New Year, new business opportunities. Whatever your business resolutions for 2016, winning more work is likely high on your list. Here are our tips for increasing your leads and winning more work in 2016.
So, we’ve all survived Christmas for another year (hic) and are raring to go! Let’s ease ourselves in gently though shall we? We’ve compiled some straight-forward tactics that are easy to implement within your working week but that will help you grow your business.
Small steps to big success in 2016
Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.
Big success doesn’t always come from big changes. Taking small, manageable, repeatable steps towards working smarter can lead to less admin, freeing you up to make sure your doing great work instead of admin.
Here are some small steps you could take towards big success in 2016:
Save yourself some of the time you spend on paperwork
Drowning in paperwork when you could be out securing leads, quoting for business or completing a job is not good for you or your business, and any time you can save on paperwork means more time spent on winning actual work.
So, how do you spend less time on paperwork without compromising quality?
Well, let’s say you spend on average two hours a week completing paperwork. That’s eight hours a month, or the equivalent of an entire day a month spent on admin.
Imagine claiming half a day a month back – what would you do with the extra time? You could fit in another job of course…or perhaps take the afternoon off and spend it with your family.
Whether you’re providing a customer quote or sending out an invoice, tackling paperwork efficiently will help you significantly reduce the amount of time you spend on your paperwork. Buy a folder for each of your jobs. This is a physical folder (nothing fancy, a paper or plastic file will do) where you put all the information you have on that job. That way everything you need is in one place and so can be easily found when you need it. No more scrabbling down the back of the sofa or car seat searching for those notes you took on site. This is also especially helpful at the end of the year when you have to find that last receipt the taxman is asking for.
If paperwork is preventing your business from growing, try some simple processes to make paperwork easier.
Cut out duplication with templates
These take a little time to get together but, once they’re set up, you’ll wonder how you managed without them.
Setting them up for your invoices, quotes and estimates is one of the easiest ways to save time. You can easily do this in Word (or any of the Microsoft packages) by saving it into Word itself (via ‘adding’ a new template), but you can always just save it as a file on your computer or laptop, too.
Then all you need to do is fire up the relevant template, drop in the info, save, and you’re done.
Pretty simple, right?
Organise your working week
To avoid things getting messy as you jump around from quotes to invoices, and back to estimates, why not choose specific days of the week for each task?
This may not always be possible but, by setting yourself a schedule, you’ll find it much easier to manage. You’ll know that, on a Tuesday, it’s invoice day and you can concentrate on sorting them.
You’d be surprised how much this focus can help you shave off time spent on paperwork.
Here’s where a good job management software tool can really help.
Make a list
This is a really simple one but can be easy to forget. If you often notice you’ve missed out vital information on paperwork (and then have to go back in and amend it) then you need a check list!
Get the basics down for each piece of paperwork; what they definitely need, what they should need, and what you want them to need.
Stick this somewhere you can see it (above your desk/kitchen table/tool shed) to remind yourself.
We all need to grow up about this; there are set tasks we should do every day in order to make our lives easier and our working day more productive.
Setting yourself daily tasks to work through helps you stay in control.
Try setting these daily tasks for yourself:
What paperwork needs my attention today?
Sort paperwork into tasks of ‘must do’ ‘can do’ and ‘can wait’ – this helps you prioritise
Is there paperwork coming up in the next few days that I can prep for to make my life easier?
How can I divide my time today to make sure all tasks get completed?
Can I delegate anything to my staff / friend / colleague / wife / partner / slave?
Do the same for your weekly plan (a list of things to achieve that week, and on which days you’ll complete the tasks) will help you save even more time.
Draw up a short list of the admin tasks you spend most time doing – then, identify one task for each that you can save yourself just a small amount time and be more efficient. Save small chunks of time now and you’ll quickly be rewarded with a lot more time to focus on your business growth.
Simple tips to increase your leads in 2016
Ensuring you have work coming in regularly is often one of the main stumbling blocks to success and many service businesses seem to be in the dark about how to pick up ‘leads’ – potential jobs – and the different channels that can help them to get work.
A successful (trades)man continues to look for work after he has found a job.
In the service business, 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.
If you’re working on a residential property, try putting some simple letters through the door of neighbouring properties to let them know about the work you’re doing.
Get in touch with neighbouring properties. Letting neighbours know of any disruption they might face by your work builds a positive, courteous image – and gives you the chance to let property owners know what work you’re completing on their road.
Make the most of word of mouth
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.
Are you making the most of word of mouth for your service business?
It’s also important to (politely) ask customers for referrals (to their friends and family) and testimonials, or references, for your website and any other social media channels as these can be invaluable to your digital presence.
Put your happy customers to good use with testimonials.
People increasingly use online sites to find reliable tradespeople, so you need an online presence. Trusted tradespeople sites are often the first port of call for anyone looking, so you need to be on these sites – and have good reviews! Sites like Checkatrade and Trustatrader can make or break your business – without sounding too dramatic about it.
Ask clients to review your work on these sites and, if there are any negative reviews, respond directly and openly (you can then hopefully turn these into positive feedback. Clever eh?).
Also make sure that any online presence that showcases your work has an easy, direct way for potential customers to get in touch with you. That might be an enquiry form on your website or on your Facebook page, or a bio with a contact number on your instagram profile. If you’re displaying the quality of your work somewhere, make sure people who might see it can get in touch with you.
Will 2016 be the year you put the web to work for your business and grow your online presence?
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.
Make sure you’re making the most of any opportunities to grow your network in 2016. A great network = more work.
Hopefully this has given you some ideas on how to win more business and increase your leads in 2016. Right then, just time for another cuppa…then you can get cracking!