"These numbers provide a competitive advantage no one else can have because it's a number no one else can have or buy," says Mike Musto, owner of 1-800-PAVEMENT (and 1-800-SEALCOAT, 1-800-BLACKTOP, 1-800-SWEEPING, 1-888-PAVEMENT). "They are easy to remember, and if a customer needs work now he'll call you; if he needs work in a month they'll remember your number."
Musto says the "800" numbers are effective for both residential and commercial work, but are even more effective on commercial work. "A lot of times people need three bids and because you have an "800" number they'll remember, you'll get the opportunity to bid a job you might otherwise not have had a chance for," Musto says. "Property managers handle multiple properties, and they don't want to deal with a different contractor for each property; they want to deal with one property manager for all the properties, and that's a competitive advantage for you."
Ask for more work ? early. Many property managers know of work in the pipeline and they know of work they plan or hope to do on other properties. Humphrey says that it's important and effective to ask a current customer when she sees a new project coming up, perhaps when you bring her the invoice or drop by to make sure she's happy with the job you just finished. Ask what you can do to get involved right now in the next project, whether in helping draw up bid specs, planning, or just talking through the job - anything to stay a step ahead of the competition.
Seek out adjacent business. Jared Everett, Everett Professional Services, says contractors can see an immediate influx of work by knocking on the door - commercial or residential - next to where you already have a job. "People love to save money, and it makes sense to them that there would be a savings if the crew has already traveled and mobilized to a location," he says.
So when you have a job scheduled for a particular area have your staff make visits to adjacent properties and inform them and ask to provide an estimate. Emphasize they could "save money" for work done at the same time. "Even if you do not like giving discounts, adjust your price accordingly and highlight the discount," he says.
Bid fairly. Musto says that when property managers' budgets are being slashed contractors tend to try to be the lowest bidder on every job. But he doesn't agree with that approach because contractors end up doing too much work for too little profit. "You don't have to be the lowest bid but you do have to be fair priced," Musto says. "And you always have to do quality work."
Host "lunch and learns." Humphrey says this is an especially effective marketing approach to property managers. He says the key is to bring in prospects and current customers at the same time and strategically place them around the table. "Mix up prospects with regular customers and your customers become salespeople for you," Humphrey says.
He adds you don't have to "market" your company, just provide lunch and bring in an expert to discuss one aspect of pavement maintenance of interest to all attendees. The entire event should be brief, perhaps 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Gruenberg adds that these events are not costly, are easy to set up, and can be held regularly without too much trouble. He cautions that the lunch and learn needs to come off as a professional presentation, so use and rehearse a nice PowerPoint presentation.
Target your direct-mail marketing. Paradise says most contractors send out mailings that are too large and unfocused. "If I send out 1,000 pieces and 60 respond, that's 60 phone calls and requests for bids and you can run yourself into the ground doing the bidding correctly," he says. He suggests targeting one type of prospect in a specific area - churches in the northeast area, for example. "You might only get 10 responses but you have a better chance of keeping up with calls that come back and you can do a quality bid that way."
Target "good" customers. Musto says U.S. Pavement, his contracting business, is "putting blinders on this year" and looking primarily at the good customers. "We're pursuing people who are going to give us profitable work who want to do business with us," he says. "We're looking at people managing multiple properties, people who don't necessarily go for the low bid, and who prefer to do business with one contractor. That's not to say we're not going to pursue other work, or do other work but the focus will be on the more profitable work."