The role of digital in today's construction trade market
This article looks at the impact of digital in today's trade market and how tradesmen can use technology to build their business. It's been co-written by Rated People, an online marketplace for finding tradesmen.
When you're a newly qualified tradesman, it can be tricky to get homeowners to trust you to carry out their work. This is why many request that you have public liability cover before starting work. Like any job, once you've got that previous work experience and can prove that you're skilled, you'll find it easier to take the next step in your career.
For a tradesman, this means putting what you've learnt into practice for paying customers and building your business by growing your reputation.
Today's digital market
Today we're in a digital age where almost everything is available online. Hiring a tradesman is no different.
Aside from word of mouth, the main advertising method in the past was an ad in a directory. If someone had a job to be done and didn't have a friend who could recommend a local tradesman, they'd turn to the Yellow Pages to find one themselves.
For a tradesman, the main drawback was the lack of control over the jobs coming in. The phone could be ringing off the hook, or you could be paying for an ad that didn't generate a single phone call.
Advertising online has made the process more efficient. It gives you a platform to go out and find work, rather than wait for it to come to you. One example is Rated People. On the site registered tradesman can browse homeowners' job posts and quote on the work they're interested in. On this platform you only see the jobs that match up to your trade and the area you work in.
How to build your business
Our eight tips below will help you get your business to fly. Some tasks you can do once, but the majority of them you'll need to repeat to grow your reputation.
1. Taking photos of your work
Taking photos of your handiwork shows homeowners that you're skilled and have completed jobs similar to theirs before.
2. Taking a good headshot
A professional headshot helps generate trust. Potential customers like to know who they're letting into their homes before they turn up. Plus, a friendly face gives a personable, human touch to your business.
3. Creating your own logo
Creating your own company logo gives your business a professional edge. It creates an easily recognisable visual symbol. Once you have a logo, you can use it to brand your work clothes and any documents that you'll send out to customers. A logo also gives people regular exposure to your company brand.
4. Collecting customer reviews
Reviews function as your digital word of mouth and help convince the next homeowner that you're the best person for their job. Once you've completed a job, ask the customer for a review that you can use as a testimonial.
5. Following up with old customers
You might have finished a job but it's great customer service to check in and see how a customer is enjoying that new shed or how the roof is holding up a couple of months down the line. It'll demonstrate that you care about your work and your customers' satisfaction. They'll be more likely to think of you if they or someone they know need work doing in the future.
6. Getting your own website built
Having your own website is reassuring to potential customers doing their research before they hire you. It's a great place for them to find out what they need to know. This could range from the qualifications you have and the type of work you do, to what previous customers have to say about your work.
You can set up a WordPress website easily enough. But if maintaining a website isn't your thing you can employ a company to do the hard work for you.
If you don't want to have your own website, an online profile on sites like Rated People or Trusted Trader will act like mini websites and appear in Google searches. Once a job has been done, a homeowner can add a review of that tradesman which appears on their profile page.
7. Investing in business software
If business admin isn't your strong point, it pays to take advantage of software that can do it for you. Accounting software, such as Intuit's QuickBooks, make it easy to manage your business accounts. You can see your financial information at a glance and send invoices. The right software can save you time that you can use to chase another job lead or get in touch with an existing customer.
8. Working mobile
As a tradesman you'll spend a lot of time out of the house. Instead of looking for job leads once you're back home, it's smart to look for them between jobs or during a lunch break. It's also a good time to carry out those follow up calls with old customers as we mentioned in #5.
It's clear that the way tradesmen do business has evolved over the years. With changing technology, it's now easier to find work. But don't forget, there is still no substitute for quality work and great customer service.