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Commercial construction
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
How to get big jobs now (Boy, that got your attention, didn't it!)

It would be nice if you could just punch this phrase into google, click on the first result, read it, do the big job, and deposit the money into the bank. Unfortunately, you guessed it, it doesn’t work that way.

Guys, we have several members here who are trying to go from doing small jobs to doing big jobs. Do you remember what that was like? Do you really remember the frustration of knowing that you were ready, but you just couldn’t make it happen? Do you remember knowing that your first big job would launch you, but you just couldn’t seem to make it happen? Do you remember bidding the jobs so cheaply that you couldn’t make any money, and then having someone under-bid you to get the job anyway? Remember when it finally did happen for you, and you realized that the only thing that was stopping you all that time was YOU? Looking back, you realized that you were shooting yourself in the foot all of the time, and didn’t even know it. If you can still remember these things, please offer some words of wisdom to these guys out there who are trying so hard to make it happen.

I realize that we discuss this stuff all of the time in bits and pieces, but I promised someone a thread devoted strictly to the subject of making this transition. I hope it helps.
 

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Commercial construction
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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
OK, I'll start this off for you.

One of the biggest mistakes that you can make is to be continually looking at yourself, trying to figure out exactly what it is that you are doing wrong. That in itself can be a big mistake. You have to look outside of yourself. One of the biggest differences between a large contractor and a small contractor, is not so much their abilities, but their CUSTOMERS. No matter how good you are at your job, the CUSTOMER is what it's all about. If you look around you, you will probably see a few people who are not as knowledgeable as you are, and yet they are doing much larger jobs then you are doing. You keep thinking to yourself, "If THAT idiot can do those large jobs, what's holding ME back?". Simple. They have the customer.

If your customers can't afford you, then you are going nowhere fast. Don't waste your time trying to underbid everybody on a job that the customer can't afford to do. You are running a business, not a charitable organization. Make sure that you are dealing with customers who can afford to have the job done right.
 

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Flooring Guru
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Plus it takes different selling techniques for higher end clients.
No matter how much it may seem that a high end client would just love a big discount, ANY high end client pays for VALUE. Very rarely do I see someone with big bucks accept a bid on price alone.
If you are percieved as being a better VALUE, you will get the job as long as you are not grossly over another estimate.
 

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Commercial construction
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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Florcraft said:
...ANY high end client pays for VALUE...
Thanks Florcraft,
That's a great point. As contractors we are used to adding everything up, and arriving at a total. Too mechanical. To a contractor it's a job, to a customer, it's their HOME. We forget the emotional part. When a customer has seen a TV show, or a picture in a magazine, it spawns an idea, a FEELING. A contractor may be thinking about saw horses, and ladders, but the customer is thinking about family gatherings, or cocktail parties. The VALUE of the job can be vastly different from the price of the materials and labor. It's an entirely different way of thinking.
 

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I DO NOT want to sidetrack the thread to marketing. I just have a question based on what florcraft and mikesewell said.

Logically, I need to be presenting to a customer who has the budget of a "big job" in order to win a "big job", therefore logically, I need to use marketing methods that reach those types of customers and the methods that they respond to.

Where do big budget clients look for qualified contractors? Is the cost and method of the advertising in direct relation to the type of sales lead?

For example, a local weekly free newspaper small classified ad versus a local full color home remodeling magazine or local TV commercial?

For example a 2 color coupon in a mass mailer envelope for $400 versus a full color post card direct mail targeted to specific high income neighborhoods for $3000?

Some people say that it does not matter. You need volume reptitive name recognition so you need to advertise everywhere in all types of media.
Others say it's better to be very specific in your target.

How do you reach the big job customer to give the presentation just to get a shot at the bid?
 

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I have covered my method a number of times, you can find it in the archives.
 

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Commercial construction
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606 Posts
Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
...You need volume reptitive name recognition so you need to advertise everywhere in all types of media...
Great answer! Thank you.

Try to put your logo in front of EVERYONE'S face, ALL of the time, ALL DAY LONG. Think about this every day, dwell on it, and FIND a way to do it. If you don't have the money, then you're going to have to be creative. Somehow or other, MAKE IT HAPPEN. You're not going to go anywhere with your business unless people know who you are, and what you do.
 

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Your advertising has to be targeted to the people you want to reach, and the quality of your advertising message and medium have to be on par with the type of person you are trying to reach.

You won't catch bass in a trout stream or vice versa, no matter what type of bait you use.
 

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Commercial construction
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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Mike,
What you say is very true, the message has GOT to be right.

A broad advertising campaign also has some very nice side benefits that may not be apparent, until you try it. For one thing, it generates lots of calls from subs, and prospective employees. I always keep a "little black book" with their names, phone numbers, their claimed abilities, and a few notes taken while talking to them on the phone. Over the years, this has paid off pretty well for me. I've gotten several good subs this way.

Also, a broad advertising campaign will reach people who have close relatives that are in your target group. I get many calls that start off with "My sister just bought a new house, and is looking for someone to..."

Many of the people who you reach may not be able to afford your services, but are employed by people who can. The connection happens during coffee break, or lunch.

When I was doing plumbing years ago, I started getting calls that originated from a large mechanical contractor. This company had a huge ad in the yellow pages. They didn't do ANY residential work. One of the "girls in the office" had seen my ad. She started giving out my phone number to people who called them looking to have residential work done. I did a few of these jobs. One of the people that I had worked for called the girl in the office, and told her how thrilled she was with my service and my prices, and what a nice guy I was. All of a sudden my phone was ringing off the hook with free hot leads. I was piggy-backing on their yellow page ad for free! If you do residential work, it's worth it to talk to the commercial contractors in your area. Many of them aren't interested in residential work, and they'll send you leads if they take a liking to you.

My advertising also generates calls from other General Contractors who are over-booked and are looking to give away some of their smaller or less profitable jobs. Many times you have to renegotiate the price to make them profitable, but that's not usually too difficult. I have also had several commercial contractors call to offer me a job as an employee.

I have found that a broad advertising campaign seems expensive, but makes me more money than it costs. It does take a while before it starts to work, and you have to be able to fund it, and survive until it does. It is like fishing in another respect too; you have to be confident in your method even on days when you're not getting any bites. You just have to keep smiling, and keep casting.
 

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Flooring Guru
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I know a little something about fishing :)

It also can be true that you can catch more fish if you focus on one spot instead of cruising all over the river.
If you focus advertising on one type of client instead of placing ads all over the place, you can usually pull more out of the river.
Unless your in the wrong spot.
 

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Commercial construction
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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Florcraft,
I have read many of your posts, and I respect your opinions very much. Your thoughts on value pricing that I have seen are right on the mark.

You are absolutely right, but give me a chance to make a case for my own defense. I like your fishing idea.

I fly-fish large rivers for large trout. I don't catch many small trout. I fish deep water with nymphs. The population of trout in these rivers is actually pretty sparse. If you like to fish like this, you know that 90% or more of the water is unproductive, and that large trout are not going to chase all over the place to go get your fly. If you don't know where the fish are, than you are not going to be successful. This is the method that I used to find the fish when I first started years ago:

I took a spinning rod, tied on a "little cleo" (partly because it casts a mile), and threw it across the river, and retrieved it. Then I took a couple of steps up-stream, and threw it again. I repeated this process ALL DAY LONG fishing SEVERAL MILES of river. I would then come back the next day and fish the same section of river. Then, I repeated the same process on the next section of river. Over a period of a few weeks, I kept a mental log of where I got the most action over a SUSTAINED PERIOD OF TIME. After doing that, I put the spinning rod in the closet (where it belongs) and took my fly rod to the river, fishing only the best water. I have used this method on several rivers. I realize that this method uses more brute force than finesse, but it has one advantage for a beginer: It UNQUESTIONABLY WORKS. It's a lot of hard work, but it CANNOT fail.

Business is all about finesse, but it takes TIME for many new guys to develop this finesse. The brute force method of advertising is a lot of hard work, but for the beginner, I think it is their surest chance for success (assuming that the ads are well written). In time they will learn the finesse on their own, just as I have; with my advertising, and my fly-fishing as well.

The average sized trout in these parts is around 9" if you grab both ends and pull hard enough. I regularly catch 4 and 5 pounders. I release almost all of them (some I eat). Out in the western part of the state I catch king salmon (up to 40 lbs) and steel head (up to 20 Lbs). I'd love to fish Alaska.

Best regards,
 

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Flooring Guru
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I have read many of your posts, and I respect your opinions very much. Your thoughts on value pricing that I have seen are right on the mark.
Hmm...Start off with a little pat on the back.....very nice......

you know that 90% or more of the water is unproductive
I forgot what that was like :cheesygri

If you don't know where the fish are, than you are not going to be successful
Very true. although you must not waste time in areas where the fish you want to catch are not going to be there.
The trick is finding out WHO your fish are first. Then narrow down the search and THEN doing exactly what you are describing.
I think we are on the same page actually. I just want to make sure nobody just goes out and casts in areas that may get them fish they don't wanna eat.
So I believe if you narrow it down to a couple sections of the river, and THEN do this:
I repeated this process ALL DAY LONG fishing SEVERAL MILES of river.
You should be o.k.
But I am sure you agree that fishing several miles of several rivers will get you some fish, but not the quality or amount of that quality you could get by narrowing it down a bit more.

The brute force method of advertising is a lot of hard work, but for the beginer, I think it is their surest chance for success (assuming that the ads are well written).
And well placed of course.

The average sized trout in these parts is around 9" if you grab both ends and pull hard enough.
:eek: :eek:

Out in the western part of the state I catch king salmon (up to 40 lbs)
:Thumbs:

I'd love to fish Alaska.
You havn't fished until you have come up here.
You just make sure you let me know when you buy the tickets.
I will even pick you up at the airport :Thumbs:


All in all, I guess all I can say is I agree with you, with just a small minor tweek as far as ad placement.
We are a big company, and we advertise alot, but in a few strategic areas. We can afford to place ads all over the darn place, but we want to get a specific client, so there are only a few areas that we need to target.

Such as the front section of the Newspaper, or talk radio ads (A.M. Stations)
We could fish around on the Hard rock radio or the Comics, but you see what I am saying right? :)

So I think we are both on the same page....

See ya soon....Summer is nearly here, and the Kings are only gettin bigger....
And the Silvers too.
 

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Commercial construction
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Discussion Starter #13
Thank you for hearing me out. I am in agreement with your methods. They ARE better than mine. You fish with more finesse.

IMO, for the people who don't have the finesse yet, brute force can be a viable option until they can "find the fish".

I'd love to fish with you. Maybe next year. Yes, I am serious.

Best regards and tight lines,
 

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This is a great thread guys. I have been buying lists from Info USA to send postcards to the subdivisions and businesses that I like to target. Door hangers have also worked extremely well.

AM Radio advertising was a big flop for me, I still owe $7,000 to the radio station. Beware the fast talking salesman who tells you that just 1 job will pay for a hole month in advertising.....if you just sign right here X___________ :evil:


Best of Luck

Jesse R. Kirchhoff
Advanced Power Washing and Restoration Services LLC
Professional Products ~ Professional Service ~ Professional Results
www.advancedpw.com

Kirchhoff Handyman Solutions LLC
“Making Your Life A Lot Less Complicated”
www.midmohandyman.com
 

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Commercial construction
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Discussion Starter #15
Jesse Kirchhoff said:
...sign right here X___________ :evil:
Oops, sorry guys, forgot radio and tv!

NOT FOR THE SMALL GUY!

You just tell 'em:

kiss right here X_____________. :Thumbs:
 

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Flooring Guru
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Yea, radio is definately not for the small guys.

We do it mostly just to get our name out there more often. To better establish our name.
And to announce sales events.
 

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Commercial construction
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Discussion Starter #17
Dead giveaways

OK guys, how about this one:

Sometimes I answer the phone, and realize in less than 2 seconds that I do not want to do business with the person on the other end of the line, under ANY circumstances.

A few weeks later I run into the poor soul who got that particular job. They have a long tale of woe about all of the terrible things that have happened to them lately.

I wonder how these guys miss all of the CLEAR WARNING SIGNS that were SO evident to me. Many of them have been in business for a long time, and should know better.

What is it that you hear in those first few seconds that make you say to yourself “RUN, FOREST, RUN!!!”? :eek:
 

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Flooring Guru
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this may need a new thread, but I will tackle a bit of it.

If a client calls up and wants an estimate without having a clue about what type of materials they need, and they refuse to come into the store without you quoting them something, I tend to want to quote super high and get them to call someone else.
 

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Commercial construction
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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
Florcraft said:
...this may need a new thread...
Florcraft,
I know that I am stretching it a bit here, but I'm thinking that a guy who is making a transition to large jobs can't afford a mistake early in the game. I'm also assuming that some of these guys are still struggling because they miss these signs of impending doom.

What is a tip off for me on a new call, is when people do not even take the time to exchange pleasantries with me. When I say "Hello, how are you today?" and they say
"DOYOUGIVEFREEESTIMATESDOYOUHAVEINSURANCEDOYOUHAVEREFERENCES?!!!" it usually means that they don't particularly care if I'm having a nice day today (or any other day for that matter). I will usually try a few more times, thinking that maybe they are shy or nervous. Some people absolutely refuse to even consider exchanging any sort of pleasantries with me at all. These people are usually REAL TROUBLE in a long term relationship that goes with a large job. I usually just tell them "IDONOTGIVEFREEESTIMATESBUTTHANKYOUFORCALLINGSEWELLGENERALCONTRACTINGANDHAVEYOURSELFANICEDAYCLICKBUZZ".
 

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know that I am stretching it a bit here, but I'm thinking that a guy who is making a transition to large jobs can't afford a mistake early in the game
Ah yes.

What is a tip off for me on a new call, is when people do not even take the time to exchange pleasantries with me
Yea, I dislike those people too.
And I too will give them a chance to chill out a bit.
 
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