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Getting Jobs Your First Year

 
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Old 11-29-2018, 12:28 PM   #1
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Getting Jobs Your First Year


I was just wondering how everyone started getting clients their first year of business? I started a new GC business in Dallas about a year ago. I created a website, and went door to door passing out a few thousand post cards. Got some kitchen/bath remodels and managed to stay busy until the summer (dry spell), and now I have some work that will probably be finished in about a month and nothing in the pipeline. Happy clients, no issues, but no referrals yet either. Just wondering if there is something I’m not doing that I should be in terms of getting clients/marketing??

Everyone I encounter seems to be saying “I have more clients than I know what to do with!” I’m definitely not there yet.
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Old 11-29-2018, 04:49 PM   #2
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Re: Getting Jobs Your First Year


It just takes time.
Think of your new business as a snow ball rolling down hill.
Starts off small and then keeps growing.

If you put out the flyers in summer it is time to put them out again.
you want people to always have your name in front of them.

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Old 11-29-2018, 04:55 PM   #3
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Re: Getting Jobs Your First Year


I think a mistake was not being more consistent with marketing.

Do you think direct mail is worth it? Or is picking a neighborhood and throwing flyers on doorsteps enough?
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Old 11-29-2018, 05:11 PM   #4
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Re: Getting Jobs Your First Year


You have to kind of feel out the neighborhood.

Some areas a mailer would work, others right on the door.

Me personally, I look at my mail and file it as I go through it. Somebody leaves a flyer, I will glance at it, but usually toss it.
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Old 11-29-2018, 09:41 PM   #5
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Re: Getting Jobs Your First Year


And don't be afraid of leaving cards at the box stores and every lumber yard you can find. The Tractor Supply Stores have bulletin boards....
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Old 11-29-2018, 09:56 PM   #6
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Re: Getting Jobs Your First Year


Think of all your past projects. What could you have done differently to get them to feel compelled to rave about you?
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Old 12-01-2018, 08:55 PM   #7
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Re: Getting Jobs Your First Year


The most important things that I've done in starting and maintaining my business are as follows:

1. I talk to EVERYONE. If you meet me, you're going to leave the conversation knowing everything I do for a living and where I do it. Seems simple, but it's HUGE. Tell all your friends and family exactly what you do. Not, "Oh, he's in construction." No. It has to be, "Oh, Redhook is doing great, he does kitchen and bath remodels in the greater Dallas area." People don't put 2 and 2 together unless you club them over the head with 4.

2. I specifically tell people that they should call me back. Again, seems like 2+2=4, but you'd be shocked how many people don't understand that the guy that remodels your bathroom can also do your kitchen. I tell people I do carpentry and painting. They STILL have to be told that carpentry includes window casing AND door installations, and that painting includes patching AND wallpaper removal. Not two separate guys, ALL ME.

That's really it. Just talk people's ears off. I have gotten exactly zero calls in 6 years off my business cards, which I have littered the Earth with. Every single call I've gotten has been a direct referral from a past customer or a GC that I've impressed.
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Old 12-01-2018, 09:07 PM   #8
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Re: Getting Jobs Your First Year


What I would have done differently on past projects...

I think I was too eager to say “yes”, and that has gotten me in trouble. Especially on my first two projects. Project completion dates went over by several weeks on both. In previous companies that I worked for, who had decades in the business, we could complete projects quickly. My small crew does good work, but they are a little slow. It’s that last 10% of the job that seemed to drag out, and I think it can leave a bad taste in the clients mouth.
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Old 12-01-2018, 09:09 PM   #9
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Re: Getting Jobs Your First Year


Easy Gibson, that is awesome advice. It’s easy to forget that your potential clients aren’t experts. They need to be educated of everything that you do.
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Old 12-01-2018, 11:05 PM   #10
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Re: Getting Jobs Your First Year


I don't know anything about you, but a large amount of my customers are very similar to myself in that they're in the 35-45 range, just moved out of the city, and have never owned a home before. They've got money, they know what they want, but they've never hired anyone before. It's always been calling the in-building Super to get stuff fixed. Never had to deal with a contractor direct.
It's kind of incumbent on us to hand hold, let them know how it goes, and let them know who they need to call for what. I don't do any kind of GC work anymore, but my Rolodex is still solid. I try to keep everyone in my referral network, that way it'll swing back to me eventually. I'm about to start year 7 on my own. I'm starting to notice trends of people needing me every 2 years. It's cool to see that start to develop.
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Old 12-02-2018, 10:06 PM   #11
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Re: Getting Jobs Your First Year


Quote:
Originally Posted by redhook View Post
My small crew does good work, but they are a little slow. Itís that last 10% of the job that seemed to drag out, and I think it can leave a bad taste in the clients mouth.


If you were an employee, and you knew there wasnít much coming up, .....


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Old 12-02-2018, 10:21 PM   #12
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Re: Getting Jobs Your First Year


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If you were an employee, and you knew there wasnít much coming up, .....


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When I was a foreman at the end of the day my boss would say tell this one and that one to call the office in the morning find out where you're going the following day. I knew that meant they were getting laid off.

I never had a day off in 10 years due to no work but never let the other employees know there's nothing in the pipeline for them. Kinda sh*tty but you don't want the job milked.
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Old 12-02-2018, 10:56 PM   #13
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Re: Getting Jobs Your First Year


When I started my business 29 years ago I already had a reputation in the industry, had a lot of contacts, one call and my business took off. Didn't have to worry about getting work I concentrated on building the same reputation with my clients.

If I had to start today I'd be thinking business 24/7 with everyone I meet, even my mother would get a business card every time I saw her. I'd want WOM as I am now but more than likely I'd have to build a website with fake jobsite pics, join HomeAdvisor and wait for the tire kickers to call.

Not everyone is cut out to be a successful contractor especially over the long haul it entails a lot more than just doing good work.

I have a secret formula for success.
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Old 12-03-2018, 12:58 AM   #14
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Re: Getting Jobs Your First Year


Dallas ain't an easy market to break into cold, no contacts no personal network. Feels more like moving to the sticks from a big city, to get the higher quality customers. Tire kickers are everywhere and everybody has a 'Guy" named Bubba or Jose that does good work or has great prices. The work ain't that great of either. But the homeowners think they are great, have great value.

I'd say you're not doing too bad. You need to find a few of the 'right' neighborhoods to focus in. Get a name for yourself for outstanding service and quality. If you can WOW the right fits, consistently every time on their terms. You'll be on the way up.

That lackluster last 10% effort hurt you. You have to find a way, make it a priority to learn, develop systems to get to 100% PLUS that extra 1%. People are way to willing to settle on no headaches and I can live with that kind of end result. That customer sentiment will NEVER get you more work, yet alone raging fans that will scream your name at every opportunity.
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Old 12-03-2018, 09:58 AM   #15
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Re: Getting Jobs Your First Year


All good tips. I’m also licensed in CA, I wonder if it would have been more or less difficult to get started there?

We don’t plan on remaining a home remodeling company forever, at some point we will start flipping, then doing ground up construction.

Is a gross profit of $150k-$200k a decent amount of work for year one?
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Old 12-03-2018, 12:10 PM   #16
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Re: Getting Jobs Your First Year


Quote:
Originally Posted by redhook View Post
All good tips. Iím also licensed in CA, I wonder if it would have been more or less difficult to get started there?

We donít plan on remaining a home remodeling company forever, at some point we will start flipping, then doing ground up construction.

Is a gross profit of $150k-$200k a decent amount of work for year one?
Gross sales or gross profit?

If GP compared to what sales? How much overhead?

What kinds of jobs are you doing?

As far as first year - network, network, network. Like a second job. Later when your established if you play your cards right you can still network even more effectively with less time involved. We never spent money on traditional advertising but I put money in all kinds of networking situations.
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Old 12-03-2018, 12:44 PM   #17
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Re: Getting Jobs Your First Year


imo, you are fishing for the wrong fish using door flyers & postcards.

no one i know would hire a contractor off any of these methods.

JAWS & Joasis gave some great advice.

Professional looking business cards that do not have TOO much info on them.

NETWORK, get out & meet people and get your name out there.

it does take time. your first couple of jobs running over on completion probably didn't do you nay good.

Sponsor a softball team(s) or a kids soccer team.

join your local builders exchange, also a good place to see jobs coming to bid.

check with your local school district(s) to see if they have an informal bidders list when they have small projects.
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Old 12-03-2018, 02:32 PM   #18
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Re: Getting Jobs Your First Year


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I was just wondering how everyone started getting clients their first year of business? I started a new GC business in Dallas about a year ago. I created a website, and went door to door passing out a few thousand post cards. Got some kitchen/bath remodels and managed to stay busy until the summer (dry spell), and now I have some work that will probably be finished in about a month and nothing in the pipeline. Happy clients, no issues, but no referrals yet either. Just wondering if there is something Iím not doing that I should be in terms of getting clients/marketing??

Everyone I encounter seems to be saying ďI have more clients than I know what to do with!Ē Iím definitely not there yet.
Everyone else has probably been in business for five or ten years.

I remember before the last crash I was week to week on work and everyone else was swimming in money. It took ten years but when it picked back up I had the skills, reputation and marketing in place to rake it in.

I definitely could have grown into success faster. You have to consistently invest in and adjust your marketing efforts to dial into the most profitable work for you and your team.

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Old 12-03-2018, 04:39 PM   #19
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Re: Getting Jobs Your First Year


Quote:
Originally Posted by redhook View Post
All good tips. Iím also licensed in CA, I wonder if it would have been more or less difficult to get started there?

We donít plan on remaining a home remodeling company forever, at some point we will start flipping, then doing ground up construction.

Is a gross profit of $150k-$200k a decent amount of work for year one?
What area of CA do you guys work out of? I want our company to start flipping and building new construction also at some point.
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Old 12-03-2018, 07:16 PM   #20
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Re: Getting Jobs Your First Year


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Originally Posted by Easy Gibson View Post
The most important things that I've done in starting and maintaining my business are as follows:

1. I talk to EVERYONE. If you meet me, you're going to leave the conversation knowing everything I do for a living and where I do it. Seems simple, but it's HUGE. Tell all your friends and family exactly what you do. Not, "Oh, he's in construction." No. It has to be, "Oh, Redhook is doing great, he does kitchen and bath remodels in the greater Dallas area." People don't put 2 and 2 together unless you club them over the head with 4.

2. I specifically tell people that they should call me back. Again, seems like 2+2=4, but you'd be shocked how many people don't understand that the guy that remodels your bathroom can also do your kitchen. I tell people I do carpentry and painting. They STILL have to be told that carpentry includes window casing AND door installations, and that painting includes patching AND wallpaper removal. Not two separate guys, ALL ME.

That's really it. Just talk people's ears off. I have gotten exactly zero calls in 6 years off my business cards, which I have littered the Earth with. Every single call I've gotten has been a direct referral from a past customer or a GC that I've impressed.
This post really deserves a second like, and I'm not trying to jerk ya off here but you really nailed it.

Think about yourself, if you need a room painted what do you do? Do you look at business cards on a bulletin board at a coffee shop or do you ask a friend who recently had their house painted?

Best referrals are through word of mouth.

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