If you're a dependable, responsible construction-business owner, do potential clients in your area know you exist? Consider this note we received:
I've read your books and the whole blog, and they are wonderful. If I were younger I would definitely get back into contracting and be more profitable with your help. I continue to recommend you to others, but they usually don't seem to want to invest an hour a day into bettering their methods, all the while complaining about how hard the business is. But I keep pushing them.
My problem is on the other side, and I don't know if you can help me. I keep having homeowners asking me if I know any good dependable / trustworthy / ethical / whatever people who can help with remodels and repairs. Do you have a list of local contractors who have gone through your course? I am in ____. Any recommendations on how one can find good craftsmen? It seems the people I know have no problem paying for good work, they just can't find it.
A Former Contractor
If you're doing remodeling work you should be spending three to five percent of your total sales dollars on marketing your company. Are you? It's obvious the contractors in his community aren't doing a good job of marketing themselves. I sent him the name of a contractor we knew in the area and hopefully that was a good connection.
Potential customers won't know who you are unless your name is out there. You might want to work by referral only, but not everyone who needs you will have someone in their life who knows you. Not everyone who knows you will take the time and effort to talk about you. If you want to be in front of as many potential clients as possible, you need to make the effort to market your business.
Hand out business cards, at least one a day. If you don't have business cards, get some made. You might think they are old-fashioned, or they aren't needed any longer, but you'd be wrong. They are one of the most affordable ways to get your name out there, but they do take effort.
Make sure you have quality signs on your vehicles and at your jobsites to let the buying public know you are in business. A few years ago we saw a van in our area with great signage and, as a bonus, a business card holder on the side. It was parked at a local store, so anyone interested could just walk up and grab a business card from the holder. Simple, basic, low-cost and brilliant.
Getting a website put together isn't low-cost, but it's not as expensive as you might think. Unless your annual volume is below $100K, you can get a website put together without overspending your marketing budget. That's the initial investment; after that, the ongoing maintenance and hosting cost can be minimal.
Your website needs to be listed on your business card, but it also needs to be findable on the web. If someone is searching for a contractor in your area, you want to appear in that search, preferably with positive reviews from clients who will vouch for you. That's the best kind of referral. A little education and planning goes a long way to helping your website show up in search results, and MyOnlineToolbox has helped many construction-related businesses develop affordable websites that will generate leads. If you're hesitating because you don't want to have to write the content, we know affordable copywriters who specialize in construction.
Going back to the note we received, I need to comment on his statement about the contractors he knows: "They usually don't seem to want to invest an hour a day into bettering their methods, all the while complaining about how hard the business is." Gang, this business is as hard as you want to make it. If you run your business like a hobby, you'll have a lot more problems. There's an old saying, "Life is tough; it's tougher when you're stupid."
Those who run their business like a business experience bumps in the road, but they know how to navigate those bumps because they've taken the time to educate themselves. They study and learn the techniques that other successful contractors use to run their business. Our books, Markup and Profit; A Contractor's Guide Revisited and Profitable Sales; A Contractor's Guide are a great start. If you are serious about managing your business professionally, you'll take it from there.
I'd love to hear the things you're doing to promote your company so that potential clients in your area can find you. Share with us, because we want to hear from you.