Contractor Talk - Professional Construction and Remodeling Forum banner

1 - 20 of 22 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
3 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am in need of some advice on which way to advertise that is most efficient for a shoestring budget. I have decided to drive my own bus, but am having a hard time figuring out how to get recognized. I have been trying to come to a conclusion by researching online but its hard to get a clear picture. Also hard to trust anything you read online. What did some of you guys that hve been operating for the last 5 tears or so do when you started as a small business owner? What seems to be generating the most potential clients. I know there's more work for a painter out there just trying to figure out how to bring it my way. Any suggestions?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
819 Posts
you cant advertise w/o money.....keep looking, but I don't think your going to find a magic bullet for $10

anything that's going to make an impact is going to be $5,000-$20,000

a high end website that works should be your first goal

referrals are the only good way to get new good customers...and that took me 3 years until they started coming in steady

all other forms of advertising will never come close to referrals...95% of my business is referral and repeat customers...all forms of advertising never did anything but waste money

I am putting extra effort and thousands into my new website and it is showing more signs of promise.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
21 Posts
I want to start by saying I am not a contractor, but I work for a company that serves hundreds of them. While I agree to some extent with huggytree on the importance of a web presence, I don't think you are hopeless without a budget.

That is why social media was opened to serve the business markets. It is a way to utilize the internet to network, and as huggytree mentioned, referrals are the biggest source of business, and the only way to build up a referral source is to network and find new clients.

If you are truly working with little to no budget, then you will have to do leg work to make up for lack of money. That means you're going to have to be very active in reaching out to people. Be helpful. Grow friendships. Become a resource for good information. Become an authority.

If you have access to a video camera you can use youtube. If you can be funny or informative you will build an audience. You could make DIY videos. That would position you as an authority. Also, start a blog. You can start a free one with blogger or wordpress.com. Write useful blogs regularly and share them on your social media. This method takes TIME and lots of energy...but it can totally be done with next to no money.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
342 Posts
I got my first customers using EDDM postcards and also putting up doorhangers.
Doorhangers are cheaper if you are somewhat close to the neighborhoods you want to target and you have tons of energy (it's tiring to do more than 100 houses a day, which may or may not even net a phone call).

I got a decent return on both of those, and they can have a lower start cost than other forms of advertising. You could get 1000 doorhangers printed for like $160, 2000 for $200. That's full color, both sides. Make the design yourself or hire someone to do it. I did most of mine myself on Microsoft Publisher at the library at first. They turned out pretty well.

I think that will get you far more results than blogging (competitive, takes time, you kind of have to know local seo ro be effective) or Youtube (hard to get local fans).

One other thing would be: If you know a lot of people locally, i.e. friends and family, ask them to help you. If they use Facebook, make a FB business page and ask them to like you and share with their friends. That can get your name out to thousands of people if you are well connected.

There are lots of other helpful posts on ContractorTalk so be sure to spend some time here reading up.

Good luck.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hey thanks for the input. I think your right I just have a lot of leg work ahead of me. One question if you don't mind. What are eddm postcards and how much do they run? Thanks again.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
819 Posts
if you want high end customers you need to target high end customers

I don't think high end customers hire from pamphlets on their mailbox...they throw them out.....

building up a customer base of low end customers = means all your future referrals will also be low end.....low end people hang with low end people....the big trick is to get in with the high end crowd....for me I started working for high end GÇ's.......I targeted them and offered the quality/service they want.....

starting out with low end customers and then thinking some day I will raise my prices and go after high end customers hasn't worked for anyone ive ever known....it seems like that's everyone idea though

I started out high end ...it was rough for a few years, but now its paid off
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,139 Posts
I do pretty well for higher end middle class. The high rollers are like a hot chick with plastic surgery , high maintenance.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
342 Posts
Hey thanks for the input. I think your right I just have a lot of leg work ahead of me. One question if you don't mind. What are eddm postcards and how much do they run? Thanks again.
This is EDDM:

https://www.usps.com/business/every-door-direct-mail.htm

It's a little confusing at first, but it has gotten simpler since it first came out.
basically, the post office will deliver a postcard to every residence on a carrier route for 16.5 cents per residence.

You choose the carrier routes on their website (there is a map that shows the different routes and where they deliver to, how many addresses etc.) and print a face slip for each route, bundle the slip with your post cards and drop them off at the Post Office, at which time you pay the postage.

The postcards HAVE to be the correct size, there is a minimum I believe of 6.5" by 9". They will refuse you if your cards are too small or too thin, so be sure when you order your cards that you get EDDM sized cards.

Lots of people use vistaprint.com I personally usually use printplace.com

http://www.printplace.com/printing/every-door-direct-mail.aspx

Currently you can get 2000 cards, full color front and back, for $171 plus the postage for a total cost of about $350 all said and done.

I have had mixed results, some of my mailing campaigns have gotten me one lead per 100 cards delivered (which at the above prices would be $17.50 for a phone call, not too bad), but sometimes worse.

Success depends on getting the right message to the right people at the right time. That is outside the scope of my little tutorial here. ;)
 

·
The Ultimate Wire Hider
Joined
·
4,455 Posts
If you are a painter, the cheapest and most effective way to get your name out there is to offer to paint everyone's trim for free. What happens is that if you do a good job with painting the trim, (done fast, done right, no mess, no spills) they will want to hire you to do their walls. Nothing makes walls look like they need painting more than freshly painted trim.

Make up a black and white flyer and print 2 on a single piece of paper so that you can run them through a photo copier and cut them in half.

Half-sheets of copier paper get a lot of attention. It may make you look a little less than professional but you'll get the opportunity to shine once they let you through the door.

The trim work does not have to color-match or be fancy. Just offer one color- white semi-gloss. Take pictures of your work and when you do enough houses for free, you'll have more people calling you for paying gigs than the free ones.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
785 Posts
tedanderson said:
If you are a painter, the cheapest and most effective way to get your name out there is to offer to paint everyone's trim for free. What happens is that if you do a good job with painting the trim, (done fast, done right, no mess, no spills) they will want to hire you to do their walls. Nothing makes walls look like they need painting more than freshly painted trim. Make up a black and white flyer and print 2 on a single piece of paper so that you can run them through a photo copier and cut them in half. Half-sheets of copier paper get a lot of attention. It may make you look a little less than professional but you'll get the opportunity to shine once they let you through the door. The trim work does not have to color-match or be fancy. Just offer one color- white semi-gloss. Take pictures of your work and when you do enough houses for free, you'll have more people calling you for paying gigs than the free ones.
This is one of the most creative things I've read on here in a while. If you are confident in the quality of your work it may be a great way to get leads for those starting out. Even if they don't hire you perhaps you can talk them into a review on the web. That way you at least get something of value. I'm not sure it's a long term plan but it should work to start with.
 

·
Hair Splitter
Joined
·
18,330 Posts
I would never recommend giving your services, talents or skills away. Sounds good in theory, but does it really work? Has anyone actually tried it?

Also, who would let someone in their home to do something for FREE. I wouldn't. Sounds like a scam to me.

Join a referral group in your area. If you cannot find one, start one.

Go to your local lumber yard and call all the contractors on their business card board. They even have one at our Menards. That's how I found my carpenter. He called me looking for work. After a few weeks I finally gave in and tried him out. Been working with him since October of 2012.

Get yourself some nice looking business cards (2000) and start handing them out like they are candy.

But make sure you get a website up and runnning. One that is clean and to the point. WIX is a great way to get started. That is how I built mine. I get some decent SEO off of it and probably could do a lot more if I needed the work. Currently we are booked through March and headed into April.

Also make sure that you grab your Google Places listing and create a Yelp listing as well. I have received a ton of work from those two places.

Is your vehicle working for you? Do you have it lettered? I have also received a lot of leads from my van.

But the biggest factor in this whole thing is you. You have to eat, sleep and live your business. You have to look for every good opportunity to sell yourself where ever and whenever. I never leave home without a stack of business cards. Even when someone just wants my number I give them my card. Planting seeds!
 
Joined
·
1,183 Posts
wes1981 said:
I am in need of some advice on which way to advertise that is most efficient for a shoestring budget. I have decided to drive my own bus, but am having a hard time figuring out how to get recognized. I have been trying to come to a conclusion by researching online but its hard to get a clear picture. Also hard to trust anything you read online. What did some of you guys that hve been operating for the last 5 tears or so do when you started as a small business owner? What seems to be generating the most potential clients. I know there's more work for a painter out there just trying to figure out how to bring it my way. Any suggestions?
Allot depends on your market you say there is work for a painter out there. Here there is no work the market is flooded with painters and prices are stupid low for all work be it residential or commercial. If you know your market is in need of more painters and your low on funds. There's bunch info on the web just google http://blogs.constantcontact.com/fresh-insights/market-your-small-business/ .
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
785 Posts
TNTSERVICES said:
I would never recommend giving your services, talents or skills away. Sounds good in theory, but does it really work? Has anyone actually tried it? Also, who would let someone in their home to do something for FREE. I wouldn't. Sounds like a scam to me. Join a referral group in your area. If you cannot find one, start one. Go to your local lumber yard and call all the contractors on their business card board. They even have one at our Menards. That's how I found my carpenter. He called me looking for work. After a few weeks I finally gave in and tried him out. Been working with him since October of 2012. Get yourself some nice looking business cards (2000) and start handing them out like they are candy. But make sure you get a website up and runnning. One that is clean and to the point. WIX is a great way to get started. That is how I built mine. I get some decent SEO off of it and probably could do a lot more if I needed the work. Currently we are booked through March and headed into April. Also make sure that you grab your Google Places listing and create a Yelp listing as well. I have received a ton of work from those two places. Is your vehicle working for you? Do you have it lettered? I have also received a lot of leads from my van. But the biggest factor in this whole thing is you. You have to eat, sleep and live your business. You have to look for every good opportunity to sell yourself where ever and whenever. I never leave home without a stack of business cards. Even when someone just wants my number I give them my card. Planting seeds!
I'm no advocating that anyone just go give something away. But I think it may be worth trying for those starting out on a small budget. Perhaps be really upfront about what you're doing and why your doing it. Use a free wix or wordpress blog to post about your company then explain the promotion you're doing. If you use money to gain work you basically already gave away your skill in some ways. You valued your work at x amount of dollars then you use those dollars to advertise and get more work. So if the guy just does the work as an ad he simply cut out a step. He has the labor but not the money so I say it couldn't hurt him. Only one way to find out if it works... Test refine test refine.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
I am in need of some advice on which way to advertise that is most efficient for a shoestring budget. I have decided to drive my own bus, but am having a hard time figuring out how to get recognized. I have been trying to come to a conclusion by researching online but its hard to get a clear picture. Also hard to trust anything you read online. What did some of you guys that hve been operating for the last 5 tears or so do when you started as a small business owner? What seems to be generating the most potential clients. I know there's more work for a painter out there just trying to figure out how to bring it my way. Any suggestions?
Hi, I'm Michael, I think that for you today for local painting and decorating services, you should use a mix of strategies. A good website for your business is very affordable now - a couple of hundred pounds, and for you this is good - use your local area in your website name to help rank higher in the search results. You could also do some leaflets for local distribution - posting them yourself in sections of your neighbourhood. There are other things you could do, but these two would be a great start. If you need more info you can contact me at www.qatarconstructionreview.com .
 

·
The Ultimate Wire Hider
Joined
·
4,455 Posts
Sounds good in theory, but does it really work? Has anyone actually tried it?
Yes. This strategy does indeed work. It got me into trouble several years ago when I was a general handyman. I was getting more work than I could handle doing "fix-it" jobs with plumbing, electrical, drywall, concrete, etc. I had my hand in so many different things in addition to the painting that I was always busy but not really making any money.

In hindsight, I should have stuck with the interior/exterior painting work and I would have done OK.
 

·
Hair Splitter
Joined
·
18,330 Posts
Yes. This strategy does indeed work. It got me into trouble several years ago when I was a general handyman. I was getting more work than I could handle doing "fix-it" jobs with plumbing, electrical, drywall, concrete, etc. I had my hand in so many different things in addition to the painting that I was always busy but not really making any money.

In hindsight, I should have stuck with the interior/exterior painting work and I would have done OK.
Not sure I follow. It worked but you weren't making any money?

Like I said, this is not a good strategy to give away your services. Learn to sell your value and get paid for what you do.
 

·
The Ultimate Wire Hider
Joined
·
4,455 Posts
Not sure I follow. It worked but you weren't making any money?
I wasn't making any money because I was taking on too many projects at one time. It was taking me longer than normal to finish anything and as a result I was spending up all of my deposits, and using the money from the next job to finish the previous job. It was a mess.

I understand your sentiment about not giving away your services. I don't. Right now I am too good at what I do and I am too much in demand to give any freebies, samples, test projects, or personal charity cases.

But the OP is not in that position. He's just starting out, he doesn't have much of an advertising budget, and nobody knows him. You gotta start somewhere if you are not that good at selling yourself though verbal persuasion.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,376 Posts
Start small. Have you talked to contractors in your area? Go to the job sites. Hand out business cards. We did our own painting for years. I couldn't find anyone reliable enough to leave on the job. Now there are several around. We have been hiring out our painting and staining. Lets us complete jobs quicker.
Start with the lumberyards and paint stores. Then go to job sites.
Do you have lettering on your vehicles? I get plenty of calls from that alone. People have told me they got my number off my truck. The also see me working around town. Lets them know I'm busy. Also they know some of the people I'm working for. For example, "I saw your truck at ******x house. I'm friends with them and gave them a call, or if you can work for them you are good enough for me."
Lettering is cheap.
 
1 - 20 of 22 Posts
Top