3. Finding new customers

Where Does Your Work Come From

welcome

Hello and welcome to part three.

A Recap of our last lesson

It is essential for your business to establish who you are ie. your profile, what you do and the name of your business and what that means for you.

Carrying out a professional survey, using a professional quoting system and smart dress ware all contribute to adding value to your name and winning quotes while increasing your profit margins.

Having a website is like having a shop front with your best work and message displayed to your customers. It’s also there when somebody that’s met or just heard of you wants to check you out.

Let’s not forget that which vehicle you choose is a very valuable part of your tool kit.

contents

Tradesmen platforms

You choose your customers

Tradesmen directories

Customers find you

Working as a subcontractor

Other businesses need you

Social media

Social media platforms

Canvasing flyers, business cards, van vinyl’s and car magnets

Is it worth it

Word of mouth

Gaining customers through recommendations

Paid advertising

How much should you pay and where

Lead generators

There are many ways of finding customers and customers finding you. Some are paid for and some are not. One thing they have in common is they are all Lead Generators and which type you decide to use will depend on your circumstances. 

I started my business using Rated People with only a handful of pictures from a few jobs I did for friends and family. You will need pictures like these along with customer feedback to build up your profile, so always remember to take plenty of good pictures. 

Tradesmen Platforms

Tradesmen platforms are the most effective way of getting new leads and turning those leads into paying customers and the advantage is that you pick the jobs.

I have found the two most beneficial are Rated People and My Builder. They work slightly differently from one another, eg rated people doesn’t require any references but does require a subscription fee which gives you credit to purchase job leads.

My Builder, on the other hand, is cheaper to use, does not require a subscription but you will need to qualify with proof of business and customer references. I found there are more job leads on Rated People however My Builder was also very useful.

a few Things to remember

Here are a few things to remember that will give you a head start, save you time and stretch your budget.

  1. The smaller the job, the smaller the budget and the smaller the lead price. These small jobs will not only stretch your budget further, they often lead to bigger jobs which cost you nothing and with no competition from other tradesmen as the customer already knows you.
  2. Rated People allows the customer to pick up to 3 tradesmen to quote their job from all the tradesmen that have shown interest. Always become the first or at least second to show interest as some customers don’t bother going for a third.
  3. At first, pick the really easy jobs that are well within your skills so that you almost guarantee really good reviews.

Tradesmen directories

Checkatrade is a tradesman directory which requires a yearly subscription and can be very effective when you know how to use it. A customer will go to the Checkatrade website and search for the type of tradesman they need. They will then be shown a list of tradesmen with customer ratings and reviews.

Trying to score 10/10 customer ratings can be difficult to achieve as not all customers believe in 10/10 no matter how good you are. I found it better to explain the process to the customer in order to help you achieve 10/10 if they believed you had done a good job.

Working as a subcontractor

I have worked as a subcontractor for at least 4 other businesses. Some were very fruitful while others only needed me for a day’s work. 

There is never any harm in asking other fitters/builders or high street kitchen/ bathroom installers if they need any fitters or labourers. Sometimes I have really needed the help and that is where having contacts is very handy. You can be somebody else’s contact.

social media

Using social media can be an effective way of directing attention to your business but with the growing use of social media, it can also be your worst enemy if you spend to much time trying to gain followers and posting stories. Always remember, time is money.....
Gavin harrison

Next door is a local neighbourhood app/ website which covers a vast number of neighbourhoods and allows you to have a business profile posting up to 2 free posts per month. This app is totally free and really good for customer recommendations, even from family and friends.

I have gained several jobs this way. A big advantage is that you can answer someone’s request for handyman services which I see posted from time to time.

instagram

So many people have an Instagram account these days, it’s hard not to get on board posting loads of pics and stories however the reality is that time is money so we must ask ourselves – is it making me much money? 

Having your job posts on Instagram can be a great way of showing your customers an example of your work while inspiring them with new ideas.

Facebook

There are many people who were and still are successful at starting up their business using local Facebook groups. 

Facebook can be a free or low-cost marketing strategy which not only allows you to share basic information about your business, you can share pictures and videos too.

Just like other social media platforms, you can spread a positive word of mouth.

Facebook can steer traffic to your website using targeted advertising.

Canvasing flyers, business cards, van vinyl's and car magnets

Designing an A5 business flyer online may seem like an amazing thing to do as it’s fairly cheap and you can reach people directly via their letterboxes or by leaving a few wad’s in takeaways, doctors, dentist’s, pet clinics, beauticians, hairdressers but I have to tell you, I’ve yet to meet anyone who’s had much success in doing this.

I have actually done this myself a few times and unless you are prepared to knock on the door and sell yourself to the householder, it could be overly time-consuming with little results.

Random leaflets in my experience is a waste of time, however, they can be useful when dropping them in your customer’s neighbours houses with the point made clear that you are working a few doors away.

Business cards are always very handy to have when from time to time you will get asked for one by passers-by, neighbours of the customers you are working for and sometimes the customers themselves. Also, you can leave business cards at your local builder’s merchants and tile showroom free of charge.

Van vinyls can look really smart and professional, there’s no doubt about that but are they worth it?

This was one of my old vans and yes it did feel good with my company plastered over the bodywork however it did not bring any new customers.

Having this on all sides of the van was only around £500 but was quite some time ago so I imagine that price would be out of date.

Car magnetic signs don’t cost much as you can get these done the same way as your A5 flyers. Again, didn’t bring any business.

Gaining customers through word of mouth

In the beginning, I used to envy local tradesmen who grew their business just by word of mouth as this seemed increasingly difficult now that most of us tend to communicate and shop online.

After building up a customer base over the course of a few years, I no longer needed to use job lead platforms or paid advertising as many of my existing customers are returning customers and word of mouth.

Gaining customers through word of mouth comes from a good reputation and a brand people can trust.

In the end, one good job leads to another

Paid advertising

There are so many types of paid advertising from really cheap to mega expensive. Just be aware of how much you are spending and what you get in return.

I have only used advertising in papers and magazines a few times as I did not find this the most economic way of bringing in new customers.

This doesn’t mean it wouldn’t work for you, it just means that sometimes it’s good to explore as there are many factors to be taken into consideration e.g the area you live, other competitive adverts, the advert itself and your budget. Be careful not to get swayed into featuring in some magazine by a sales call. This can happen from time to time.

Some businesses continue to advertise despite not needing the additional customers, they are simply raising brand awareness

On the other hand, you could just leave a card in a shop window. This can be effective of course depending on where you live. Some areas may have more retired folk who like to browse these little ads in the shop fronts and you may be what they are looking for….

If it’s just a card with your details on, then sometimes these get read before the more commercial printed formats- most likely because it’s more personal but saying that it still doesn’t look all that professional.

Tradesmen platforms

Choose your jobs and tactfully stretch your budget while expanding your customer base

Tradesmen directories

Customers contact you from your details on a tradesmen directory. This can work for you as long as you know how to persuade your customers in giving you an excellent rating and review.

Working as a subcontractor

Leave your details with other fitters, builders and high street bathroom/kitchen installers

Social media

Attract customers to your business but remember time is money so be mindful of how much time you spend 

Canvasing flyers, business cards, van vinyl’s and car magnets

Look professional but decide on your budget. Research into how effective this might be in your area

Gaining customers by word of mouth

Word of mouth is the ultimate goal, built with a good reputation, this will take time but Rome was not built in a day

Paid advertising

Use it to your advantage while being aware of sales calls and again, watch your budget.  

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

How you are as a person and your strategies will attract customers. This includes

  • Attitude
  • Reliability
  • Value perception

Also, how you can avoid a headache by

  • Using subcontractors and labourers
  • Avoid underpricing
  • Supplying furniture