There are many advantages to starting your own business and these benefits multiply when you enter a field with a steady stream of work like contracting. But building a business takes time and success comes after achieving viability and building a reputation for excellence. In order to reach the stage where you become the ‘go-to guy’ for homes and commercial businesses in your area, you need to be sure that you have the knowledge and the experience to deliver a quality service.
Experience does not mean that you have to work your way up slowly from journeyman to site foreman. The experience you gain from getting certified in a utility or service counts as well. Your network and contacts matter a great deal as well. These contacts are what will ensure that you do not need to have a multi-million investment to pull in the big jobs. Knowing where you can rent or hire the best services from industrial crane companies and talented technicians will allow you to deliver the type of quality that leads to referrals and bigger jobs.
In general contracting, reputation means a lot more than fancy equipment and flashy offers. People want to work with someone who is dedicated to the excellence of service. Understanding this will help you to grow a contracting business that can withstand the test of time.
Best Business Practices Industry best practices can differ depending on whom you ask. That said, it is important to do the research and find out what is seen as the best practices throughout your city. This will help you to understand what clients will generally expect from you in terms of best practices.
You can use this information to put a system in place that you can consistently deliver. This system will influence many levels of your business from bookkeeping and invoicing to the training level of staff and task management. Thus, it is necessary that you choose the best practices that align best with your values and the type of reputation you want to build.
Once you find the right system and showcase to your clients that your best practices are consistent and do not waver from client to client, you will find that business viability follows soon after. This will help you to start planning for scale and growth.
Do you have sufficient capital to start a contracting business and support it for the first year without relying on profit? Whether you can do this on your own or by taking out a business loan, it is paramount that you can guarantee the ability to support the business without expecting profit to come in for at least one year.
Most new businesses do not see a profit during the first year, sometimes well into the second year as well. But if you focus on delivering on your best practices and working hard, you can develop a good reputation. But to focus on working hard, you need to be able to rely on the business surviving throughout the first year.
Without this guarantee, you will be too distracted trying to keep the business afloat to focus on great customer service and delivering quality reputation-building work.
Evaluating Your Business
If your business is already in place, but you are not sure about why it is growing so slowly, you may need to take an objective assessment of your company. Are you generating enough money to reach a state of financial stability in the near future? If yes, then focus on doing the activities and work that is generating this money. If not, then find out what is bringing in money and do that while avoiding doing the jobs that are causing you to lose money.
Are you getting repeat job offers from clients? If yes, then reward these clients with vouchers, additional free services, and priority service. If not, why? Find out why these clients are not coming back to your company for additional work. Use an anonymous email survey to find out so that they do not feel shy to give their real reasons. These answers will help you to find out what your service is lacking. This information can help you to identify exactly what you need to do or stop doing in order to get repeat clients.
Are customers referring you to others? If customers do claim to be satisfied with your work and are giving you repeat business, then they should also be willing to refer you to their friends and family. Give them incentives to do so via loyalty cards, premium service vouchers, and points collection towards additional services or discounts. If your services are noteworthy, then this will be an incentive for customers to provide you with a steady stream of referrals that will keep your business busy.
There are many industry associations that you can join. Most cities have clubs, associations, and bureaus for businessmen, entrepreneurs, contractors, and almost every technical trade. This can be great for networking, finding like-minded individuals you can work with for the betterment of both your businesses. These associations can help you to know how to price your services more competitively and give you an idea of what business skills you need to reach for more success.
At the very least, you will meet experienced long-time contractors who can mentor you and teach you trade secrets. Mentors are a great way to get contacts for suppliers and labor that is reliable and trustworthy. Depending on the association you join, you could receive competitive discounts from fellow members who own businesses that can work with yours. The benefits outweigh the cost of the membership fees that may be charged.