Let’s face it: when homeowners and contractors match up, the connection can be the beginning of a beautiful relationship. A healthy contracting business should generate about 50% of its leads from repeat customers or referrals, so it pays to woo your clientele the right way.
But developing that kind of client/contractor partnership takes work—and it starts by finding the right kind of customers in the first place. These are the kinds of homeowners who are such a joy to work with that you practically get goosebumps every time they call. Clients like these can easily turn into lifelong customers, but only if you lay the groundwork for a successful relationship. As our Valentine’s treat to you, today we’ll teach you how to find quality leads—and keep them coming back for more!
Identifying Clients That Make Your Contractor’s Heart Go Pitter-Patter
You can’t expect to get any dates if you don’t put yourself out there (that’s pretty much why dating apps like Tinder exist in the first place). The same rule applies to your business, too. The more time you spend on lead-building, the better your chances for a genuine connection.
Of course, there are leads, and then there are quality leads—blindly playing the numbers game isn’t a great strategy for your business or your love life. So the question then is how can you find leads that are both likely to convert and fit within your business model, budget, and timeline?
- Invest in lead building. Sounds obvious, right? But for many small residential contractors, it’s a vital leap to make to go from part-time handyman to full-scale business owner. Top remodeling businesses dedicate almost 60% of their earnings, on average, to winning new business, so if you want to play with the big boys, you’re going to have to spend some money (and time!) creating a lead generation strategy.
- Make yourself available. These days, you can’t play the field without social media profiles, a website, and a quick way to be contacted. And that’s not just when it comes to the dating scene. For quality connections, you need a high-ranking website with relevant content and contact information and forms. You’ll also want an active social media presence and profiles on social review sites like Google and Yelp. Make it easier for leads to come to you.
- Learn to market your brand. You’re probably enjoy the hands-on part of your business more than you do marketing, but these days, it’s virtually impossible to grow your business without some form of marketing. Just what form that takes depends on your market and your budget, but whether it’s an ad on Facebook or a direct mailing program, marketing is a sure way to attract new admirers.
- Do your homework. Every seasoned contractor has a story about lead generating services. There are the ones that send out cold, dead leads and the ones who bill you dearly for pretty poor service. Forget those guys. What you need is someone who can link you directly with clients in need, quickly. Go for a service with a sterling reputation and a full call center that can connect you with leads quickly.
#RelationshipGoals: Turning First-time Clients into Repeat Customers
Of course, a match and a message does not a relationship equal. Similarly, getting those regular, repeat customers takes some hard work—and no less trust, either.
- It’s all about communication. Ghosting your customers is no way to ensure that sparks fly (and checkbooks fly open!). Always return calls quickly and follow up with customers if you feel like something might have been lost in translation. You’d be surprised how often customers report that a contractor left them hanging or cut off communication entirely. Don’t be that guy. Return your clients’ calls!
- And even more communication. Miscommunication is the number one cause of failed relationships and failed projects. Part of expert contracting is managing expectations. Don’t promise your clients the world—tell them in very explicit terms what contractors can and cannot handle. Give them a realistic schedule and put it all in writing. There’s truth in the old sales adage, “underpromise and overdeliver,” so try to wow them with your service, not an impressive estimate.
- Follow your gut. Ever been on a date where you felt like something just didn’t click? Some clients are just difficult, and it’s okay to turn down a job (or offer a premium bid) if you think they might become a problem. Signs of pending issues might be a client who’s “talked to seven different contractors,” or one who thinks your job is simple and balks at the cost of the project. Trust your instincts on this one and keep those nightmare clients out of your project timelines.
- Sweeten the deal for repeat customers. You can spend your whole life looking for “the one,” but if you’re looking for that special somebody to fill your next project slot, you don’t exactly have all the time in the world. Most contractors offer a small discount for returning customers, say between 5% to 15%. And some will provide touch ups, service visits and other freebies for customers who they’ve come to count on—and maybe even a small “finders fee” for ones who send you new referrals. Make it worth their while to get to know you, and you may just find yourself knee deep in repeat customers!
We can’t say these tips will help you all that much with your love life, but hey, being the owner of a healthy, growing business can’t hurt, right?