When you’re trying to grow your business, building it one client at a time, the tiniest details matter. Potential customers have a world of choices out there, so the only way for you to beat your competition is to make yourself look better than them. The first two minutes you have in contact with a client will set an impression in their mind forever.
If you want to make the sale and take them on as a client, that impression had better be a good one. You may not think these details are important, but any one of these can kill your chances for future work with a prospect.
If you use your personal phone as a business phone, forget about answering it casually. Anyone who calls may potentially become a big client, so they should be treated like one. Always answer your phone as if you’re at work, then switch to casual mode if you find out it’s a personal call.
Always let your clients hear a businesslike tone from you when they call to discuss their projects. Businesslike phone manners include answering in a serious voice, giving your full attention to your caller and returning calls promptly.
If someone is willing to hire you, they deserve to be treated with respect; this includes speaking to them politely on the phone.
Email and Text Messages
You may be the king of text speak, but when communicating with your clients, use complete sentences and good grammar. Not everyone is familiar with texting shorthand – sending a cryptic message to a client can confuse or even anger them. Take the time to spell words out and use punctuation to make your messages professional and easier for everyone to read.
Always return messages from clients and potential clients as soon as possible. Return texts within 12 hours and emails by the next business day. Clients who think you value their attention are more likely to hire you for their projects.
There’s no excuse for being carelessly late for a client. Ever. Yes, things happen. You can get stuck behind a car accident or your vehicle may break down. But if this happens, calling your client as soon as you see you may be late can make up for any insult the tardiness might otherwise give.
On the other hand, if you just have a habit of being late because you fall behind or because you think that showing up within half an hour is close enough, that’s an insult to any potential clients who are waiting for you. You’re telling the customer that you think your time is more important than theirs.
If you have a hard time keeping track of appointments, buy multiple alarm clocks or download alarm apps for your phone. Always leave ten minutes early for an appointment just in case something happens on the road. Do everything you can to make sure you show up before you’re supposed to – for every single client meeting.
Yes, you’re a contractor and you do physical work. That doesn’t mean you have to show up to an appointment covered in paint or sawdust. Give potential clients the courtesy of cleaning up before your visit. Keep a clean uniform or set of clothes in your truck or office. Wash your hands and make sure your sales tools aren’t grubby.
No one says you have to wear a suit and tie, but a neat polo shirt and clean blue jeans tell clients that you value neatness and can soothe any worries they might have about their home being torn up during a job.
Do your homework and let your customer know that you’ve done it. If you’re meeting with a client to bid on a job, print out a bid packet to give to the client along with your verbal bid. You’ll have printed evidence showing the reasoning behind your bid price, which can put you in a better light than a cheaper competitor who didn’t come prepared.
If you’re not sure about permits or local laws, do your research before talking to a potential client. Have prices at hand for job options and bring a laptop or tablet with relevant websites already bookmarked. Anticipate any questions they may have and get the answers ready for them. The more you already know about the job, the more professional you’ll look. And that just adds to your bottom line.
Assume Everyone is a Potential Client
Whether you’re driving down the road, stopping by the local convenience store for coffee or gassing up your truck, there’s a good chance you’ll encounter someone that may have need of your services – if not today, perhaps next month.
Keep your vehicle presentable (good signage, with contact information is essential), be courteous to everyone and don’t be afraid to smile and make eye contact with strangers. That first impression may lead to a future project.