From your first days as an apprentice you are taught about both trade skills as well as the ins and outs of running a business. The excitement of upgrading to the latest equipment can put you on the edge of your seat; however in the classroom interest levels often take a dive as soon as accounting and business is mentioned.
Courtesy of Linda Galindo
The good news is that there is plenty of general and trade specific support out there for you. Most tradesmen have an intuitive understanding of their business and the key to success is to know where the knowledge and compliance gaps are and find the resources to fill them.
The idea is to really understand your strengths and weaknesses and drive the aspects of business which your customers value and make them profitable for you.
The biggest mistake most businesses make is to try to be all things to all people.
The first step in the process is to identify your core business as a Maintenance Tradie or a Sub Contractor.
Lets consider some aspects of the appropriate customer service for each core business type.
Small value jobs
Charged on an hourly rate plus materials with margin, and often COD terms. Tradies can benefit from having mobile remote invoicing and EFT services.
Customers are individuals and small businesses
The best source of work is through referrals to new customers
When promoting to individuals, use the styles of communication which are used by your demographics. For example: Face book and email posts using non-technical language can be used to encourage referrals and prompt preventative maintenance
Less repetition, need to encourage referrals
The one person is most likely the decision maker, the end user and the person paying the bills
The communication with the customer will be personal, non-technical, and focused on the task at hand.
Larges value jobs which are often quoted or tendered
Invoices can occur as progress claims
Customers are can be government organisations, builders or commercial providers
The best source of new work is through repeat work from existing customers
.Marketing to builders and larger customers should utilise mechanisms such as email newsletters and networking events which are relevant for your audience and which reinforce your technical knowledge and expertise.
Each organisation will most likely have multiple representatives in the same organisation. There will be more specific documentation required.
The communication style will be technical, more formal and efficient.
Getting the communication balance right for your customer and business style may have a range of impacts:
Positive customer experience and referrals and / or repeat business,
Enabling you to tailor your marketing efforts in ways which will interest your ideal customer,
Enabling you to more selectively train and recruit employees for can suit your needs,
Minimise excess communication needs increasing time efficiency and reducing overheads, (benefiting both your business and the customer)
Easing the buying process and maintaining getting access to the decision maker, and
Reducing payment barriers, reducing bad debts and improving cash flow.
The communication style is just one example where customising your business to a more specific type of customer can be beneficial. '
You may eventually be able to charge a premium for the experience and efficiency in your business and pick the most ideal customers.
What changes and customisations have you made in your business to cater for a particular client type?
Over the next few weeks, look at your communication to your customers? Is this style of communication which makes life easy for your customer? What technology is available to make this easy for you?