4 Strategies To Get More Clients as a Contractor
If you’re a general contractor or the owner of a small construction company who is struggling to get more clients, you might think that referrals, word of mouth, social media, and offering financing might seem like obvious ways to get more clients—however, it’s how you execute these strategies that really makes the difference.
Aaron Dumas , construction professional
We talked to Aaron Dumas , a construction professional with over 20 years of experience to get his advice about how small contractors can use a limited budget in order to get more clients.
Strategy #1: Enhance your online presence
Having a healthy online presence that demonstrates your values and work as a contractor is crucial for getting more clients. And it doesn’t have to be expensive. The two most important aspects of your online presence is a professional-looking website and an updated social media presence. These are areas you should focus your efforts on.
Keep your website simple, professional, and responsive
When it comes to your website, you don’t need to have anything fancy or elaborate. The main thing you need is a homepage that describes you and your team as well as some pictures of your completed works.
Once you have those two things, you may want to consider including customer testimonials prominently so that potential new clients can read what past clients have to say about your work. You can also have a contact page, where clients can easily reach out to you by filling out a contact form or by using your contact information.
When it comes to your website, the most important thing is to make sure that it’s professional and responsive (a responsive website is one that automatically adjusts to be viewable on any sized screen so that it will look good on phones, tablets, or full-sized monitors).
Most website building software or services make any website you design responsive by default, but if you’re hiring an outside person, be sure to let them know that this is a must-have feature for your website.
For help building a professional website, check out some website builder software options. Most website builders have ready-to-use templates that you can customize with your own branding and copy and are easy to use. Many also offer in-house designers that you can hire to make and manage your site.
Your social media pages should highlight your work in progress
Another way to position your business online is to utilize social media marketing. Keeping an updated social media page will allow potential clients who Google you to easily learn more about your business.
You never know where someone will find you, so if you have the bandwidth, you should have a presence on all major platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram), but to Dumas, the most important is Facebook. He estimates that if a majority of your clientele is between 30 to 55 years old, you’ll more than likely find them here.
Dumas recommends that you post pictures on your social media of your entire construction project from beginning to end so that potential clients can see your process, but most importantly, Dumas mentions that you should encourage your customers to promote your social media pages by sharing your posts. If happy customers are doing this, it will get more eyes on both your business and your work from your customers' peers.
If you need help managing your social media pages, social media management software might be worth considering because it can help you manage all of your social media pages in one place while giving you more analytics for what is actually happening on your pages.
Strategy #2: Improve your customer service to increase referrals and word of mouth
Dumas’ number one piece of advice for getting new customers as a contractor is to increase the volume of your word-of-mouth recommendations. As a smaller operation, you won’t typically have the extra capital to invest into contractor marketing compared to larger organizations. That’s why you have to make sure your customer service and work is top notch in order to ensure that you’re getting great word of mouth.
If you’re certain that your customer is happy with the completed project, they’re going to sing your praises to their friends and families. They’re going to be more likely to leave a positive review online that you can promote, and you have a better chance of them agreeing to share your social media posts about their project.
Make gathering customer testimonials a part of your closeout process: Before you finish any project, encourage your customers to provide you with reviews online. Provide them with a direct link to the page on your site to make it as easy as possible.
Every positive experience is potentially thousands of extra dollars in revenue because it’s a snowball effect. One referral often leads into the next and the next. In contrast, a negative experience can cost you thousands of dollars.
Dumas had some practical advice about how to improve customer satisfaction to ensure you get those referrals. “It comes from over communication and going above and beyond. The bar for contractors can be low sometimes, so if you accomplish your deadlines and communicate while providing great work, your customers are going to spread the word about your business.”
Additionally, Dumas suggests offering a referral incentive if it’s in your budget. Whether it’s a gift card to a hardware store or $100 cash, if you can provide your customers with more of a reason to refer you to their friends, family, and neighbors, it’s worth every penny.
An easy way to improve your customer service and word-of-mouth referrals is to work on improving your punch lists. For more information about punch lists, including their benefits and drawbacks, check out What is a Construction Punch List, and Why Do You Need To Use One?
Strategy #3: Advertise with intention
Even if you have a small marketing budget, you can still make sure you’re spending your money in the most effective ways possible to ensure you’re getting the most bang for your buck.
Dumas recommends that relatively small businesses should go basic with advertising. You can have professional work shirts for your employees with your business name, logo, and contact information on it. By your employees all wearing the same shirts, you’re promoting your services to anyone you might meet on a hardware store run, or to anyone who might be walking by your construction project in the neighborhood.
Get your logo and information decaled on your truck, or, for even less money, you can get a magnet with the information to put on the sides of your vehicle. Your truck is going to be parked out front of your work location for hours at a time over the course of the entire project, and that’s free advertising to the neighborhood.
In a more tangible way, it shows that you’ve invested time and resources into your business, and that you’ll do the same when working on your customers’ projects.
Strategy #4: Offer financing to set yourself apart
Dumas offered one last strategy that might not be as obvious as the others: Offer financing to your clients. If you offer financing, you can turn an expensive project that might not be in your customer’s budget into a more manageable one. It can be the difference between signing them on as a new client or not.
Dumas mentioned that the “biggest barrier to getting new customers is ultimately budget. If you can offer financing, budget becomes less of a sticking point because your client can pay off the project in smaller installments.”
You won’t have to negotiate your price as much either. Every dollar you knock off your initial quote eats into your bottom line which can hurt your business over the course of several projects.
If you can partner with a financial institution to offer a six-month contract where the client only has to pay $200 a month, that’s a lot more appealing to many potential customers. A consumer financing agency can handle the credit checks for you, making credit offers, collecting payments, and managing all the legal risk.
Once a contract is agreed upon, your customers will pay your partner, and the financing partner will pay you as soon as the job is complete. It takes the hassle out of chasing clients down as well.
You want to find a partner that’s friendly toward homeowners. Look for partners that offer no late fees, no early repayment fees, and/or 0% financing over two to five months.
By offering financing, you’ll look more professional and stand out from the competition, remove barriers that can stop your customers from accepting a quote, and you’ll win more jobs and close bigger deals which can make it easier to upsell.
Getting new customers doesn’t have to be expensive, but you do have to be intentional
Regardless of your marketing budget or business size, the most important thing is to remember that, ultimately, your contracting business is going to thrive if your customers are happy with your work. That means making sure you are providing honest communication at every step of the way, as well as the best quality work in a timely manner.
You can utilize free digital marketing by keeping your social media pages up to date and can make the most of your marketing budget by keeping your spend small and targeted to make yourself seem as professional and visible to your target customers as possible.
Lastly, we’ve summed up our four strategies below, so you can save our list and easily reference it whenever you need.
It doesn’t have to be complicated or hard to be effective. If you want more help with how to improve your construction business, check out these other resources:
Aaron Dumas, LinkedIn