1. Operating with the best business practices
A common problem that contractors meet when trying to improve efficiency and grow the business is to agree on what is considered to be best practices in the industry. There already is a system in place that that is working fine and is familiar to everyone.
A good way to do away with the debate is using whatever system you like when handling things from scheduling, bookkeeping, invoicing, to task management and training; provided the system you are using has basic knowledge of the task and is going to help employees by providing them with step-by-step instructions.
When you have a good system in place, you have a chance of maintaining the current level of success and even be prepared to scale properly when that time comes.
2. Assessing your internal organization
After you have come up with a system using the best practices, the next step is conducting a comprehensive assessment of the company. This will involve questions such as;
Are there repeat sales?
Is the business stable financially?
How do people rate the business and its customer service?
Are there customer referrals?
What is the employee turnover rate?
You can answer the above questions by looking at your books, paying attention to what customers and others are saying about the business online, and talking with your customers and employees. If there are areas that need to be improved on, then make sure you focus on them before growing the business.
If your employees are not good at customer service, and this is the main complaint you are getting from customers, then it might be a good idea to hire people who are good at customer service or even provide your current staff with proper training.
3. Making yourself available
During normal business hours, customers and prospective customers are expecting to talk to an actual human being and not a robot. Having someone handling the phone all day might seem like a lot for you, but the last thing you want is to lose a customer to your competition.
A good way to deal with this is to send business calls to your cell when you are not in the office. Even if you don’t manage to pick the call, you can easily call the customer back than having to wait till you are back at the office.
To avoid any confusion, make sure you have stated your business hours on your website, business cards, and social channels. If you have stated that you close at 5 p.m., then the customer cannot be mad when they call you at night and no one answers.
You should set up automated email and social media messages during your off-hours. You can keep the customer happy by sending out a simple message letting them know you have received the message and that you are going to respond within 24 hours.
4. Joining an industry association
Industry associations are not only good for networking. They are also going to help in developing essential business skills like writing a contract and how much to charge for clients. They can also help in recommending the products to use for each type of job and where you can find sib-trades.
5. Stepping up your marketing game
Successful marketing campaigns are more than just getting new clients or customers. It is also securing more profitable projects and making sure your current clients and customers are happy.
Online businesses usually market far and wide, but you should put all your marketing efforts into your local area. Make sure that your phone number, address, and hours are easily found online and can be searched on search engines. Once you do this, start networking in the community, both online and offline. Some offline options include going to the chamber of commerce meetings. You should also make sure you market on social networks like Facebook.
6. Attracting more funding
If you are like most contractors out there, you most likely don’t have enough resources to support your expansion. It is common to find companies with cash-flow struggles because customers have delayed payment. This forces you to start looking for lines of credit, securing overdraft protection, and obtaining loans. You can save money when starting out by purchasing used equipment from the surplus network to help with cashflow.
If you are going to attract funding, make sure you have organized and detailed records and do research on the best type of loan for your business.
7. Being flexible
You are probably not an expert in all fields, even if you consider yourself a general contractor. This is why you most likely provide customers with specific services. When you choose to go the extra mile for the client, you are going to earn a lifelong client. If you have specialized in electrical work, then you notice that the customer has a minor leak in their plumbing system and you can easily repair it, then you can choose to do it instead of having the client call a plumber to do it. The customer is going to be very happy because you would have saved them a lot of time and money.