You are dead in the water if you don't have a constant marketing and sales effort. If you are one of those rare pavement maintenance contractors that has a "sugar daddy" feeding you constant business then don't waste your time reading this article. This article is for those of us who must "work for a living."
Mailing brochures, making sales calls, keeping yellow page ads up to snuff, or venturing onto the Internet is enough to keep most contractors busy. While we knock ourselves out trying to get new customer referrals we often overlook opportunities to extend our sales through other outlets just begging for our lead.
Consider the following organizations as your extended sales team:
- Banks, for repossessed properties and new property owners
- Insurance agencies, who know properties & conditions needing work
- Hardware stores, to find more residential and small property owners
- Real estate offices, who need action-oriented contractors and can often pay premium rates
- Associations, to help entry into commercial properties
- Past and current clients, because if you've made these people happy why not let them sell?
But don't just drop off a business card or company brochure and hope people will remember you. Here are some ways you can begin building relationships to enhance your current sales efforts.
First, develop a list of organizations to call on. Start with the types listed above and obtain contact names and addresses. Treat the individuals at these organizations as you would any valued customer. Second, develop a personalized letter that introduces you and your business. Do not overwhelm the individual with all your accomplishments and long list of references. Simply state who you are, what services you provide, how you can help them, and your desire to be considered a reliable contractor to their organization.
Third, if possible personally deliver the personalized letter, five to 10 brochures, and 15-20 business cards. Securing a brief (15 minutes) meeting with this individual will enhance your effort. Look appropriate! Dress up when meeting an association manager; dress casual for meeting in a hardware store.
Fourth, whether you are successful at meeting the individual be sure to follow up within a week to either thank the individual for the meeting or to confirm that they have received your letter and business information. Either a telephone call or a personal note in the mail is fine.
Certainly you may want to modify any of these steps depending on the organization and your previous knowledge about them. Your objective is two-fold: one, to make your business known among organizations who often utilize the services of contractors, and, two, to motivate these organizations to use your company.
It's also important to keep organizations that might refer customers to you informed about customer satisfaction. Encourage your customers to give you feedback on work your business has performed. Formalize such feedback in the form of customer satisfaction surveys if you can. Such formal feedback can be used as testimonies for other organizations interested in referring business to you.
By building strong and growing relationships with banks, agencies, relocation businesses, etc. you will greatly multiply your sales effort. Treat the individuals at these organizations as any sales person you might have on staff. Determine what you can and cannot give them for driving business your way, then say "thanks" with concert tickets, free dinner coupons, theater tickets, flowers, etc.
Quality work is still your best solution to building a great reputation but as you grow your business determine to extend your sales and marketing approach via the contacts covered in this article. Incorporating people from these organizations in your marketing will bring you greater results in a shorter amount of time.
Brad Humphrey is president and co-founder of Pinnacle Performance Group. Brad and partner Jeff Stokes will present a variety of management sessions at NPE West, Dec. 2-4, in Las Vegas and NPE, Feb. 2-5, in Atlanta. For more information call 913-441-3001 or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.