As business owners, we want to build something valuable and long-lasting. To do that, it takes these three time-tested steps: get the day-to-day operations running right, make the business more profitable, then accelerate your growth. We are always learning from our customers, and these are 49 ways we’ve watched them build long-term businesses.
Manage More Effectively
Make sure that the day-to-day pieces of the business are working properly. From keeping track to being able to hand off work, these tips will get your business running smoothly.
- Delegate More Often. We know it’s hard, you probably want to be in control of every aspect of the work. But when you’re looking to manage your business while you’re away from the office, you also need to be willing to delegate specific tasks. You can do this with a field service software or even a free version of a tool like Trello.
- Manage Customer Relationships. Every company needs a customer relationship management (CRM) system. This is a system to manage customer information in one central place. Keep track of contacts plus all of your communications and the work you do for them.
- Continually Research Pricing. In the hustle and bustle of daily business, it’s hard to stop and look at one of the central parts of your business – pricing! Spend some time seeing what makes you stand out, what your competitors are charging, and how you can be profitable and competitive.
- Build a Culture of Customer Service. Your staff is the front line of communication with your customers. To keep them inspired, look for ways to train them and encourage them. This might mean offering paid training, team building events, or friendly competitions related to customer service.
- Use Free Apps. There’s lots of great apps out there – and even free ones can help you grow! Check out SimplySend a 100% free app for estimates and invoices, built for contractors.
- Use Management Software. Management software helps you better manage your business while you’re away from the office. This includes customer relationship management, invoicing, project management and more.
- Educate Your Customers. Another reason to go digital with a tool like SimplySend, is the importance of easy to understand estimates and invoices. Make it a habit to clearly layout goals to ensure your customers are in-the-loop.
- Take That Free Training. Whether it’s a field service tool, an accounting software or even a personal to-list app, take time to watch the videos, and take on any complimentary training. Sure, you can learn it yourself, but hearing it right from the training team speeds up productivity.
- Adopt Phone/Texting Etiquette. While it doesn’t have to be in a manual (though it probably should be) ensure your team has guidelines when speaking to customers. This makes a world of difference in customer satisfaction.
- Organize Your Fleet. With software like FieldPulse’s GPS Insight integration, you can have a real-time look at where your workers are and ensure their routes are optimized. This is optimal for productivity and customer satisfaction.
- Invest in Scheduling Software. For any service contractor, scheduling can make or break your business. Getting to your customers quickly can mean the difference between having a new loyal fan or a disgruntled customer who could harm your business with bad word of mouth. Certain field service software programs can optimize your schedule and bring tremendous results.
- Take Time Off (and be prepared). Taking time off from work is never an easy proposition in the service contracting industry, especially if you have to be in a state of all-hands-on-deck – at all times. But, you must also incorporate a healthy work/life balance if you want to promote a positive work environment with more productivity and less burnout.
- Be Aware of Too Long of Shifts. As all business owners know, the job never really ends. But long shifts and aggressive schedules don’t just lead to sleep deprivation and coffee habits, though; long shifts can hurt your business through increased insurance costs, overtime wages, more screw-ups on the job site, lower employee satisfaction, and higher turnover.
- Learn How to Find Great Employees. As skilled labor becomes more difficult to hire – and retain – business owners have to step up their game to secure the right talent. Wise decisions for hiring will have them seeking you out, rather than you hunting for them.
- Focus on Yourself, Not Competition. By focusing too much on what “the other guy” is doing, you risk just mimicking their brand. Find out what makes you unique, and go full force!
- Lower Risk with Technology. A digital CRM ensures customer records, digital invoices ensures proper accounting, and GPS and scheduling technology can ensure employee safety. Make sure you’re as digital and organized as you can be.
- Create an Employee Discipline Policy. In an ideal world, your employees wouldn’t make mistakes. They’d do their jobs well, they’d keep you in the loop, and they’d respect your customers.. Real employees, however, aren’t perfect. They screw up, they lie, they get angry, and they try to hide their mistakes. They’re human. This guide is a great start to developing a proper discipline policy.
- Study Your Competitors. While focusing too much on the competition can risk you becoming a copycat, be sure to study their pricing and offering structure – so you can remain competitive.
When you have processes in place and you aren’t facing surprises every day, it’s time to focus on making more profit from the work you’re already doing. Here are some great ways to do that.
- Practice Upselling. Up-selling: A lot of service contractors hate it, but it doesn’t have to be too “salesy”. Read the guide here and others to learn how a simple service call can lead to more work.
- Use Digital Estimates & Invoices. Paper gets lost, even PDFs can get stuck in spam. Use simplified tools to send estimates and invoices quickly.
- Accept Credit Card Payments. Not only does this ensure you’re paid quicker (or even paid on-site right there), but it allows for easier tracking and accounting.
- Understand Your Costs. Actual vs. estimated costs are important. Go into every job prepared!
- Increase Subcontracting Projects. Being a subcontractor can help you speed up the success of your business, and it could also lead you to a part of the industry you could really enjoy. It also has the ability to open the door to a flood of work.
- Find a Niche. Maybe it’s a apartment complexes, hotels or playgrounds – there are plenty of fun niches that lead way to more projects. Find one or two, and make your work known!
- Follow-Up More. Following up should be part of every sales protocol. Make sure it’s in yours! Failure to follow up with potential customers and current clients alike is an almost guaranteed business killer.
- Outsource Lead Generation on a Commission. For some, contracting with a lead generation company can be a good investment. These companies won’t only save you time, but will also get the job done more professionally.
- Check Out Proposal Software. You need contractor business software to manage your proposals. These are apps help lower your workload and increase efficiency while giving you a step more professional polish.
- Segment Your Customer Base. Easiest when using a CRM tool, identifying different customer segments can help you increase your sales or fill gaps in your service schedule.
- Professionally Handle Late Payments. Handling late payments is never easy; finding the right balance between being firm enough to protect your business interests and accommodating enough to earn a strong reputation among your customers is an art. Check out the linked guide here for tips.
Grow Your Business
When you have consistent business earning maximum profits, now it’s time to step on the gas. These ideas are sure-fire ways to expand your business.
- Have a Quality Website. Sure, it seems obvious, but having a quality website not only boosts your search engine rankings, but it makes you appear professional and approachable.
- Run Inexpensive Facebook Ads. Facebook advertising seems intimidating, but give it a try. Even $5, $10, or $20 can help you identify leads and improve your digital marketing presence.
- Understand SEO. Many customers find contractors through online searches. While most contractors have social media pages and websites, many don’t understand search engine optimization (SEO). It’s not that complicated, either! Check out a guide like this one.
- Get More Reviews. It’s no secret that many customers read reviews before hiring. Especially for contractors! While it’s not easy to snag reviews, here are some tips to get some more written about you to share on your website and social media.
- Use Facebook Groups for Marketing. Sure, social media marketing is one thing – but community management is another. Make sure you’re joining community groups to speak directly to your audience.
- Be More Brand Conscious. Many businesses – contractor or not – fall into one of two traps. They either have a great brand and fail to continue building on it, or they’re too busy to ever really define it. Take time to find out what your voice really is.
- Start a Blog. While ads and social media are great, proper content marketing is needed to ensure you have fun things to share on social media and also boost your search ranking.
- Try Less Traveled Marketing Paths. Marketing trends are usually for good reason, but don’t forget other tactics. For instance, did you know Bing is still a solid search tool for contractors? There’s plenty marketing channels to perfect and discover!
- Use Email for Customer Engagement. One of the most cost-effective ways to communicate with customers is email. Knowing the rules of the game and developing a process for collecting email addresses are important first steps. But once you have those down, using email effectively can help you increase customer loyalty with little cost and effort.
- Design Your Website (or landing page) Around Lead Generation. Many contractors underestimate the power of a top-quality website. Well-designed and constructed websites give you more credibility. It’s no secret that modern customers are more likely to hire someone with an attractive and user-friendly website.
- Update Your Business Cards. Even in an online world, business cards still matter. Providing great customer service, a strong product, and showing up on time are extremely important. But the first step to landing a new job could be good-looking contractor business cards.
- Optimize with AdWords. Google search is a leading generator for contractor business. By getting familiar with AdWords you’re able to properly promote your services.
- Get Out and Network. One of the most overlooked contractor sales opportunities in the industry today: Harnessing the power that networking with local business owners can have on your bottom line.
- Experiment – And Track It! While “see what works and what doesn’t” seems like an obvious statement, every contractor should be doing this. But take it a step further by documenting what marketing, billing or operational change worked, what didn’t and what you’re going to do to improve it.
- Send Targeted Offers. Now that you’ve segmented your customer list, send unique offers to each segment. 2+ year old installations might need a service check-up email, or a new customer may deserve a discounted service for being new to your service.
- Run More Special Offers. It sounds simple, but many of contractors simply don’t craft a marketing calendar. Maybe a summer HVAC tuneup deal, or a winter roofing promotion. No matter you’re trade, there’s plenty offers to create.
- Try a New Social Media Channel. Instagram is a great tool for visuals – which makes remodels or new installations even more impressive. Similarly, while it might not be obvious, Pinterest is another great visual tool, and a great tool to share website ontent on.
- Brush Up on Marketing Lingo. Digital marketing is more accessible than ever, but the industry does a poor job of explaining itself to small businesses. A guide like this one can help you navigate the digital marketing waters.
- Leverage Your Chamber of Commerce for Business. While most service businesses operate in the consumer space, business to business networking is an important part of small business operation. If you haven’t taken the time to network with your local chamber of commerce, you may be missing out on connections that can have a strong influence on your bottom line.
- Try New (Online) Tools! Tools in your van aren’t the only ones to get excited about. There are many apps coming and going that sometimes it can be hard to keep up with. However, read industry blogs and chat with your colleagues. Whether it’s a full-on field service software, a new calculator app, or a free invoice/estimate tool – always continue to see what new tech works for you.
Are you ready to implement these ideas? Get started and watch your business build lasting value.
Ready to manage your business with industry-leading field service software? Start using FieldPulse for best-in-class CRM, estimates/invoices, digital signatures and payments, scheduling/dispatching, team management (including GPS-stamped timesheets), customer communications, and much more.
Just need estimates and invoices? Try SimplySend, a 100% free mobile and web-based app that can be upgraded to FieldPulse at anytime without losing any data (it’s still fully-featured, so upgrading is only required if you need to expand to team management/timesheets and job scheduling/dispatching).