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Motorboatin' son of a ...
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know this is the million dollar question and I've been on here for quite a while to answer questions, but this time I have a question to ask.

I'm a small contractor. I've been in construction for over 15 years working for others and now that the economy is so bad a lot of companies around here just don't have any work. Most of the companies I have done work for have long established relationships and can still get at least some work these days, but when just starting out is super tough.

The only jobs I can get are by word of mouth. I have no budget right now for advertising, so the only thing I can do is get my name out on the internet in all the free places I can, though it may not be very beneficial, and to get out there to look for jobs in progress to hit up various contractors.

I've been a carpenter for years. I've framed many houses, I've custom built cabinets and done finish work for countless homes. I can do the work, that is not the problem. The issue is getting the work. I know internet lead services are a joke, so I steer clear of them.

Do you guys have any tips on getting work, maybe ways of getting out there and finding contractors to at least give me a shot? Any tips that could help someone just starting out? How to get on GC's bid list, invitations to bid, etc.
 

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Motorboatin' son of a ...
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Southern California.

Seems like things are so dead here that I'd be willing to go to another state just to start a business and make some money. A bunch of the GC's and contractors who do sub work that I know and have done work for in the past are all barely hanging on. Some of these guys have been around for 15-30 years as contractors. Even commercial work has slowed down.
 

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Southern California.

Seems like things are so dead here that I'd be willing to go to another state just to start a business and make some money. A bunch of the GC's and contractors who do sub work that I know and have done work for in the past are all barely hanging on. Some of these guys have been around for 15-30 years as contractors. Even commercial work has slowed down.
Before you move, why not try the big plumbers way. Door to door in neighborhoods you have worked in the past in!:thumbsup:
 

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Motorboatin' son of a ...
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Yeah, I usually visit the houses surrounding the house I am working on at the time.
 

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Check with your local Town Hall.
I picked up a job this weekend from monies available for local rehabs.
This particular one was for the elderly only,but some have bids going out for all kinds of work,and isn't always advertised.
My name was given by a past client as a prospective bidder.
Since I have been word of mouth also,things were slow for a couple of months,and it was a little scary.
Around here fall is usually the best month for calls.
Maybe you'll have the same late summer response.
 

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What the others have said. And get a website, even if it's just a large biz card.
Work wasn't this slow when I went into business with a mortgage and no money. I was a sub too.
But word of mouth from family and friends I did work for, AND now my website, I'm still staying busy enough for my one0man show. Get 2-4 decent leads every week from the web. Referral work keeps coming in. It's slow, but even I still get some sub work.
 

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Motorboatin' son of a ...
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Had a website. It got a lot of hits, but they didn't turn into leads. So I canceled it.
 

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Pro,self employed28 years
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BK,

In the same 'boat' as well on this side of the map. The rest of the year is going to be tough to survive. I don't know of anyone who isn't struggling and concerned, trades, business owners & consumers alike. There is no consumer confidence left out there. I worked 3 days last month & only 2 so far this month. Have some work coming up next month for certain.

Just my 2 cents :

A website is a must, just like a business card, if you're serious about being in the business you need a website presence. It may not necessarily bring in leads on it's own but it gives people the opportunity to 'get to know you'. If you don't have the ability to do it yourself, being on a tight budget, check with your local high school or it your know of any kids in high school, you can find some very cost effective talent there. Somebody will know somebody who's really into that stuff there. And if you can find that talented person, you may be able help them promote themselves and get a few bucks for your pocket by finding more web work for them by referal to your new site.

I had never really advertised in the past, always did well with referrals, only when things began to get slow did I advertise, unfortunately so did everyone else so it was a waste to do it that way. Ran my business like that for 26 years. This summer I invested in having some nice graphic work done to my van instead of throwing money away on advertising. I've gotten a lot of compliments and a few walk up leads. I also do direct marketing now and limit it to the area that I am working in. It cost me $250 to get the advertisment professionally designed but in the end it's much cheaper to advertise this way if you are on a tight budget, unfortunately, you do need to advertise these days if you want work, as well as networking.

You might want to try calling Real Estate offices or hook up with a reliable RE agent that might be able to find REO properties that need some TLC. With the huge inventory of REO's, many of them become distressed properties by the former owner/tenants and hard to sell in their current condition. Foreclosures are going to continue to increase as unemployment goes up the rest of the year. Currently that is the market I am persuing.

Another idea if you're into it, is teaching. Some trade schools that have evening courses for DIY er's need instructors.

Best of luck,

Rich
 

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try making a one page flyer and fax it out to any and every builder, developer, real estate agent any one in the phone book or on the internet that you think could use a carpenter. it's like putting out an add, but only the people who you want to see it actualy see it.
have seen this work for some one i worked for years ago, havent had a chance to try it as i have had too mutch work to even think about getting more.
 

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It's the same here in northern CA, BK. We know many who've not been able to hang in there --whatever you can do to stay busy, the key word 'diversify'. We resorted to patio covers/gazeboes just to keep afloat. A big difference from the large remodels we were used to a couple years ago. Try googling the county you live in - we managed to get on a list for Neighborhood Preservation Program. We're now getting busy again - but mainly due to referrals. Contact past clients w/newsletter, flyer advertising what you do -- mainly to let them know you're still in business & how about advertising repair/home maintenance work. It's not much but could end up paying the bills. It's bound to pick up, hang in there.
 

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www.magicpoolservices.com
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I have always turned to my past clients to become " raving selling machines ". I would ask them 3 quick questions -


" How was the quality the of the work I performed ? "

" How did you feel about our pricing ? "

" Why did you choose to use us ? "


Your customer is going to tell you ..


" Chris did a great job, and his prices were ________
I used Chris because of his ______________


They just gave you a " testimonial " which you can write for your website or your porfolio.


" Since you gave me such a positive review, who do you know that may can require our service ? "



Worse case - you will have a testimonial
Best case - you will have a new lead with a testimonial :clap:
 

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In Philly I joined the Association of Building Contractors and they set up a "meet the generals" day. It's in the speed dating format. I'm serious. You could definitely get your name out there that way.
 

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You got to hit the pavement and start meeting people! Canvass some neighborhoods, send some mailers to friends and family and tell them your officially in business. Get your truck lettered, get some job site signs and send some radius mailings around your job sites. It doesn't happen overnight. Find out when certain cities are having their town day or whatever and buy a booth. There are hundreds of ways to get the word out and many of them are inexpensive. Good luck.
 
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