This is the second part in our ultimate guide to setting up and running your trades business to maximise sales and revenue opportunities. In the first part we covered how to effectively understand the market and your competitors. In this second part, we will complete our guide. You can learn how, when setting up your trades business, to more effectively carry out promotion and managing customers. Also the importance of branding, using technology to make your life easier, and how to get good reviews without working for free.
Once you have done the above, you can get together your promotion plan – i.e., how you are going to get your business in front of customers.
There are many channels you could possibly use but buyers tend to look to find information by searching Google and Facebook. While Facebook doesn’t rival Google for general search there is a lot of evidence that shows it is used regularly for people doing a search for someone in their local area.
Note, for Google you will need a website and for Facebook a Facebook page.
Google and Facebook are not the only channels available. You should learn about other channel options because, if you have a lot of competitors, they may be cheaper. To understand if this is the case you need toprice up the cost of reaching your potential customers on each channel.
Promotion is a complex subject. You also need to learn about multichannel marketing, the buyer journey, and the nuances of successfully running campaigns on each of these channels. This may seem like a lot of preparation, but it will save you money in the long term, and may turn out to be the difference between your business surviving or not.
Once you have all this information at your fingertips, and taken into account your budget, you can then solidify on a segment where you think you have the best chance of success.
Tradesman Recommendation Sites
One of the main ways you can get your solution in front of customers is through the tradesman recommendation sites like CheckaTrade. This, in itself, is another promotion channel, but, because of its scale, I have listed here as a separate point.
The advantages of these kind of sites is that they pay lots of money for consumer-focused ads which drive customers to the site, effectively doing the marketing for you. The downside is that there are potentially a lot of your competitors already on the site with reviews and recommendations, meaning you will be at the back of the queue.
You can read a comparison of your options here. But in order to decide if they are right for you, you should search through them to see how many similar companies there are in your local area. In addition, how many reviews they have, and what the reviews say, so you can understand what matters to your customers.
Segmentation and Promotion: A Relationship
While segmentation is done before promotion, promotion costs can be a factor in choosing who to target. You should cost up the price of promoting to different segments and then use that to help you choose who to target.
Budget and Cashflow
I mentioned above getting together a budget for promotion but you should also get together another one that includes everything. Not just promotion costs, but equipment, both in terms of initial purchases, and then maintenance, travel and insurance costs, your mortgage payments, and a buffer of a few months to cover living while you build up your business.
It would be heartbreaking to invest your money to start up and then run out of money before it has succeeded. Heartbreaking, but extremely common.
Reviews and Recommendations
Unfortunately, the fact that you may be charging thousands of pounds for your services, mean good reviews are absolutely essential. Besides making sure you do a fantastic job, you also need to do a little planning around this.
Choosing the Right Platform for Reviews
There are numerous places to collect reviews: on the recommendation sites, your Facebook page, your Google Business Page and on sites like Trustpilot. Your customers won’t want to post on all these sites so think about which one is your primary source of leads. In addition, see if it is possible to sync them across all your channels.
Tip: One solution would be to take the reviews from one channel and turn it into a graphic that you can then post everywhere.
Asking Your Customers
While some will automatically give reviews, others need to be asked, reminded, and incentivised. That doesn’t mean bribed to give a positive review, that will get you in trouble on that platform, but rather just to give a review.
Reviews are extremely important but seeing examples of your work is also key in convincing your customer. People are naturally skeptical and a picture speaks a thousand words.
When you finish a job ask to take photos of what you have done, preferably with your customer. Before you get a customer, you can showcase your expertise by creating demo videos or infographics of how you would do the job.
Invest a little in a company name and logo. Getting T-shirts done mean you can advertise your company every day. Especially as you want more customers near your present ones, and your customers’ neighbours will get curious.
You get easily get logos done and t-shirts printed on sites like 99Designs. It is really easy and not very expensive.
Use the Right Technology
There are a multiple of technological solutions that can help with accounting, scheduling, and with collecting payments and winning business. The majority of people like to use card payments rather than cash and so you should have the ability to take a card payment in the field or through an invoice – In fact, any way your customer wants. In addition, branded quotations and invoices help you appear much more professional and in turn more likely to win the business.
Don’t Over Promise
Reviews are everything so don’t find yourself in a situation where you are out of pocket, doing extra hours, in order to ensure you get a good one. The way to avoid this is to be totally clear and transparent about pricing. You should let your customer know about anything that could become a difficulty, and stick to what you know skill wise.
Of course, you may decide to work for cost to get your first few reviews, but remember it is a marketing tactic. Don’t let it become a habit.
Always Provide Excellent Service
This should go without saying, but remember to be punctual, tidy up after yourself, and be polite and courteous at all times.
A tradesman needs to be qualified for the good reason that they are dealing with things that are expensive or dangerous when they are broken. Because of this you should protect yourself through Public Liability Insurance and Personal Indemnity Insurance. If you take on employees, you will need to get Employer’s Liability Insurance.
Once you earn over £1000 a year your business needs to be registered for tax. You have a number of set up options:
Sole trader – This is the easiest and most straightforward choice, but you personally are responsible for any losses.
Limited company – This takes a little longer to setup and has more reporting and management responsibilities, but your company is responsible for your debt not you.
Partnership – This is the best option if there are several of you doing this together.
You can find out more here.
In all cases, you need to pay tax through self-assessment and you will need to keep accounts of your income and expenses. There are specialist accountancy and payment software packages that can help you with this.
Joining a relevant trade association or professional bodies will help with your credibility and perhaps get you access to additional information on the industry to help make a success of your business.
Pulling It All Together
Once this is done you should review your business plan. Your plan for setting up your trades business should clearly detail, with evidence, that you have researched the market, understand it, and identified a way to compete. It should also show you understand how to manage customers, and have a costed promotion plan in place. You may be a little put off by business plan jargon like macro, meso and micro analysis but once you get past the big words it makes sense. Think about how you have criticized or found incredulous when someone has tried to sell you something. Ask yourself the question whether you are making the same mistakes.
Hoof Payment Solution
Once you have finished setting up your trades business and have your strategy for promotion and managing customers in place, the next step is managing your sales. Hoof’s payment solution helps business win sales and take and manage payments more effectively. Go to Hoof to discover the many benefits of taking card payments.