We all know that getting referrals is by far the best way of attracting new clients. You know referrals, right? — one of your clients is so impressed and satisfied with your work that they tell everyone within ear shot of how great your remodeling company is. But what about getting new customers from scratch?
Our home repair company is experimenting with new tactics and radical approaches of finding these people.
We are looking for the biggest return on our advertisement investments — time and money. We are attempting to find out what will give us the largest bang for our time spent in finding new customers. Photo: alldaybuffet.org
So where do we start? We start by isolating what doesn’t work.
Some of the tactics I recommend against are:
Canvassing and door hangars. This is an old tactic that simply doesn’t work in today’s world anymore. With the advent of the internet and people becoming more inwardly introverted — besides their interactions with family and friends, it’s nearly impossible to gain new clients this way. Most people are sick and tired of the bombardment of advertisements at their front doorsteps. They automatically chuck the stuff in the nearest trash can.
You may get 1 lead out of 1000 door hangars. Also, people today just aren’t opening their doors to strangers anymore. I don’t. There’s just too many other ways for people to find out what they are looking for when they decide to look for it — whether it be home improvements or the latest gadget.
Yellowbook Ads. I can’t say all businesses wouldn’t benefit from a physical ad in the yellow pages, but, contracting seems to have steered away from this approach. It’s because of the internet. Most people looking for something they need start with a search on the ‘net. Unless a potential prospect doesn’t own a TV or internet connection (some senior citizens), this is like throwing money to the wind.
Craigslist and Groupon. The reason I am against Craigslist is because the people that search on this site are usually looking for extremely low-priced deals that the professional contractor couldn’t possibly provide. There are a lot of hacks that advertise there, so you get what you pay for. I do, however recommend adding a page for “online presence” marketing. You never know who’s searching for what. Just take it with a grain of salt.
Groupon is another type of company that gives huge discounts to consumers. Most contractors couldn’t afford to offer their services with 50% off their going rates. It does benefit other service industries, though.
So where does the present state of advertising leave contractors?
Ways we are trying to attract new customers
Volunteering in our communities. “Why would us contractors work for free? We have families and need to get paid like everybody else!” some might say. But see, this is the way you get the word out for helping and giving back. You post the stuff you are doing for the neighborhood on your websites (with pictures, of course), and people visiting your site will think, “What a great company that helps the neighborhoods”. “I may hire them because they care”.
Offering free services should be limited to what you feel your company can handle. I wouldn’t buy materials for neighborhood projects; but simply offer free labor — maybe twice a month.
This kind of tactic opens the door to networking possibilities that you may not have recognized otherwise. You know the saying, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” This holds true to most small businesses. You may sell the next high-paying contract at these outings.
“Git ya paypa up!…”
Post-its at gas stations and fast food restaurants. While pumping gas, this is an opportunity to advertise. The person’s attention is solely directed at the pump’s digits. Place a post-it close to that. I recommend placing plain white post-its, because a bunch of colored notes will get removed in an instant — by the gas station attendant. Photo: merchantcircle.com
Stop at gas station and a pass out flyers in company van and uniforms. We’ve done this with much success. Timing is everything. We do this when work is slow. Pull up to a busy gas station dressed for work in the company vehicle and pass out flyers or business cards to the people pumping gas.
Above all, remain professional. Uniforms are a must when implementing this tactic. The reason? You are more apt to get responses — as opposed to some stranger approaching another stranger without visible markings of a business. You are there on business. Spend only 10 – 15 minutes at each gas station and move on. Otherwise the popos (police) might get called.
Give clients your company t-shirts to wear. This is a good tactic. When finishing a client’s project, give them a t-shirt or two. They may or may not wear it, depending how they feel about you. They then become walking and talking billboards! I would put the name of the company, phone number, website address on the back, and a funny (or) to-the-point quote on the front. Something like, “I just got my bathroom remodeled, and all I got was this lousy t-shirt”.
The more creative you are with the quote on the front, the more likely the client will wear it.
Your website’s useability is important. When you finally get them to your site, it should be easy to use and find stuff. A great example of a site’s useability is Ridgecon.com which is a Michigan roofing company. It should be simple to navigate, and perhaps have some kind of price estimator on it. People love to know rough estimates of home improvements. Give it to them.
Good luck and “get money”~!