When you’re running a small business, one of your main concerns is likely to be how to get new clients on a regular basis. As a trade business, repeat business can sometimes be infrequent, so you need to build up an image and reputation that attracts a steady stream of new interest. What’s more, there has been so much talk of “cowboys” and con artists in the industry that many people are wary of hiring a new tradesperson and on high alert for any sign that they might not be completely trustworthy.
This means that the way you present yourself to the world can have a huge impact on the success of your business.
Here are a few top tips for giving the most professional and reliable impression possible so that the new customers flock your way!
Build your brand
When you contact potential customers, are you using professional email addresses with your business name domain (like Ben@BenTheBuilder.com) or are you using a personal address (like email@example.com)? Do you message from a professional social media account, with a profile image that’s your logo and a page full of content showcasing your work, or are you using your personal account where your profile picture is you with your kids and the page is full of photos of you in the pub?
A professional email address and branded social media account send a much stronger signal that you are a legitimate and experienced business, giving more reason for potential customers to trust you.
It’s free to set up a branded social account (although you’ll need to set aside time to regularly update the content, or pay someone else to do that for you – but this is great marketing for your business, so well worth it), and you can buy branded website domains that come with associated email addresses often quite cheaply. Check out domain services like GoDaddy or 123-reg to see what’s available.
Showing up to give that first quote in a professional-looking vehicle also helps customers to have confidence in you. A tidy, clean van with your company name written on the side makes a powerful first impression. Even better, a branded t-shirt or polo shirt with your logo on says that you are a serious business. Companies like Vistaprint do both signage and customisable t-shirts at very affordable rates.
Design your documents
How do you send over a quote or an invoice? How do you schedule bookings? Using attractive and professional-looking document templates is far more appealing to potential clients than a text message or some scribbles on a piece of paper. It is also reassuring as it suggests experience, and provides them with clear documentation that they can refer back to.
There are plenty of ways to create great looking documents, even if you’re not at all creative – Canva has some fantastic templates for things like quotes and invoices that you can just update with your own information.
Free booking systems like Calendly also send a message that you are a slick, and highly in-demand, operation.
Turn on the charm
Building new relationships with prospective clients is really important – people are more influenced by whether they like you than by any other factor.
When you meet a potential new customer, take some time to engage with them, take an interest in their life and find areas where you have common ground. Be friendly and personable – and watch out that you don’t come across as over-friendly when you’re a stranger in someone’s house. It’s a fine line to tread!
One of the biggest ways you can charm a prospective new customer is simply by showing up! Being on time, or keeping the customer informed if you’re delayed, demonstrates that you’re reliable and that you’ll communicate well with them if they work with you. Sending your quote across promptly also shows you’re reliable, and work quickly. If you know it will take a little while to find time to send them their quote, make sure you let them know that and manage their expectations so they don’t just think you’ve forgotten. Then send it over when you said you would so they can see you keep your promises.
Tidy your equipment
Showing up to quote for a new job with a messy van is not a good look. It doesn’t scream professionalism and reliability. Plus, if the potential new client sees you searching around for ages for something you urgently need in all the chaos in the back of your vehicle, they’re not going to be filled with confidence in you.
Word of mouth is also hugely important for trade businesses, and existing clients are more likely to recommend you if you seem organised and presentable – and much less likely to recommend you if you’ve seemed a bit messy. When it comes to overcoming client fears of cowboys and getting ahead of the competition, personal referrals are the most powerful tools at your disposal. Not only that, but you’ll be done with this job and ready to move on to another much quicker if your equipment is organised, you can put your hand on everything immediately without hunting around, and you can be more efficient with your time.
If you want to get your vehicle more organised, a Get Stowed unit will do the job nicely!
If you want your image to do the talking, take a look at how the Get Stowed range of stylish vehicle storage units can get you organised and put a professional polish on your business.