Plan for success: get your building firm noticed
Monday, August 03rd, 2020
- Do you think about marketing your building firm better – but don’t know where to start?
- Do you want to undertake larger, more profitable work?
- Do you want a steady stream of decent business?
- Do you want to attract the best people to work for your company?
If the answer is yes, then read our tips and tricks. If you really want to raise your profile and attract the ‘better paying’ customer commissioning larger, more prestigious projects – there’s work to do (read more on high-value customers here). But all of it is definitely doable. Just remember, how you present yourself is all in the planning.
Which is why ‘Marketing your business’ is part of our ‘Planning for Success’ campaign to help our building community succeed in more challenging times. Book a seat at our Power Hour Video Chat on ‘How to promote your building firm’. It’s on Thursday 20th August at 7pm. Hear from the experts!
Who would be the ideal customer?
- They have a realistic budget and an interesting project
- They’re more interested in a firm they can trust than a cheap one
- They’re less inclined to haggle on price
- They’re open to advice and suggestions
- They pay on time
#1. What are they looking for when they start their search for a building firm?
As they haven’t met you they need signs that you are the firm that is going to meet their needs. The three topics here are covered in more detail a few paragraphs down.
- Evidence of your professionalism
- Testimonials that prove you produce high quality work
- Photos of previous projects
Get this right and you will stand out from the crowd. And you’ll have a much better chance of being asked to quote. And an even better chance of winning the work!
All of the recommendations here for marketing your building firm will be harder to achieve without either a website (definitely needed for contractor work) or a Facebook page (both is even better) and ideally other social media channels, like Instagram and LinkedIn to spread the word still further.
- How to create a Facebook Business page – click here
- How to create a Linkedin page – click here
- Build your own Wix website from a template – click here (there are other companies!)
- Read our free Social Media guide – written for builders – here.
- You can get some valuable guidance on using social media and marketing tools by signing up to these cost effective courses with our partners, Videotile.
Top tip: If you have a Facebook page then POST REGULARLY. If your last post was in 2019 prospective customers will think you’ve gone out of business!
1. Evidence of your professionalism
Here are just a few recommendations:
- A professional-looking identity for your business. A simple, clean logo needn’t be expensive – put it on your estimate/van/polo shirt
- A domain name – that you use for your emails as well as your website. Sadly @hotmail.co.uk, @yahoo.co.uk etc. don’t present the same professional profile as say, @JonesDesignandBuild.co.uk
- Email signature – have your logo below your sign-off – plus contact details – even a link to your latest job
- Business phone – so you answer the call with the name of your business
- Articles/blogs – you’re going to move yourself up the Google rankings if you regularly update your website with say, a case study, observations on new legislation, how you manage your health and safety, and so on.
- Carefully thought out Facebook posts – Share your thinking on new products, materials and building methods. Comment on changes in planning laws. Show inspirational projects and why you like them. Help prospects realise that you take your work seriously.
- Join local groups on Facebook – Homeowners are always seeking out building firms on local community group pages – be careful to respond to the ‘meaty’ projects only though. You’re after a certain kind of customer…
- Membership to construction bodies – We’ve included this if only to say we’re not fans… so think hard before signing up. We are sceptical of affiliations, knowing that in some cases it’s nothing more than a logo… just saying. They rarely provide high quality leads.
Top tip: Invest in straightforward CAD software. Nothing says professionalism like a 3D model and drawing of their project. Great for your website and Facebook page too. PlansXpress can help you create an amazing portfolio.
Of course there are lots more ways to show your professionalism using social media – see our handy user guide for more ideas.
2. Testimonials that prove you produce high quality work
Don’t leave endorsements to chance. Make it part of the job process. When you’ve completed the snagging list – ask for a few words – whether they send it in an email or text. Share on your website and on social media. We should add that many people are wary of fake testimonials. Better Business Group (network partners of ours) source reviews from customers on behalf of builders, so you know they’re genuine. Incidentally, they’ll speak to six of your own customers for feedback and produce an analysis – for FREE! Read more here.
Top tip: Ask clients to use the recommendation feature on your Facebook page.
3. Photos of previous projects
Always ask permission to take photos for use on your website/social media – whether named or anonymous. A before and after is always effective. Phone photos are fine. Think steady hand, decent lighting and removal of unwanted objects in the shot. DON’T use stock shots if at all possible – and make it clear your photos are your own projects by having your signage in the photo or someone from your team. If you have to use a stock shot on your website home page for creative effect, then it should definitely be totally relatable to your business. A large housing development, a crane, a maze of scaffolding will only confuse your target market.
Top tip: Liven things up on your website or Facebook page – try filming a time lapse of your projects
#2. What do homeowners look for at the quoting stage?
Great news! A customer with money to spend has found you and asked you to tender for the work. Having got this far you don’t want to blow it. You know you need to make the right impression. So what next?
They’ll be looking out for all-important qualities like…
- Attention to detail
- Idea generation
- Organisational skills
- Smart, clean image.
Then when it comes to the number-crunching and nailing your credentials…
- A professional-looking estimate
- Transparency from start to finish
- Good communication
- Explain your commitment to health and safety
- That you’ll be providing a contract that gives them security
- That you’ll discuss the best way of making payments
- That you have no bad ratings or County Court Judgments…
1. A professional-looking estimate
Handwritten, a single sheet, or in the body of an email will NOT get you on the shortlist. They want to see detail, a breakdown, an accurate estimate – evidence that you’ve understood the job. Deliver it promptly and they’ll like you all the more.
2. Transparency from start to finish
Honesty is the best policy. The building trade in particular gets a bad press thanks to the cowboy builders. You can demonstrate your honesty by sharing as much information as you can in your quote. A good example of a informative quote can be seen here. Make clear what’s included and what’s a provisional sum.
Top tips: Use graphics in your quote to help clearly identify the build phases. EstimatorXpress does just that.
3. Good communication
Be properly ‘on it’ when it comes to following up your quote. Consumers are a funny bunch. We want the red carpet treatment if we’re about to spend lots of money. If you don’t show interest they’ll lose interest. Don’t hassle but do politely keep in touch. And if the customer is keen to reduce the number of in-person visits right now, make sure you have a Skype account, or are ready to suggest a Zoom call or a Messenger call. Use the technology that’s out there.
4. Details of your commitment to health and safety
As a result of Covid-19, health and safety is very much in the public domain. It’s not just a commercial or corporate issue. Homeowners are now taking as much interest as anyone else. In fact many clients deal with health and safety in their workplace, so know what to look for.
They obviously want to know you are working responsibly and their project will be Covid-19 secure. But it doesn’t stop there.
Domestic clients have health and safety duties under CDM 2015. You need to be clear on the transfer of responsibilities. Can you demonstrate your plans for operating safely? What documents can you show? Risk Assessments, plans and policies? Using software like Health & Safety Xpert will make this so much easier.Reference your Public Liability insurance at the first opportunity and another box will be ticked.
Top tip: Whilst we’re in this Covid-19 secure world – get off on the right foot from day one. So make sure both feet are a good metre away from the front door and tell them that you would shake their hand under normal circumstances.
5. A contract that gives them security
You both want the same thing. Security. You don’t want the client moving the goal posts or letting you down. They want the same thing. Set this out at the quoting stage. They’ll respect you for this. No job should start without a Notice of Right to Cancel form being handed over, or a contract being signed. ContractsXpert gives you a contract for your customer (and your subbies).
Top tip: Include a cover letter with the contract and make everything crystal clear
6. A staged payment plan
Again, explain how you work as you present your quote. Asking for a payment out of the blue to buy some materials never goes down well with a customer. However, asking for payment along the way is fine if you have made it a contractual arrangement.
Stage payments or payment schedule is a list of dates setting out when you will make payments to the customer under the terms of the contract agreed between you and them. It makes life easier for everyone. Find more information on staged payments here. ContractsXpert does the staged payment sorting for you.
And back on the subject of transparency. Think about how you flag problems and delays. If there’s an unforeseen cost, don’t just add it to the invoice. Customers are more likely to recommend you to others if you come clean as soon as you hit a snag, and talk it through.
Top tip: Decide how you want to be paid – by Build Phase, milestone or specific days – and present the plan before day one
7. No County Court Judgments…
We’ll leave that one there… but you’d be surprised how many building firms have them and continue to work, risking the credibility of the industry. You have to hope the client does due diligence on everyone tendering.
Well all things being equal you should have won a great big profitable project, that will give you a proper margin. Carry on in the same way and there’ll be many more.
In the meantime…
All of these plans for successfully marketing your building firm won’t win you profitable projects overnight. But with the right amount of effort, they may well come in a lot sooner than you expect. Good luck!
We can help you get to where you want to be much quicker with our software. Your high standards will be obvious with professionally produced quotes using EstimatorXpress, eye-popping 3D models from PlansXpress, all the necessary legal documents from Health & Safety Xpert, and clear-cut contracts from ContractsXpert.
To find out more, talk to HBXL about the best software solution for your business on 0117 916 7898. The team can also put you in touch with our network partners, Simon and Mark at The Better Business Group. They can advise on your business approach to promoting your company. They’ll even give you a free Business Review!