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Contractors

Choosing Your Materials: Using The Contractor’s Expertise

By Contractors No Comments

Homeowners can be picky, and that is probably understating it. Whether they are making changes because they want to or because their home was damaged in a storm, they know what the like, what they don’t, and what they want for their property. But just because they know what they want, doesn’t mean they know what they are choosing. Many homeowners don’t know the ins-and-outs of products like their contractors do, but many contractors have trouble getting that point across. Thankfully, there are a few easy tactics that you can use to help customers get the products they want, but also the ones that need.

Certifications

Many contractors in specialty areas, like roofing, can get certifications from manufacturers. These certifications range from installation certifications to preferred or recommended contractors for the manufacturer. If you don’t have any already, see what certifications from manufacturers that your company uses a lot are available. If you do have these in place already, use them to your advantage; let homeowners know that you have done the training, the research, the amount of time, whatever it is with X manufacturer so you know about their products and what will be best for their home. It may not always work, but some homeowners will be swayed once they see that you have put in the work to understand the materials.

Experience and Expertise

Most homeowners make big changes to their property a handful of times, but no where near enough to know what products are going to best. You on the other hand, deal with homes and the products every single day, so use that! Have before and after photos readily accessible to show, give first-hand accounts of times you have seen something work (or not work), let them know that you have dealt with this before. The more experience you can point to, and expertise you can show can help sway homeowners off their rock of ideas and into what is truly best for their home.

Recommendations

Always give your recommendation. Even if the homeowner is dead set on something, let them know what you would do. A lot of times, if you’ve also displayed your expertise, homeowners will listen to your recommendation and use the products you think are right. Sometimes it at least plants a seed of doubt in their plan that gives you the opportunity to display your experience and expertise and show them why they need to choose a different product. Again, use photos of previous products so that they can see the finished product, and take the opportunity to point out similarities, opportunities, and curb appeal that their house can use/gain by using your recommended product.

Supporting Each Other: Developing Relationships With Your Sub-Contractors

By Contractors No Comments

Most contractors have partners from all different sorts of businesses. From realtors to mortgage agents to distributors to insurance agents, they help you and you help them whether it is referring business back and forth, working together to solve mutual problems, or putting them in contact with other people in the field. You value that relationship, even if it only helps you out a little. But, of all the other businesses that your company works and partners with, your subcontractors are among the most valuable, and not just because they make it possible to get your projects done. Despite being so valuable, subcontractors tend to be overlooked as partners, which is a big missed opportunity for both of you.

Why are subcontractors overlooked so frequently? Because they are familiar. They are in the industry, know the ins-and-outs, and sometimes can feel a little more like competition than a partnership, even when you do work together. So how do you overcome that? You build the relationship!

We know what you’re thinking, more work? With people we already work with? But that is the key, it won’t be as much work as you think because you already work with them! Think about it: when you meet a realtor or insurance agent at a networking event you have to put in the time to get to know the person and their business, and then you get to work out how you can help each other. With your subcontractors, you already know their business pretty well, and you may even know the person a little (or a lot, who knows!), which means you’ve already done the hardest part of developing a relationship without even realizing it. Use that relationship to find ways that you can help each other beyond just subcontracting; they are in the industry too, so they might have tips and tricks you hadn’t found yet. Plus, chances are, if you already do work on the same projects there is some overlap in your client base that can be an excellent referral network for you both.

The point is, the subcontractors you work with know you and your business, and you know them and their business, and there is no point in the relationship staying just as a transactional work for work one. Get to know them, use them, and see how you can work together to bring in more business for both of you!

4 Tips To Help You Get Ready For Storm Season

By Contractors No Comments

Do you hear that, rumbling in the distance? It’s storm season and it is almost here! In most places the weather has started warming up, snow has turned to rain, and thunderstorms have started rolling through some afternoons, which means that you are about to get BUSY. Are you and your team ready for storm season or are you still working your way out of the winter haze? Today we want to help you out of that haze and give you our top 4 tips to be ready for storm season!

1. Get Everyone Together

When was the last time you had an all-company meeting? November? December? You have all been doing the winter work calling insurance companies, getting claims ready to move forward come spring, and wrapping up paperwork for claims that you completed in the fall, and none of that takes a lot of coordination. So call a meeting and get everyone in the same room to get ready to move into over-drive before a storm actually hits.

2. Have A Plan

Use the meeting mentioned above to come up with a plan of action for when the storm inevitably hits. Does everyone have the access to the storm maps? Who will make the call to head into the area? Give a general idea of who will need to go where, and what they need to do. Use the time before the storm hits to game plan what will happen when it does; this lets you be more prepared to jump on work as soon as it happens, rather than scramble to get out there in the days and weeks following a storm.

3. Have Marketing Items Ready To Go

Even if you plan on being on the ground in the storm area, that can be a big area. Come up with a marketing plan of attack as well. Will you email blast previous customers in the affected area? Send a general postcard to all homes that got hit with your info? Does everyone have enough business cards ready? Whatever your marketing scheme is have it ready beforehand. Make sure that materials are printed and ready to go in the office. Have your marketing manager prepared to blast emails, run to the post-office, or find events in the area that you can present at. Don’t wait until you know what the storm is and where it is; use your knowledge and expertise of storm situations to have all of the marketing materials ready to go in advance.

4. Have Stress Relief Ready

Storm season gets stressful fast, so have everyone identify ways that they can relieve stress. Whether it is going over a few breathing exercises, making sure to carve out time to workout or go for a walk, or even just taking an actual lunch break, make sure everyone is aware of ways to deal with stress. Having these tools available before things get stressful gives a sense of being more prepared and allows everyone to find what works for them before it gets too crazy.

Sales Tips: How To Deal With Who

By Contractors No Comments

Construction sales get tricky, much trickier than sales in many other industries, and it isn’t because construction itself is more complicated than other industries. Most industries have a fairly specific target market, specified by age, income, location, or interests, the market can be narrowed and the sales people trained to deal with people specifically in that market. Construction on the other hand, is a lot broader. While there are some traits you can use to try and target specifically, like income, it really comes down to who gets hit with damage and needs your help. So how do you sell to all sorts of different people? You train of course! It might take a little more work to do, but it really just comes to learning how to deal with who.

So what exactly does that mean? It means knowing tactics for how to sell to older versus younger homeowners, how to handle a gated neighborhood versus a more normal one, and being prepared for all different types of attitudes that you can be received with, to name a few of the biggest problem areas to address. These are the most common disparities that can make sales hard because you have to be able to recognize and alter your tactics to be most effective for each group of people.

Young vs. Old Homeowners

This is one of the hardest gaps to figure out for many salesmen because younger versus older homeowners have very different mindsets and expectations. Younger homeowners are likely less familiar with the storm restoration process as this may be first time their home has been damaged by hail or wind, so they may need a little more “hand-holding” so to speak, and this is when your expertise can make a big difference. They will want to understand what is happening and why, so explain to them what your company does, how you can help them, and how the process will likely go step-by-step in detail. Younger homeowners are also going to be more receptive to the technology that is used in construction sales. They will have no objection to e-signing the contract, communicating mostly by email, and (if you use a Scoperite!) being able to get the scope report and pictures sent to them immediately. This makes your job easier as it will require less trips to the property itself, and more efficient communication.

Now, older homeowners on the other hand, are a completely different ballgame. It is more likely that they have been through a storm before so they know the drill, or at least they think they do. What that means for sales is that you do a lot less hand-holding than you would with younger homeowners; you will still tell them what your company does, what you will do, and how it will help, but they likely won’t want or need as many of the intricate details; it will be more effective here to differentiate yourself from the competition with your expertise, rather than rely solely on it to sway them. Older homeowners are a little different in terms of technology as well; many will still be fine with e-signing and emails, but some may be less comfortable with it, which means that you will need to do a little extra work and do everything on paper. While that isn’t a huge deal, being able to pick-up on that and do it right from the start will make them more pleasant for you to work with. The moral of the story is take note of the age of the homeowners you are trying to sell to, and keep in mind the differences from the start. Doing so will make it easier for you to close sales, but also to make the process go as smoothly as possible for both the homeowner and yourself.

Neighborhood Type

Different types of neighborhoods can require different selling techniques as well. For very high-end gated neighborhoods, you are usually there because someone called you to come in (seeing as it is hard to get into those neighborhoods otherwise). This means that they are looking for an expert, who will get the job done efficiently, effectively, and leaving the home looking as it was before. This also means that it may not be the best neighborhood to try knocking on the neighbors doors to see if they need work as well. Gated neighborhoods are typically very anti-soliciting which means door knocking will make the neighbors and the client who called you unhappy. Instead stick a sign in the yard (if they sign with you) and give them some extra cards in case any of their neighbors ask who is doing the work on their house. If neighbors are out and about, say hi and be polite, mention you are doing work for your client, but don’t be pushy about trying to sell to them as well; they will more likely call you when they see what a good, professional job you do.

For regular neighborhoods, things are a little simpler. Obviously, you still want to be as professional and efficient as possible, but there is less possibility of losing business by going around to the neighbors. In these neighborhoods, doing some knocking at houses around your client can often lead to more jobs as they will recognize you, your truck, and see the good work that you have been doing for their neighbors. It is also typical that you are in these neighborhoods more because it easier to come and do your job when you don’t have to worry about getting in the gate. This means that people will get used to seeing you around, and will be more approachable if you try to sell to them as well.

Attitudes

When you are selling you are going to meet people with all kinds of different attitudes towards you and your business. Some will be nice, some will be nice but standoffish, some will be disgruntled, and some will be downright mean, and that is just the tip of the iceberg. To prepare your salesmen to deal with all the different types of attitudes out there, make a list of the most common attitudes you encounter and practice the best ways to deal with customers for each one. Being aware of the customers attitude and knowing how to deal with it will make your salesmen more effective, and more confident as they bring in business.

As a whole, successful construction sales comes down to being aware of who you are dealing with, and having the right tools in your belt to sell to all of them in the most effective way.

Nurturing Customer Relationships

By Contractors No Comments

Construction, especially storm restoration, can feel like a one and done kind of transaction. You help home and property owners repair their property after it has been damaged by wind, hail, rain, or a combination of all three, but then you ask for a review and part ways. It can be easy to assume that that is end of that particular customer transaction, but why should it be?

Storms might not hit the same place every year, but they will hit the same area again at some point. So why not keep in touch with your customers, so that when they get hit again, the first thing they do is call you. It might sound tedious, like you’re adding to your already full plate, but it doesn’t have to be and it can pay off big time in the long run.

Nurturing these relationships can be as simple or complicated as you want to make it; it can range from an occasional post-card to a yearly phone call, whatever you want to do. Below we list a few of our favorite ideas for nurturing you customer relationships:

Send a post-card: Get a bunch printed and mail them out once or twice year. This keeps your name and logo in front of previous customers so they won’t forget who helped them out last time.

Create an email blast: Send out monthly, quarterly, or yearly emails to previous customers. Remind them of your services, let them know if you are rolling new ones out, or give them tips on how to handle X, Y, or Z problem. Similarly to the post-cards, this keeps you top of mind, and let’s them know all the ways you can help them.

Give them a call or swing by: If you have the time and really want to keep previous customers happy, give them a call once or twice a year to make sure everything is still in working order or to let them know of new products and services you have added since they worked with you. In most cases, the people will be flattered that you actually remember them and will be pleased to hear from you! The same can be said for stopping by; if you are doing work in their area again, knock on the door, say hello, and see if everything is still in working order. Customers will feel valued that you were willing to take the time to check-up on what you did for them.

Doing any of these things (or anything you think of yourself!) will continue to keep you in the customer’s frame of reference, and make them feel highly valued by your company, both of which will encourage repeat business at the very least. Likely, when a storm does hit their area again, they will call you, but they will let friends and neighbors know about your company as well. Nurturing the relationships obviously doesn’t mean that everyone will call you again, but if you can get some of them that do and get a jump start right after a storm, doesn’t that make the extra effort worth it?

4 Tips To Get Your Salesmen To Use Roofing Software

By Contractors, Tech No Comments

Roofing software is fantastic. It minimizes paperwork, saves time, and makes your company run more efficiently. Well at least it does all those things if everyone uses it. Often times, getting salesmen to start using or switch roofing software programs can be a struggle; they are set in their ways, and think they have it all figured out already. So what can you do to get them on board with the new software? Keep reading to see our top tips for getting your salesmen to make the switch.

Take The Time To Train Them

While it can be time consuming, and feel a little like time wasted, taking the time to actually train your salesmen on the software can make a big difference. Giving them each a log-in and saying use this now, is easier, but less effective. Seeing as you, the owner or manager, is probably the one who picked it out the software makes sense to you because you have been researching and learning about it. For your salesmen, it is something totally new that they need to put effort in to learn to use, and many of them don’t want to take that time out of their already busy schedule to learn it. The easiest way around this is for you to schedule that time and do it with them! Have everyone block out an afternoon, bring in an expert if you need, and go through it together. Do a mock project from start to finish so that everyone sees all the basic functions and features. Make sure everyone can access the software on the devices they need and go through any changes in usage for each device. It may seem like a long way to spend an afternoon, but it can help make a big difference in getting everyone on board.

Explain The Benefits

Sometimes being in a company doesn’t mean you see everything. No matter how involved your salesmen are in aspects of the business beyond sales and projects, you know more about it than they do. You know where the biggest glitches are, where the most problems arise from, and where things need to be changed; more likely than not, implementing the software is a way to deal with a lot of those problems. So explain that to them. Detail out what is going wrong or could use some improvement, and show them how the software will help solve some of those problems. If they can see the direct effect that using the software will have, it will encourage them to view the switch as a good thing, rather than a tedious one.

Address Concerns

A lot of salesmen get set in their ways. They have their routines that get that job done and they like it that way. So when you try and change that routine, even a little bit, they are going to have questions. Take the time answer the questions and address their concerns. From will it change my whole system to will it work on my phone, all the questions are important to them. Taking the time to see what they are specifically concerned about, and to address their concerns will, ideally, make them more open to trying the software. It is also important to be patient when addressing their concerns; seeming irritated by the questions and comments will make them even less inclined to give the software a try, so stay positive and understand that this might be a bigger change than you realized for them.

Have A Trial Period

More often than not, forcing use of something is the quickest way to make sure it is detested. So try and forgo telling your salesmen that they HAVE to use the new software and that’s that. Instead try doing a trial period with it. Say they have to use it for two weeks or a month or however long you feel is appropriate, and that you will all come together to discuss benefits and problems with it after at that time. This gives everyone the opportunity to try out the software, find what they like and don’t like, and discuss everyone’s thoughts surrounding it. Doing a trial gives you the opportunity to make them use the software without it being a completely forced idea. It also gives your salesmen the chance to actually see if they like the software, or for you to realize that the software might not be the right one for your company.

Reviews, Reviews, Reviews!

By Contractors No Comments

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, we want to talk about reviews…again. It’s not that we are trying to be boring and repetitive, it’s just that reviews are really, really important when it comes to keeping your contracting business successful. No matter what kind of contractor you are, you need reviews on your website, your google page, your yelp page, and where ever else your business has a presence. These reviews are good for a variety of things, but the two biggest are that customers can see and read them, and they can influence your online search rankings. Below we are going to dive into why you need to have reviews for both of those reasons.

Influencing Rankings

When people need something, they turn to the internet. Whether it is for advice, entertainment, or information the first thing most people do, is jump onto Google. What does that matter to you? It matters because that is where they are going to find you, or try to find you at least. While there are a lot of different things that contribute to your rankings in online search, reviews are one them so it is valuable to have them. When people are searching for contractors, they are going to get a lot of results because there a lot of contractors. One way to work towards the top of that search is to have reviews (and lots of them) on your google page and on your website. It might not bump you to the number one spot, but if people are looking and see you have a lot of reviews, it’ll make them more likely to click on you even if you are further down the page.

Convincing Customers

Piggy-backing off of influencing rankings, you need reviews to convince your potential customers to pick you. When they get on search, which they will do, they will look at your website, check out your photos and maybe your team, but what is going to make up their mind is your reviews. They want to see what other people have said about you, if your guys were clean, if the job was done correctly, were you attentive to specific needs? Those are the differentiating factors that people look at when they look for a contractor; anyone can do the work for more or less the same price so they are going to be looking for how easy you were to work with and is it worth it to work with you. Having lots of reviews looks good for one, because it shows the volume of your business, but also gives them typically all the information they want because every review will talk about different things.

So to wrap up. Ask for reviews. Then ask again. Ask until every customer you work with fills one out because it is better to have them (even if they aren’t all good).

How To Keep Salesmen Busy During The Winter Season

By Contractors No Comments

For a large part of the country, it gets cold, wet, and unpleasant during the winter months of the year. Here in Colorado we feel it for sure; as do the contractors in Wisconsin, Iowa, Washington, and Montana among others; all you lucky people who live in Florida don’t know what we’re talking about, so you might need to skip this one.

During winter, when it is cold constantly and dark at 4:30, work tends to slow down. It is hard to do some things in freezing temps and it takes twice as long to finish projects when you have so little daylight to work with. This trend leaves your salesmen bored, for lack of a better word. There are no projects building, no storms creating new business for them to find, and the holidays make it easy to slack off even more. So what do you do? You aren’t paying them to just sit around and take up space in your office, so you find useful tasks to keep them busy. Below we dive into some of our favorite tasks to keep the salesmen busy when it’s cold out.

Training

There is no such thing as too much training. Even your most seasoned salesmen can always learn something new. Use the down time to do different kinds of training with your guys. Work with manufacturers to get updated installation techniques or to learn about new products or warranties they are offering. You can also use training’s to talk about stress and time management when it is busy at work; work with the team to come up with methods to combat stress that everyone can use when everyone is crazy busy. New sales methods are coming out every day as well, so take this time to make sure all of your salesmen are up-to-date and evolving their methods for the current sales market. No matter what type of training you choose to do, it can’t do any harm. It keeps your salesmen minds on their jobs, and, hopefully, will get them thinking creatively for how to get more business when things start to pick up again.

Planning

Similar to training, down time can be used for planning. Sit down with each of your salesmen and set goals for the next storm season. Or brainstorm as a group the best ways to find new business; see who has good connections and where other connections can be built. Get the salesmen to work together to plan sales tactics for specific areas that you know you want. The down time can be used to prepare for when things get busy and to find the best ways to tackle everything. It allows you, as an owner, to set standards and practices for how you want things to go in the next season.

Prospecting

Just because they can’t necessarily be out in the field selling, doesn’t mean the salesmen can’t still be making sales and bringing future business into the company. Slow season gives them the opportunity to sit down and look at what connections they have to get business, and where they can improve those connections and try to get more. Depending on your specific sphere, there are a number of other businesses that can be great partners for bringing business into to your company. Use the down time to have your salesmen try and connect with people from those businesses; have them call, offer an introduction, see if they would be willing to sit down with your company. Doing this gives your company the opportunity to grow even when things are slow. Plus, this also gives the salesmen a chance to test out new selling techniques that you have taught them during this time as well!

Slow doesn’t have to mean stopped. See what works best for your company, your people, and your goals and find ways to keep everyone busy year round.

Customer Service: The Make Or Break Differentiator For Contractors

By Contractors No Comments

Let’s face it, most contractors are basically the same. Within the sphere of work you do (roofing, plumbing, HVAC, etc.) you and your competition look a whole lot a alike. You offer similar services, for similar prices, with the same end result for the customer. So how do you make your business stand out over others? We have two words for you: customer service. Customer service is the one way that you can totally distinguish yourself from your competition; it allows you to create a specific identity for your company that no other company can replicate.

Regardless of the type of work you do, almost any other contractor in your field can properly repair or install. They can all make sure it is done to manufacturer specifications and in line with city ordinances, so there is little you can do besides tout your expertise (even though everyone else is also doing that). Next step would be to potentially offer deals or discounts, but similarly to installing, there are only so many different things you can offer; between the legal restrictions and your own costs, you can typically do free inspections or sometimes discounted materials, but unfortunately, the other guys can do that too. So what can you do to make your company different? Make your customer service better. When it comes down to it, people aren’t really going to remember the installation and the actual work that got done. They are going to remember if you were helpful, efficient, and communicative.

Making your customer service better doesn’t need to mean big changes within your company. Often it is the little, helpful things that customers remember and that can help you differentiate from other contractors. It can start at the very beginning before you even have a signed contract. Make the most of your initial contact, answer all their questions and address concerns, and follow-up with them after to make sure nothing else came-up after you left. This shows the potential customers that you care, and are invested in the project from the start.

Communication is another big way to build your customer service reputation. In addition to following-up when you are trying to win business, stay in contact once you have the business. Over-communicating can actually be helpful; keep homeowners updated with how the project is progressing, let them know if there are problems with materials, keep them in the loop when work is happening and what that entails for their daily lives. This goes both ways as well, the more you communicate with them, the more they will feel like they can communicate with you. You want them to be comfortable enough with you and your company to call with any questions or concerns as the project goes on. Taking those calls, and taking the time to address those concerns can be the turning point for you over other contractors.

You can also make them aware of product specifications, warranties, and what to look for in case something happens again. If the product has tell-tale signs that something is about to go wrong, let the homeowner know what those signs are and what to do when it happens to make the process smoother. If there are warranties or rewards available from either your company or manufacturers, make sure the homeowner is aware of them and help them get registered so that they won’t face more costs down the road. Going the extra mile to give them helpful extra information makes you look really good, and makes homeowners trust you more.

Making homeowners feel heard, understood, and secure during a project makes a difference. It makes them more likely to come back you for more work, recommend you to people who need the same work done, and give your company good reviews. All of these things help to set you apart from your competition; if they aren’t taking the time to listen to their customers, than that puts you a step above them and when the race is tight, that can make all the difference.

Warming Up Cold Leads: Best Practices

By Contractors No Comments

As much as we wish they were, not every job you’ll get will be a home run. You know the kind, where the homeowners sign the contract right away, the insurance company approves your estimate, and the work goes off without a hitch. For every ten jobs, you might get one that goes that nicely, and the rest, well, they require a little more legwork.

One of the most difficult parts of selling for contractors is getting the contract signed. Some homeowners like to take their time making a decision, or are unsure of what work they need done, or they just think they know more than you do. These are the homeowners that are typically deemed as cold leads; they didn’t slam the door, they let you explain what you do, and they may have even had you do an inspection, but then they want to wait to sign a contract. It can be frustrating dealing with these types of homeowners because you want the work and you want to get started. You might even think it would be easier to move on to the next house who is ready to sign the contract and forget about the hesitant people all together. But, taking the time to warm-up these cold leads can pay off big time if you do it right. In this post, we will go into detail about some of the best practices to warm-up cold leads and get contracts signed.

Don’t Push Too Hard Too Fast

One of the easiest ways to scare off cold leads for good is to push too hard too fast. Having to make changes or repairs to a home is big, big deal and some people need more time to process that than others. When you push too much, it can overwhelm the homeowners and make them run to another contractor with more patience, and it can also seem a little sketchy; like you just want to get the work done and get paid. Most of the time you can tell which homeowners are going to be a little harder to convince, so have a sales plan specific to those kinds of customers. Try your normal sales process at half speed if they seem skittish; do your inspection and give them all the information, but don’t bring up a contract or moving forward until the next time you speak. Give them time to process all the information one bit at a time, and let them become comfortable with you before the ball really starts to roll.

Stay In Touch

Another great way to warm-up cold leads is to stay in touch with homeowners while they are in the process of picking a contractor. Even if you are moving slower, as mentioned above, communicate with them; call and see if they have questions after looking over your damage assessment, ask if they have any questions about the insurance process, or if they need help navigating HOA requirements. Try and speak with them at least once per week while they are in the decision-making process. Not only will it keep you in their minds as an option to do the work, it will also help you build rapport and display your full expertise, which will hopefully bolster their confidence in you.

Find Hesitations

Typically, the people who take the longest to process and decide have specific concerns that are holding them back, and these concerns are typically easy to find. All you have to do is ask. Ask them if they have any specific questions or if there is anything they are worried about and, usually, that answer will let you know what they are worried about so you can address it. Finding out why they are hesitant to move forward gives you the opportunity to display your knowledge of the process and the repairs, and make the homeowner more comfortable with you; similar to staying in touch, it allows you to build rapport with them before other contractors can. Addressing their concerns, and pointing out how you can help negate them, can be a big step in getting a contract signed.