CREATING A STRONG CLIENT BASE
Having faced the biggest social disruption of our lifetime, you may be wondering about the future of your business post-lockdown. The landscape feels different, and this raises questions. Will it return to normal? Will you continue to do well?
To do well, it is vital to focus on what your business needs above everything else, and that’s a steady stream of new clients. Without clients, there is no business.
However, advertising costs money, and you may currently be taking a conservative approach with your finances. To combat this, here are five ways that you can advertise without breaking the bank. It may take some of your time, but as one cheese advert states, “good things take time”, and a steady stream of new clients is a good thing for your business.
- ASK FAMILY AND FRIENDS
The people who are likely to be most interested in your business’ continued success, other than yourself, are the people closest to you. Talk to them about the jobs you are doing and ask them to put you in touch with anyone they know who might need building work done.
If they need the assistance of a builder, then a recommendation from a close associate, friend, or family member is likely to be well received. However, understand that you may need to adapt, and prepare to take jobs you wouldn’t have pre-lockdown.
Remember, your family members may not be fully up-to-speed with the kind of work you are currently doing and how your business has developed in the past few years, so it might pay to inform them of the space you now operate in. In their eyes, you’re still the best builder around!
- RECONNECT WITH PAST CLIENTS
I’m sure you’ve heard that it costs more to advertise to a new client than to get a past client to return. Some say it can cost up to six times more! Most building clients don’t make repeat purchases within one year, but many people use the services of a builder multiple times over the course of a decade.
If you are not already connecting with your past clients on a regular basis, then now is a good time to do so. Go back through your records and build a list of everyone you have connected with, including those who have previously not proceeded past getting a quote.
Send them an email, or if you know their address, send them a letter as well (letters are few and far between today, so can have quite an impact if well-presented). Set up a system, so it’s easier to track your engagement. All of this is planting seeds for the future.
It’s important to remember that past clients also have contacts, so don’t be afraid to send them an introductory gift voucher they can pass on to a friend or family member.
- CONNECT WITH NEIGHBOURS OF YOUR CURRENT PROJECTS
Of the builders you know, how many have returned to the same street again and again to complete renovations? This is because neighbourhoods tend to have homes built in a similar style and often at a similar time. If one house is being renovated, then it is highly likely that there will be others in the neighbourhood that are also ready for a makeover.
Don’t waste the opportunity to connect with the neighbours of your current jobs.
Put up a sign as soon as you can. Make sure it’s attractive and oozes quality. It might be the only advertising message the neighbourhood sees, so think about the impression you want it to make.
Introduce yourself to the neighbourhood with a letterbox flyer. It’s old school, but it costs almost nothing to produce and deliver, while still being capable of delivering results. Get your team to help you with the delivery, so they understand the importance of building good relationships with neighbours.
Building good relationships with the neighbours also extends to the behaviour of you and your team members while working or delivering flyers. It’s very easy to undo all the hard work you’ve done to create a good impression by something that seems small, like having someone park in front of the wrong driveway, or leave cigarette butts behind.
- ASK FOR REFERRALS EARLY
Don’t wait until a job is completed before asking for a referral. Your client is most excited about their job before it starts, even while it is still in the concept stage! This is when they will be talking about their plans and ideas, while getting opinions and all the rest.
Develop a referral form and leave it with them, so they can note down possible referrals when they think of them – not just when you ask. You can then refer to the form regularly.
Don’t offer money or a discount in exchange for a referral, as I have found that this makes most people uncomfortable, and it risks them feeling like the friendship is being exploited.
However, when they do bring you a referral, make sure to show your appreciation with a ‘spontaneous’ gift.
- ENGAGE WITH SOCIAL MEDIA
If you are not already posting on social media, now is a great time to start. There are several platforms you can use, each providing different opportunities to market your business.
Instagram and Facebook are both great for showcasing photos and videos.
Using these platforms, you can post photos or videos that stay on your page (profile) and share a story with photos and videos that lasts for 24 hours. For a small price, you can boost your posts to a wider network of people of your choosing or promote your page to increase your followers.
On Facebook, you can post a blog, ask a question, or tell a longer story about a project by posting updates along the way. You can also add an automatic message pop-up on your page that encourages people to ask a question or book an appointment.
Pinterest is another platform to consider and is more suited to posting finished pictures of completed projects.
There are several social media channels available these days but, no matter which or how many you choose, make sure you have the time and content to make sure it’s done right. It’s better to use one of them effectively rather than use as many as possible half-heartedly. An advantage with Facebook and Instagram is that, because they’re connected, you can post to both simultaneously with the click of a button.
The recent lockdown period has heightened the use of social media, so with a little time and effort you can engage with potential clients through various channels.
If you need help in doing this, www.websitesforbuilders.co.nz is a useful tool to learn more.
Creating a steady stream of clients should be viewed as a necessary practice, rather than an expense. Succeeding in doing so can be rewarding and enjoyable, while providing more control over your future business income.
Graeme Owen is a builders’ business coach at thesuccessfulbuilder.com. Since 2006, he has helped builders throughout New Zealand get off the tools, make decent money, and get more time in their lives. Grab a copy of his free book: The 15 Minute Sales Call Guaranteed To Increase Your Conversion Rate or join Trademates and connect with builders who are scaling too.