Of course, if you’re run off your feet already then you might not think you need to read this – but you never know when a quiet patch might be round the corner. Always best to have a plan for that. And if you could do with a few extra quid coming in, then read on. We might just have a few ideas that will help.
Make some time for finding business
If you’re running a small business, or working as a one man band, it’s easy to get carried away doing the job and forgetting to plan where the next one is coming from. Painful we know when you’re out all hours getting a big project finished, or running from one small job to the next.
But if you make the time and treat it just like another job, it can save you a few sleepless nights further down the line wondering where the next chunk of cash is coming from. The professional marketers call it a ‘continuous pipeline’ or something like that . . .
Get yourself on referral sites
You’re seriously missing out if you don’t do this. You can’t afford the time or the money to set up a snazzy website, or create an all singing, all dancing marketing programme – so let them do it for you. They spend millions on this stuff so you don’t have to, and you can see that by how many of them come top on Google when you run a local search for a specific type of tradesman.
Yes of course, there is a cost – usually for yearly membership – but trust us, it’s well worth it! Some of the best known ones are Trust A Trader, Check a Trade and Rated People, so get cracking now, you won’t regret it.
Find some referral partners
This is dead easy to do. Whatever area you specialise in, you’re going to come across other specialists on many of the jobs you get involved with. So keep an eye on what they are up to and have a chat with them while you’re working together. If you think they look like they know what they’re doing, and you’d be happy to recommend them, then suggest some kind of two way deal – they recommend you and you do the same for them.
The customer benefits too if you’re used to working together, as you know each other’s skills and working styles – plus they don’t have to go looking for a separate tradesman themselves if you come as a trusted team. Remember to find a few of each type of partner though, as of course not everyone is always available at the same time.
Have a bash at social media
OK, the idea probably freaks you, but honestly, it’s not that scary. Building a local audience is dead easy, especially on Twitter – and many homeowners do use things like Facebook and Twitter as a source of info about local suppliers. Just try searching for your trade in your local areas and you’ll see what we mean.
If your competitors are doing it, you should be doing it too. Just post pics of your work and a line about what you did, or if a customer says something nice about your work, ask if you can quote them. There are loads of online tutorials on how to get started, and it really doesn’t have to take much time at all.
Think about a simple website
We don’t believe this is top of the list, but all these other suggestions only go so far. If someone finds you through a referral site, or a referral from a partner, or on social media – chances are they will then Google your name or company name directly, just to check you out. And at that point it’s handy if they find something useful. If not, they might try the next person on the list!
Even a basic site that lets people know you’re ‘real’ will help. It doesn’t have to be flashy. Just a few details about you, your experience and what you do – and some customer quotes about projects you’ve completed. Find a WordPress freelancer who’ll get something up and running for you and teach you how to update it yourself – job done!
Explain why it costs what it costs
We all know that it often comes down to price on a job, though of course it should be quality of workmanship, and level of service – but don’t get us started, that’s a separate rant! Make sure you always provide a detailed quote and say why things cost what they do, how long each element will take, and what brand of materials you’re going to use.
That way, if someone’s comparing quotes you’ll not only look more professional, you’ll also be able to justify your costs if you’re asked. It’s too easy for a competitor to take business away from you just by coming in a bit cheaper without any detail, so don’t let that happen.
Never underestimate the power of a flyer
We’re talking old school here – but sometimes the oldies are the best, especially if you’re targeting a specific area. People get less and less real post these days, and while the majority of your flyers will end up in the bin (we believe in telling it how it is!) this type of marketing is all about timing. If one lands on the right day when someone needs you, and it will – it’s a no brainer for them to pick up the phone.
Get your local print shop to knock something up, with a few basic details, your contact info, and a customer quote or two, and then get a batch printed out. You could also add an offer as well, to entice people who’ve been thinking about getting something done for a while. Then deliver them yourself if you have time – or pay your kids, or your mates’ kids, to do it for you!