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Networking & Dating: How the Two Go Hand in Hand

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Tue, Mar 14,2017 @ 05:00 AM

Networking & Dating: How the Two Go Hand in Hand

Networking guide for remodeling contractors

Not sure how to get started using networking to help grow your business?

Building a professional network can often feel like dating: putting yourself out there to strangers, not knowing what to say and carrying that fear of rejection. But just like dating, there are ways to make networking much easier. Here's how.

 Getting Out There

The first step in professional networking is simply putting yourself out there, but many of us don't know where to being — it's not like there is a Tinder app for professional networking, right?

Actually, there is. Shapr works just like Tinder, where users swipe right and left when matched up with others in their field. Many young professionals enter a room with little to no information about anyone inside, so Shapr takes the guesswork out of the equation by only pairing you with people you're interested in meeting.

But if a Tinder-like app is just too close to dating, there are always more established sites, like MeetUp.com, to connect with others in your business.

 

Networking options for contractorsMaking an Introduction

While apps like Shapr make it easier to find others, there is no avoiding introducing yourself in person every now and then. If that sounds intimidating, just remember that you're not alone in this endeavor — some of the world's most reputable entrepreneurs stood in your shoes, and found themselves not knowing anyone in the professional world.

Tim Terriss, speaker and author of Tools of Titans, spoke to a crowd at the South By Southwest Conference and Festivals about building a world-class network from nothing. He goes into extensive detail during his presentation, but the core of the story is very much like dating: be yourself, don't be afraid to say hello and ask people to tell you about themselves — people love to talk about themselves.

 

The First Date

You have a match! You met someone in your industry and the professional sparks are flying. It could be tempting to sell your service or product on day one, but you wouldn't propose on the first date, so the goal here is to take things slowly.

The best way to create a long lasting relationship — and make the sale — is to give, give, give and then ask, says investor and social media guru Gary Vaynerchuk. A good example would be a graphic designer offering marketing advice for a company or group he or she knows. After some time, if the advice has value and the graphic designer gains credibility, some will eventually become customers willing to pay.

 

Going Steady

Networking tips for contractorsIf you've ever played the game "The Sims," you know that maintaining relationships can sometimes be harder than starting them. And like dating, you often have to take the initiative to keep the relationship strong. Treating clients or close professionals to gifts or flowers will never go out of style, and many find the extra effort is appreciated by the recipient.

Once you've established a relationship, going back to the beginning can always be a pleasant surprise. Just like taking an old girlfriend or boyfriend to the place where you first met, a young professional remodeler might go back to their first industry conference to brush up on basics, or set up a few coffee dates with friends in their networking groups to chat about the market.  Many great business idea can come from chatting with peers over coffee or a cold beer.

 

Jim Burch

 

Guest Blogger: Jim Burch - Jim is a copywriter from Phoenix and avid admirer of alliteration. His goals are to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, see all 30 baseball stadiums, and eliminate the improper use of "literally," but he figuratively can't even.

 

Topics: Differentiating your Business, Marketing Ideas, Lead Generation, Guest Blogs, Creating Referrals

Only For Contractors Who Want to Use Marketing to Help Them Make Tons of Money

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Sun, Jan 29,2017 @ 05:00 AM

Only For Contractors Who Want to Use Marketing to Help Them Make Tons of Money

JLC LIVE 2017In March I will be presenting two seminars for contractors at the JLC LIVE trade show in Providence RI.  Both seminars will be marketing related and although they certainly will have value individually, the two are very complimentary towards creating an effective web site for your business.  Additionally, both are offered on the same day making it easy and cost effective to improve your marketing knowledge all on the same day.  Below I share the seminar descriptions as well as why I am offering these topics.  If you want to get better qualified leads for profitable projects, from your ideal customers, I invite you to join me.  Better yet, think of it this way.  If you are not there you better hope your completion isn’t either!

Both seminars will be held on Thursday March 23, 2017 at the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence, RI.

 

JLC Show seminars by Shawn MccaddenSeminar #1: 7:30-9:00 AM

The first seminar, titled “Web Site Bootcamp for Beginners” will be an overview of how to get started and what to include if you are planning your first web site.  I put this session together because I see way too many contractors get sucked into paying for worthless web sites that might look good, but don’t do a dam thing towards causing qualified leads or profitable sales.  It will also be very helpful if you are not happy with your current web site and or are trying to figure out why it doesn’t help create lots of business. At this JLC seminar I will also share what I consider to be the “secret weapon page” you should have on your web site.

 

Seminar #2: 1:30-4:40 PM

Mccadden Seminars at JLC LIVE 2017The second seminar is actually a 3 hr. workshop with plenty of time built in for questions and interaction.  The workshop is titled “Choosing and Targeting the Right Customers and Project Types for Your Business”.  I put this JLC Marketing Workshop together to help contractors become much more strategic about the marketing they do and how they do it.  If you plan to do any marketing this workshop will help make sure you and anyone else involved has a clear understanding of exactly what you are trying to solve and or accomplish with your marketing.  That way you can make sure your employees and or marketing provider you work with can be held accountable to the purpose of the marketing they help you with, not just pay them for doing it even if it doesn’t work.  I’m even including a sample marketing plan in the handout so we can review and discuss it together at the workshop.

Scroll down to see the full description and learning objectives for the two seminars.

I hope I will see you there!

 

View JLC LIVE 2017 Show dates, location and hours

View the 2017 JLC LIVE Conference schedule

Register for JLC LIVE

 

McCadden Seminar Descriptions for JLC LIVE 2017

Web Site Boot Camp for Beginners (90 Minutes)

Every remodeling business can benefit from a well done website if it wants good customers to find and buy from it for reasons other than price.   If you have been putting off doing a website for your remodeling business because you have no idea where to start, this boot camp is for you.  Don’t worry if you don’t know what SEO means or you don’t know the difference between HTML and a URL.  This will be a down to earth presentation using language and examples every remodeler will understand. 

Learning objectives: By attending this seminar you will:

  • Identify what you need to know and consider before going forward with your website.
  • Learn to identify what you can and should do yourself and where you will need help
  • See how easy it can be to maintain and add to your web site if you have the right tools
  • Learn how to get the right people to find your website and tell others about it

 

 

Choosing and Targeting the Right Customers and Project Types for Your Business (3 Hours.)

Many remodelers and builders have come to realize that their businesses can no longer be all things to all people and that trying to do so makes it almost impossible to differentiate themselves in today’s marketplace. Smart consumers don’t want generic. They want different and they are using the internet to find, research and prequalify which businesses they will work with.

By strategically targeting specific customer types and project types your business can benefit in many ways and increase profitability at the same time. This seminar is designed to help you understand the many factors that you and your business can take into consideration if you want to successfully and profitably target, market to and attract a strategic niche.

Learning objectives: By completing this class you will:

  • Learn several powerful areas to explore and consider when identifying your target customer and niche
  • Learn how earning gross profit can depend on what you sell and how you sell it.
  • Find out how the internet and your website can help the right prospects find you and your business

 

Topics: Contractor Training, Differentiating your Business, Marketing, Web Site Related, Lead Generation, Marketing Considerations

Great Way to Filter Through Leads and Get Better Remodeling Customers

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Wed, Jun 01,2016 @ 05:00 AM

Prequalifying Remodeling Leads

 

With the Remodeling marketplace booming this spring and predictions of close to a 10% increase in remodeling spending this year over last there will be plenty of work out there for remodeling contractors in 2016.   With the surge in mind I have been coaching my contractor clients to be smart about how they do business.   I have been stressing that they should take advantage of this surge by being selective about the customers they choose to work with and by raising their margins now before they get too booked up and regret becoming unavailable.  If this makes sense to you and for your business read on to find out how to do fewer sales calls but at the same time close higher margin deals.

 

Agree on an agenda before committing to a sales call

Before you even commit to a sales call get your prospect’s commitment to discuss and commit to an agenda for the first sales call.  Doing so can help you control the sales call as well as how your valuable and limited time will be invested.  

The agenda should include the things they want to accomplish as well as the things you want to accomplish at that first meeting.   If you can’t or won’t agree to what they want to accomplish, or they won’t agree to what you want to accomplish, then simply let them know you won’t be able to help them. 

 

These three things should be part of your agenda

After you hear and approve of the items they want on the agenda ask permission to share the items you want on the agenda.  You can include anything you want on your agenda but make sure at a minimum you get a commitment to discuss these three things before asking them if it still makes sense to invite you over:

 

Can we talk about why you want to do your project?

How to prequalify remodeling leadsYou will need to know this info to create a unique solution and to have confidence in what you suggest to them when discussing options.  You will also need to know this information to avoid becoming a commodity contractor by just giving them a price on what they thought they needed.  You know, just like pretty much every commodity contractor does every day.

 

Can we talk about your budget for this project?

Let them know you will either need to get a realist budget from them in order to help them, or that you can let them know what they should assume for a budget.  But, be clear that a requirement of getting together will be to discuss and decide if there is a fit between their budget and the scope of work they would like completed.

 

Can we talk about how you plan to make your decisions?

how remodelers can set a sales call agendaYou need to get their commitment to discuss how they will decide about important project details as well as which contractor they will ultimately partner with.  If you don’t know how they plan to make these decisions how can you possibly help them make decisions and why should you be surprised when they don’t or can’t decide? 

If they don’t know how they plan to make decisions think of it as your job to help them figure that out.  That alone can help differentiate you from the commodity contractors.    

      

Setting the agenda shows you’re serious and filters out the commodity buyers

Many of my consulting clients are now using what I call “the agenda step” as a way to prequalify who they are willing to visit.  By creating this agenda they essentially give their prospects some homework to do to get ready for the visit.  After my clients get good at setting the agenda they experience much better close ratios and they all report selling to much better customers.  They also report most of these better customers are also willing to pay higher prices.  

After setting the appointment several of my clients even send a follow-up appointment confirmation email documenting the agreed agenda.

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One more thing to keep in mind

Good customers who are willing to have honest discussions and are willing to pay more for “different” hang around with other people just like them.  After successfully putting the agenda step in place at your business, like my clients, you will probably get referrals to more good customers who will pay more for different.

If you want some help improving your sales results contact me today!

 

Topics: Sales Considerations, Differentiating your Business, Earning More Money, Lead Generation, Prequalifying, Creating Referrals

Guerilla Advertising: Transform Boring Ideas into Surefire Sales

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Tue, May 10,2016 @ 05:00 AM

Guerilla Advertising: Transform Boring Ideas into Surefire Sales

Guerilla marketing for contractorsIf you are Bechtel Construction, with more than $17 billion in operations, you need not worry about advertising under budgets in such a way that would prevent you from putting food on the table.  After all, most in the construction industry, including designers and architects, are sole owners, with few if any employees. But for those of us who don't have a million-dollar advertising budget, we can turn to and rely on guerilla marketing and advertising to get our brand message out there.

 

Guerilla Marketing Defined

Guerilla marketing is generally characterized by unique or unconventional advertisements that create buzz because they are so mind-blowing. Since it relies more on cleverness than mass reproduction, guerilla marketing is hallmarked by being very cost effective and, in some cases, free.

Michael Serazio, author of Your Ad Here: The Cool Sell of Guerilla Marketing, calls this marketing style the “cool sell,” because of its strategy to use buzz to promote brand awareness, as opposed to a hotter sell of directly advertising the product.

 

Goals of a Guerilla Campaign

How Remodelers can use Guerilla MarketingWord of mouth is still one of the best marketing tools a business can utilize. In the world of social media, word of mouth is amplified by the power of the Internet.

Likewise, guerilla marketing uses this phenomenon to get people talking about your brand by doing something clever and worthy of conversation. Named for its analogy to guerilla warfare, this marketing strategy ambushes potential customers using the element of surprise, sabotages competitors in the domain of brand reputation, and uses tactics to reach potential target demographics in a more efficient way.

 

Tap Into the Buyer's Persona

Of course, any marketing campaign has the ultimate goal of driving sales. You want consumers to recognize your company, but you also need them to use your business.

Guerilla marketing is excellent at influencing consumer purchasing habits. Because it relies on cleverness, this marketing technique inherently sends a message that your business is smart and savvy. The assumption is that you can use this brainpower for the benefit of your clients; all they need to do is pick up the phone and call you.

 

Going Green and Other Niches

Guerilla marketing is limited in size to a specific advertising platform. In business, this is called a niche market.

Working a narrow demographic of like minded people will lower your advertising costs, make it easier to find ideas that resonate with consumers, and increase your brand reputation. The “green” niche is particularly well suited for the construction industry. Since regular advertising is generally viewed very skeptically, green guerilla marketing can be a trusted alternative.

 

Case Study

Examples of guerilla marketing for contractorsNow that you have an understanding of the components for guerilla marketing, it would suit you well to examine the strategies of some of the more successful companies.

As an eye-catching and surprising motif, various zoos across the country have used the sides of buses drawn to look like a snake or a rhino denting the vehicle for their guerilla marketing efforts.

Because contractors are constantly on the road, it would be beneficial of them to use their vehicles for advertising purposes. If the vehicle is banged up, then look into purchasing a new or used vehicle and write it off as a marketing expense. From there, your job is to get creative. Make your vehicle look like it's overloaded, and paint the motto “we are full of your dreams."

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Topics: Differentiating your Business, Marketing, Marketing Ideas, Lead Generation

What Happened When I Stopped Providing Free Estimates

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Sun, Jun 28,2015 @ 07:00 AM

Guest Blog: What Happened When I Stopped Providing Free Estimates

Mouse_trap_free_bait-wrIf you are still running free estimates and playing a numbers game of leads to appointments to sales then I have something valuable to share. In the past I believed that if I did not actively pursue new clients, and provide free estimates, I would have no income. It was a numbers game; 5 leads - 3 appointments  -1 sale. Sound familiar? In this article I share my lesson in letting go; finding the faith to trust a system to qualify prospects, and the positive impact it can make for your business as well as your cash flow.

 

How I discovered the solution that worked for me

For me, it was getting increasingly difficult to find and schedule client meetings with my increasing responsibilities of being a Mom with a terminal illness. Running from lead to lead was taking up the time I needed to run my business and finish the contracts that we already had in the pipeline. Holding on to how I always did things was holding us back. I needed a temporary solution to what was a temporary situation.

Then, one late fall morning while catching up with reading emails and industry updates, I came upon an article about a remodeling business joining with another remodeling business to create a winning partnership.

Inspired by that article I decided that if I could temporarily give up running the leads to create the sales opportunity I would then be able to concentrate on design, closing the deal and project execution.   Doing so would be the temporary solution I needed to solve my current challenges. It worked. I found a design firm with a great front end sales system and at the same time was struggling with project management and finding responsive sub contractors. And, fortunately there would be no conflict, as they only needed to temporarily fill this need as they were relocating out of the area in six months, one year max. It was a good fit, they were looking to hire a per contract designer/project manager. The fact that I already had a top notch construction team in place sealed the deal.

 

The results

How contractors can stop giving free estimatesAs a result of that temporary relationship I learned how to create a trained support staff at my own business and secured steady work for my team. By learning how to use and sell paid consultations our leads turned into project development retainers which then turned into profitable construction contracts. That temporary relationship was also a big success for the partnering firm; they had a record earning year and made a lot of money.

When I stepped out of my business and worked within a sales process for another firm it forced me to stop chasing down those leads that after too much investment of my time proved to be unqualified. As an owner, I would not have had the faith that charging for estimates would actually provide a constant flow of better customers. I was too invested in my previous training and experience as a sales person. I was dead wrong.

 

The change was an emotional one; here is how I did it

First I had to stop thinking of my role as being an in-home salesperson. Second, I had to better and fully understand why our clients were actually hiring us.  Finally, I had to set up a marketing and sales system that could drive value and was not contingent upon my making it through the prospect’s front door to get the “opportunity to do an estimate".

 

Here are the steps I took and worked for me:

Step 1. I optimize my online profiles to convey value; value to my target prospects.
Step 2. We made it easy to see reviews and then contact us.
Step 3. The first phone call replaced the in-home appointment.
Step 4. We added “homework" for the prospect to do and the use of a “paid consultation"
Step 5. We offered prospects a retainer to act as their very own personal consultant and helped them develop “their project”.

 

The result of adopting this system has been life changing

How to stop giving free estimatesI no longer run around from appointment to appointment. I now have the time to focus on creating more ways to provide paying prospects with value early in the process. Our business is running with more consistency and cash flow has increased. For every consultation I go on now we have a 70% close rate to a full construction contract, a 20% conversion to a design/material contract and about 10% of our prospects don’t move forward.  

Since returning to concentrate in full on my business and my new sales role gross sales have increased over the last twelve months by more than 75%. This is because we now focus on our ideal client. We actively seek clients that have budgets that match our business model and refer the other prospects to contractors that are better suited for them. Cash flow problems have all but disappeared.

It starts with faith. It took trusting a system, knowing who our client is, and having the time to create opportunities to provide value.

 

Cynthia MurphyGuest Blogger: Cynthia Murphy, CKBR, is a Certified Kitchen and Bath Remodeler and co-owner of Murphy’s Design, LLC. She operates a Design Studio in Fairfax Virginia. She will be launching her blog called “Home Design Labs” in June and hosting an industry specific interview podcast called “The Social Home Pro” this summer on iTunes and Stitcher radio. If you would like to connect with Cynthia you can contact her via her website, blog or you can email her at cynthia@murphysdesignllc.com.


Topics: Business Management, Estimating, Differentiating your Business, Earning More Money, Lead Generation, Guest Blogs, Prequalifying, Opinions from Contractors, Estimating Considerations, Customer Relations

Contractors Are Unknowingly BUT LEGALLY Giving Away Their Identity To Lead Gen Companies

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Wed, Feb 18,2015 @ 06:00 AM

Contractors Are Unknowingly BUT LEGALLY Giving Away Their Identity To Lead Gen Companies

Lead Generation services for contraciorsI constantly read forum posts about contractors’ being shocked to discover they are being re-directed away from their own company when searching for their own company online, and then are directed to a lead generation service. The issue is rampant – but unfortunately, the situation is typically inadvertently created by the contractors’ themselves.

 

 

So let's just jump to some research we did at MyOnlineToolbox

We never intended to focus on the specifics of Lead Generation Terms & Conditions.  The issue started to intrigue us when a handful of our contractor website marketing clients were having challenges getting website leads.  We discovered through our research that these contractors signed up to one or more Lead Generation Services over the years.  The contractors simply did not realize how hard it was to literally compete against themselves based on how well the Lead Generation companies were using their information against them.

Problems with Contractor Lead Generation servicesWe read the Terms & Conditions of numerous Lead Generation companies.   It is important to note that every lead generation company views anything you submit to their site for content as their own. That includes your business biography, services, testimonials and pictures.  The terms sometimes have a permutation of wording that states "the contractor agrees that a consumer MAY NOT be directed back to the contractor if the contractor does not have the appropriate spending limit and other limitations".

We think it is fair to replace MAY NOT with WILL NOT when money is not to be made.  And considering the whole issue is already ambiguous, we also wish someone could explain what "OTHER LIMITATIONS" means since we feel the limitations are definitely directed against the individual contractor.

And, to make matters worse, the terms also state the contractor agrees the lead generation company can take the content (reminder: your Business Bio Information that you submit) and use, copy, reproduce, and sublicense any content on your profile page to drive traffic to the content.  But they do not have to pass the consumer to the contractor.  

So let's guess what the lead generation company will do next... You wonder?

 

We interpret the situation this way:

Concerned_contractor-wrThe contractor is asked to sign up, pass along his/her identity to the lead generation company, and the lead generation company can use the information anyway it wants if you do not pay them forever.

Just imagine if every contractor knew up front, in big bold explanation what he is giving up when he agrees to join a lead generation service (for free or paid, doesn't matter).  But many times we feel the contractor is being misled into not only what he is getting for free, but also what he is not getting and how their company information may no longer be used to their company’s benefit

It begs to wonder why anyone would agree to one way terms with something as important as their business identity.

 

Maybe we are wrong

If we are wrong about this let’s hear from a lead generation company who feels we are wrong and can offer a specific explanation as to their terms and conditions to ensure contractors know the difference between your services and other lead generation services.  But it would also be nice to hear that, unconditionally, your company would never use a contractor's business data to drive traffic to your site in order to then connect a potential consumer with different contractor.  

 

For more information

Unfortunately we discovered so many ways information is used against a contractor that it was easy to organize and share our findings with a visual understanding.  We do that here in a few short videos lumped together as Say No To Lead Generation Companies.

 

Advice for choosing a contractor lead generation serviceSo in summary, there are only two ways to win at getting more online lead opportunities:

  1. Do not sign up for any Lead Generation Services to avoid content being used against your company over a period of time.  And if you feel so compelled to try a service, then by all means just read the Terms & Conditions first since you may have second thoughts.
  2. Have your own website and learn the basics of website marketing (referred to as SEO Search Engine Optimization).  A little bit of website tweaking will give you years of ongoing opportunities.  It is not that hard all.

 

Brian Javeline

 

Guest Blogger: Brian Javeline is President & Co-founder of www.MyOnlineToolbox.com, providing business software and the industry’s popular Contractor Website Online Marketing Education Class.

 

 

 

Topics: Web Site Related, Lead Generation, Guest Blogs, Marketing Considerations, Creating Referrals

Marketing System Considerations for Remodelers Looking to Break $1Million

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Wed, Jan 21,2015 @ 06:00 AM

Marketing System Considerations for Remodelers Looking to Break $1Million

marketing for remodelers to help grow the businessMost remodelers, but certainly not all, rely heavily on referrals and repeat customers as they grow their businesses.  This may keep a contractor doing a low volume of work busy, but relying so exclusively on referrals won't be adequate if you want to become a construction business owner, break the $1Million installed sales threshold and develop a constantly growing business.

The fact is waiting for the phone to ring, having no idea what type of prospect will be calling your business, or what types of projects they will be looking for is a risky and uncomfortable way to grow a business.  Remodelers who attempt to grow without a marketing system in place will experience a roller coaster like ride of sales volume from year to year as well as season to season throughout any one year.  Plus, when leads are slow business owners may compromise on their pricing and even who they allow to become customers.   Doing business this way can be very stressful and frustrating for the owner as well as the employees.

To successfully grow past $1Million at your remodeling company, and sustain that growth from year to year, a strategic marketing plan and system are needed. Here are several important marketing related considerations remodeling business owners will need to address if they want to get up to $1Million. They will also need to already have these things in place to profitably grow past $1Million and comfortably sustain that growth.

 

Decide your niches

Creating remodeling leadsThere are many customer types out there all with their own expectations when it comes to working with a remodeler. Successful remodeling businesses are those that strategically decide who they will be and who they will serve. If you choose to work for people who buy on price and expect more than they are willing to pay for, you will get more work from them.  And because people tend to hang out with other people just like them, your past customers will refer you to more customers just like them. Before you do marketing to grow your business decide and define who you want as your customer. Also, think about the project types that make sense for the business you want to develop and grow. For example pull and replace kitchens and bathrooms may not be sexy or all that challenging to you, but remember you are building a company and a team of employees to complete what your company decides to sell. If you decide to build complicated and or highly detailed projects you will need the appropriate systems and staff to estimate, sell and produce that level of project to the expectations of your targeted client type. Choose wisely.

 

Develop a marketing plan

Marketing is only a cost if you don't know why you are doing it and or if you are doing it wrong.   By having a marketing plan and a way to measure against the pre-established goals in your plan, the money you spend on marketing is more likely to be an investment with high ROI.  Keep in mind a list of marketing tactics you intend to employ is not a marketing plan. Tactics should only be considered and developed after you have decided what you want to accomplish.  To help with the delegation of marketing related tasks the business should also create a marketing calendar identifying not only when defined marketing tactics will be used, but also when supporting activities must be scheduled, delegated and completed to support the on time delivery of the tactics to be used.  I refer to this as "franchising" your marketing because your system and calendar will help you manage the day to day work and activities required to keep it going without the need for micromanagement of the staff doing it. By having a plan you can also estimate the cost of your plan and include that cost in your overhead budget and calculated markup for pricing jobs.

 

Be strategic about how you do your marketing

Target marketing for remodelers Your marketing should serve two very important purposes.  The first is to help your target customer type(s) find you. The second is to convert leads into sales. The marketing tactics you use should support these two goals. One marketing tactic that can be really effective at accomplishing both could be your company web site.  For example, done well, SEO can be used so prospects searching online for certain services and contractor types can find your business, and find it on the first page of search engine results. Goal #1 achieved. But once you get them to your site you also need to differentiate your business from other businesses in the marketplace or risk being seen as a commodity. As discussed above, if you know your target niches you can then offer them additional information about those differences and can include customer testimonials as to why those differences were important and mattered to them.  The right information will help prospects decide if your difference matters and they should contact you, or that your difference doesn't matter enough to pay for it and they should look elsewhere.  

 

Summary

With the right marketing in place growing a remodeling business past the $1Million threshold is much easier and far less risky.  Choosing the right customer types and job types will make it much easier to develop cost effective and highly targeted marketing tactics.  By franchising how it gets done the owner can gain more time to work on other high value activities that keep the business healthy, profitable and growing. The right remodeling consumers want different and they will pay more for the right difference.

 

(Note: This is the seventh article in a series of articles written specifically for remodelers who want to successfully break past doing $1M/year in installed sales. Click here to see a List of all the articles in the series.)

 

Topics: Business Growth, Differentiating your Business, Marketing, Lead Generation, Marketing Considerations, Breaking $1Million

How and Why Contractors Need To Create Powerful Testimonials

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Thu, Aug 07,2014 @ 06:00 AM

How and Why Contractors Need To Create Powerful Testimonials

How contractors can get testimonials

 

Testimonials can be the most effective marketing tool a remodeler has and they are free!  They provide credible confirmation of your marketing message because they come from people who have actually experienced working with your company.   Fortunately, with some planning and the use of simple strategies, powerful testimonials can also be very easy to get. 

Selling and working on fun projects makes sense.  But working for the wrong clients can kill the fun in a project for its entire duration.   In this article I want to share how you can get and use testimonials as a powerful and effective way of demonstrating your company’s differences so you can attract both the right clients as well as the right projects for your business.

 

Think about what you are or should be selling

In his book “Selling the Invisible” Harry Beckwith talks about outside perception and inside reality. 

  • How Contractors can get testimonialsThe outside perception is what prospects come to think about your business by what they observe, much like looking at a picture. 
  • The inside reality is what they come to know about you and your company by actually experiencing working with you and your team. 

I can personally share with you that understanding this difference and putting it to work within our marketing strategy caused a significant improvement in lead quality and lead quantity at my remodeling company.   By sharing testimonials that revealed how we did business we attracted customers who wanted us for our way of doing business, not just for the quality of our work.

A picture may be worth a thousand words but a well written testimonial can paint a specific picture that has the value of gold.

 

Four important considerations for creating powerful testimonials

  1. I found that the best testimonials are short and concise, getting right to a main point.  Most importantly, they include the true emotions experienced by the customer as they worked with you and your team, and or as a result of how your company’s processes helped them achieve their true remodeling goals.
  2. They are told like stories and include concrete examples from the customer’s experience that back up the main point and make the testimonial memorable.
  3. I found that it is best to get testimonials in writing from customers sooner than later, while the thoughts are fresh in their minds and they are enthusiastic about what they are sharing with you. 
  4. Always be sure to get written permission to use their testimonials.  If possible, get permission to use their name or initials with the testimonial, as well as the town they live in.   Including the source makes the message all that more credible.

 

Summary

describe the imageIn a lot of ways testimonials are like referrals.  If contractors wait for them to happen they will get some referrals and some business.  On the other hand, if contractors are proactive in causing them to happen and are strategic about causing the inside reality they include, contractors can get great customers and a lot more business.

In a future article I’ll share some examples and some specific strategies you can use to cause and secure powerful testimonials.

Click here to subscribe so you won't miss it.

 


Topics: Differentiating your Business, Marketing Ideas, Lead Generation, Customer Relations, Books for Contractors, Creating Referrals

Quick and Easy SEO Test : Does Your Web Site Expert Really Get SEO

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Sun, Jun 08,2014 @ 06:00 AM

Quick and Easy SEO Test : Does Your Web Site Expert Really Get SEO

SEO for contractors

 

Many remodelers have invested serious money in their web sites and in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Experts as a way to improve search engine results to bring in the leads they need to sell work.  My experience has shown that many web site designers claiming to be SEO experts really have a limited understanding of how SEO works.  Here’s one quick and easy test you can do yourself to determine if your so called web site and or SEO expert really understands SEO.  Keep in mind that this is just one factor for SEO.  Many other factors certainly apply.

 

Was your website designed properly for SEO?

Just like a design/build project, the design of your web site should serve an intended purpose. In this example let’s say that purpose is to attract prospects who are searching for the services your business offers (e.g.: Kitchen renovations, bathroom remodeling, roof replacement, gutter cleaning…).   Having a web site that looks good is not enough of a reason for Google or any other search engine to find your site and figure out what you offer.  If the search engines can’t find your site it won’t be included in search engine results when a consumer is searching for a remodeler to work with.  Proper SEO strategies must be used so search engines will find your site and identify what content is on your site.  If done well, when both the search engine and a consumer searches the web using the same keywords you have included on your site, the search engine results they get will include the page or pages on your site that include those keywords.


Bottom line: 

Websites show up in search engine results only when they're relevant to keyword queries.

For the purpose of SEO the page title is the most important information on a web page. You can see a page title on every individual web page when it loads up on your screen.   The page title is located in the page tab in the upper left of an open browser window above the page URL.  Below is a sample from my site:


SEO for remodelers

 

Notice that this page on my site is the “what I do” page as found in the site’s navigation list.  If a visitor is already on my site they can open this page to find out what I do.  However, if they are using a search engine to look for a remodeling consultant or a remodeling industry speaker; they would never find me by searching using the key words; “What I do”

On the other hand, because I have included key words about what I do in the page title, if they use any of those key words when they do a search, and search engines have already found out what I do because of those key words, my site and this particular page will show up in search engine results. 

To see the full page title and all of its content at your own site simply place your cursor over the page title.  When you see what’s there you can decide for yourself if your SEO expert has included your desired keywords. 

 

Page title optimization is not enough

Another thing search engines look for is that you actually have content on the page relevant to the key words in your title.  Don’t optimize the title unless you also optimize the content.  If you do search engines may actually discount the page’s SEO value.

SEO help for contractorsBy suggesting these simple changes and others to the remodelers I work with, I have helped them maximize their ROI for the dollars they spend on their web sites.   Using the right strategies they attract not just leads, but targeted qualified leads for the kinds of customers and projects they want to get.

 

Now do the test on your site

To see how well you SEO expert has optimized the page titles at each page on you site, open each page and see what is in the page title.   If the page title only includes the name of your company or the page name used in your site’s navigation list, it’s not optimized to help search engines or remodeling prospects find your site and what you offer.  If you have to tell your web site or SEO expert about this, I suggest you should find another expert.

Let me know if I can help!

 

Topics: Marketing, Web Site Related, Lead Generation

3 Financial Myths That Compromise a Contractor's Long Term Success

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Tue, Nov 26,2013 @ 06:00 AM

3 Financial Myths That Compromise a Contractor's Long Term Success

Contractor financial mistakes

 

Here is my list of the top three myths I see that compromise a contractor's ability to achieve long term financial success.  These areas definitely affect a contractor ability to profitably grow a business, as well as the contractor’s personal financial health, including retirement funding.

 

I must be competitive with my pricing

Contracors using competitive pricingIn my opinion when any business seeks to be competitive it typically becomes a commodity.  By that I mean the buying public looks at that business and or it’s offering as being the same as their other choices.   When consumers see a product or service as a commodity they ultimately make their choice between available options based on price.   By trying to remain competitive contractors playing in this sandbox become bidders in a reverse auction where the loser is the one who wins. 

To prove my point, ask any contractor who sells their services through a bidding process if they will have the money they need to comfortably retire at 65 without working again.  There will be some exceptions, but I bet the majority will tell you their plan is to work until they die.  What would their significant other say about that plan?

Also, keep in mind that nine out of every ten contractors will eventually fail.   By being competitive contractors are most likely joining the ranks of contractors who will eventually fail.   Rather than compete, why not differentiate your business?   Check out an article I wrote on this subject for Remodeling Magazine

 

 

I can't raise my prices; I'm already the most expensive contractor in my market.

I hear this one all the time from contractors.  Most of the time it comes from contractors who have no idea of their true cost of doing business and guess at what markup to use.  This is referred to as the WAG method, or the "Wild Ass Guess" method.  Based on the fact that they are guessing at what price they should charge I would also suggest they are guessing about being the highest price in their market.   Did they do or hire someone else to do market research to back up their claims?  I doubt it. 

Buyers are liarsWhen I ask how they know they are the most expensive most contractors tell me their prospects are the source of their assumptions.   For those using their prospects' feedback to determine their price point in the marketplace remember, buyers are liars.   The 11th commandment states that you can lie to a sales person and still go to heaven!

One of my contractor coaching clients told me he was the most expensive in his market and would not be able to sell anything if he raised his prices.    After I helped him do his first business budget and determine the markup he needed to use to cover his true overhead costs and make a profit, he went out that night and closed a deal at his new higher pricing.  Check out this article I wrote for remodeling magazine about the benefits of having confidence in you numbers.

 

I can only charge what the market will bear

Remodeling salespersonNow, if a contractor has done market research, for his or her local market, this may be true.   Savvy contractors, those who know what price they need to charge, will sell at higher prices up to the point that a majority of protects stop buying.  I would consider this to be true market research.  However, these business not only know how to determine the true costs of doing business, they also typically have professional marketing programs to help them get in front of specific prospects and they employ professionally trained salespeople who know how to sell.

Contractors using the WAG method to price their work also typically do not have a strategic marketing plan.  Without targeting a specific market of customer types, how can a business owner know what price point the market will bear?  Without professional sales skills, how would a contractor know if the reason for not selling at higher prices is due to the market or to his/her selling skills?

Also, what market are they referring to; the one they are proactively pursuing or the one that randomly ends up knocking on their door?  Are they using professionally trained sales people or are they using order takers?   One way to differentiate between sales people and order takers is that sales people present their solutions in person.  Order takers typically hit send.   If you use the hit send method I don’t think that counts as a valid way to test what the market will bear.

 

Want to be able to charge more for what you do? 

Check out this blog about why some contractors can raise their prices but most can’t.

Marketing workshop for contractors

 

Looking to target specific customers and work types?

Check out this all day Marketing and Sales Workshop

 

 

 

Topics: Sales Considerations, Differentiating your Business, Financial Related Topics, Retirement Planning, Earning More Money, Lead Generation, Marketing Considerations, Business Planning