Having a contracting business is not easy. You are most likely to face a number of challenges that can prove very tough to deal with, especially when you are not sufficiently prepared. The main key to running a successful contracting business is trying to minimize the challenges as much as you can.
Here are 10 tips that will help you grow your contracting business.
1. Operate with Best Business Practices
One of the most common problems that contractors run into when they attempt to improve efficiency and grow their business is agreeing on what’s considered the industry’s best practices. After all, they already have some sort of system in place that they’re familiar with and believe is working just fine.
To put an end to this debate, you can use whatever system you prefer to handle everything from bookkeeping, scheduling and invoicing, to training and task management, as long as that system contains basic knowledge of the task and helps each employee by providing step-by-step instructions for each employee.
2. Be Unique
Does your business have a particular specialization or cater to a niche market? Capitalize on what makes your business different from the others in town. It could simply be your ability to provide services specifically for offices, as opposed to other contractors, who solely focus on residential properties.
However, make sure that you offer a healthy balance of products and services. While niche markets can give you a competitive edge and help make you stand out, they’re not always as large as businesses that reach a wide audience.
3. Measure Twice, Cut Once
A clear cut way to make potential customers question if they are making the right choice is by not appearing professionally. Not in a personal sense, but in a business sense. Your CSLB License information should match the Secretary of State’s information, when it comes to your business name, address, and contact information.
With all of the resources available nowadays, you should have a website that accurately reflects your full scope of work with testimonials and pictures of previous jobs. It is also a good practice to have an email that uses your domain name within it, rather than using a personal email address server such as: Gmail or Yahoo.
With a few quick tweaks, you should be able to capture all of the business you desire, and more.
4. Be Handy
Try to always be there when customers need you. Even if you have to expand your team and hire new employees to handle your operational tasks as you grow. When you have all your bases covered and are available when the phone rings, customers will be more trusting and confident in your services.
Never forget to call back your customers whenever you miss their call whether it be after-hours or during a time you were not able to take their call. You should also state your business hours to make sure that customers do not get upset when they call and don’t get to talk to someone. Take advantage of digital technology and set automated email and social media messages when you or your employees aren’t able to reply in real-time.
5. Don’t be Rigid
If you have a specific field as a contractor, don’t turn away a customer who is seeking services outside your comfort zone. Instead, you can provide value to them by being honest and explaining to them that you might not offer that service, but know of another trusted contractor who does.
You probably already have a network of contracting businesses that aren’t competing with services, so be sure to work with these connections to help each other and your customers.
If you can also fix a minor challenge that your customers have while working for them, then just go ahead and do that. In other words, do not let your customer look for another serviceman if they have signed a contract with you just because of a small issue. Try to look for ways to provide value to them. You can even outsource if you have to.
These small extra steps can go a long way in securing a lifetime returning customer or obtaining referrals from their family and friends!
6. Be Prepared
For instance, let’s say that you’re almost done with a bathroom renovation and find out that you’re missing a $5 part you need to finish. That part now can set you back a couple of hundred dollars because you have to overnight it. Even running to the local hardware store costs you time and money. And, you’ll probably have to eat that cost because it’s not included in the original quote.
No matter what size your business is, being prepared is what can make or break you. As a contractor, however, it’s the little things that can determine whether you’re going to survive or not. After all, being prepared is the key to efficiency and profitability.
You can’t plan for every scenario, but always go over your proposal before jumping in, to make sure that you have everything that you need to complete the job.
7. Market Like a Pro
For any business to thrive, it needs to have a good marketing strategy. Do not just market to get more customers but let your marketing campaign be about growing your brand, making your customers happy and having bigger and better projects.
Your marketing strategy should have all your customers wants and needs in mind. As you build your marketing portfolio with things like literature, videos, blog posts and more, you’ll have a library of content you can direct your client towards to find what they need for the project or questions at hand.
Focus on both local and online customers. Cast your net far and have a clear channel of communication.
8. Don’t be Afraid to be Small Giant
A lot of contractors get stuck in this middle area where they’re forced to hire more people because they can’t handle the workload, but profits aren’t any higher. For many contractors, it’s easier for them to stay small. This ensures that they have a positive cash flow since it keeps their expenses low. Staying small also reduces stress since the workload is easier to manage.
9. Assess Your Internal Organization
After settling on a system that uses the best practices, you next want to conduct a comprehensive assessment of your company. This includes asking questions like;
- Is your business stable financially?
- Are you getting repeat sales?
- Do you have customer referrals?
- How do people rate your business and customer service?
- What is your employee turnover rate?
These questions can be answered by reviewing your books, paying attention to what people are saying about your business online and talking with employees and customers. If there are areas that need improvement, then focus on those areas before you grow your business too much.
For example, if you don’t have employees who excel at customer service, and that’s your number one complaint from customers, then you may want to consider hiring people who do excel in customer service or can provide proper training for your current staff.
10. Watch Your Finances
Plenty of construction businesses go under because they simply can’t cover the costs of their overhead. That means that you have to pay close attention to overhead expenses and be aware of any additional costs before you accept a job. When sending out bids, factor in the costs involved with the project, particularly materials and labor, and give the customer a ballpark estimate.
Another way to handle the cost of your overhead is by creating a budget. This shows you how much money you have coming in and how much is going out. If the amount going out surpasses the amount coming in, then you have to start making some changes by cutting unnecessary expenses and raising your rates.
And, always stay on top of your invoicing.
If there’s anything we can do to help, please do not hesitate to let us know. It’s always best to have a professional in your corner.