April is Contracting and Home Services month here on the Signpost Local Marketing Blog! This means that in addition to our usual posts with tips on connecting with customers, marketing strategy, and growing your business, we’ll be sharing insights specifically for local contracting and home services professionals. If that includes you, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get down to it. If not, don’t worry, we’ll still be sharing our usual resources that can help you effectively market your local business. And keep your eyes peeled, your industry might be the one we feature next month!
Check out other Contracting and Home Services posts!
Growing your flooring business can feel a lot like starting from the bottom. Puns aside, it can be difficult to get and maintain traction to stay top of mind with customers and potential customers in your community. Utilize these recommendations to build a comprehensive marketing strategy that actually works for your business. You’ll soon find that by using these methods both on and offline, you’ll be able to populate a healthy pipeline of projects to get your flooring business off the ground.
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- Decide on a specialization or focus that differentiates your offering and helps you stand out to your target audience. If you’re going after hospitality contracts, then this should inform your strategy of the networking events you should attend (more trade shows and hotel industry events and conferences), and also help you identify priorities and opportunities within that market. Hotels and multi-family residences, for example, tend to be primarily motivated by affordability and pricing.Or, perhaps your offerings set you apart from the competition. Do you sell flooring but no installation services? Here, you’ll focus on the quality and diversity of materials, including the newest trends and innovations, such as environmentally friendly materials. If you provide flooring material along with installation, your potential customer will be more concerned with the process, cost and expertise of your installation experts, as well as the type of flooring they choose. Which brings us to…
- If you’re a full-service floorer, remember it’s about expertise. Especially for residential and commercial contracts, it’s not so much about price competition, but the professionalism and experience you and your team can offer. You’re selling a solution and customers expect your business’s installation experts to know their stuff. Make sure this is a two-way street and debrief frequently with your reps to keep your finger to the pulse of trends and customer requests, preferences etc.
- Create a comprehensive customer communication strategy. This should include reaching out to past and current customers via email and SMS marketing to keep them engaged and your business on their mind. Many years can pass before a past client requires more work, so make sure your business remains in front of them if and when the time comes. This way you keep a line of communication open and can remind them when they’re due for maintenance. You can also remind them to refer your business to friends and family as the need arises. Motivate them with a formal referral program or new customer discount to share, as well as seasonal promotions. Check out this full list for email and SMS Marketing ideas for home services professionals.
- Partner with complementary businesses to form a local coalition. Keep an eye out for businesses in your community who might have interest and be a good fit. This can include local hardware stores, painters, real estate agents, electricians, roofers, home cleaning, power washers, landscapers, interior designers, and other general contractors who don’t serve as direct competition for the products and services you offer. Hold monthly meetings to get to learn about each other’s businesses and differentiations. You can also discuss challenges members are facing and weigh in on potential solutions. This type of exchange can be very effective for tackling issues local business owners are facing. Have referrals be a cornerstone of the group and exchange print materials, such as flyers, brochures, samples and business cards so that they can share with their clients, and do the same for them.
- Similarly, consider joining flooring, contracting, residential and commercial building associations and obtain any accreditations (such as FITA QA) to reinforce your commitment to your craft and continued professional development. Attend events, workshops, and meetings of your local chamber of commerce to increase credibility with customers. Use these and other networking events to meet others in the industry and keep updated on latest trends and tactics. This can also help grow your referral network and reach within your community.
- Host a workshop at your storefront, a hardware store or community center. Prove your expertise by teaching basic classes about flooring for homeowners or business owners. Whether these focus on the best way to clean different types of floors, using green flooring, what to consider when you need new floors, or finding the best material for your flooring project, make sure to provide value to the community. You can offer to speak on panels at trade shows or other community events. Brainstorm ways to include your local coalition in this strategy. You could provide programs that address various remodeling or home maintenance topics. Collect emails or contact info on the attendees and send them a special introductory offer, or include them on your email lists for other marketing initiatives.
- Use local newspapers to identify new homeowners in your area and target them with direct mail campaigns, as they are likely to be settling in and making some changes. You can send them flyers with special “welcome offers for our new neighbors” and your business card. You can make this a part of your outreach cycle and send out mailings each quarter or twice a year, so you don’t miss out on any of these new customers. Also try contacting owners or property managers of apartment complexes, retail plazas and residential condominiums in a similar manner and ask if you can leave some more information about your services or set up a consultation in case there should be a future need. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box when using this approach, either. A lot of people evaluate their flooring needs when anticipating an addition to their family. Incorporate baby furniture stores to your outreach, or ask if you can leave some flyers directed towards new parents with special offers.
- Craft a guarantee to help you attract potential customers. This helps assuage any uncertainty or fears they might have about the process and reassures them that you are committed to providing unparalleled customer service and delivering results that will floor them (last pun, I promise). Make sure your guarantee is rooted in your company’s values. Have it clearly stated on your website, in-store and anyplace else your business has an online or offline presence. Train your representatives to recite it during any consultations, evaluations, or meetings in general. Take care to select manufacturers and distributors based on your short and long-term requirements that will allow you to stay true to your guarantee. Does a supplier that delivers direct to the customer help you streamline your logistics? Evaluate your suppliers based on this commitment.
- Create a process for your feedback strategy that will fuel testimonials, reviews and referrals. You can use email and SMS marketing as outlets to gather feedback after completing a project, and to encourage customers to leave you reviews on the major sites. Consider any criticism as an opportunity to continue improving your service and products. On average, for every negative comment, there are 26 other unhappy customers who have remained silent. When you receive glowing praise, ask permission to use the quote as a testimonial that can be placed on your website and in any print or promotional materials. This can also be a good opportunity to ask them to post a review on Yelp, Facebook or Angie’s List to reinforce your online presence and positive ratings. This makes it easier for your business to be found by other potential customers. You can draft these ahead of time, so that you don’t drop the ball during busy periods, or invest in intelligent marketing technology, like Signpost, that automatically drives feedback, testimonials, reviews and referrals from your current and past customers, without you having to lift a finger!
- If you’re attending trade shows, make sure your booth is stocked with plenty of samples of many of your best material options. Print out or create digital displays of your full offering, as well as slideshows with images of “before and after” projects. Bring lots of business cards, and have special brochures printed based on the type of attendee you’re targeting and even an exclusive offer for them.
- Keep an eye out for supplier rebate programs to help fund advertising. Some companies (like ANSO and DUPONT) will give you a resources to spend on advertising. Of course, be sure to research the terms, as they’ll usually require you to use images that showcase their products, or might even supply you with the creative, outright. This can help you advertise in traditional media (local newspapers, magazines) without investing your entire budget there.