The way we search for services is changing rapidly, with review sites and online marketplaces being used in addition to the traditional word of mouth referrals. I find more often than not, I will go online to find the service I am after. See http://www.homeimprovementpages.com.au/ for an example of an online marketplace for tradies.
Therefore, it is so important that your brand and your online reputation stands out to your audience.
When creating your online profile and marketing brochures, I suggest you focus on your main skills instead of appearing to be Mr/Mrs Fix It for everything.
You next need to consider how you will stand out from others working in the same industry, e.g.:
- Will you quote out of usual business hours?
- Do you use up to date technology or the latest techniques?
- Do you cover a specific geographic area?
- Do you offer anything additional or unique to what others in your field are doing?
- Highlight your qualifications
How do you ensure you have a great reputation?
Following are some simple tips I suggest you use to build and maintain a great reputation and ensure people are talking about how great you are. I like to call these discussions “BBQ moments”.
Respond To Queries Promptly
Never wait too long before responding to queries. Everyone leads busy lives and if you do not respond quickly, they will move on to asking someone else. If the date doesn’t suit, offer a different date or recommend another tradesman that you know has the necessary skills and offers an excellent service.
Keep it Tidy
Ensure your working area is always tidy and clean and that tools not in use are put away. At the end of a job, make sure your customer is happy with how you are leaving the area.
Communication is Key
Make sure your customer knows exactly what it is you are going to do for them and the materials that will be used. In the quote include what it will cost (as accurately as possible) and how long the job will take to complete. If either the cost or time is going to blow out, communicate this with the customer as early as you can.
Give your customers plenty of warning if you are going to be doing work that is dusty or noisy so that you can ensure this work is done at a time that suits them or they may choose to change their schedule to adapt to yours.
Ask for Referrals
At the end of the job, ensure your customer is happy and spend time letting them know what care is required or any follow up service required. The best time to ask your customer for a referral is when they are letting you know what a great job you have done. You should also explain to the customer how they can leave an online review and provide them with some business cards to hand out to others who are looking for your services.
Be on Time
Try not to be late and if you are, always contact the customer to apologise and update them on when you expect to arrive.
Dealing with a Complaint
From time to time you will receive complaints. Do not shy away from them, listen and remain calm and try to resolve them without getting frustrated. This may mean needing to do some additional work or offering something to win back the customer.
Protecting Your Brand
Customers need to know they are hiring a tradesperson they can trust. It is important that you:-
- Have the necessary insurance in place i.e. public liability insurance, cover for your tools and employer’s liability insurance (if you have employees)
- Hold the necessary trade qualifications for the work you do
- Have a builders licence or be registered, depending on the State or Territory you are working in
- Are a member of the relevant industry association for your trade
written by Helga Baxter