10 Things You Can Do Right Now to Grow Your Business

This list is a blend of online and offline practices to help you grow your contracting business and increase leads in a lean, healthy, sustainable way.

In reality, all of these tactics or best practices are going to bleed over into one another. For example, you can’t very well have a beautiful effective website that promises things that you don’t deliver in your work, and then expect to still grow.


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 1- Have an effective website.

Homeowners, especially millennial ones, will judge your business’ quality largely through your website. Even if they heard about you from a trusted friend (the best kind of lead) they’re going to check your website.

I’d say there are many contractors who think they have a good website, who don’t. Briefly, your site should:

  • -Be modern, and beautiful in design (clean, simple, image-heavy design, etc.).
  • -Optimized for SEO (more on this later).
  • -Communicate the pains you solve for clients simply, effectively, and persuasively.
  • -Have a solid, image-heavy portfolio.
  • -Contain some aspect of social proof – reviews, ratings, customer testimonials, etc.
  • -Language that communicates why you’re different than competitors (services you offer, practices you employ that others don’t, speed, etc.).

If you want to know how you stack up, one way would be to ask your 18 – 35 year old friends or relatives what they think of your site, and let them be brutally honest.

2- Install Sumo to build your email list and gain social shares.

I would say, almost without reserve, that no matter who you are or what you do, you should be using the free marketing tools from Sumo.

Sumo is a free set of apps that increase email signups, social shares, customer contact, and more. Simply visit Sumo.com, sign up for free, and set it up on your site. You can install it in under 5 minutes, and get it setup up in under 10 minutes in its most basic form.

Here’s the basic apps you should employ:

  • -Social shares
  • -Image sharing
  • -A welcome mat and/or popup to capture emails and grow your email list

We’ll cover what to do with those later.

3- Invest time and/or money in SEO, it will pay you back later.

Either enroll in SEO for Contractors (FREE) and devote a set number of hours each week and month to doing it yourself, or hire someone who  knows what they’re doing (like Contractor Dynamics). Don’t go with just any agency. If you do decide to hire someone to do SEO for you, then having at least a basic knowledge of SEO will help you be able to weed out the bad agencies that may end up hurting you and wasting money in the long run.

4- Poll friends, family, past clients to learn how to most effectively communicate your services and the pains you solve.

This strategy is really huge. The way you talk either on your website, or in person to prospective clients should be determined by:

  • -What fears or apprehensions they have in hiring you
  • -What concerns they have
  • -What their expectations are
  • -Etc.

So very practically, use Google Forms and create a simple questionnaire. Keep it short, then share the URL to your form with friends, family, and past clients.

Ask questions like –

  • -What concerns did you / do you have when hiring a contractor?
  • -What is the biggest fear you had in looking for contractor (maybe make it multiple choice, with answers like: cost, cleanliness, quality, honesty, etc.)
  • -What would keep you from hiring a contractor, or what prevents you from looking?

Once you formulate your questions and get your answers, you should strive to communicate the pains you solve, and alleviate the fears of prospective customers on your website.

For example: maybe you thought that money was the number one concern among homeowners, and that hiring you or not hiring  you mainly came down to cost. But after the poll, you find out that the number one biggest concern is safety or cleanliness. You would then want to make sure that you clearly communicated that you run a clean site, and are fully certified – and work to show that. Maybe even include testimonials from past clients saying things like, “at the end of the day, we were amazed at how clean our house stayed through the process”.

5- Determine extra “pains” clients experience, and creatively solve them.

The main pain that a client has when they hire a contractor is something like, “I need a new kitchen or bathroom. Ours is falling apart / outdated / hindering us from a house sale, etc.”

But there are other more minor pains that your clients have while they undergo the remodel process. Again, this requires you to actually talk with clients, friends and family. For example, one of the instructors who has published a course at Construct-Ed has been remodeling for 25 years and running a successful business. He’s identified that whenever he does a kitchen remodel, he naturally ends up putting his clients out. They can’t use the kitchen some days, can’t cook, can’t wash dishes. This is a minor pain they have.

What he did to solve it: purchased a set of “kitchen carts” that can be wheeled throughout the house. They have multiple levels and bins for dirty dishes, storage for frequently used appliances, etc. They have his logo on them, and clients use them to wheel dishes back and forth to the bathroom to wash dishes, etc. He also throws in a couple pizza gift certificates, so the family can go out to eat a couple nights to avoid this hassle.

It’s a very low cost idea, but will set you apart head and shoulders above competitors. So much of business is simply asking your clients: “what pains do you have?” then creatively thinking of ways to solve them.

6- Stay in the front of customers mind, to increase referrals and second jobs.

It’s my belief that a good contractor is like a good mechanic. When you find the right combination of honesty, price, quality, timeliness, and communication (trust perhaps being one of the biggest factors that weaves those other characteristics together), you want to hold on to that contractor.

I don’t think anyone likes the process of wading through lists of mechanics, or contractors, reading reviews, asking friends, and taking a risk that the person does a good job. So if you can be that contractor to people, and stay on the front of their mind, you’re much more likely to have them refer you to friends and family. Whenever we love and enjoy something, we tell others about it.

The trick is to stay in front of their mind, while remaining authentic, and not being annoying or spammy. This is where using Sumo comes in big. Your main goal here should be to increase social sharing, and get newsletter signups.

Set up your website strategically to prompt users to sign up for your email list at various places. Ask past clients if they mind if you place them on your newsletter list. You can then use your newsletter to send semi-frequent emails to stay in front of client’s minds.

Here’s what I’d do:

Look at the culture. Everyone loves DIY shows, watching Chip and Joanna on Fixer Upper, checking Instagram for inspiration and beautiful photos, and reading blogs like Apartment Therapy for inspiration for their own home.

  • Send emails once a month (at least) to once every couple weeks (at most). The reason is: 1) there’s probably not that much to update people on more than once every 2 weeks, and 2) if you annoy people and they unsubscribe, then you lose that front of mind advantage.
  • Center your emails around before and after pictures of recent projects. It’s my opinion that people (with the exception of your mom or loved ones) probably just don’t care that you hired a new lead carpenter, or got a new truck. So make your emails short, sweet, and image-heavy. Use HD images only (i.e. the phone in your pocket, or pay your niece $25 to bring her DSLR to the jobsite when you’re done), and highlight your recent work.
  • Use a service like MailChimp that’s easy to use, quick to get setup, and FREE up to the first 2,000 subscribers.
  • Test every email before sending it.
  • Include a sentence that says “this email contains HD images of our most recent work, so if you don’t see them, click “enable images” in your mail client.” Or something like that.

The idea of these emails is to shoot off monthly, short but sweet, image-heavy emails that give your past clients inspiration, showcase your beautiful work, and bring you to the front of their minds.

Think about it: your clients receive a Thursday morning email from you showcasing that month’s projects – in stunning HD pictures – then they have dinner with friends that weekend. One of their friends says “we’re thinking about getting the bathroom re-done, but not sure exactly how we want it to look or who to use.” Your company will be much more likely to come up in that conversation.

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7- Use social media ( = Instagram).

Don’t obsess over social media. Be in touch with what apps your clients are using, and be there. You can certainly always explore paid Facebook or Instagram ads which let you narrow down to advertise only within a certain mile radius to your location.

Paid ads are tough to get right if you’re not devoted to monitoring and improving them. And frankly, Facebook is becoming a fairly useless marketing channel for businesses since they now won’t put you in front of your followers (in large part) unless you pay to boot posts.

Instagram is probably the one I’d most focus on. Post at least a few times a week. These photos can be everything from demolition day, to “before and after pics”, to you standing next to smiling satisfied clients, to silly stuff on the jobsite. Be authentic, professional, yourself, and post great photos.

Then make sure that your website is setup to include a link to your instagram account so clients can follow you so you also stay front of mind.

Further ways to optimize Instagram:

  • Include your website in your bio
  • Include one sentence in your bio about what you do, and the pains you solve (remember to use the language you use on your website, which you learned from your surveys).
  • If you have any enticing offers, like “call us for a free estimate” – be sure to put those in the bio.

8- Determine your CPA and create an effective referral program.

This is old, but still effective. Honestly, who doesn’t love getting their 10th coffee free, or getting $50 towards their chiropractic visits for referring 5 clients?

Put some thought, run the numbers, and see what’s sustainable for you. In part, you’re going to have to figure out a CPA “cost per acquisition” of a client.

Once you know how much you can comfortably spend getting leads, or winning a client, you can know how much to invest in local advertising, referral programs, etc. So here’s a rough outline:

  • When you win a new client, ask them in the interview / on-boarding process what restaurants they like.
  • After you complete the work, provided they’re fully satisfied and loved what you did, tell them “hey, I really enjoyed working for you, and I’m always looking for good clients like you. I just wanted to let you know I have a referral program, and if you think of anyone that would be a good fit for what we do, we’d love to give you a $50 gift card to [favorite restaurant name] if they end up hiring us.”

Obviously, you’ve got to go with what works for you, and your clients. Talk to friends and family and see what would be effective for them, and worth them sharing you with a friend. The good thing is, if your clients love your work, they’re going to talk about you. The referral gift just becomes a “thank you”.

So in short:

Don’t set up a suspect, money-driven referral program offered to literally anyone who refers any type of client. If you do, people will feel used, or that your motives are suspect, and you’re going to get bad referrals.

Instead, make it a case by case basis, and an invitation. Let it start with, “I really enjoyed working with you. You were great clients, I wish I could have all clients like you.” Don’t flatter. Express appreciation with sincerity, only if you truly mean it.

Then communicate that you’re always looking for good clients who you enjoy working with. Ask them if they know anyone who they could refer, or just leave it that – “if you think of anyone like you guys, that would appreciate the work we do and be a good fit, would you let me know?” Then give a gift, as an expression of thanks.

9- Give a sincere, *nice, leave-behind gift.

This tip also comes from Brian Altmann of DBS Remodeling (one of our instructors), so all credit to him. When he does a kitchen remodel, he leaves a set of custom Cutco knives engraved with his logo / company name.

It’s a thank you gift to the clients, and future marketing. He claims that it sparks word-of-mouth referrals immediately, because what’s the first thing that client does? Hosts a party to show off and share their new kitchen. And guess what knife they’re going to use? So it gives them a chance to share about you with friends.

10- Measure each stage of your business, and improve.

There’s tons more things that probably could be said here. But honestly, everything you do at your business is going to depend on you, and your clients, and what’s right for both parties.

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Instead, I’ll leave you with a basic framework you can use to increase leads and sales:

Think about your business in 5 stages:

  1. Acquisition – Getting clients to check you out.
  2. Activation – Getting clients to learn why you’re the best for them, and the pains you solve for them.
  3. Retention – Getting clients to come back to you for either repeat business, or to request an estimate.
  4. Revenue – Getting clients to purchase your services.
  5. Referral – Getting clients to recommend you to friends.

This is a conversion funnel and a way of measuring growth that companies like Dropbox, YouTube, and Facebook use. But it’s also a way you can measure and improve your business.

Find a way to measure a concrete number at each stage of your business. Then find creative, low cost, lean ways to improve that number. This involves polling clients, surveying past clients, talking to friends and family, and setting aside some creativity time.

But if you can have even a rough way to measure how you’re doing at each stage, then you can think of how to improve. You don’t need fancy software, a simple Google Sheets doc will work.

So hopefully this is helpful in pointing you to the right direction. To learn from more Pros in your trade who can help you grow your business, browse our course library of over 185 courses published by real Pros.