Growing a concrete business is not easy these days. The competition is stiffer, margins are shrinking, and more and more contractors are jumping into the business, especially the decorative segment.
An oft-overlooked business opportunity is selling directly to homeowners. Whether it's a decorative project or a simple walkway, homeowners can represent a lucrative market that smart contractors can use to get a leg up on the competition.
Here are a dozen suggestions that will increase the number of prospects you get and help improve your closing ratio of prospect-to-profitable new projects:
Do good work
First of all, no amount of advertising will help you if you do poor quality work! And your best salesperson will always be a satisfied customer, creating word-of-mouth advertising. So in addition to the overall quality of your work itself, think of the little things (often free) that will help make a big impression … like spending the last 15 minutes of every day cleaning up the jobsite, or wearing booties when inside anyone's home or business.
Uniforms for all your workers
As dirty as you'll likely get on many jobsites, whenever possible have every one of your workers in a professional-looking uniform. Even if your "uniform" is a T-shirt and jeans, bright colors for all your staff will set you apart from other trades on every jobsite.
Signs of the times
Make sure your truck(s) have your name, phone number and website address clearly visible on both sides and the back. (And for heavens' sake, keep your truck clean!) Additionally, have several wire-framed, lightweight weatherproof signs made up to place street side (with permission) on every job you're working on. Your local sign maker can handle both of these very reasonably, even creating logos or other artwork for you if needed. One word of caution – make the lettering very easy to read from a distance.
Do well by doing good
Scouts, school bands and kids' ball teams are always in need of fund-raising activities. Contact the adult leaders in your area and suggest donating a modest fee for distributing your fliers or door hangers plus a bonus (maybe $100 or so) for every lead from their fliers that turns into a new job for you. (Local school officials should be helpful in getting contact information.) Don't forget to offer special discounts to the parents of the organization doing your legwork.
The more you know ...
This is a rapidly growing, dynamic business. So much is happening with product development and techniques that you're really missing the boat if you don't make every attempt to learn. Check with your distributors to see if they offer classes or know of nearby seminars being offered by product manufacturers. In addition to what you'll learn from the content of the seminar itself, you'll also have a valuable opportunity to mix with other contractors and pick up some insight and pointers.
Look for ad bargains
You don't have to spend a ton on advertising, but you must make a commitment to always be easy to find when prospective customers are looking for you - or they'll find your competitor instead. That means at least a basic listing in the Yellow Pages directories. (There are probably three or more in your area.) Also, check out the smaller local newspapers in your market area and get rates for regularly appearing with a small space display or classified ad. The cost to run each ad typically goes down the higher your frequency. Make an initial commitment for at least 13 weeks and track the source of your leads by asking callers how they found you.
Ask your local car wash, real estate agents and other businesses in your area if you can place a supply of your business cards and/or fliers for their customers. In a few months you should be able to get a good sense of where your advertising dollars and efforts are paying off.
Be easy to find