A Tradesman’s Guide To Managing Business
A lot of business management and marketing guides published today cater to online businesses and may not necessarily appeal to an entrepreneur in industries like plumbing or construction. These are industries that continue to rely heavily on word-of-mouth referrals for business. Also, a lot of business owners in this space still rely on outdated tools and infrastructure that limits their scope to scale up and grow their business.
In this article, we will take a look at some tips for entrepreneurs in this space to improve productivity and scale their business up.
When it comes to local trades, consumers have traditionally sought references from their friends and family. Beyond this, local business guides like Yelp and AngiesList provide a helpful list of tradesmen across various neighborhoods along with with ratings and reviews for every business.
As a local tradesman, high ratings on these platforms is absolutely crucial for growing your business. At the same time, negative reviews from disgruntled customers can ruin your reputation on these platforms and this can impact your business, However tempting it may be, do note that it is against the terms of these platforms to provide incentives to your customers in exchange for good ratings. So it is important to not make use of paid reviews to grow your reputation.
To tackle this issue, seek feedback about your performance from each of your clients. You may do this by sending your client an SMS with a link to a feedback form that lets them rate your business performance. Clients who rate your business highly may then be nudged to leave a review behind on services like Yelp or AngiesList while you may personally reach out to, and resolve issues faced by unhappy clients. Please do note that you will need an explicit written permission from your clients to be able to send them non-transactional text messages. Know the laws in your local jurisdiction before you proceed.
A lot of tradesmen tend to be one-man operations. These entrepreneurs are not only responsible for working on client jobs, but are also in charge of handling administrative responsibilities like scheduling, invoicing, etc. This leaves them with little time to spend on marketing which is essential to scaling your business. Even entrepreneurs that have dozens of contract traders can have a tough job managing the schedules of all their workers.
Apps like Tradify can make the job of a trader easier. Tradesmen can quickly schedule appointments for workers, track each job from quote to invoicing, and track all staff and materials at one place. Since all of this is automated, traders do not have to spend time on non-productive administrative tasks and instead focus on value-adding tasks like marketing or executing jobs.
In addition to Tradify, you may also invest in online tools like Quickbooks and Xero to handle accounting and invoicing. This can dramatically reduce the time spent on paperwork which improves your organizational productivity.
Optimizing your website to rank on Google is absolutely crucial for local trades. But it is important to remember that the end goal here is to get new business inquiries – not simply ranking your website on Google. To that end, the following tips can be extremely helpful for a trader.
Focus on listing sites: Sites like Yelp, AngiesList and even Craigslist have terrific domain authority which makes it easier for these sites to rank for local search queries compared to your domain. As much as you would want to rank on your own website, optimizing these listing pages and building links to your listings across these websites should help your business appear multiple times on the first page of the relevant search queries. This increases the chances for your prospective customers to notice your listing and reach out to you.
Optimize map listing: A huge chunk of search queries today come from mobile phones (and desktops with location based targeting on). Prospective customers no longer search for queries like “Plumbers in Burlington” but instead search online with queries like “Plumbers near me” or simply “Plumbers”. Optimizing your Google Maps listing helps the search algorithm understand your geographical service area better and lists you in front of customers you may be interested in. Also, it is worth remembering that Google Maps looks at your online reputation while displaying your business in search results. So focus on building a portfolio of reviews from your customers.
Responsive sites: Google places great emphasis on delivering exceptional user experience. Given that more searches happen today over mobile compared to desktop computers, it is only natural for the search engine to prioritize responsive sites over those that are non-responsive. Responsive design refers to the use of a web interface that renders well irrespective of what device the website is accessed from. If you have not updated your website design in several years, chances are high that your site is non-responsive which can bring down your site’s ‘reputation’ in the eyes of Google.
When it comes to tradesman jobs, customers typically go with contractors they have already engaged with. Repeat business is usually a given unless you do a really shoddy job or fail to provide your customers with the right information to contact you. There are a few ways to ensure you are the go-to contractor for all future jobs.
Get a ‘callback’ date: Depending on your line of work, your clients may need your service every few weeks or months. A carpet cleaner, for instance, could be required every couple of months whereas an electrician is only required while installing new equipment or to fix existing ones. It is good practice to ask your clients when they will need you next. Add this information to your calendar and reach back to them to check on possible new jobs.
Giveaways: Giveaways and keepsakes are a wonderful way to build a brand and also provide a readily-accessible way for your customers to get your contact details.
Discount newsletter: Providing discounts for past clients is a great way to secure repeat jobs. If email marketing does not work in your industry, you may also look at SMS or WhatsApp as a reliable way to market your discount campaign to past clients. But as mentioned earlier in this article, you may be in violation of your local laws if you send marketing messages without an explicit written permission from your clients. Consult your local laws before you proceed with this strategy.
Regardless of your industry, traders work in an incredibly saturated and competitive space. It is important to identify gaps in the market and provide a service that is distinctly better than your competitors to gain a foothold in the market and grow your business.
Vic Anandan is a management consultant specializing in technology benchmarking and certifications. He has over 15 years of experience in the industry and has travelled to over 18 countries so far."Read Full Bio