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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

How Contractors Can Build and Better Their Client Relationships

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

How Contractors Can Build and Better Their Client Relationships

Ways Contractors Can Build Better Client RelationshipsThough going above and beyond with the project at hand is usually the No. 1 priority for contractors, creating and cultivating client relationships follows closely behind in position No. 2. Any business owner and manager knows that building and maintaining great relationships with clients — otherwise known as relationship marketing — is key to a company’s success. Many companies, however, do not employ a dedicated customer relationship manager (CRM). But that doesn’t mean relationship marketing should be pushed to the wayside. We’ve gathered four tips on how you can help cultivate positive relationships with clients right now:

Connecting the Dots

One CEO says her best tip is to be a connector. In other words, when meeting a potential new client, or even a current client, ask yourself what you can do for them. Aside from the job or project at hand, perhaps you’ve gleaned from the conversation that he or she could use a referral to a good painter, or even something as minor as a good place for lunch. Giving clients or potential clients access to your network can help them gain confidence in your advice. Always having an “I can help” attitude, even if it doesn’t directly benefit you, will leave a positive effect on people...and could result in more business or a referral one day.

Get Clear

Experts also agree that clear communication goes a long way in keeping clients happy. They say to be upfront from the very moment you meet with clients or potential clients so you can bid in a fair and accurate way. Also, be sure you are completely clear on client expectations and that they are clear on what you can deliver to ensure a united vision. Additionally, using layman’s terms with clients who may not have excessive construction experience can help them understand better and not feel awkward by asking for clarification.

Further, deciding from the start who the point of contact will be on both ends, as well as determining the preferred mode of communication — whether text, email or phone calls — can help avoid ambiguity.

Number One

Thanking remodeling clientsAnother best practice is to treat every client like your most important client. Since satisfied clients are more likely to refer you, it is wise to provide each and every client with your very best service, no matter if they are bringing you the largest payment or the smallest. Just like in life, you never know who people know, and who they may (or may not) refer you to. Not to mention, today’s startup could be tomorrow’s Fortune 500 Company. So provide service accordingly.

Tokens of Appreciation

While offering clients your own company swag — pens, T-shirts, etc. — is a nice way to share your appreciation and get your name out there, it is wise to consider doing more. Sometimes, even the smallest form of a “thank you” is deeply appreciated by clients. Don’t underestimate the power of something as small as a hand-written thank-you card. However, if you’d like to go above and beyond, an unexpected gift delivery at the end of the project or on a holiday can send a bigger message of thanks.

An unexpected delivery can brighten anyone’s day. Perhaps you know that your client is a wine enthusiast or enjoys a good microbrew. As such, a gift delivery with these items offers a personal touch. If you’re unsure of what to send, custom gift baskets full of luxury spa items, gourmet chocolates or sweet treats and cookies are always a safe bet. Beautifully designed and wrapped, FTD gift baskets offer a touch of class and will be something your client is sure to remember and appreciate.

 

Sheryl Coonan

 

Guest Blogger: Sheryl Coonan is a lifestyle, fashion and business writer from metro Detroit.

 

 

Topics: Business Growth, Differentiating your Business, Marketing, Marketing Ideas, Guest Blogs, Building Relationships, Marketing Considerations, Customer Relations

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

Essential Business Hacks for Independent Contractors

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Mon, Oct 05,2015 @ 05:30 AM

Essential Business Hacks for Independent Contractors

Man_at_Laptop_talking_on_phone-wr-1Over 10 million Americans are independent contractors, according to the most recent estimates by the U.S. Department of Labor. Whether that means you do freelance work or have started your own company and hope to employ many people yourself one day, most independent contractors have one thing in common: they are learning as they go.


Here are some tried and true tips to help you navigate the time, energy and, most importantly, money-sucking pitfalls of entrepreneurship, so you can actually appreciate the joys of working for yourself:


Get Eco-Friendly

Your customers will love you for getting eco-friendly and so will your bank account. Eliminate paper from your processes as much as possible. Having everything digital makes your business run faster and smoother and saves you money and time down the line.

If you travel for work and your vehicle is not the most fuel efficient, you’re throwing money out the window every month, as well as contributing to smog and pollution. But that doesn’t mean you have to invest in an expensive electric car to save precious startup money. Check out the EPA’s new SmartWay certification for a list of budget-friendly vehicles that reduce carbon emissions and have saved drivers over $16.8 billion in fuel costs since 2004.


Buy in Bulk and Ahead of Time

Office supplies for contractorsFrom office supplies to packing materials, the biggest waste of time and energy is buying things you knew you would need at the last minute and paying full retail price. If you’re a retailer, seek out wholesale options and buy in bulk for the maximum discount. Look into a Costco membership for any and all office supplies. Office furniture can also be found at the local thrift store, furniture rental company or hotel furniture liquidators for pennies on the dollar.


Don’t Let Cash Flow Stop You

You are bound to have cash flow issues at some point. The thrill of working for yourself can quickly become the anxiety of "why on Earth did I think I could stand not knowing how much money I was going to be making each month?" Your bills may be fixed, but your income is not, so saving money prior to striking out on your own and during the startup process is crucial. It’s impossible to foresee all the hidden costs that are sure to crop in the beginning, so you need a little cushion.

SBA Loans for contractorsBut not even a lack of cash flow can stop you these days. With the popularity of crowdfunding, job placement services and Craigslist, there are outlets everywhere for the hard working, resourceful, independent contractor. Leave no stone unturned and check to see if you qualify for any small business loans or grants from the SBA.


Leverage Free Technology

Marketing yourself doesn’t have to cost you a fortune, but beware of companies looking to take advantage of unwitting new contractors. There are a lot of lead referral services out there that boast thousands of job postings for everything from nannies to graphic designers. Often they pull the old bait and switch move: you spend hours creating a profile for their sites, adding product pictures, reviews, references and certifications only for them to ask for a credit card and a hefty fee when you’re about to hit submit. You don’t want all that work to go to waste, so you plunk down your credit card against your better judgment and pay for a month (or three) of leads that, honestly, may not even exist.

The good news is you really can market yourself for free. Research your competitors and find out what social media outlets they’re using. Take notes and improve upon their tactics to stand apart from the crowd. Many SEO experts recommend using five or less social media sites and keeping your focus on original, quality content. And don’t discount the power of LinkedIn for finding and connecting with the top names in your industry; it’s like the Facebook of finance.

 

Stacy EdenGuest Blogger:  Stacy Eden is a Phoenix, Arizona native with a passion for art, power tools, and historical significance. She draws inspiration from classic cars, ancient mythological sculptures and jewelry designers such as Delfina Delettrez, Shaun Leane, and Dior Jewellery creative director Victoire de Castellane.

Topics: Business Financials, Starting a Business, Free Stuff, Cash Flow, Marketing Ideas, Guest Blogs

How Contractors Can Build & Protect Their Brand Reputation

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Wed, Sep 09,2015 @ 12:59 PM

How Contractors Can Build & Protect Their Brand Reputation

Brand building advice for contractorsFor contractors, brand reputation can make the difference between winning and losing a big contract. A case in point is DuPont. Over the past two decades, DuPont has built a reputation as a safety leader in the chemical industry, enabling its Sustainable Solutions unit to generate $3.9 billion a year training other companies in workplace and environmental safety. Now, that income is at risk after a series of fatalities, lawsuits, investigations, and fines have led the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to place DuPont on its list of severe workplace safety standards violators. Subsequent negative publicity has DuPont's clients questioning the company's safety reputation and whether or not they want to continue using them as a contractor.

DuPont is big enough to take a hit and recover, but for a smaller contractor, even a few negative online reviews can quickly add up to significant lost business and revenue. Whether you're a large or small contractor, it's in your best interest to keep an eye on building and protecting your online reputation.

 

Building Your Good Name

International consultancy and construction company Mace has won Building Awards Major Contractor of the Year recognition by committing itself to putting its clients first and providing superior quality and high delivery standards. As this illustrates, customer service is the foundation of a good reputation.

Construction management consultant Paul Netscher identifies ten variables that affect your company's reputation, all of which boil down to delivering superior customer service. At the top of the list is delivering projects on time. Delivering on promises instead of overpromising and underdelivering, rectifying mistakes, honesty, and quality are also high priorities.

Overall, satisfying and exceeding your client's expectations is the foundation of building a good reputation with your customers. Making a corporate commitment to achieving this ideal is a first step towards building a solid reputation.

 

Promoting Your Brand Reputation

How contractors can build their brandDelivering superior customer service lays a foundation for a good reputation, but in today's digital environment, it's also important to get customers to talk about you online. What customers say about you on sites such as Google Places and Yelp has a huge impact on your online reputation.

Your customers will definitely talk about you if they're not satisfied. Contractor Nation writer Richard Fencil says the biggest reasons people complain about contractors online include shoddy work, rudeness from company representatives, high or misquoted prices, not following through on promises to get back to customers, and keeping customers on hold too long. To avoid these issues, train your staff how to communicate with your customers

You should also take proactive steps to ask satisfied customers to post reviews of you online. For instance, after a project is completed, a sales representative can contact the customer to see how it went and ask for a review. Marketing representatives, office personnel, and project managers can also take opportunities to ask for reviews.

Providing online tools on your website to make it easy for customers to review you will increase your odds of getting good reviews. Amazon is a great example of how automation can facilitate customer reviews.

 

Managing Your Brand

Building your brand's reputation is one thing, preserving it is another. Within your organization, you have to make sure everyone's on the same page about your brand's core message and understands what image is to be projected to customers. Outside the organization, you need to make sure that your brand image is being communicated consistently in all your contact with your customers, both online and off. You also need to monitor what customers are saying about you online in order to ensure that your message is being received, that complaints are being addressed, and that any negative publicity is being met with a positive response.

Managing all this manually can be challenging, especially considering all of the contact you make with your customers and with all the websites and social media platforms that are out there. To make this easier, WebDAM offers brand management software which gives you a single interface to make sure your brand's image is being maintained consistently throughout your organization and across all marketing channels.

 

Handling Complaints

How contractors can handle online complaintsOne of the biggest keys to protecting your brand's reputation is how you handle complaints. The most important step is to listen. Empathize with the customer's situation. Make sure you understand what the problem is before you attempt to resolve it, and make sure they agree with any resolution you propose before proceeding. If you can't resolve the issue yourself, find out where to best direct their complaint. The International Association of Professional Contractors provides more detailed guidelines for responding to customer complaints and negative online comments.

 

 

Topics: Differentiating your Business, Marketing, Marketing Ideas, Guest Blogs, Marketing Considerations, Customer Relations

Now Might Be a Good Time to Remodel How and Why You Do Marketing

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Tue, Jun 16,2015 @ 10:03 AM

Now Might Be a Good Time to Remodel How and Why You Do Marketing

marketing ideas for remodelersOn April 2nd, 2015 I presented a half day marketing workshop titled "Choosing and Targeting the Right Customers and Projects Types for Your Business". The workshop was billed as the keynote session for the Builders Association of the Twin Cities (BATC) annual trade show in Minneapolis.   At the workshop I shared new ways contractors can think about and do their marketing so they can attract their desired customer and job types. It’s what I call strategic marketing.   For those of you who missed the workshop here are some of the key points we discussed at the workshop.

 

BATC Builders and Remodelers Show information Take advantage of the timing 

The economy and residential construction are both picking up.  At the same time the majority of attendees agreed with me in that we are not yet confident that the pace of the current surge will be sustainable considering the uncertainties businesses and consumers still have about the economy.  With that in mind this is however a good time to take advantage of the surge to concentrate on developing market share in a strategic way.  It’s my opinion that most contractors would benefit from becoming a specialist in what they do and how they do it.  After all specialists typically command higher prices than generalists.  And, true specialists are always in demand, even in down economic times. Now is a good time to specialize, as long as you also work on branding to establish and maintain your position as a specialist in your desired market areas.

 

Here are some specific tactics contractors can consider and use to strategically build market share

Pick your customers, don't let them pick you:

marketing strategies for remodelersStop taking just any customers and jobs.  Be selective about who you will let become your customers.  For example why not only work with people who would say they are "working with" you, not those who would say you are "working for them".   Also, be selective about the project types you go after.   For example why not attract people who want high quality products.  If you sell using one markup across all cost categories the gross profit dollars earned on material intensive projects due to higher price point products is an easier way to meet overhead and net profit goals, both now and in the future, particularly when compared to selling and producing labor intensive projects.

Stop competing, differentiate:

I don't understand why contractors think they have to compete and or be competitive.   For most construction business owners competing means bidding. Home owners who seek bids are typically like auctioneers, except they are looking for the lowest price, not the highest.  And, rather than try to be better than your competition, why not seek to be different from your competition.  Being different attracts attention and consumers who want different also know they have to pay more to get different.  
One key to being different and attracting positive recognition for it is to concentrate on how you do what you do to demonstrate your difference, rather than work on what you do to differentiate.  One example of potential differentiation could include offering true Design/Build as an alternative to the traditional design-bid-redesign and bid again game. Another example would be helping prospects develop project specifications with the agreement that you will come back to present your proposal and solutions, but you will not leave them behind unless they sign your proposal and give you the required deposit.  

 

Being different comes with pros and cons

If you decide to use these example strategies many prospects will go away.  However, the ones that see value in your differences will become cogs in your new referral generating machine and will pre-sell the value of your differences to their referrals so you won't have to.  I call those types of referrals "layups".

 

Think of how you do marketing in a new way

marketing for remodelersThe old traditional marketing methods of trying to find prospects who want your services now and interrupting them to get their attention no longer work.  Today consumers are the ones deciding how they will find and qualify their project ideas as well as the contractor they will work with.  Instead use inbound marketing tactics that help consumers find your business.  This should be one of the two primary purposes of your marketing and can be accomplished on your web site using SEO tactics and good content on your site’s pages as well as your blog.  The other primary purpose of your marketing, particularly at your web site, should be to help prospects decide if what you offer and how you do business are right for them.  In other words your marketing should help them prequalify themselves so they either want to contact you or know they shouldn't.

 

Final Thought- Marketing shouldn't just be limited to creating leads

At the workshop I also shared one more new way to use your marketing; to advance the sales process.  Consumers want to gather information and ideas about their project, but they want to be sure they are getting accurate and useful information.  Savvy contractors are now using the content at their web sites to educate consumers before they call to setup an appointment with a contractor.  This saves both the prospect and the contractor a lot of valuable time.  In addition to offering project and product related information, you can also educate them about how and why you do business the way you do. Sign up to join our mailing list  This can not only speed up the sales process, it can also help clearly differentiate your business and therefore improve the quality of your leads.

 

 

Topics: New Business Realities, Contractor Training, Success Strategies, Sales Considerations, Differentiating your Business, Marketing Ideas, Web Site Related, Marketing Considerations, Customer Relations, Business Planning

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

Creating A Referral System At Your Remodeling Business

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Thu, Jul 31,2014 @ 06:00 AM

Beth Davis

 

 

Guest Blogger: Beth N. Davis is the owner and operator of BD Contractor Services where she and her team create and implement dynamic marketing plans and trainings for home improvement professionals nationwide. Visit www.bdcontractorservices.com or connect with her on Facebook.

 

Creating A Referral System At Your Remodeling or Construction Business

Referrals have long been the lifeblood of the remodeling industry.  To ensure a steady stream of referral business, you need a system. Follow the steps below and you will be on your way to creating a simple and manageable referral system.

 

Lay Your Foundation

How remodelers can get more referralsBefore you begin to build your referral system, you must first take stock of the relationships and connections that you can leverage for success. Take some time to list all of your current and past clients, individuals with whom you have a personal relationship (friends, family, etc.) and those with whom you have business relationships. Be thorough.  The quality of this list will affect the overall quality of your referral system. 

You will likely want to access information about these individuals in the future so be sure to create a database in a format that you will use whether that be a Rolodex or an app on your smart phone. I have used an Excel spreadsheet for this task for over a decade and update it weekly. From this list, go ahead and delete the names of those you would not choose to work with. Identify 2-3 characteristics of the remaining individuals that highlight their importance or relevance.

 

Take Action

How Contractors can get more referralsMaking the ask, that all important action item that takes you from plan to procedure, can be the most difficult part of a referral system for many people. This is when you begin contacting your network and directly asking for referrals. There are many ways that you can accomplish this, but, for the sake of consistency, I recommend that you rank all of your prospects and contact 5-10 per day with a personalized version of a templated message. Whoever handles your administrative functions will be able to assist you with this. 

If you want to contact all of your prospects at once, I recommend doing a physical mailing and being sure to personalize the letters. For best results, make sure that you cover three specific things in your letter: Where the person knows you from, what specific traits about them make you think of an ideal client and what type of clients you want to connect with.

Asking for referrals is like planting seeds. You may not see immediate results, but people will start to think of you as they move through the world and the results will begin to show over time. This method is meant for steady and dependable referral income.

 

Exceed Expectations

It isn’t enough to secure a referral and sign a contract. Once you have sealed the deal, you need to deliver. You and your staff should always shoot to meet client expectations but it is even more important when that client is a referral.

Remember that it is not only your reputation, but the reputation of the person who referred the client to you that is weighed here. There is no faster way to lose credibility with a client than to provide poor service for someone they have referred to you.

 

Don’t Forget to Measure

Contractors need to measure marketing resultsFind out where (and who) your new customers are coming from. Ask for feedback on service and quality and make sure that you integrate the feedback into your business practices if they prove to be relevant. Committing to constant improvement shows your current and past clients that you care.

 

Follow Up

Always thank people for their referrals. Part of your referral system should include following up with individuals who have given you referrals in the past.  Gifts and points are nice, but the real reward for these customers is your heartfelt appreciation and the ability to connect someone they care about with quality service. 

Everyone in the remodeling industry wants to work with dynamic clients who pay on time while creating beautiful projects in the process. Doing this without spending a fortune on advertising will be a reality when you look around you and leverage your relationships for maximum results.

Topics: Success Strategies, Marketing Ideas, Guest Blogs, Creating Referrals

Content Marketing Options For Contractor Web Sites

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Thu, Jul 17,2014 @ 06:00 AM

Content Marketing Options For Contractor Web Sites

Content marketing for contractors

 

Content marketing has become a great way for remodelers to attract prospects to their web sites.   By publishing content that your target customers would liking be searching for, and optimizing that content for SEO purposes, a business can help those prospects find and visit their web site.   Just getting them to your site won’t ensure a sale, but if you can get them to your site you can use additional content to help keep them there.  Content marketing alone won’t turn those prospects into customers, but if you can keep those visitors on your site you might be able to accomplish two very valuable marketing and sales goals.


Two goals for content marketing

How contractors can use content marketingThe fist would be to pre-educate prospects about your business, your products and or services, and how you and your team do business.   This can save a lot of time during the sales process.    By pre-educating them at your site on a variety of considerations using additional content, you will not have to spend as much time doing so at a live sales call.  Busy contractors can speed up the sales process and gain more time for other business activities if they invest in publishing the right content.

The second thing it can help you accomplish is prequalification.   Contractors can’t and shouldn’t assume every prospect will buy from them.   By using the right content at your contractor web site visitors can actually prequalify themselves.   If they like what they see and read, and they determine that what you offer and how you do business makes sense for them, they will likely contact you.  On the other hand they may decide yours is not the right company for them and move on to find a different contractor.   This too saves the contractor a lot of valuable time because the contractor will be spending less time qualifying and more time helping qualified prospects who are much more likely to buy.


Content marketing methods you can use

Content marketing can be done in a variety of ways including blogs, white papers, infographics, photos and many other mediums.   The infographic below offers a matrix of content marketing types.  PRWeb says they created this matrix to show how different types of content can appeal to different consumers and offers facts or suggestions about each. The top shows the different types of content, while the bottom explains how those pieces of content can be used.

Not all of them will be practical for all businesses, but it’s good to know what your options are and what other businesses may be using to do their content marketing.   Also, as your business grows you may want to eventually take advantage of additional content marketing methods to improve and or increase your marketing results.

 

small business content marketing infographic wr

 

Looking for help with content marketing?

If you’re interested in using content marketing at your web site but are not sure how to get started with it, let me know if I can help.   By working together I can help you better understand how and why to use it, and help you create a plan you can then present to your web site designer for getting it done.  I can even help you get the content written if you can’t or don’t want to do it yourself.

 

Topics: Sales, Marketing, Marketing Ideas, Prequalifying

Contractors Shares How To Use Educational Seminars As A Marketing Tool

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Tue, Apr 15,2014 @ 06:00 AM

Brian Altmann

 

Guest Blogger: Brian Altmann, CAPS is the president of DBS Remodel, Inc.a full service residential remodeling company in LaGrange, NY. He frequently speaks at the Remodeling Show and JLC Live. Brian has over 28 years of experience in the remodeling industry. At JLC LIVE in Providence RI this spring Brain shared his experiences with me about doing consumer seminars as a marketing tactic.   He agreed to contribute this guest blog to help other contractors do the same.  He can be reached at Brian@DBSremodel.com

 

How To Be Successful Using Educational Seminars As A Marketing Tool

Offering remodeling seminars for consumersIn my 28 years in the remodeling business I have seen many relationships go south between homeowner and contractor! All too often the homeowner is in a position where they don’t even know what they just purchased from their remodeler. Whose fault is this? The remodeler was not paid as a consultant so possibly inadequate time was spent creating a job scope and contract. And of course, the homeowner only wanted to know two things…when can you start and how much is it going to cost! The blame should be spread evenly. I have always wanted my clients to understand EXACTLY what they were purchasing and felt that educating them on the process would be win/win for everyone.

This is why I started to offer seminars to teach prospects “What They Must Know About Hiring A Remodeling Contractor”.

 

Here are some details on how I do it

I always hold these seminars at a local hotel.  The seminars are complimentary and I always provide coffee and donuts. The duration of the seminar is 2 hours. During this informal, relaxed session we will discuss The Top Ten Questions To Ask A Remodeler During An Interview, how to handle extras, a well written contract, the value of a pre-construction meeting among other topics. I usually ask attendees in the beginning what they were hoping to learn and that helps me drive the content as well. We leave plenty of time for Q&A at the end.


Marketing to remodeling consumer with seminars

Marketing these seminars presents the biggest challenge, but, not one that is insurmountable! Many homeowners fear being sold at such an event. The key here is to keep all content objective and make this about the homeowner and their needs and not an infomercial for your company. Our seminars are sponsored by 16 local companies that are either vendors or trade partners. This allows us to create objectivity in our marketing efforts as well as help to subsidize the marketing budget.

 

Benefits of doing the seminars for remodeling consumers

The biggest benefit of conducting seminars is that DBS Remodel is perceived as the local expert in our industry. It is a great platform to create trust with those in attendance. We feel that if we give as much knowledge as we can to our prospects and sincerely help them…good things will happen! 

The short video below will give you an idea of some of the content we include in our seminars



The seminars are fun and quite easy to deliver

Many companies would balk at the expense of putting seminars on and those that do will be missing a golden opportunity.  Last year 34% of our gross sales came from homeowners that attended our free educational seminars. We have 15 scheduled for this year with two of them already complete.

 

Instead of waiting for the economy to turn around we are taking matters in our own hands!

 

Topics: Differentiating your Business, Marketing Ideas, Guest Blogs, Customer Relations