Building a business is so rewarding. You have the privilege of working in an area you love, and you have the accomplishment of growing something you are proud of. You provide a service that is widely needed by many people.
Here are 11 tips to build or grow a successful contracting business:
- Best business practices are important. Implement systems to handle bookkeeping, scheduling, invoicing, training, and project management.
Teach your employees what they need to know (step by step) to use these systems efficiently. Having systems in place allows you to maintain your current level of success and scale in the right way when you are ready to expand.
- Assess your business. Things that you want to take into account are whether or not your business is stable financially, if you are getting repeat sales and referrals, how your ratings and reviews are showing up and what your employee turnover rate is.
To accurately assess these, you want to review your books, pay attention to reviews people are posting online, talk with employees and customers. If you need to make improvements, be sure to do that before attempting to grow your business further.
- Customer Support is key to growth. Your prospective customers want to talk to a person during normal business hours. You can hire someone to handle phone calls or you can send calls to your cell phone or promise to return calls on your voicemail within a certain time frame.
Also, be sure to set up automated email and social media messages during off-hours. A simple message informing customers that their message was received, and they’ll receive a response within 24 hours should be enough to keep them satisfied.
Be sure to follow up, return calls, and handle any issues in a timely manner. Don’t make your customers have to do the follow up.
- Join an association. Industry associations, such as the Associated General Contractors, aren’t just great for networking. They can also help you develop essential business skills and recommend products you should use for different jobs as well as other resources you may need.
A quick Google search in your particular area will let you know local and national associations you may want to check out or join.
- Always be marketing. Marketing isn’t just to land a few new customers. It is how you get the high paying jobs and how you keep customers happy.
Marketing isn’t just sending out a postcard in the mail. It means having an online presence, interacting with your audience through email, social media and blog posts and sharing your expertise in valuable ways.
Make sure your address, phone number and hours are available online and easily searchable. Network in your community both online and offline by attending chamber of commerce meetings or answering questions in a local forum.
- Be flexible. When you go above and beyond for a customer, you will most likely have earned a customer for life, as well as many referrals to their friends and family.
- Have a mentor. A mentor is someone that has already reached the goal you are striving for and can guide you. They will help you to not make the same mistakes they did and can teach you how to manage all the different aspects you need to such as managing money and customers and introducing you to vendors or investors.
- Hire people that know more than you. By hiring people who are smarter and more talented than you are, you can rest assured that they can handle assignments without your supervision. This frees up your time to do the things that only you can, in order to grow your business.
- Watch your finances. Don’t become a statistic because you couldn’t cover your overhead expenses. When sending out bids, be sure you factor in all the costs involved with the project and give the customer a ballpark estimate. Make sure you are invoicing regularly and staying on top of what is coming into your business and what is going back out.
- Outsource. There are only 24 hours in a day so you can’t do it all yourself. What can you delegate to someone else, so you free up more of your time? Consider delegating admin and accounting tasks first. That way you will ensure they are getting done and you don’t have to spend hours of your time doing them yourself.
- Staying small is OK. Don’t feel like you have to expand if you don’t want to. If things are working well as they are and you are happy with the workload and the income you are making, stay small. This will help you to continue to have a positive cash flow and low expenses. It is also much less stressful since the workload is easier to manage.
If you would like to review your insurance policies to make sure they are covering what your business needs, the Contractors Insurance Agency would love to help. Just give us a call and let’s make sure you are covered for anything that may come up.