Simple changes to your routine can help you win jobs and grow your business
People form opinions quickly. In fact, according to Forbes Magazine, you have precisely seven seconds to make a first impression. With so little time to earn someone’s business, you need to make sure your introduction is one that expresses responsibility, trust and knowledge. That’s especially true in the trades.
Here are seven tips for looking your best when meeting new customers, all with the goal of helping you convert leads and grow your business. And whether you’re a contractor, plumber, electrician or painter, these tips can benefit you. And best of all—they’re easy to implement and virtually cost-free.
1. Create a digital presence
Everyone shops online. This is as true for services as it is for products, and online is where your customers will likely have their first interactions with your business. Whether you are presenting yourself to someone for the first time on your website or through a social media platform, your pages need to be professional, informative and easy to navigate.
First, make sure your website loads quickly—people don’t have a lot of time or patience. It is best if it can be viewed multiple ways, including on tablets and mobile devices. Many people prefer to contact businesses directly from the company’s website, so keep contact information—especially email addresses and phone numbers—up to date. Project pages, as well as pages that showcase any certifications or awards, should also be updated regularly. Future customers are interested in the work you have done, and this is the perfect spot to highlight your knowledge and talent.
You don’t need to master all the social media options, but if you don’t already have a presence, create a Facebook business page. With over 2 billion users monthly and business-friendly tools that help you connect with people in your locale who need your services, Facebook is an efficient way to present your business to a broad audience. And just like your website, you want to put your best foot forward. Creating a page is fairly simple and step-by-step instructions are available online. Facebook is the perfect place to post photos and videos of jobs in-progress and completed. You’ll find it becomes an online portfolio of your work.
2. Have a dedicated business phone line.
With mobile phones everywhere today, this may not seem important. But it is. Once customers find you—probably through your website or Facebook—they will contact you. Often, they call you directly. When your designated business phone rings, you know a customer is calling you. Always answer your business phone by saying the name of your company in a friendly tone to immediately establish credibility and good customer service. A dedicated business phone also identifies you when you return calls. Frequently, your customers won’t answer the phone if an unfamiliar name appears on their caller ID, and you don’t want to miss a new opportunity because a customer didn’t recognize your business.
3. Arrive on time (or early).
Not only is time money to you, it also is valuable to your customers. Making someone wait is inconsiderate, and it can be a factor in getting negative reviews. To help keep yourself prompt, factor in prep time—including loading your truck or a quick change of clothing (more on that later). Then, add on extra travel time to accommodate for unforeseen circumstances, like roadwork or heavy traffic. Being late never leads to a good first impression, and it’s an easy factor to control.
4. Wear a uniform
No, uniforms don’t have to be expensive or uncomfortable. They can be as simple as a t-shirt with your logo and a clean pair of jeans or khakis. Uniforms are important because they make you easy to identify and more credible to the customer.
Figure 1A uniform with your company's name and logo helps establish credibility
5. Cleanliness matters.
This applies to your personal appearance and your work vehicle. It’s a good idea to have a clean shirt and pants in your truck just in case you need to make a quick change. Clean clothes don’t only make you look better, they can also help you feel more confident. When meeting inside a business or residence, keep customers’ floors clean by wearing disposable work booties over your shoes.
Make sure your truck remains clean, too. Set aside time to wash your vehicle, organize loose papers and discard empty drink containers and trash. A dirty truck can convey your jobsites and work are disorganized and messy, too.
A clean appearance and work vehicle contribute to customer confidence
6. Mind your body language.
Use your customer’s name when introducing yourself, make good eye contact and remember not to slouch. Good posture radiates self-confidence. When explaining a job to a customer, give them time to digest what you are saying by speaking slowly and clearly. Don’t use hard-to-understand terminology or rush through your explanation of the scope of the project. When you take your time, you build trust with your customer. This helps you manage their expectations for the project and answer their questions.
7. Keep marketing materials pristine.
Any marketing materials that you are leaving with the customer, from business cards to brochures, need to be spotless and wrinkle-free. Store these materials in a special file box in your vehicle away from dirt and potential spills. While a file folder on the floor or in your glovebox may seem like a good idea for quick access, it won’t protect these important first-impression materials from heavy or wet objects.
Preception is critical to your business
The old adage exists for good reason: You may never get a second chance to earn a customer. How your customers perceive you directly affects your business, as well as your opportunities to grow your business. When you implement the right business tools and present yourself in a confident, professional manner, you will win more jobs.