I’ve never met a contractor who could sustain their business over the long-term based on referrals alone. Inevitably, a down market comes, the phone stops ringing and suddenly, they are scrambling. Keeping your ad budget in place even when the phone is ringing off the hook gives you two advantages; it allows you to pick your work today, while building a bank of future projects down the road.
This post was yesterday’s newsletter. If you aren’t on the newsletter, too bad, you miss out on some good shit. If you want to get on the list, put your email address in the box over there to the right.
Today I want to talk about keeping things simple. In a fast-paced world, simply keeping things simple isn’t so…nah, I’m not going to do it, but you get the point.
In an era where serving the public is as hard as ever, we all fall victim to trying to serve as many masters (clients) as possible.
You’ve done it and I’ve kicked your ass for it. I’ve done it, and I kicked my own ass for it.
You want as many prospects as possible to know that there isn’t a square inch of their house you can’t fix, build, paint, plaster, replace, re-tile or repurpose.
As a digital agency serving home improvement companies, I wanted you to know we did everything too. But just like your business can get a bit bloated, so did ours.
So it was time to eat my own dog food
Eating your own dog food is a Silicon Valley term meaning to use your own product, or in my case, taking my own advice.
By eating our own dog food, we stripped away the fancy homepage design with the big image slider and the never-ending homepage scroll typically seen on agency sites or any site today for that matter. Instead, what you will see today is what made us successful in the first place; a site layout that features our blog.
But the change wasn’t just aesthetic
If you go to the homepage of the site, you see our blog-inspired layout along with our stripped-down service offerings; Our Apprentice plan, our Journeyman plan, and finally, our Master plan. You see a sidebar with our newsletter sign-up form, a big ad for the Contractor’s Toolbox (the sales page for the three plans mentioned above), a testimonial, and finally, a search box.
In the main content area, you see 5 of our recent posts with an image and about 250 characters’ worth of lead-in content to peak your interest if the title doesn’t get you.
That’s it. That’s all I wanted because I want the site (and our services) to be simple to consume, easy to manage and easy to navigate.
Sure, we’ve updated our Apprentice, Journeyman and Master plans to include reviews management, Instagram posting (replacing Google+) and added blogging support, but this is where we saw the most growth over our last 12 years and we are doubling down by stripping away everything that I think got in our way to provide you with the core service offerings that give you the two things we sell; time and expertise.
And that’s the other thing you should know, what exactly are you selling?
We don’t sell social media management, blogging help or website design, we sell TIME and EXPERTISE! By giving you back your time each month, you get to spend the hours you would be spending on this stuff doing things that you are an expert in. By selling you expertise, you can feel comfortable knowing your online world is taken care of.
That’s it, we keep it simple. We sell time and expertise.
What is it again that you do? Now, is that consistent with what YOU sell?
Think about that and have a great week!
I was doing a press interview and the interviewer asked if it was ok for a contractor to ask for a referral AND a testimonial. I said, not only is is OK, it is a must! Here is how I suggested she let her readers know how to position the request in the field:
“Mr. and Mrs. Jones, I’m happy you are satisfied with the project, our business survives on referrals and testimonials from satisfied clients like yourselves. If you happen to know of someone who is thinking about a project like yours, I’d be happy to talk about their options when they are ready. In the meantime, if possible, could I trouble you to fill out this review card and send it back to us at your convenience, the postage is already paid.”
Then stop talking…the rest will figure itself out. They will say yes to AT LEAST the review card, and you never know, they may have someone who IS looking in mind and you are on your way!
Asking for testimonials and referrals should always be part of your marketing plan, and if you can practice that enough to get it to sound natural and genuine, I promise you will close a lot more referrals and testimonials!
In the competitive home improvement industry, developing your reputation and establishing a high-quality brand are the best ways to grow your business. The problem is that not many construction companies are making the most out of their brand, some do not even have a logo. This icon, which brings you to mind each time a prospective client sees it, is a must have marketing tool. Why do you need a strong brand?
Set Yourself Apart from the Competition
Just like brands of cars or clothing are known for their quality, value, or trendiness, you can establish your company as the one to use for the type of work that you specialize in. A memorable brand and logo that is used consistently in all of your business communication and advertising helps you to do that.
A creatively developed logo and tagline can ensure that your company comes to mind when they have need of a contractor. It is possible to capture the essence of your business and mission within this simple image and statement. Let it be your name that is synonymous with quality construction in your local area.
When people see a brand that they recognize, there is trust built upon the fact that it is familiar and established. This enables you to offer new product lines or services that have preexisting consumer confidence due to the fact that they are related to your known brand.
Benefits of a Quality Brand
Not only does your brand give your customers an easy way to remember your name, it can give those unfamiliar with your business an idea of how you operate. For example, a logo can infer quality, sophistication, or value in its design. Unfortunately, a poorly designed logo can also give potential clients the impression that you are an amateur. The goal should be to communicate to each person who sees your brand exactly what they need to know about you as a contractor that they can trust with their construction project.
When you use the same branding across your signage, letterhead, website, and all other business communication, you create a cohesive message that increases your presence in your area. People will begin to remember that logo that they see whether they are driving down the road or logging into Facebook. You want to be the company they think of when they are considering renovations the way they think of Kleenex when they need a tissue.
Customers are more likely to be loyal to your business and have an emotional attachment to your company when you have successfully built a strong brand for yourself.
Building a Brand
They key to building a brand is starting out with a quality logo and tagline that defines your company and will captivate the attention of customers and prospective clients. Most contractors like the idea of having a brand that people remember for high quality, but they’re not sure how to develop one.
To get started, understand your tagline is really your DNA, it is what your entire company is about. From there, everything else falls into place. Then you can design a logo. If you need help, we can help, but you should develop your tagline on your own, and let’s work from that. Once you have your logo and tagline in place, consider one of our plans from The Contractor’s Toolbox to help your marketing and social media campaigns.
I’ve been doing a lot of consulting this year…a lot more than usual, and one of the biggest takeaways I can tell you that you need to get together in order to have a successful construction company is processes and standardization.
Job Site Safety
Everything needs a process…that way, you can go from job site to job site to job site and know shit is getting done.
Without it, I’ve seen clients spend thousands on leads, only to lose them, not follow up with them, not bid them properly. I’ve seen projects suffer from defects because the subs screwed up or the contractor let the homeowner order the materials…then they got the wrong materials and they tried to make it work anyway.
Everything that can go wrong, WILL go wrong!
Do the things you need to do to make sure your project goes off without a hitch. Or plan for the hitches.
There are too many things that, if left to chance, will go wrong within your business. Get the help you need from the experts in your group. If you don’t know any experts or have a group, get out and start going to local Meetups or reach out to your local SCORE chapter.
Once you have systems and processes in place, you can then run multiple projects with multiple teams and feel safe in knowing you have a plan.
When it comes to hiring, how are you onboarding, training and keeping good help? If you are like most construction companies, you are struggling with this part of your business. There are ways to improve your hiring process, you just need a hiring plan.
If you want the best, you have to offer the best.
Many construction companies offer medical, dental, 401K’s, paid vacation. How does your benefits package compare? You can’t hire and retain top talent with a shitty employment plan.
How’s your marketing plan? Do you have one? What have you done to improve your marketing strategies to bring in new business? How well are you managing leads you’ve already gotten?
It is time to stop throwing darts at a board, look around you and see what is working for other companies, then copy the hell out of it. I mean it, there are no more original ideas when it comes to trying to get the Jones’ to pick up the phone and hire you.
In the famous words of Picasso, “Good artists copy, great artists steal.” If it was good enough for him, it’s good enough for us!
Carry inventory? Pick up a whole bunch of product because the manufacturer offers a great deal? How long is it going to take you to move it? What were the terms? If you got stuck, it wasn’t such a great deal now, was it?
My point is planning is the key. Go look at the biggest construction companies in your market doing what you do, they have a plan for everything. And a plan for that plan.
If your planning and process development isn’t up to snuff, we can work on that together while creating and overall marketing plan that makes the most sense for your business, just know that those who succeed, plan. So let’s do it!
I don’t know about you, but I have a fascination with yard signs. I like looking at designs, text, images, all of it. I like to see just how much info some companies try and jam into one sign before it becomes unreadable.
And I think I found the answer!
After extensive, unscientific research over the last few months, I think I’ve come up with the max number of words you can use in the main body of a yard sign before it starts to become too crowded.
After you watch the video, let me know, do you agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments. I could be totally wrong, my eyes have really taken a beating over the years, so it might just be me.