Having your own business and relying on yourself can be extremely rewarding. You depend on yourself for income and don’t have to fight tooth and nail with coworkers and your boss to sustain your livelihood. However, as rewarding as it might be, being your own boss can also be difficult when it comes time to pick up new clientele. Perhaps no other business is as rewarding and as dependent on one’s own special skills and knowledge than that of a general contractor. Whenever you’re working as a contractor, it’s important to understand that your feast or famine days are dependent on word of mouth, reputation, quality of work, and most importantly, marketing skills.
What Is Marketing?
Put simply, marketing is the research and work that goes into finding the most customers, getting their attention through advertising, and at the end of the day, expanding and sustaining your business. Marketing is especially important if you have your own small business, and all the responsibility falls on you to do the research. Bigger companies, such as Starbucks and McDonald’s, spend millions of dollars on customer research, product design and marketing teams, data analytics, and other research each and every day to keep their businesses strong. Though this amount of money isn’t necessary for a small business, the same amount of time and energy is. Some good contractor marketing tips to start off with are remembering to never give up on marketing for your business and keeping the entrepreneur spirit alive.
How Can Marketing Benefit Me?
As mentioned above, contractor marketing tips will be much more simpler than marketing tips and methods for multi-billion dollar companies. When working as a first-time independent contractor, knowing the basics of promotion, what customers want, and how to disseminate that information to future customers are all necessary. This isn’t difficult by any means, but it is time consuming. In the end, taking in as many contractor marketing tips as you can and building up your marketing can make your business attract new clients, keep existing ones, and expanding your business into a successful enterprise. To start off, here are 15 basic contractor marketing tips you can use to sell yourself and expand your business.
1. Promote Your Education
A general contractor is someone that can tackle a building project and utilize their skills in carpentry, 3-d modeling, or any other relevant skills such as architecture to oversee and finish that project in time. Though many contractors come from a background where they have been working hands-on in the construction field for many years, don’t feel discouraged if you have education instead of experience. Though you will need to work under someone to gain the necessary experience, marketing yourself as having a degree in a specialized field-such as design or architecture, can help you land a gig as much as someone with years of experience.
2. Keep a Great Portfolio
As we mentioned, you will still need to have some experience to get the necessary knowledge and skills necessary to be a great contractor. One of the best contractor marketing tips to follow is to keep a portfolio with all of your projects, contact information of customers, and customer reviews. This will all help when it comes time to separate from your construction company and find work on your own. Having a portfolio full of both business and residential building projects, landscaping project, modern and traditional construction projects, and everything in between can help you land a gig, whether you were part of a team of residential or commercial contractors.
3. Develop an Efficient Website
Having a website is a part of the key contractor marketing tips to have your presence both in-person and online. A website is a great way to keep your portfolio organized, allow others to contact you through e-mail, set up online appointments, and even choose and price things such as residential roofing services ahead of time. In addition, a great and newly designed website can give you a leg-up on the competition by attracting the eye of new customers. Hire a web designer, or look at different design options before settling on a website model that fits your contracting business.
4. Have a Dedicated Customer Service Line
When you’re starting off your business, customer service can mean either you or a trusted associate is there to answer all customer concerns, questions, appointments and other matters to finish contracting projects. But what about when you get more than 1 or 2 customers? How will all their concerns be met? It’s important to have a dedicated customer service line and market yourself as a contractor that goes the extra mile in understanding his or her customers. Whether it’s a phone number, social media inbox, or e-mail, make sure this customer service line gets back in a timely manner to all your clientele.
5. Utilize Social Media
Making and maintaining a social media page is one of the best contractor marketing tips there is. Social media can be Facebook, but more and more users are now utilizing apps such as Instagram and Snapchat to look for businesses. Having a social media page is great not only to advertise your business, share photos of yourself, employees, and projects, but also to network with other businesses as well. For instance, according to Houzz, one-third of homeowners say they change to a healthier lifestyle after remodeling their kitchen, so following pages about health may just expand your clientele that much faster! Explore all these niche options, make a brand, post some memes and photos, and market yourself and your successful business using social media.
6. Appear at Events
Besides social media, attending in-person events is an excellent way to meet potential partners, subcontractors, business associates, and most importantly clientele to expand your business. In 2020 alone, there are tons of events such as the World of Concrete in Las Vegas, The Associated General Contractors of America Convention, and even the American Institute of Architects Conference on Architecture in Los Angeles. In addition to meeting new people, you can also see what other contractors are doing and how they’re upgrading basic services such as ac repair, improvements in technology, and so much more.
7. Spread the Word to Sub-Contractors
As a general contractor, your backbone for any building project is your loyal and hardworking subcontractors. These subcontractors can be anyone from roofing contractors, to landscapers, designers, and carpenters. Subcontractors, once found, are gems and can help you have a solid network of people you trust to complete projects. Hand out business cards, offer to help their businesses and projects, and build yourself a good team.
Besides subcontractors, you’ll want to network with other services such as architectural firms, local business that provide, for instance, plumbing services, and even, if necessary, perhaps services that provide pet accommodations for future homeowners? The possibilities are endless, as people themselves are always looking to make their home unique. One of the best contractor marketing tips to follow is putting yourself out there in not just the construction world, but all around to make your business knowledgeable.
9. Take On the Hard Projects
Sometimes you’ll be comfortable making simple residential projects, updating renovations on kitchens, and tackling other small projects. But if you feel your business growing stagnant, perhaps it’s time you start tackling and teaming up with other contractors to grow your portfolio and your work experience? Take on commercial roofing projects instead of just residential roof repair, or work on a landscaping project that involves more outside work than indoor. Whatever you decide to do, keep safety and your experience in mind, and take on challenges that can utilize, as well as grow, your level of experience.
10. Set Up a Timeline
As you grow your business, it’s important to set up a timeline while conducting all your market research in order to start and grow your business. It takes time to research, for instance, how many customers want a simple garage door repair project, versus a complex residential building project, and how many contractors are utilized for each project. Does the area you live and work in require contractors at all? What about new customers? How much time should you dedicate to smaller versus bigger customers? All this goes into market research and completing a project. Timing is everything, and having the right timing from the get-go is one of the best contractor marketing tips you can have.
11. Build for Your Customers’ Needs
Different customers, depending on where you live, need different things. For instance, if you live in a hurricane-prone area, perhaps hurricane garage doors will be needed for your project. If you have a rancher, they might be looking for ideas on commercial fencing in order to keep their livestock inside. Depending on the weather, environment, time of year, income class, even a customer’s personality, every project is unique in its own way. Marketing yourself as a contractor that specializes for the work your community needs is vital to earning the trust (and hard earned money) of new customers.
12. Be Empathetic
Building projects are stressful not just for you, but for your customers as well. A family finding out they now need to spend money on sewer line repair, a new homeowner learning that their foundation must be completely redone, anything that can go wrong in the contracting world, eventually does. It’s essential that you follow contractor marketing tips not just to grow your business and get more customers, but to be empathetic and as helpful as you can to the customers you already have. This will take you a long way, and keep your customers happy, satisfied, and spread your business to others that find themselves in the same stressful building situation.
13. Keep Safety in Mind
No one wants to work with a contractor that doesn’t know how to be safe. Keep your customers and your subcontractors safe by utilizing the proper tools, building materials, and even giving your subcontractors the breaks they need. Having a lawsuit on your hands because of a safety violation is the last thing you need as a new contractor. Market yourself as not only the best, but the safest contractor in town.
14. Follow-Up with Customers
After a project is done, it’s important to follow-up with your customers, even if it means getting bad news. For example, a customer might be unhappy with faulty wiring, complain that the flooring was put in wrong, or any other myriad of things. It’s important to follow-up with customers to show that you care, and fix any potentially dangerous issues. These post-construction issues can help you avoid future mistakes, and let your customers know that you truly do care about the quality of work you put into a project, and thus allow you to spread your business with the friends or neighbors of clientele.
15. Work Closely with Your City
Different state require different licensing requirements for general contractors. For example, in California and Florida, general contractors need a licenses to build, but in Colorado they do not. Follow-up closely with your local city, county, and state for details on not just licensing, but how to build, where to build a new project, and other city codes that should not be left unnoticed. Failure to follow a simple code, even if it’s one given by the HOA, can destroy your project, leaving both you and the customer on an even tighter budget, or no budget at all!
Build and Learn
As a contractor, these contractor marketing tips can help get your name out there and referred to even the pickiest, or biggest, of customers. Safety, proper licensing, budgeting, and time management are all important skills for a contractor to have. But it’s not just about having these basic skills, it’s also about tackling new project, maintaining a fine rapport with your customers, and learning from your mistakes that will make your business grow. On top of this, keep in mind the power that good customer service, a website, social media, and the overall quality of your work and dedication can have.