6 Ways to Improve Your Contracting Business Success

Ask yourself a quick question. "Am I happy with the performance, size and year over year growth of my company?"

Are you tired of fishing in the same pond as all the others, or would you prefer to operate in a much larger pond with a whole lot less fish or in this case competition?

Well if that is the case, then pay close attention as these tips you are about to learn can help jump you into a whole new pond opening up a pool of opportunity for you and your customers.

Below are six tips designed to add value to you and your customers while improving success within your business. Any one of these ideas or concepts can be sufficient for your business to become financially successful-profitable. When you begin to combine these ideas together, you'll begin to move ahead more rapidly in your business showing you true endless abilities.

1. Scheduling- The Faster The Better

The first ticontractor schedulingp to increase value is simply to increase the speed you deliver the kind of value people are willing to pay for such as quick scheduling and getting them booked for a service call.

Successful contracting companies know everybody is impatient. A person who didn’t realize that they wanted your product or service until today, now wants it yesterday especially when it becomes an emergency situation such as an AC unit went out or the customers electricity went out.

"Customers perceive a direct correlation between speed of scheduling, the value and price of your service."

The first step is to be as quick as you can to scheduling that customer. Now we know it can be tough for a business owner to keep every lead or potential client happy especially when it comes to scheduling. It can be tough when you only have so many trucks and service technicians to do the service work. It can be challenging to schedule people into time slots where everyone is happy.

That is why you MUST have a SYSTEM in place for maximizing your schedule and to keep in touch with those lost leads that you were not able to schedule quick enough. A system where you can re-capture some of those lost leads and provide the proper customer support. By having a simple system in place to assist you with this, you can begin to schedule more customers and begin to drastically improve your conversion ratios. By having someone call those lost leads every Monday from the previous week and booking them in slots where others cancelled is going to optimize your scheduling, increase conversions and reduce lost revenues.

There is no excuse for you to have empty time slots when the phones are ringing. Its your responsibility to make sure there are systems in place to schedule in other customers in cancelled time slots and to track lost leads while looking to convert them into more sales therefore providing them with quicker scheduling times which creates happier customers.

Remember this is just step one in the right direction as your service technicians professionalism also takes part in the customers overall satisfaction as well so make sure they are professionally prepared to represent your company in the best possible manner.

2. Add More Value

Contractors value addYou should always be looking to adding value to your customers. Starting from the time your CSR or front desk answers all the way until AFTER the sale/job has been completed.

You want to add value to EVERYTHING you do. Remember, if everyone is offering the same thing, these factors of the product or service become the basic minimum, or the expected norm in the market.

If you want to stand out as a company, you have to “add value” to everything you are doing so that your customer perceives you and your offering as being superior to that of your competitors.

You can add value to a product or service by improving the overall service you provide from the moment they call until well after their needs have been fulfilled. You can offer specials or memberships that offer specific warranties and discounts. With your warranties on large items such as generators or HVAC units, you can provide additional complimentary services included in your memberships such as asset management with regularly scheduled maintenance and much more. Again the point is to add massive value that allows your business to stand out above the rest. This is how you get to the big pond with a whole lot less fish.

You can increase value by simplifying the sales process and offering more to your customers giving them the choice to choose what level of valued added service they want which is powerful. This ties heavily into up-selling and payment options which we will discuss shortly. Here is an example of added value due to simplicity.

Apple Computers transformed the entire world of computers by making them easy to use for the unsophisticated person then adding the Iphone and IPad once they seen the market for it.

One of the claims of many Apple users have is that they have never read the instruction books. The apple programs are so easy to setup and use that they literally explain themselves. Simplicity became an enormous source of added value for Apple, and for countless other companies that have followed the same route. However I am NOT an apple guy I am a android guy, but each to their own right!

What could you be doing in your business to add this type of massive value and customer appeal? What are your competitors doing that you are not? Its time to put your ear to the grinding stone and really discover an area you can improve that will jump you into that bigger pond.

3. Increase Payment Convenience-Options

Payment OptionsThe third way of increasing success is by increasing the convenience of how a customer can purchase your products and services.

Having multiple payment options such as Cash, Check, ACH, Credit or Debit Card and ALL Credit Financing with 0% APR promotions and NO Credit Check options are crucial to improving your overall success rate.

Fast food stores by the thousands are a simple example of how much more people are willing to pay for convenience than they are if they have to drive across town to a major shopping center or a major grocery store or restaurant. Let's face it people want convenience and its our job as business owners to provide that convenience to them which will improve your sales, revenues and profitability.

Some people are willing to pay more for a product or service "IF" they have the proper payment options such as financing which allows them to get your services NOW and NOT LATER. This allows your customers to purchase a larger ticket item than they might not have been able to afford which boosts your average ticket size. Heck it will help build their credit if they don't have good credit. It can provide them a low monthly payment option vs draining their bank account and those who qualify with decent credit can borrow "FREE" money at 0% APR. Now who doesn't like free money?

Now you might be saying "well I already offer financing through XXXX" well that is great, however are you able to finance ALL CREDIT TYPES including NO CREDIT check?

Remember not all your customers will be at the same income level or credit situation and by having one system that can finance ALL these credit types, this makes it very easy for your service technicians to use. This helps them with closing the sale while collecting the paperless approval and signed financed agreement all from their tablet device. (This is what we set all our clients up with as its the easiest and most highly efficient setup for a contracting business)

This sort of ties into your scheduling as well as customer service. The more people you can schedule in and the more payment options you provide them, the higher the convenience to that customer not to mention the higher chance of getting an up sell which we will discuss in a moment.

Lets face it, no one wants to wait to get their AC turned on, or their electricity or plumbing fixed. People want it now. By having as many payment options as you can is the best way to maximize each customer sale and shows that you are serious about your customers.

Worried about the costs associated with all these payment options?

With Obsidian, we show all our clients how to get your payment options to not COST you, but actually PAY you every time a customer chooses their payment method. Yes, that includes credit/debit cards and even financing. We provide all credit financing options with one simple to use system that is 100% paperless, easily accessible form a tablet or smartphone and provides instant approvals which is perfect for the service side of any contractors business.

They days of just CASH only are gone, get with the times and start maximizing these payment options for your customers today.

4. Customer Service IS Essential

Customer-ServiceThe fourth way of creating value and increasing success in your business is by focusing on improving customer service.  People are predominantly emotional.

They are greatly impacted by the warmth, friendliness, cheerfulness and helpfulness of Customer Service representatives.  Many companies are using customer service as a primary source of competitive advantage in a fast changing marketplace, what are you currently doing to improve your customer service?

From the minute a customer calls into your office, to the minute the CSR (Customer Service Relationship Specialist) schedules the customer, you should have the proper systems in place that constantly communicate with the customer, technician and office staff. This shows that you care, that you are professional and that your always making sure your customer is up to date on what is going on.

Now there is a line between over communicating to the point of annoyance and enough communication to where the customer appreciates the great customer service. The key is knowing where that line is.

Here are a few example steps of how and when to communicate after the appointment has been set which is enough communication and not over doing it. This shows that you care about your customers.

1. SETTING THE APPOINTMENT: The minute the appointment has been set, a thank you email and text should go out to the customer informing them of the date/time of their appointment so they have it for their records and calendar.

2. COURTESY REMINDER: There should be a courtesy reminder either the day before or the day of (depending on their appointment times) the appointment going out via text, email and/or voice-broadcast sort of like you get from your dentist. This reminds them of their appointment early enough that if they forgot, they can make sure someone is there that day and scheduled time frame.

3. TECHNICIAN HEADING TO JOB SITE: The minute your technician is heading over to their job site or home, an alert should go out to the customer and to your office alerting your staff this technician is in route to their site or home and will be there shortly. This should be a text and/or email as well as a possible voicebroadcast call.

4.  AFTER JOB HAS BEEN COMPLETED: When your service technician completes the job, a thank you email/text goes out followed by a follow up letter that is  mailed to them. This shows your appreciation of their business and gives you a chance to ask for a referral as well as do a survey to inform you on how you can improve your services and support.

5. STAYING IN CONTACT: Put your customers into an autoresponder email campaign that goes out to them once or twice per month giving them helpful tips. This keeps you in front of them and they may be more willing to recommend you to someone else by forwarding that email (make sure your emails have your contact info) to one of their neighbors or family members.

***If you lost the job, then you would send them the same contact methods but with a different messages to try and get them to utilize your services. Its all about gaining trust and confidence in your brand, knowledge and service.

6. CUSTOMER SURVEY: Do you ask your clients or customers for a quick survey to see what their thoughts are on how your business performed or ask them what you could do better to improve their experience?

Client or customer surveys are a HUGE way to stay ahead of what your clients want and to always make sure you are providing over the top customer service to them. This can be included in your auto responder campaign.

Not to mention this is a great way to measure how your sales team or staff is doing. With the proper system in place, you could have an automated weekly or monthly conversion or lost lead report that is emailed to each owner of the business to review and strategize on how to improve customer satisfaction and conversions.

At Obsidian this is something we are very good at assisting our clients with and is included in our Advisor Memberships.

5. Planned Discounting-Up selling

3655fabNow I know what you are probably saying "Up selling, heck I have a hard enough time getting my service technicians to sell a job let alone up sell" am I right?

Well the 5th tip and important aspect to adding value to both your customer and your business is with planned discounting and up-selling. This involves finding ways to sell not to more people, but selling a higher ticket at each job site you have scheduled. You want to provide customers with more options to purchase bigger and better products and services which can not only be added customer service, but added profits.

By recommending other options and providing added value, the customer might not care the price is higher and could possibly appreciate the fact that your company and service technician is looking out for their best interest. Now on the flipside, they could think you are just trying to pull wool over their eyes like a slick autorepair shop charging them more for nothing so its all in the strategy and how you present.

The key here is having MULTIPLE solutions for their problem with multiple payment options and informing the customer about the ways your business accepts payment prior to showing them their options. This is very IDEAL for any situation especially for flat rate pricing (Good, Better or Best scenarios.)

When a customer knows they have many different payment options, when you show them a good, better and best option, they very well may take that BEST option which drastically boosts your average ticket. There is no more cost to that job, there is no more labor associated with that job, its just a higher average ticket adding more margin to that job. This is how the successful contractors operate their business. Get the biggest bank for their buck while their technician is out there.

Have you ever seen that move GLEN GARY GLEN ROSS? "ABC, Always Be Closing."

However, if you don't mention to them about those payment options, they may only think "well dang it I barely have enough to cover the basic repairs let alone getting better value with a "Better or Best" option". But if they know you offer financing for all credit types, they may want to apply right then and there allowing you to possibly up sell them to the "BEST" option which will provide them a better VALUE and provide your business with more profits all from the same service call.

At Obsidian we have systems to help you drastically improve your overall up-selling capabilities, provide increased average tickets and drastically increase profitability. All with multiple payment types that can not only help you increase your average ticket but also PAY YOU to accept that payment.

6. Job Costing-Knowing your Margins

5-7-2014-1-08-43-PMThis shockingly is something many contractors do NOT do. Job costing is vital for your businesses success and truly adds value to your business as well as your customers.

Many contractors actually under price and don't know their job costs which is VERY DANGEROUS. These types of contractors face all kinds of cash flow challenges, credit challenges and always face that daily grind to pay bills fighting collections and to get the next job. These guys always look to playing the "LOWEST COST" card when it comes to pricing and let me tell you this IT WILL BITE YOU in the ass big time and may cost you your business and lively hood if you are not careful.

Remember this, customers are not always looking for the CHEAPEST, but rather the the BEST meaning the best service, best education and knowledge and best options and the best value they can get for their dollars. You have to figure out a way to be competitive but still make a reasonable margin to grow your business on.

There are those contractors who are utilizing job costing the proper way and know their exact margins, markups and overall net profits on each and every job. Many of these contractors that are making good margin and whom are growing will NOT be the cheapest out there, especially if you are looking to operate at a decent margin above 40%. However these guys are the ones in the bigger pond with less fish to compete against.

In some cases maybe you find yourself having to put out a lower price to be competitive for a large job which can happen from time to time, but do you know what your minimum price actually needs to be before that job actually costs YOU money? Yes I mean where you are now paying money OUT (negative cash flow) to secure that job.

This happens more times than you might think. Again if the job can make you a Net Profit that covers all your COGS, Office Expenses, Labor, Taxes and still leaves you some true net profits on the table, then take the job. But before you bid, KNOW YOUR JOB COSTS so you can bid accordingly! 

You must truly get to the bottom of all your individual costing in order to know what your real NET Profits are on each job. One simple way to do that is through using "Pre-Builds" or what others may know as "Tasks" which is a set pre built task which may include different materials, labor, taxes, and profit margins on a multiple set of parts/materials and labor to do that specific task. This is "Pre Built" and already job costed so you always know what it costs you and what you earn to do that specific task.

Pre-Builds help improve efficiency, helps your technicians to speed up the creation of an invoice and maximizes your net profits giving you and your business peace of mind so you know that you're ALWAYS making money on every job.

Bottom line is YOU should always know your numbers and what your net profit is on each and every job. If you are NOT job costing, then you need to call Obsidian so we can get you setup correctly to start pricing your jobs the right way. It doesn't matter if you are hourly or flat rate, we can assist you with this and help streamline this for you utilizing a software's that is specifically designed for the Home Improvement services industry.

So Now What?

So now you must decide how you want to operate your business moving forward. Are you willing to do what it takes to implement these steps into your business, or will you continue down the same path in which you have been on, never knowing what extent your business could perform at?

What ever your choice, just know this. There will be those who do take action and who ARE implementing these tips/strategies into their business and those who seek Obsidian Business Advisor's help to drastically improve their systems, support, service and profitability.

Just know those competitors of yours will gain that competitive edge and will no longer have to play that "Who's the lowest price" game which can eventually further hurt those businesses who don't implement proper strategies and systems in place to ensure growth.

Here is to your success as I hope you are able to implement these tips and strategies into your business with great success. Just know this, we are here to help if you need us.

All the best,

Joshwa Fuchs

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