7 Tips for Contractors
What do people look for when hiring a contractor?
When people are looking to hire a contractor, they take a lot of time evaluating the options and making a final decision. As a contractor, it is important to appear professional, likeable, and reliable because people buy from the people they like and trust. You should treat your project bidding like you would treat a job interview; make sure there is a proper fit between you and the client to ensure that you can provide the service they want and work together effectively. To determine if there is fit, you should know exactly what they are looking for, and how you can or cannot meet their expectations. If you cannot meet the expectations, refer them to another company that can better satisfy them. This is better for both parties overall. Being transparent and honest is key; lay everything out on the table so that you and your client can develop an open means of communication and the expectations of the project are clear. The more information that you can provide, the more professional and trustworthy you will seem. Below are some of the main factors people consider when hiring a contractor.
1. Make sure there is good project fit.
To make sure there is a good fit between you and your potential client, you want to consider the following:
-Project size. Do not take on a project that is too large for you to handle, but also do not take on a project that is too small. If a project is too small, it may fall to the wayside which could result in an unhappy client. Instead, refer them to a contractor that specializes in that size and type of project.
-Number of current projects. People want to know if their project will receive the time and attention that it deserves. If your schedule is already overbooked, do not try to squeeze in another project. If a client senses that their money will not be put to good use, they could choose another contractor. On the other hand, if your schedule is underbooked, potential clients may assume that your business is struggling because of low quality work, financial misfortune, etc.
-Proper insurance, permits and licensing. As a contractor, you need to make sure that you have the proper coverage and allowances to complete the project that the client requests. Otherwise, there are certain liabilities that could cause stress between you and the client.
-Did you have an overall good feeling of the initial contact with the potential client? Likability goes a long way.
2. Create and maintain a clean, working website with pictures.
The importance of a well-maintained website when trying to gain business cannot be stressed enough. If you have a professional website that can be easily navigated, it shows that you are dedicated to your business and its appearance. An attractive website translates to an attractive final project that clients want. If you have pictures of previous jobs and stories about successful projects, people are more likely to choose you as a contractor because people want proof that you can do what you say.
3. You need reviews!
When choosing a service, people are more likely to choose a company to perform the service if they have Google reviews. Since clients spend large amounts of money, they want to make sure that your company is reliable and has worked on similar projects to their own. Please note, bad reviews have more impact than good reviews. If there is one negative review and five positive reviews, the negative one weighs more heavily than the five positive ones. If your company receives a bad review, fix it! Follow up with the person or company that left a bad review, and offer some sort of remediation.
4. Give references, references, references.
People want references from suppliers, clients, and banks. The more, the better. If you provide a list of previous clients for potential clients to contact, you seem confident in your work – why else would you provide a list of previous clients unless you were sure they would give you a good review? Just make sure that the previous clients know that people may be contacting them.
5. Keep job sites clean and safe.
If a potential client performs thorough research before choosing a contractor, they may visit some of your current job sites to make sure that operations are performed well. You should make sure that you and your team always maintain the cleanliness, to the best of your abilities, of the project site and work under safe conditions.
6. Communicate openly and honestly.
Determine when you will provide your client with project updates, and make sure the client is on-board with the update schedule. If it is a long-term project, a monthly update might be more fitting than a daily update. If it is a short-term project, either daily or weekly updates could be better. Clients like to know if the project is running smoothly or if there are any hiccups along the way. Keep them informed and up-to-date so that they are not surprised if the project lasts longer than expected.
-If the project will last several months, determine with your client the key measuring points of the project and by what dates you should have them completed. This will help you plan your project and measure whether you are going to meet the project’s final deadline.
-Give your client a list of the work that you will complete and a list that any subcontractors will complete. The list will give the client the opportunity to research the subcontractors to see if they are reliable. This means that your subcontractors should maintain a professional and trustworthy business appearance.
-Your client deserves to know what they are paying for. Give them an itemized cost breakdown of material, labor, and other expenses. The more transparent you are, the more likely it is that the client will trust you and choose your business.
-Payment terms should be thoroughly discussed. Many clients don’t want to -pay more than 10% upfront because it is a hefty payment, and it may seem like you are in financial trouble. A 10% upfront payment followed by three evenly-spaced payments of 25% and finished with a payment of 15% is a commonly structured payment policy for larger projects that is attractive to clients.
7. Be an expert: "Jack of all trades, master of none."
People want a contractor that specializes in the exact work that they request because they seem more knowledgeable and capable than someone who performs every type of project. Keep this in mind when trying to attract clients. If you do perform all types of projects, make sure you have a portfolio of the different types to show your expertise of each type.