There’s one great thing about going out on your own as a construction business owner: You don’t need to call anyone to hang your shingle outside. That’s about the only easy part about being a construction business owner.
Going Out On Your Own as a
Construction Business Owner
It doesn’t matter which trade we’re talking; we’ve all gone out on our own at some point. If you haven’t yet, it’s only a matter of time before you start thinking about it.
Some of us stay out and run successful businesses, while others struggle for a while before packing it in and putting on someone else’s T-shirt again.
If you’re an amazing carpenter, someone will hire you along the way. You’ll never go hungry. But, being an amazing carpenter doesn’t make you an amazing business person.
And that’s why so many of us end up failing when we strike out on our own.
You’re Now a Construction Business Owner
I had a meeting recently with Duane Barney of DCBuilds Consulting. One of the points he drove home is how difficult it is to get a contractor to understand the role-shift. Once a contractor goes into business for himself, he has to realize his job title has changed.
Duane says that this contractor needs to realize he is now a business owner.
How true that is. That contractor may have the knowledge and ability to take on any project. He can probably run a crew pretty efficiently. But can he run his business?
As an industry, we’re familiar with estimates, insurance, and inspections. That’s stuff we all understand and can handle in our sleep. But how are you with marketing? How well can you put together a job costing report? And, here’s a big one: What about time management?
These activities are common to all businesses, regardless of the industry. Just because you don’t wear a suit to work doesn’t mean your business is any different. If you want to survive in a cruel environment like the construction industry, you need to take your business seriously.
Marketing as a Construction Business Owner
I won’t downplay the importance of job costing reports or the Pareto principle. They’re both as relative to my business as it is to a construction firm’s. But I already covered both in an April 2020 blog post for Levelset.com.
Time management is still something I struggle with, so I won’t throw my hat in the ring there, either. There are better-qualified individuals to take advice from there.
I do know marketing, though, so let me touch on that.
You’re shooting yourself in the foot if you’re a construction business owner that doesn’t take marketing seriously. As the heart of your company, you have to wear a few hats, so get fitted for your “marketing” cap.
There are many forms of marketing, but most construction business owners rely on four main methods:
- Lettering vehicles and equipment
- Yard signs
- Word of mouth
There’s a reason these methods are so popular. They do work to a degree. Let’s take a look at each.
Vehicle and Equipment Lettering
Lettering is a great way to get your name out there. It can also be a detriment to your business.
Look, we aren’t all well-behaved behind the wheel. As construction business owners, we tend to be pretty Type-A. Be careful not to do something stupid in front of your potential customers.
They’ll remember that big ABC construction truck that ran them off the road. Be patient and remember: If you’re driving, you’re marketing.
And while we’re at it, keep your truck and equipment as clean as possible. Trust me, people notice.
Construction Business Owners and Bandit Signs
Bandit signs are effective at getting your business name in front of your potential customers. But, don’t you think they blend in with political signs a little too much? I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be written in by mistake because I did ten roofs on one street. One day you’re the roofer, the next day you’re winning the office of Highway Superintendent in Podunk, USA.
Also, you’re banking on your customer keeping the signs up. Chances are, they’re throwing them in the garbage as soon as your tail lights are out of sight.
They’re definitely chucking them the first time they mow their lawn.
Networking for Construction Business Owners
When it comes to your business’s marketing plan, networking is crucial. You need the respect of as many other construction business owners as possible if you want to make it in the construction industry. We rely on each other for work, especially in a pinch (and we all know that pinch-money is good money).
If other construction business owners aren’t opening up their phone and scrolling straight to your name, you’re going to have a problem. Instead, throw on that blazer and head to the next chamber meeting with a pocketful of business cards.
Your cash flow will thank you.
Word of Mouth for Construction Business Owners
Word of mouth is the other side of the same coin as networking. Construction businesses have survived on little more than networking and word of mouth for years. It’s still as crucial as ever.
Except, people don’t talk anymore. They rarely stop over and see each other. If you don’t believe me, watch Sebastian Maniscalco’s bit about his doorbell ringing:
“WE GOT PEOPLE!”
If you’re not already one of the most sought-after contractors in your service area, but rely on traditional word of mouth as your primary marketing plan, you’re going to struggle.
Your Business Can’t Ignore the Internet
Since you’re still reading, you’re probably concerned about your web presence. You should be. It’s important. When a potential client clicks on your page, they’re expecting to see the very best you have to offer. They want professionalism, cleanliness, and thoughtfulness.
If you show up on your site like a poorly run or careless outfit, they’ll keep clicking.
Onto someone else’s site.
This means typos, misspellings, or poor phrase choices. You certainly don’t want to bore them with your company’s features. They want you to sell them. It’s your opportunity to put your best foot forward. Always.
Don’t just rely on reviews and review sites, either. If you’re not using well-written, engaging customer success stories, you’re missing out. They allow your customer to discover how you were the hero in someone’s renovation or construction journey.
Unlike your lousy driving, muddy trucks, or your customer’s marital dispute that spilled out onto the front lawn right next to your bandit sign, your web marketing can always put your business’s best self forward.
Is your website kind of weak?
I’m sure you have a website. Everyone does. You’re supposed to punch your credit card number in and register a domain on day one. It’s New Business 101.
But you build structures for people to live and work in. Not websites. More than likely, your website marketing isn’t going so hot. Answer these questions:
- How many hits do you get each month?
- Do you know how to check your hits?
- How many of those hits are contacting you through your site’s forms?
- Do you show up in a simple Google search for your services in your area?
- Does your site look good in when viewed from a mobile device?
If those questions exposed your website marketing’s shortcomings, you’re not alone. Most small to medium-sized companies in our industry have terrible web marketing plans. They’re not focusing on their site. They’re focusing on the four methods we talked about earlier. You probably are too.
How’s your social media campaign looking?
If you’re not interacting with your potential customers, you’re not growing. Social media is the fastest way to get your name in front of as many people’s eyeballs as possible. People love to share useful content.
The construction industry hates new technology. Most construction business owners haven’t adopted this new style of marketing. That’s a mistake, and it makes them very easy to beat in this game.
Likes are incredibly important to how many times your email fills up with real customers. Shares are crucial to how many times your phone blows off the hook with ideal clients.
You should be engaging with your audience of potential clients. Get in groups with them. Offer what knowledge you have. Build yourself as an expert in your trade. Create awesome posts with helpful information that’s both fun and professional.
I know: You don’t like to write. But I do.
Yes, this is a shameless plug. Do you know why I do it anyway? Because I’m good at marketing and plugging services is marketing basics, that’s why.
I get it if you’re insecure about your writing abilities. Not everyone’s a writer. Not everyone communicates clearly or spells well or uses punctuation correctly. If you’ve been on a job site for the last ten years, you probably haven’t had to do much copywriting.
But I do communicate clearly. I spell well, too. I also love proper punctuation.
You can lean on me for your copywriting services. I’ll be sure to help clean up your marketing plan and help drive clicks and searches to your site. We’ll work together get you in front of the clients that you actually want.
I know how to relate to the industry, and I know how to relate to your customers. I can handle your newsletters, blog posts, email campaigns, give-away content, and website copy.
As a construction business owner, you know that marketing is key to your company’s success. Let Scalisi Content Consulting handle your marketing needs while you focus on your role as a construction business owner.