expert tips for contractors

Shine above other contractors, impress your customers, and make more money

As a contractor or home service provider, you’re a master of your craft. But there’s something important you likely already know: many businesses in your industry offer similar services. How do you shine above other contractors?

COVID-19 has changed the way we work and do business, but it has created many new opportunities. For example, home remodeling is booming – there are plenty of projects to start or grow your contracting business no matter where you live.

At Invoice2go, it’s our mission to help you take your business to the next level. We’re committed to bringing you practical ways to improve your services. Check out our Subscriber Success community to connect with like-minded professionals and get valuable tips to help your business grow.

These 7 tips to shine above other contractors are simple, but their impact can be huge and positively affect your business for years to come. Implementing just one tip could lead you to thousands more in revenue each year.

1. Market yourself as a specialist 

Who wants to be just like everyone else? Successful construction companies do things differently.

Research in the construction industry – and virtually all industries – shows that specialists get paid more. So, if possible, avoid being a jack-of-all-trades. For example, branding yourself as a flooring or roofing expert will likely get you more calls – and more money per job – than yourself as a general contractor.

Take some time to brainstorm the types of projects you enjoy doing and are the most sought-after in your community. You can do this by talking to people in your local network and doing some research on Google. 

Then, create a unique selling proposition. This statement defines what makes the overall experience of working with you different from working with anyone else.

Important: Specializing can cause concern for some. They believe that narrowing the scope of the projects they work on will hurt business. However, while it may seem counterintuitive, the opposite tends to be true. Specialists typically get more calls, get to charge higher prices, and tend to enjoy their work more. 

Action steps: 

  1. Research and determine the most popular services needed in your area. 
  2. Create a list of services you both enjoy and can do exceptionally well. 
  3. Consider marketing yourself as a specialist. Update your website and marketing materials to reflect how your experience and expertise make you stand out.

2. Emathize with your customer and delight them throughout their experience working with you

It’s essential to understand your customer experience. Imagine you’re one of your clients and ask yourself: what is it like to work with you? Think about the first moment a client finds out about you. Where did they likely get this information?

Then, move on to what it would be like for a client to get in touch with you and do business. Is communication usually easy and stress-free? If not, why? Also, how quickly do you respond? Do you deliver work on time? How easy is it to pay you?

Try customer journey mapping. This strategy will help you better understand your customers and improve your service. You’ll gain valuable insights into your current and potential customers, which will give you ideas on how to improve your business. 

Here are just a few insights you might gain. Perhaps customers take a long time to pay their invoice. It may then be best for you to let them use PayPal or pay by credit card. Maybe you need to work on skills to close more sales.

Also, reach out to your past clients and ask for their feedback. Don’t just ask about the quality of your work. Get feedback on your communication, the payment process, and the overall value you provided. 

Action steps: 

  1. Take notes on your customer experience from the first contact to when they pay your invoice.
  2. Use this handy template to create your customer journey map.
  3. Consider reaching out to customers and asking them for feedback. If you’re an Invoice2go subscriber, you can request reviews right from the app.
  4. Focus on ways to improve your customer experience. Remember, small changes can have a significant impact over time.

3. Have a solid follow-up strategy

If you don’t yet have a follow-up strategy, you need one. Do you ever feel like you have an excellent lead for a potential client, only to be disappointed when you never hear back from them?

Here are 3 tips to help you close more sales:

  1. Following up doesn’t have to be annoying. It takes an average of five follow-ups to close a sale. It is normal to go back and forth with prospective clients as you build trust and rapport. Instead of thinking you’re hassling them, adopt the mindset that you’re building a relationship.
  2. Make each follow-up professional. All of your estimates need to be detailed and accurate – there should be no room for confusion with your customer. Lay out all information in a clear, concise, and professional way.
  3. Create a follow-up schedule. Let your leads know that you are planning to follow up with them. Don’t pressure them, but let them know that you intend to follow up again and share the timeframe with them. Never end a conversation without the next defined step.

Action steps: 

  1. Think about your mindset around sales. If you find there’s anxiety about following up with prospects, check it. Remember that you’re building relationships and providing something of value.
  2. Find ways to improve your estimates. Is there more detailed information you could include? The clearer you are, the easier it is for your prospects to make a decision.
  3. Make a follow-up schedule and choose a specific time every week that you try to close sales.

4. Improve your customer communication

Client communication is everything. It’s not just enough to be great at what you do. You also need to communicate effectively. Miscommunication often leads to stress, frustration, and dissatisfaction. 

The first mistake many contractors make is under-communicating. When a client hasn’t heard from you, they may begin worrying that something has gone wrong or that the project is not on schedule. 

There’s an easy fix here: Regularly update your client about the project. Check-in daily or every other day. The more proactive you are, the less likely they’ll reach out to you with issues. If necessary, set reminders on your phone to follow-up or reply.

Also, ask your clients how they would like to communicate with you. Some may prefer to text, while others may want to talk on the phone, over Zoom, or face-to-face.

Action steps: 

  1. Brainstorm ways to improve your communication. Could you respond faster? Could you update your clients more regularly?
  2. Take the time – right now – to respond to any messages, emails, or phone calls.

5. Under-promise and over-deliver

When pitching for a new project, it can be tempting to make bold claims about the cost and timeline. But, if you can’t deliver on what you say, you’re setting yourself up for frustration. Therefore, it’s important to manage client expectations from the get-go. 

Author and speaker Tom Peters created his theory of under-promising and over-delivering. Essentially, if you deliver earlier than expected at a lower cost, your customer will be delighted. On the other hand, if you deliver late or there are unexpected costs, they’ll likely get frustrated. 

Remember: Happy customers are more likely to leave you a great review, refer you to a friend, or use your services again.

Action step: 

  1. Think about customer expectations. If you tend to overpromise, what can you do to set better expectations to ensure your customer is totally delighted by your work.

6. Be easy to find online

Word of mouth is essential, but in the digital age, you need more. Creating an online presence for your brand will help you grow your business. They also help you build relationships with customers before they’ve even met you

Think of it as an opportunity to show off all the great work you’ve done, share testimonials, and give an insight into who you are and why you do what you do.

These days, your customers want to find you and communicate with you online, so you need to give them this opportunity. 

Action step: 

  1. If you’re an Invoice2go subscriber, turn on Instant Websites. It’s easy to do and will allow prospects to find you more easily on Google.
  2. Consider setting up profiles on Building Zoom, Facebook, and Instagram. These are great places to show off completed projects.

7. Manage your books like a boss

Cash flow problems are also the #1 reason why construction companies struggle or fail. When you have materials to buy subcontractors to pay, how can you ensure you don’t run out of money?

If you don’t have a budget, you’re not alone – 61% of small businesses don’t. While it may not sound exciting, getting on top of your accounting can save you vast amounts of money in the long run. 

There are some easy ways to improve your cash flow. Spend time each month going over your reports and make sure you can account for every dollar spent. By doing this, you’ll also be less likely to miss unpaid invoices.

These savings can be put back into the business, either in marketing costs or passing the savings down to your customers, allowing you to offer a more competitive price point.

Action steps

  1. Review tips to improve your cash flow. Create an official budget, always require an upfront deposit, and consider negotiating with your suppliers.
  2. Review your reports and look for insights to boost sales and cut costs.  
  3. Reach out to an accountant to go over your books and see if there are ways you can cut costs or save on taxes.

Keep in mind that you don’t need to implement all these tips at once. Even just one – like having a clear follow-up strategy – can dramatically improve your sales. Take your time and focus on the long term. Remember that clear communication and excellent customer service are important ways you can stand out – and ultimately make more money.

For more expert tips on running a successful contracting business, join the Invoice2go Subscriber Success community. 

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