provides the ISP server address of that website and takes you there.

    When you move a website, just like moving from one home to another, there are only a couple of things you need to do.

    * Find a new ISP where you would like that website to live, and buy space on it. (buy a new home).
    * Back-up the existing website onto your personal computer at home, (pack up all your belongings in your current home).
    * Copy your website from the back-up you made on to your new ISP space, (unpack all your belongings into your new home).
    * Inform the DNS registry, (the organization that controls where your IP address points), that your hosting service address has changed and provide them with your new address. (update your phone book listing)
    * Done.
    Your website name has not changed so to the world nothing has changed. The DNS has simply reconfigured your IP address to point to your new ISP hosting servers.

    Your new ISP will happily walk you through the process, and if it's a decent service provider they may even just do the work for you.

    The only time moving your website may not be possible is if you have purchased your website and it's design from a company that then maintains it and makes updates you request. They likely own the servers it is being hosted on and would also own the website design, and the code that builds it, thus preventing you from moving it.

    Hope this helps.

    Edit: I meant to add that no matter how your website is hosted, you own the name. If the hosting service is preventing you from moving the site you can still point your website address, (the IP address), to another hosting service, but you may have to rebuild the site itself.


    ------------------------------
    Geoff Sykes, RPT
    Los Angeles CA
    ------------------------------



  • 17.  RE: Websites

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 07-13-2019 18:36
    Tnx Geoff.  I'll be visiting with the brick and mortar store soon about all this and so I'll be printing this msg out minus your personal info.

    As for telemarketers  ......  yeah I don't answer most calls.  Area code 253 comes to mind along with a prefix that starts with the number one.  The number of garbage calls has reduced dramatically recently as a result of not answering the phone.  Customers that need me with in the hour or need to have answers immediately are just plain out of luck.  Oh well.  Like the bumper sticker says, "I'm retired, go around".

    Regarding changing the email response button/info with everyone, that'll take some time to remember them all.  Over the next year I'll be making these changes  ....  it doesn't happen as fast as going 6 feet down.  It's a privilege to be on the grassy side of things  .....   or so I'm told.

    ------------------------------
    Larry Fisher
    Owner, Chief Grunt, Head Hosehead
    Vancouver WA
    503-310-6965
    Working the gravy zone for the rest of my days.
    ------------------------------



  • 18.  RE: Websites

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 07-12-2019 12:11
    Larry, to me the moral of your tale is to never, ever do anything remotely encouraging to Google, Yelp, or any of the big web names.

    They will not remove anything and they'll nag you to death to pay for more. I was nagged by multiple robocalls every day talking about needing to buy ads to keep from losing my Google account. Clicking on 2 (don't want to receive these calls) doubled the number of the calls (a live person lives here.) I finally clicked on 1 to talk with a real person, and I'm afraid I scorched her ears, all about how I have NO Google account -- no, she said, Google automatically makes accounts for everyone! I told her if they'd asked to make an account for me I'd have refused, take me off the list.  It lasted for months and months, finally seems gone now. In a better world, there would be a way to claim harassment and demand compensation -- but for now and the foreseeable future, these companies are answerable to no one and controllable by nobody.

    ------------------------------
    Susan Kline
    Philomath, Oregon
    ------------------------------



  • 19.  RE: Websites

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 07-12-2019 13:02
    I once called Google and asked them to stop calling me to buy AdWords. The rep I talked to was very clear: Google does NOT call anyone!!! Google might send you an occasional email, but they will never call. I tested this out by talking to the next "Google" telemarketer that called. I pressed and pressed for the company he worked for, and he finally admitted that it wasn't Google! I then told them to stop calling me or else I'd tell Google that they were calling in Google's name, without their permission. Funny thing, I never got another call from that company.

    Also, all smartphones have the ability to block numbers without having to go through the phone company. I have over 100 telemarketing numbers blocked, so very rarely do I get any telemarketing calls anymore....

    ------------------------------
    Benjamin Sanchez, RPT
    Piano Technician / Artisan
    (805)315-8050
    www.professional-piano-services.com
    ------------------------------



  • 20.  RE: Websites

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 07-12-2019 13:28
    Forget about blocking numbers, unless you're blocking someone you know. Every telemarketing call you get will come from a different spoofed number. Eventually you will have thousands of them and the calls will keep coming. The trick is to just stop answering the phone entirely unless it's a name or number you recognize. Telemarketers will not leave a message. Your friends, and the people that want your services will. And if you do make the mistake of answering a call NEVER push any number. That just tells them they have reached a live phone and the calls will just increase. And NEVER EVER say the word "yes" in response to anything the caller says. They are known to edit the recordings of those calls to show that you said yes to an offer that you may not have. They won't give up. There's currently no way to make them stop. The only way to win is to stop playing their game. Don't answer calls. Return them.

    ------------------------------
    Geoff Sykes, RPT
    Los Angeles CA
    ------------------------------



  • 21.  RE: Websites

    Posted 07-12-2019 14:02
    I don't think I've answered the phone  since about 2007!  to a number I don't recognize, my  family /friends and piano contacts are all named on the screen and these  are  the ONLY  calls  I pick up I prefer to have my scheduling book with me and accessible  when I return service calls, I have ignored all Yelp/ Google/Angies List calls...........martin
    www.snowpianos.com

    ------------------------------
    Martin Snow
    South Burlington VT
    617-543-1030
    ------------------------------



  • 22.  RE: Websites

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 07-12-2019 21:22
    Somewhere I remember reading that companies that answer the phone and don't screen calls do 15% or so more business than those who screen calls. The only thing is, that requires a secretary. Or stopping what you're doing at every ding of the phone....

    ------------------------------
    Benjamin Sanchez, RPT
    Piano Technician / Artisan
    (805)315-8050
    www.professional-piano-services.com
    ------------------------------



  • 23.  RE: Websites

    Posted 07-14-2019 16:20
    Hi Ben,
    Thanks for the Book suggestion. Quick question, Were you trying to be Obi Wan Knabe (the guide) with "Enjoy the piano like never before?"  To me it sounds like you're still trying to be the Hero.  Not trying to be critical, just analytical. Especially important if you are trying to tap into the books philosophy.
    I've been playing with it a little bit, check out my new website and let me know what you think.  I just switched from wordpress to a free templates of weebly through Hostgator.
    Wordpress has just gotten a little too complex as time went on and is not very user friendly imho, especially after not managing it for a few months. I wanted to go simple in message (with a touch of humor) and so right now i just have a landing page and nothing else. Sometimes simple is best.
    -Thanks Ben.

    ------------------------------
    Troubles are Bubbles, and they just float away.
    chernobieffpiano.com
    grandpianoman@protonmail.com
    Knoxville, TN
    865-986-7720
    ------------------------------



  • 24.  RE: Websites

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 07-14-2019 19:19
    Hi Chris,

    No offense taken. That book is so deep I don't pretend to have fully implemented it yet. What you see now is the third refinement, I think.

    "Enjoy your piano like never before" actually came about from a brainstorming session because of one of the webinars Don Miller did, and the material is covered in Chapter 12, Building a Better Website. It's what he calls "having an offer above the fold," referring to newspapers. What you see on the front cover is what convinces you to read further; same idea here. That's what I feel my clients want when they call me, so that's what I put as the first thing you see on my website.

    For those who haven't read the book yet, being the guide refers to making the story about your clients. The guide's role is helping the hero overcome something, not taking over the story. A good example of this is my current about page. I spent over four hours trying to word it so that it established my authority without making me the hero. Beforehand the page was all about me and why I'm the hero they've been waiting for; now the goal is that it's about them and what I can do for them, while simultaneously establishing my ability (authority) to help them.

    I want to make one thing clear here: I have not arrived! Nothing is set in stone. I'm planning to go though the book again in a few weeks and try to implement more. I doubt I'll ever truly "arrive," but I'll keep reaching.

    Again, I highly recommend the book Building a StoryBrand by Don Miller. There is so much there, there's no way I could cover it all here.

    ------------------------------
    Benjamin Sanchez, RPT
    Piano Technician / Artisan
    (805)315-8050
    www.professional-piano-services.com
    ------------------------------



  • 25.  RE: Websites

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 07-30-2019 18:32
    Hi Larry,

    Websites...

    well, they were useful before the interwebs basically became a wasteland of monetized ad clicks. Google has devolved from a clever, fast search engine to find the latest arcane piano research to a marketing tool that strays from your search parameters by the 4th hit to try to sell you stretch yoga pants.

    I still maintain the domain name I set up in 1998 (www.atonal.ca), but the website has all my piano information removed. I use it for uploading documents and pictures, mostly of my car club hobby. Any piano documents I save on local devices. The website was set up as more of an experiment for web design and some basic piano information rather than a business tool.

    I found the website mostly brought in requests for piano evaluations (free, of course) over the web sight unseen. Occasionally I'd book some service work, but this was well back in the days of the early aughts... didn't get a lot of work through the website even when traffic was higher. I found my contacts through the local dealer I was working for and repeat customers word of mouth to others kept me busy. I've had a few contacts through the PTG site up here in Canada as well.

    Nowadays, I see the local tuners advertising on our Buy & Sell website under 'Services'. There are a couple websites still running, but they are like yours, mostly a static business placecard. I've migrated the domain to a couple different providers over the last 20 years, it's pretty easy these days, as most webhosts have a domain hosting package, will allow you to host your existing domain name if you are the owner of it and are eager to port you over from an existing webhost.

    I may start up the website again, but not as a business tool, more of a piano information site for my amusement.

    ------------------------------
    Robert Kiddell RPT
    Edmonton AB
    Canada
    ------------------------------