During the best of times, connecting with potential customers, fostering leads, and bagging big-ticket projects can be challenging tasks. Now, with many businesses closed and their futures uncertain, the effort to simply stay afloat may seem like a daunting challenge.
Despite a halt in operation for certain companies, the busiest season for general contractors is just a few months away, and the race to win construction projects is already well underway.
The current state of affairs does not have to impact 2020’s bottom line, and with a little determination, there is no reason this year should not be a major success. If you want to accelerate your success and work to grow your construction company, you are going to need to invest time in acquiring leads and fostering them to become loyal clients.
Getting more contracting business is not rocket science, but that does not mean that awesome contracting jobs are just going to fall in your lap.
If you have been searching for new ways to build your contracting business and win new construction projects, you have come to the right place. OnePointe Solutions has been working with contractors and their laboratory/industrial clients for over a decade, and our team has gained invaluable insight into what it takes to become a successful contractor.
Here are just a few tips and tricks to help you win more contracting business in 2020:
Search Your Old Files
Before you go hunting for new leads, looking through your old files to reach out to former clients can be a great way to rekindle your old professional relationships. While there may be a few former clients that did not become repeat clients because of a flawed relationship or inconsistent preferences, the majority will be individuals you have successfully performed work for in the past, and will welcome hearing from you again.
Need a good excuse to give that company you worked with over a decade ago a call? Let them know you are updating your records and wanted to check-in.
Reaching out to past clients is a great way to remind them that you exist, and to update them on what your company now offers. You can also take this time to collect email addresses from clients you formerly contacted via phone, allowing you to more easily follow up with them in the future.
By letting your former clients know that you are still operating and ready to take on new jobs, they’ll keep you at the forefront of their minds and contact you first next time they need a contractor.
Look In Your Own Neighborhood
Believe it or not, stepping outside your office door and taking a look at your neighborhood can reveal a ton of potential business opportunities. Potential clients will be more likely to show interest in your work once they know you are local to the area, since this will prove your commitment to maintaining the quality of the area.
To further motivate your neighbors to take advantage of your contracting services, you can even offer a proximity discount to businesses in your area.
Once you have acquired a few local clients, the work you do for them will act as its own form of advertising. While all the work you do should always be done with the intention of impressing potential customers, local projects have a specific appeal that can help you drum up additional business.
As more local businesses contact you to manage their construction projects, you’ll find your reputation as a trusted local contractor cementing.
Join a Construction Association
One of the major concerns facing even the most experienced commercial design clients is the prospect of hiring an inexperienced contractor masquerading as a seasoned professional. The omnipresence of pushy amateur contractors vying for professional jobs has made consumers wary of having the wool pulled over their eyes.
One of the best ways to prove that you are a professional, fully accredited contracting company is by joining a construction association.
Joining a construction association like the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) will not only help you to prove the legitimacy of your business, but can also help you get connected with tons of valuable resources for success. Other popular construction associations include Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. (ABC), American Subcontractors Association (ASA), and Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA), among others.
Open Up New Communication Channels
It does not matter how incredible your services are; if potential customers cannot get a hold of you, you will not get their business. Believe it or not, one of the biggest downfalls of even the most qualified contractors is neglecting to make themselves available to potential clients by only offering a single channel of communication.
Customers like options, and we’re not just talking about different color choices and finishes.
If you have not already done so, take the time to create accounts for yourself on as many communication platforms as possible. You likely already have a phone number, address, and email listed for your company, but have you created a Twitter? An Instagram? A Facebook? A LinkedIn?
Look for all the ways a customer might try to contact you, then do your best to make each option possible. The more channels you have open, the more chance you will have of actually making contact with potential clients.
Keep Reaching Out to Referrals
Remember how we were talking about local recommendations earlier, and about how people trust their community businesses to tell them the truth? Well, it works both ways!
Speak with your customers and ask them to give you referrals of possible clients that may need your services. While it may feel a little strange to approach a client about finding you more work, your commercial customers are often the best resource for finding other businesses in the same industry that may be interested in similar services.
Once you receive the referral information, get started reaching out right away, and be sure to continue your efforts even if you do not immediately get a response. It is unlikely that every company you reach out to will immediately be in need of your services, but that does not mean they will not need you later down the line.
Regularly reaching out to your referrals will help you to stay fresh and at the forefront of their minds so that when the day does eventually come, your number will be the first they call.
Contact Vacant Property Owners
You might not think that uninhabited properties would offer much of a business prospect, but in reality they can be an excellent source of future business. One of the obstacles preventing vacant properties from being sold or rented is the amount of work that needs to be done inside in order to get the location into working condition.
Having a contractor on hold and ready to go as soon as a buyer/renter is interested can be a major selling point, and help both the property owner and contractor to attract more business.
As you successfully complete your first few projects, you can hopefully become better-acquainted with the property owners and become their go-to contractor for other commercial projects and properties. This kind of opportunity can easily become a decades-long professional relationship, and can help to give your company a steady source of construction projects for years to come.
Offer A Payment Plan
Even the most successful companies can’t always pay full price out of pocket, so when contractors demand full payments right away, it can send prospective clients running in the other direction. While you may want to hold out for those big-ticket clients with infinitely deep pockets, the reality is that you likely will not find more than one or two of these during your business’ lifetime.
Instead, you are going to have to fill in the gaps with business from mid sized and small clients whose money is just as good, but may come a bit later.
Speak with your financial advisor about setting up a payment plan to allow customers to gradually pay off the price of their projects. Payment plans allow customers with limited budgets to access quality services without compromising the integrity of their project.
Offering a payment plan can also help to make your contracting business more competitive since the option to pay over time is more attractive to prospective clients.
Return to Email
If you think email is dead, think again. Email, despite being one of the oldest and most weathered forms of Internet communication, remains a popular method of marketing and networking for businesses in virtually every industry.
Unlike other platforms, virtually everyone in the world has an email address, making it a universally usable communication mechanism. Because of its longstanding popularity, consumers are extremely well-versed in technology and are comfortable receiving various types of content via email.
If you have not already been using email to reach out to past, present, and future customers, this is the time to hop back on the bandwagon and return to email. While it may seem like an antiquated form of communication, the reality is that email remains one of the most popular forms of communication on the planet.
One of the largest advantages of email marketing is that emails can be personalized in order to appeal to specific contacts. Before you send an email out, you can easily do a little research on the recipient in order to make the email seem more personalized and compelling.
A simple personalization like including the recipient’s name or mentioning their company can be the difference between being ignored and getting a response, so don’t underestimate the value of taking the extra time to personalize.
Get Friends and Family Involved
While your own marketing efforts will likely account for the majority of your new business opportunities, letting your friends and family get involved can never hurt the process. A simple but effective way to get your community involved in your business is to provide them each with a handful of your business cards listing your name, number, email address, and basic services.
Ask your friends and family to carry your business cards with them, then hand them out to individuals they talk to that mention construction or needing a contractor. While this might seem like a hoaky gimmick, we promise you will be surprised by how much networking you can get done through friends and family.
Hunt for Leads
Lots of leads will come to by word of mouth, via your website, or by searching for your services specifically, but other leads will need to be hunted if you want them. There are tons of opportunities waiting to be snatched up as long as you are looking for them, and with a little diligence, you could be swimming in more leads than you know what to do with.
A great way to start your hunt for leads is by visiting local businesses to ask about construction projects in the area, local designers/architects, business associations, and other real estate and construction adjacent businesses. Create a master list of contacts including local developers, architects, interior designers, property managers, mortgage brokers, leasing offices, print shops, and so on.
Offer Promotions and Freebies
Few things pique the interest of a customer base more than promotions and free services, and if done right, this technique can be used to drum up more business and increase revenue. One simple promotion you can offer relatively risk-free to your customers is providing free touch-ups.
You can include this promotion in your advertising, let customers know about the service once you have begun to work together, or can ask past clients whether they need a touchup to help re-spark their interest in your company. Touch-ups typically take very little time but can make a serious impression on your clients.
While you may be offering the touchup service for free, this promotion can help you to attract repeat clients and future clients. Offering this simple service for free can help endear you to clients and give your company the impression of competence and care.
Bid on Realistic Jobs
If you have been told that your best bet of winning contracts is by bidding on every job that comes across your path, you have been misled. While you may feel the urge to throw a bunch of spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks, a better approach is to select the contracts you choose to bid on carefully and according to your company’s skillset.
Bidding on projects that will be too expensive for you to complete, or require special skills your company does not possess won’t make you look ambitious or impressive, it will just leave customers feeling confused when you ultimately have to turn down the contract.
Rather than shooting for the stars and crossing your fingers, carefully assess the jobs you choose to apply to ensure that they are solidly within your company’s capabilities to complete. A good way to know which jobs you should bid on is by looking for those that require the services your company is particularly good at, since this is where you will best be able to shine and your skills will be most appreciated.
Get to Know the Competition
While it may seem counterintuitive to develop relationships with your competitors and fellow local contractors, being well acquainted with your direct competition can actually be a major benefit. Knowing the ins and outs of your competitors’ operation can help you to better market yourself, and help you to know what you can focus on in order to make your business stand out.
More directly, building trusting relationships with other contractors in your area can help you to get more business, since they may be willing to pass clients along to you when their schedules are fully booked for the season.
Show Your Customers Some Appreciation
Sometimes, commercial business can be an incredibly impersonal world, with the majority of communication happening online or over the phone, and the majority of the emphasis being put on the physical end result of the working relationship. While it can be easy to fall into the pattern of ignoring the human side of your commercial clients, be sure not to underestimate the power of showing a little bit of appreciation now and then.
Reach out to thank your clients after successfully finishing projects together, congratulate former clients once they have successfully been in operation for over a year, or even send a simple greeting card during the holidays to let them know you appreciate them.
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