Having an understanding of the geographic area your business operates in is vital to ensure growth and sustainability. Working as a contractor, you’ll be familiar with the idea that your income is reliant upon people seeking your services and hiring you to do work on their homes or businesses. But the crucial part of maintaining a flow of people seeking out your services comes from a combination of a good reputation and understanding your customer base.
In terms of keeping a good reputation, if you’re honest, fair and do a good job, this should take care of itself. Increasingly, contractors are finding themselves on the likes of Yelp, where the public are free to review your services no matter how good or bad they feel you are.
Understanding your customer base is a little different, as its approach requires you to be proactive in setting up relationships with people who you want to work for. It’s about being in the right space at the right time, and knowing when someone might be looking for the services of a joiner/plasterer, etc. Here’s a couple of things to bear in mind;
This goes a little beyond having your company name printed on the side of your van, unfortunately. Thanks to the online world, there’s more you can do to target the right kinds of customers. Facebook business listings are a great place to start and are good for interacting with friends of friends. If you want to invest a bit of money you can advertise through the platform too.
Read the local paper and keep your ear to the ground with what’s going on in your area. Seen an old fixer-upper with a for sale sign outside? See if the new owners are needing work done. Has a construction company successfully bought land for new homes? Get on the phone and see what you can do to help. It’s too easy to sit back and think that the work will come to you.
As mentioned before the world has moved online. There are all kinds of niche spaces where people are talking about what’s going on in the community. A bit of research can give you the edge over your competitors. In my local area, for example, keeping an eye on property pages around small towns like Ellon in Aberdeenshire has led to all kinds of great opportunities to work with.
Nothing gets people’s attention like good old fashioned flyers and leaflets. Head down to the local news agents, and get some free space in the windows. Staple flyers to telegraph poles like they did in the old days, and see if you can get an advert in the aforementioned local papers. The idea is to think the same way that your customers do and to try and put yourself in the right space at the right time.
Contractor work is no picnic. Being so heavily reputation based, you need to make a good name for yourself. Sometimes that isn’t enough, and being there for your customers can help the money to come in.