2. Be Professional

First 

Impressions 

Do count

Welcome

Hello and welcome to part two.

A Recap of our last lesson

Ok, so anyone with minimum skills who want to get on in the building trade can do this. You will always be better off working for yourself in people’s homes.

Don’t be afraid to learn new skills while you are on the job as doing so will increase your profit margins especially when you are combining your skills and creating a value ladder. Information, trust and confidence all add value to your work.

Keep everything you do at low risk as your reputation is a major priority, however, some risk is needed in order to advance.

Contents

Business name and Profile

Name, Logo, Who and what are you

Prepare to stand out

Quoting system

Website

Credibility

Uniform

How important is it

Vehicle

Tools for the job

First impressions

First impressions are usually in person, however, your potential customer’s first impressions of you most likely would be of your profile, your website, your telephone manner and your punctuality and all this is before they have even met you.

Business name and profile

Your name is your brand

“All-Purpose” That’s the name I was going to call my business in the beginning. Although that name was totally naff and thankfully I listened to my wife and changed it to GAHarrison building services, my idea was to have the flexibility of using my business for whatever suited my needs in the future.

For example, if you like painting and decorating and you name your company after yourself and what you do, then you might be called A.R.painting and decorating which pretty much limits you to just that. 

 If then at a later stage you multi-skill and want to branch out into other areas of home improvement, then this could become a real headache and lead you back to square one. Better to get this right first time.

Keeping it simple is the best way to get ahead, sometimes just your name will do and as for the logo, I would keep it as basic as possible, like painting a room white or magnolia- it’s not over complicated and doesn’t fade with time. 

As for your profile, Just a handsome picture of you smiling, a message of what you can do and what your company values are will make a good start. Pictures of previous jobs and customer reviews always help add weight to your credibility which we will discuss more about later.

Making your logo can be done in a matter of minutes as there are many websites which are free and very easy to use. 

Above is a quick google search of free logo makers. Remember you can also use these programs to preview what your business card would look like.

“Prepare to stand out"

I was so surprised when I received lots of good feedback from my customers regarding how the quotation was presented to them. I found this helped me stand out above other tradesmen. What's also surprising is that the software I was using is not only easy to use but it's totally free.
Gavin Harrison

Now, I am not going to bore you with details about admin as this has never been one of my strong points especially as I seriously lacked experience in this field. 

QuickFile is a quoting and accounting system I use all the time. Using QuickFile has not only gained me many customers but also saved me stacks of time while seriously increasing my profit.

QuickFile also keeps track of your invoices and all your customer details like one giant address book.

Making your quotation formal and clear to understand with lots of transparency (for example: itemising the work and pricing) is what injects a high level of professionalism into you and your business.

Quotation explained

From left to the right, you have the work title (task), then the details of work carried out plus the opportunity to state any work included or excluded in this section (notes).

How much you charge for each item of work (rate)

Then you have how many of each item (unit).

In the bottom section, you have the supply of materials or disposal of waste (item) 

Then you have the description followed by the cost (unit cost), then the quantity followed by the total.

Automated software

QuickFile is automated software which means “at the tap of a key” you can load up a work description with prices, you then just input the quantities and anything else which needs editing.

This not only allows you to increase your profit (as it’s all broken down into sections) but it also saves you stacks of time.

I also recommend you to use QuickFile for your accounting.

Survey document

Being prepared for when you meet your customers is essential. When visiting my customers, I use a survey template document which I fine-tuned over the years.

You just fill in all the job details for any work that exists in that template.

Using a survey document reduces the risk of miss calculating sizes, time and expenses. It also “yet again” saves stacks of time when you return home by just simply transferring the information into your QuickFile quoting system. 

Remember

The estimate template, survey documents and more can be found in your resources which come with easy detailed explanations and instructions.

WebSite

Having a website is not only a great way to be found, but it also adds to your credibility as a professional tradesman complete with your picture gallery, resources, reviews and anything you wish to tell your customers. Having a website adds real value to your brand.

These days, anyone can build a website using a website template. Doing it this way is not only affordable but also user friendly. It only becomes a challenge when you require more from your website than a basic package can give.

Even if you only wish to have a basic website then this would still be a great investment and would only be a very small cost for example at the fraction of the price of having vinyl advertising on your van.

Another option is to pay for the services of a web designer to do it all for you. This would of course get the finished product and is still a good investment considering the value it adds to your business.

The more value you add to your business, the more aware you become of yourself as a brand.

Uniform

You would be amazed at the number of tradesmen who lose work just because they turned up looking rough. This is where looking smart in some kind of uniform comes into play. It doesn’t matter if you are dirty from another job as long as you look sensible. No trackies, no jeans and no scruffy trainers. Remember, you (and whoever is with you) are the forefront and face of your business like the bodywork of a nice car.

I know that prejudice shouldn’t exist, however, if you have lots of tattoos, it may be a good idea to cover them up as this could weigh in somebody else’s favour, For example, your competition.

Tools and Vehicle

For those of you who don’t own a van – don’t panic! I was using a 10 years old ford focus estate for quite some time before I felt the need to buy a van. The issue I had was keeping decorating, carpentry, tiling and plumbing gear altogether. Not easy when you haven’t got driveway access to your shed.

I wouldn’t say it’s ok to leave all your tools in your van but my van has fitted security locks and is always parked in plain sight of houses. This never guarantees safety but then nor does a garage.

This is also why I never go crazy when spending money on tools. I generally start cheep and replace with mid-range decent brands. Using Makita power tools has always been enough for me but as I said I don’t buy their high-end stuff.

Your work vehicle is part of your tool kit and just like your tools- pays for itself and generates income.

Above are the vehicles I have had through the years. I still have the blue transit and this is not the only van I have had from brand new (lease contract). I would definitely recommend this to anyone above buying from the dealer as I had a much better deal from an online company called Global vans. Contract leasing is great as it still gives you equity in the van so you can sell it at the end of the contract to pay off the remaining balance and start again with a new van or just buy it from them.

Since I have had a new van, I haven’t bothered using any forms of advertising on the van. There is a reason for this but we will cover this in the advertising section.

Business name and Profile

Choosing the right name can make a real difference in the growth of your business. Your name and reputation become your brand which you will see adding value to your brand is priceless.

Prepare to stand out

Having a professional quoting system will not only present you as a truly professional tradesman but will also save you time and money while increasing your profit in your pricing structure.

Website

Having a professional website will add to your credibility as a professional tradesman and it can also direct customers to your services from google search.

Uniform

Dressing smart can make the extra difference in gaining the trust and confidence of a customer and winning a quote.

Vehicle

Your vehicle is one of your most valuable tools for the job and you will make progress in the size and type of vehicle along with your work.

In the next lesson, we will be looking at....

Where you get your work from. This includes,

  • Tradesmen platforms
  • Tradesmen directories
  • Working as a subcontractor
  • Social media
  • self-advertising ie canvassing, flyers etc
  • Word of mouth and
  • Paid advertising