More people in every industry are breaking out on their own to start their own businesses, and be their own boss. There’s never been a better time, with new technology that lowers the barrier to entry, and makes it possible to be more productive as a solo operator than ever before.
At Invoice2go, we believe the future is incredibly bright for independent contractors. The economy is changing and favoring small business, and it’s a shift many are excited to be a part of.
But we wondered, are consumers as supportive of this shift? Does demand meet supply? What do consumers think about working with one person businesses, versus larger companies that carry brands they know and trust? We investigated.
Invoice2go and Zogby Analytics surveyed 803 US homeowners to explore attitudes towards independent service providers versus larger companies, how independents can establish credibility straight off the bat, get hired, and leave a lasting impression.
Here are some of our findings:
US Homeowners support independent contractors
One thing that stood out is the vast majority of US homeowners are open to hiring an independent (i.e. somebody that is licensed, experienced, yet independent) for work at their house. An impressive 93% indicated that they would consider hiring an independent if they had references and were “recommended.” Reasons behind this include the desire to support entrepreneurs (13%), and the belief that they take more pride in their work (11%).
Only 8% of those surveyed would not consider someone newly out on their own – 6% because they trust bigger companies more, and 2% because they feel that companies with bigger teams are better positioned to get the job done faster.
Factors impacting credibility
Establishing trust and credibility from the offset is one theme we found interesting, as independent workers do not have large marketing budgets, so they rely on referrals to spread the word. Ensuring a job is completed correctly and on time are extremely influential when it comes to locking in trust (and a referral for future work), however US homeowners also place a lot of value on the way contractors manage time, paperwork and conduct themselves throughout the project.
The top four behaviors that positively reflect on the credibility of a service provider are:
- Cleaning up after a job: 85%
- Showing up on time: 84%
- Presenting a professional estimate: 78%
- Collecting and providing receipts: 61%
As an invoicing tool, Invoice2go was interested to know what aspects of billing lend themselves to credibility and a more positive home renovation experience. The majority of people surveyed (62%) do trust their contractors when it comes to billing, with younger homeowners (75% of those 18-24) displaying more trust compared to 25-34 year-olds (70%), 35-54 year-olds (60%), 55-69 year-olds (58%) and 70+ (58%).
But those that don’t (38%) say it’s because:
- The invoice lacked line item detail (34%)
- Invoice didn’t match estimate (29%)
- Method for tracking time was unreliable (28%)
Homeowners dish on negative experiences
A majority of homeowners (76.4%) have had a negative experience working with contractors on home projects. Here’s the reasons they cited most:
- Job not done right (51.4% cited this as a top reason)
- Lack of communication throughout project (30%)
- Obvious inexperience (26.3%)
- Disagreement over time billed / confusion over what I was paying for (19.8%)
- Inconvenient billing or payment method (11.5%)
With a host of learnings both good and bad, here’s some of the key takeaways anyone who’s an independent can use to get set up for success.
Top tips for independent contractors
1. Show off your experience:
Seventy four percent of homeowners expressed that past experience is the number one factor they consider when making hiring decisions. Create an online profile that shows past projects and referrals from clients, and offer a link to this in your email signature. Spend the time to fill out your online profile across all the recommendation engines you can find. In conversations, cite past experiences that show off your expertise with specific challenges. Ask homeowners to submit a review on your behalf on sites like Angie’s List.
2. Leverage the power of mobile invoicing to look more professional:
Use an app like Invoice2go to create and send professional estimates and invoices right from the job. Looking professional will help you establish credibility with your clients and win jobs, and creating the estimate in real time when the project is still fresh in your client’s mind will help you communicate the project details and costs in a clear and transparent way from the beginning. It also allows you to collect receipts along the way so you have a real-time way to keep your expenses organized for easy presentation to your clients.
3. Over communicate every step of the way:
Home projects carry an extra requirement for a personal touch, so you can never communicate with your clients too much. If you expect changes to the timeline or the materials required, communicate it to them as soon as you know. Don’t leave room for any surprises.
4. Never underestimate the smallest of details:
Homeowners place a lot of value on cleaning up a job site, and simply showing up on time. These were rated as the top two indicators of credibility, and two behaviors you can’t afford to skip out on.
For more small business insights and tips from Invoice2go, stay tuned on the blog, or follow us on social:
Invoice2go / Zogby Analytics survey of 803 US homeowners, 2016
Based on a confidence interval of 95%
Percentages may not add up to 100 due to rounding