Marketing 101 Tips for Small Contractors

Little things you can do to get big results

Vario Creative constructs top websites for construction companies.Sometimes it’s the little things that make the difference. For the small contractor, the little things can be the deciding factor between marketing (and sales) success. Let’s take a look at a few things you can (and should) do to improve customer perception and get more work.

The key differentiator for the small contractor is professionalism. You need to embrace professionalism in all that you do. The little things, like keeping a tidy jobsite, showing up when you’re say you will (or calling to say you won’t) will make a big difference in the long run. This runs true to your marketing efforts. If you seem professional, you will be treated as a professional.

  1. Get a good, consistent logo and use it on everything. Put it on your truck (that could be your best advertisement), project signs, shirts, estimates, invoices, everything. Be sure it works in both color and black and white.

  2. Set a standard for company vehicles – white vehicles with the logo painted on the door. You might even want to number them (even if you’ve only got two) but use high numbers. Vehicles are some of the best advertising for a small contractor. There are some truck painting schemes here, but remember you don’t have to make the truck look like a Nascar racer.

  3. Use project signs in front of every job you do, even if it’s only a single day job. And since you’ve got a sign up, you’ll also need to be sure you run a clean jobsite. No one wants to drive by a mess and think “that could be my house.”

  4. Personal appearance counts – give the crew tee-shirts with the logo on them, or better yet, golf shirts. A uniform program makes them look professional and helps the overall perception of your business.

  5. Identify you points of strength – ask people how they heard about you and keep scrupulous track of how you get your jobs. This will help you identify what is working for you so that you can do more similar types of marketing. If you get work from an online directory, or from the phone book, or from an ad in a local paper, if it works, keep doing it, and consider enhancing it. Also, assess the competition – why did you get the job and they did not. What are their strengths and weaknesses?

  6. Testimonials and referrals – ask for testimonials, in writing, and also ask if they can refer you to friends and family who might need your services. It costs you nothing and its great way to get new jobs.

  7. Customer Service – call the customer and ask if everything was satisfactory. They might also have more work, or may have thought of another referral. At the very least, you will stick out as someone that actually cares about his work. If there were problems, try to fix them (note the word “try” – you can’t make everyone happy, but the effort counts).

  8. Advertise – set aside money for advertising, and experiment – find advertising that works and stick with it. Always set aside some money to try new and different means of getting your message out to the masses (or better yet, your target customers).

9 Replies to “Marketing 101 Tips for Small Contractors”

  1. Great post Mark! You’ve hit some very key points here.

    Vario Creative has actually worked with several contractors to produce logos, websites, direct mail pieces and van artwork. One of our clients, Renova Fine Remodeling, has received many compliments on his logo. And when you see the Renova van coming, it’s hard to miss!! A real eye catcher!

  2. Do you think contractors need web sites? Do you happen to have a list of different ways contactors advertise and how much on average they might spend a month?

  3. Absolutely contractors need web sites. However the needs of their sites are somewhat different than the normal “click here to buy” site, or even from a standard lead generation. For smaller contractors, the site should be optimized for local searches, ie. “remodeling sutton massachusetts.” It should also be optimized for any particular niches the contractor specializes in.

    When I worked with Atlantic Design and Construction (long ago) we specialized in Beer Distribution facilities, so that’d be a particular search target. The idea is we don’t only want to bring in eyeballs, we want *the right eyeballs*.

    Several of the contractor I have worked with get a lot of benefit out of their project galleries. They talk to customers and can easily say “your job sounds like one we did recently. Take a look at our project gallery and you’ll see the type of work we do.” It works…

    As far as ways in which they advertise, it varies. For small contractors, you need to cover the basics. Yellow pages, classified ads, etc, would be the things I’d go after. Then I create a rotating budget in which we try other advertising means, be it online ads, cinema ads, etc. and we ruthlessly track where our customers are coming from. Then we put more money into the ads that work and can the ones that don’t – then that money goes to trying something else.

    You might want to chech through the archives here…I have a couple other posts, as well as an article or two over at ExpertsBusinessSource.com on marketing for contractors.

  4. Mark,

    I am the managing editor of the Kansas City Small Business Monthly and would like to reprint Marketing 101 Tips for Small Contractors in our April magazine. Our policy is to provide two sentence bio of the author and contact information with the article. Please contact me.

    Sally

  5. Hi, i would like to know, why the logos or crew uniforms are so important. Like if constructors give good services then is it so important to keep an eye on these factors? What i believe is the services. If you can elaborate on the topic, it will be great help.Thanks!!

  6. I like the idea of setting a standard color scheme for company vehicles. I tend to always remember business who have signs on their vehicles and my impression on the company is also positive based on first impressions.

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