Trade in focus: A builder’s guide to boosting your business

Trade in focus: A builder’s guide to boosting your business

How planting seeds and using social media can book you clients all year round.

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After a job well-done, there’s nothing better than sitting back with a nice cuppa. The contract went smoothly, the client is happy with the work, they’ve paid in full and on time. Magic!

After a well-deserved break you check the schedule to see what’s lined up next. A couple of odd jobs to finish the week, and not much else for the rest of the month. Business has been quiet for a few weeks now.

It’s that time of year, you tell yourself. Always quiet around the holidays. It will be a tough few weeks, but when the weather improves you’ll be loading up the van and heading to work sites.

Great news if you can afford to wait. Not so good, if you’ve a family to feed and a mortgage to pay.

What if you could line up business, or potential business, for the rest of the year? How much effort would that take? Not as much as you think.

What follows is a series of tips to help you schedule work and keep you busy. If you’re doing some of these things already, amazing. Share your experience in the comments below. Learnt something new and tried it out? Let us know how it went.

So, how can you keep a steady income across the next twelve months?

It’s all about planting seeds!

The first rule to planting seeds, is patience.

It may take at least six months to set up, but the wait will be worth it. Here’s how it works.

Let’s imagine you give a client a quote for an extension on their house. The client takes some time to think about it, then decides to wait a few months to make a decision.

What a waste a time that was, you think, as you march towards your van, slam the door and drive away. And you’d be right to be frustrated.

There’s only one thing worse than having your time wasted, and that’s not making the most of an opportunity.

Yes the client needs more time. No problem. But when they want to discuss the job again you need to make sure you’re the builder they contact first.

You need to leave an impression, not the sound of a slamming door. You need to make yourself available. You need to line up a date to have a catch-up.

Plant seeds today, and six months later they might grow into extra income.

The power of a diary!

Buy a diary. A physical book. With pages. Don’t use a phone or tablet. When the client receives the quote and tells you they need more time to think about it, out comes the diary.

It doesn’t matter if you’re face-to-face with the client or on the phone, give this a go.

As you flick through the pages of your diary, say to the client;

‘How about I make some time for you in a few weeks/months. I can give you a call to see if I can fit you in for any work you might need.’

If they agree, put their name in the book. After a few days, send a text thanking the client for their time, and confirm the date you discussed.

Remember, you’re carving out some time for the client. Making time for them. They don’t have to do anything. When you call back for that catch-up you might be surprised when they hire you to fix their roof, or remove interior walls.

If you set-up a number of catch-ups across the year, you’ll have a lead when business is quiet.

Now you might be thinking a diary is old-fashioned and no one uses them anymore. True! A lot of traders use their phone these days to keep on top of schedules. Traders also use their phone to store a list of contacts, do invoicing, and keep receipts. Convenient, but if you lose your phone, where does that leave you? And your business?

There is also a psychological benefit to using a book and not a device. A book is tangible, and when the client’s name is noted down on paper, they feel important.

Make an effort to keep in contact with your clients, and they’ll thank you for it. Build rapport with them, and they’ll recommend you to family, friends, and colleagues.

Where else can you plant seeds?

Trade shows are a great way to check out new products on the market, learn new skills, and share some of your experience. It’s also a great place to meet people and set-up potential business.

Be strategic in who you speak to, and ask people you know to introduce you to strangers.

Discuss business, your trade, jobs you’ve worked on, upcoming work you’re excited about. Then, as the conversation winds down, pencil names and numbers in your diary for a catch-up. One month, three months, six months down the line.

Again, when jobs are few and far between, you have an opportunity to schedule a conversation ahead of time. And who knows where that catch-up will lead. Before you know it, you’ll be booking labouring jobs and new contracts. Those quiet months will disappear.

Get your name and number on their phone

Business cards are a great way to share your contact details, but they get lost, soaked in the wash or plastered to a wall. And once that business cards gone, so is the chance to reach out.

What if I told you, that form now on, you only need to carry one business card with you. A business card you can share with hundreds, if not thousands, of people.

A QR business card can be scanned by a client, colleague, or sub-contractor and displays your details on their phone. Your name and number in their contacts with one click.

You can also add other information to your QR code, including your LinkedIn profile, website, review sites like Trustatrader or TrustPilot, and your social media channels.

The card could be a physical one, made of paper, metal or wood. Or a digital business card that can be scanned from your phone.

When colleagues and leads see how easy it is to share your details, they’ll want to know more. They’ll be encouraged to share their details with you.

Forget Bob, let’s talk about Rob the builder!

If you’re looking to make passive income with minimum effort, why not show your skills to the world. Youtube is a fantastic platform to market your business, demonstrate how professional you are, and what you’re capable of.

And with some careful planning, it doesn’t take much work to set-up. If you’re happy talking in front of the camera, and have something interesting to share with other builders, you could become the next online trend.

Word of caution before you start setting up GoPro’s around your client’s house.

Get permission from the owner first. Avoid filming family photos, address details, car number plates, and other sensitive information.

And remember, you’ve been hired to complete a job, not to direct the next Avengers film. Be respectful. Be safe. Focus on the work you’ve been hired to do.

Take a look at Build it with Rob. With almost 40,000 subscribers, his most popular videos have over 500,000 views.

And what’s he doing on camera? What he’s good at. He gets hired to do a loft conversion, sets up a couple of cameras around the site. Adds a bit of commentary to explain how the job’s going. Explains how he overcomes issues, and posts the video online.

Showcase your trademark skills. Build a name for yourself and business.

Imagine half a million people watching you show off your craft. And YouTube pays! Top YouTubers make around £30,000 for 1 million views, and the attention you receive may lead to huge contracts, and an increase in earnings.

A video diary also gives those unsure about your experience, more confidence. Brush away the bad rep caused by a small number of rogue traders. Fly a flag for the hardworking professionals who have set standards to keep themselves proud.

Don’t have time to set up a tripod? Instagram and Tiktok are also great platforms to showcase your work. Give your videos a bit of personality, create something that adds value, and you’ll be on to a winner!

So, there you have it. Plant seeds to prepare for the quiet months of the year. Carry a QR business card to impress new clients. And use social media to become a celebrity over night.

There are loads of other places you can try the above advice. Construction sites, when you find yourself working with sub-contractors, at the pub or the local cafe.

Keep the diary with you, and use it at every opportunity. It takes two minutes to write down a name and number. Two minutes that could set you up for the rest of the year.

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