I have an idea for a websites system for businesses in my country (Ireland) and maybe the UK too.
I've recently wanted to build specialized 'off-the-shelf' systems for small niche industries that are 'behind' on tech. Most of these industries get by with WordPress websites.
My first 'test' is going to be a website and backend system for vehicle recovery companies which takes a customers GPS location when they request a truck. Most of these guys are independent in my country. There are a few big name recovery services though.
Flow would be: Customer breaks down and pulls out smartphone to get a tow truck -> Goes onto website via Google Search -> Presses 'Request a Tow Truck' button -> Fills out basic form (name, number, vehicle type) and hits 'Submit' -> Their GPS location is also requested at this time and they accept (pretty standard "Chrome would like to know your location" request these days)
At this point, three things happen in the space of a few seconds: -> SMS goes to customer to assure them their request has been received -> SMS goes to Tow Truck driver/company alerting them a new job has come in -> Email goes to driver/company with customer details and a Google Maps link. Details also available on site admin panel.
Research so far: Yesterday I rang ten tow truck companies around my country and spoke to the owners. All were very receptive to the call but a common theme was not knowing much about IT. Some do compete heavily on Adwords (it's crucial to be on page 1 results to get any work in that industry it seems).
Barriers to Sales identified: -> Many expressed the view that they 'already have a website – 'tis grand as it is' -> Others don't invest in Google/online at all and are happy with contract work, garage work, work off local Garda station etc… -> Don't understand GPS, system, Internet etc… -> Interested but reluctant to make a purchase/part with cash (understandable, I guess)
Common Business Problems Identified: -> Many drivers said they often struggle to actually locate a customer on the road. They're often lost, in an unfamiliar area, no major landmarks etc… -> Lots of people actually ring multiple tow trucks and make them 'race' to them . It'd be like ordering three taxis to your house and jumping in the first one that arrives. -> Missing phone calls and hence the job. I was surprised to see how these guys operate. Often the sole traders run 24/7. If the phone rings at 3am they're out of bed and into the truck. These are also usually the guys pushing hard on Google too.
Something else I picked up on is that they're all mad for their trucks. They love posting pictures, looking for new trucks on Done Deal all the time, bragging a little etc… Some even give them names So I think a fleet gallery on the site would be a good idea.
My Plan: Yesterday I kind of realised cold calling will only get me so far. I'm essentially a bloke with a fuzzy idea calling some very busy small business owners. I know I'll also struggle to actually bag sales. I'm not a natural sales person although I have no problem meeting/calling people etc… it's just not something I particularly relish spending my time doing.
Step 1: Validate I'm going to make a basic marketing site, video and product description over the weekend. I haven't the time to drive traffic to a landing page organically. Nor is there much online buzz to be made about vehicle recovery. So I'm going to outsource sales calls to an agency and have them pitch, explain and gauge interest. I'd like some form of qualification here too – a definite 'I'm very interested' or a 'Nope, not for us'. This should build a decent list of prospects I think
Step 2: Build Prototype: I could easily build this system in a week. Maybe a little more if I have to divert attention to my other work which happens sometimes on short notice. I have a base Content Management System that I use anyways for my personal projects.
Step 3: Launch Demo site and Recruit Guinea Pig Maybe guinea pig isn't the right phrase. Beta Tester perhaps Maybe offer a site for free or heavily discounted to one of the top Google adwords buyers. Let it run for a month and make any changes needed.
Step 4: Selling This is my main problem (I think). It's convincing a small business to part with X amount of cash for a new website/system. Even if they see the value in it I know small businesses are often trying to keep their head above water for next week, not looking at potential value generated over 6 months. Any thoughts or ideas about selling this kind of thing to small businesses?
Additionally, any ideas or feedback or holes you see in my system/approach/idea would be much appreciated.
Cheers Guys, Dean