For many tradespeople, especially those striking out on their own, gaining leads for work is one of the biggest stumbling blocks to success. Once you’ve got jobs coming in regularly you need to work hard, provide a good service and keep customers happy and work will seem to flow. However, it’s getting the ball rolling that’s often the hardest part.
Many tradespeople seem to be in the dark about how to pick up leads and the different channels that exist to get work. So, we’ve created this guide to help you turn your small, well-formed snowball into a colossal town-destroying behemoth.
In the following guide we’ll be looking at the following sections. These have all been identified as key areas that can help you to build your leads. By taking a closer look, we’ll help you to identify areas you need to work on to grow your business.
- How to make the most of networking
- Building your word of mouth
- What you need to know about find a tradesperson sites
- Why accreditations could be vital
- Getting involved in forums
- How to use local directories effectively
- Why you shouldn’t be afraid of DIY digital marketing
Keep reading to see how it’s done. But first, here’s the ‘why?’
How increasing the volume of leads is vital for business growth
Whether you’re starting out on your own from a parent company or beginning from scratch at the bottom of the ladder, the common denominator is getting work. You may have an extensive contacts book to fall back on, which will help, but even experienced tradespeople need to source new jobs now and then.
You need leads to be able to convert into work. Wherever they come from, leads are the raw material of a successful career, and if you’re not in a position to employ someone to follow them up, the responsibility falls on you.
In the trades, work breeds work. Doing a job can often be very visible, and often people will simply come up and ask you about availability. When you’re on a job, display your details somewhere visible, be friendly and try to get to know clients, neighbours, and other locals. Word of mouth is one of the most powerful lead generators in the business, which leads us nicely onto our next point.
Enhancing word of mouth
We’ve written extensively about this topic in the past, precisely because it is so important. Building good relationships with clients and ensuring they are happy is essential to increasing your word of mouth. Keep your clients 100% happy and not only will they provide you with work for a lifetime, they’ll tell their friends and family about you too. There are plenty of tradespeople who find regular work for whole careers from just a small group of interlinked people. Put in the extra half a day here or there, go that extra mile to deliver the goods and the rewards are exponential.
It’s also important to politely ask for referrals and references for online sites, as these can be invaluable to your digital presence.
What you need to know about word of mouth:
- Word of mouth requires hard work
- Never underestimate the importance of recommendations
- Ask for references if appropriate
Simple solutions that get big results.
Tips on how to build your word of mouth advertising from Forbes magazine, one of the worlds leading authorities on good business.
How to network for lead generation
Networking is a bit of a dirty word and few people really enjoy doing it, yet there’s no doubt that it works. There are plenty of formal networking events you can attend to spread the word. But networking doesn’t have to be a formal affair. As we’ve mentioned above, be chatty and open, talk to people where you’re working, and you’ll get noticed.
When working on jobs in areas where you think you can target more leads, make up some leaflets and drop them through the letterboxes of neighbours. There’s a good chance they’ve seen you working and the extra push of advertising that a leaflet can give will help to get your name and number out there.
It’s also important to remember that it’s a two-way street. If you want to network efficiently, you have to be prepared to give and take. Recommend people you trust and hopefully they’ll do the same for you.
Getting accredited from the relevant bodies always helps to improve your reputation, and establishments that offer these courses and certificates are great places to meet fellow tradespeople and make contacts.
Top tips for networking successfully:
- Be pro-active about networking
- Use a rage of networking methods, from old to new
- Network with the right people
It might not be your favourite thing to do, but it gets results.
Forums for all types of businesses, where you can get involved and get your name out there.
How to use on-line directories and review sites to generate leads
These days more and more people use online sites to find tradespeople, so you need an online presence. Trusted tradespeople sites are go to places for anyone looking, so you need to be on here and have good reviews. Sites like Checkatrade and Trustatrader can make or break you – they’re that important these days.
Ask clients to review your work (again it comes down to doing a good job) and if there are negative reviews, respond directly and openly, and you can turn these into positive feedback.
How to use the net to improve your profile and visibility:
- Monitor your online presence, it pays to know what it says about you online
- Participate and interact with clients online, even if they’ve given negative feedback
Use the power of the net to your advantage and you’ll notice the results.
Online tradesperson checking and rating sites. You need to know what’s been said about you online.
Simple digital marketing techniques and social media
A recent survey of 10,000 tradespeople by IronMongery Direct found that 92% still rely mostly on word of mouth advertising to generate leads. While the 60% of these who still found this to be the most effective way of finding work may have a point, that doesn’t mean it’s the only way. After all, there is more than one way to skin a cat.
You can easily use online social media sites like Facebook and Google+ to advertise, targeting specific industry areas and clients. Pay per click advertising and Google adwords are also ways of increasing your online presence. However, there are plenty of places where you can do it for free too. Check out the many forums for local residents and make yourself known on there. Become an active member of online sites and offer to help answer questions, it’s all good PR for your brand, which is exactly how you need to see yourself in the modern world.
Online and digital marketing is easier than you thought, just remember to:
- Vary your advertising and networking channels
- Get to grips with and use online marketing tools and social media
- Target the right groups online for more effective lead generation
Tick the above boxes and you’re on the right track.
A detailed guide about how to increase your digital marketing from The Huffington Post.
How to handle increased leads from an admin perspective
By using a combination of all of the above methods, you should be able to improve lead generation and conversion rates. When this happens, you need to be ready to deal with it. There’s never such a thing as too much work. Providing you are well organised to deal with it, with efficient quoting, invoicing and contact systems in place, you won’t have to spend hours on admin.
Get on top of your admin systems and when the work starts rolling in, so will the good times.
Key things to remember for staying on top of paperwork:
- Organise your work in one place
- Use an online quoting and invoicing service to standardise
- Allocate time at the end of the day to focus on admin
- Don’t let paperwork build up as it can cost you work
Little and often is the key to good organization.
How to put this into practice
Of course, all of this is all very well and good in theory but putting it into practice isn’t always quite so easy. Staying on top of lead generation and networking involves a bit of elbow grease and some good organisation. Here are some top tops on how to do it well.
- Set aside some time each week. Build it into your schedule to work on lead generation. An hour a week or twenty minutes at the end of the day spent working on your social media accounts, forums, or leaflet dropping should be an integral part of your core business.
- Courses can be very effective. Social media and online marketing can seem daunting but the reality is they’re really not that hard. You just need the right instruction on how to do it. Enroll in an evening course in digital marketing or get a knowledgeable friend to show you how it all works. It’s always a good idea to add new strings to your bow.
- Get expert help. If you really haven’t the time or capability to work on your led generation then employ an expert to do it for you. There are plenty of small marketing firms out there that can help, as well as online tools. The outlay on expert help will more than likely easily be covered by the extra work you can bring in as a result.
- Focus your energies. Very often the most effective marketing and lead generation strategies are the most focused. Work out what it is exactly that you’re looking for. Where do you your potential clients live? What do they do? And where are they most likely to come across you? Once you understand this you can focus your energies in that area. Leaflet drops in the right streets, advertising on the right forum, and networking with the right people are all far more effective than blanket coverage, and much cheaper too.