How do you feel about buying leads?

I had an interesting call with a client (Steve) the other day. Steve runs a very successful house painting company in Bridgeport, CT, which he’s built up over the past 25 years. He called me to transfer his account (our old service) to CraftJack Profiles.

In the process of setting up his account we got to talking about the lead generation business, sales, and how to be a successful painting company. Now, Steve has more opinions than a talk show radio host and you can feel his passion for his business when he speaks. About half way through our one hour and fifteen minute call, Steve unleashed his opinions on lead generating services.

Email Marketing Strategies for Contractors

There was a time not too long ago when email started to seem passé. But all of that went out the door when fantastic technology companies recently started popping up and began conducting wildly successful email marketing campaigns as the foundation of their business growth. People have started truly relying on their email more than ever before often checking it periodically throughout the day. Now that there is a captive audience, here are some tips for home improvement contractors on creating an email marketing program for your contracting business.

3 Ways to Stay Up to Date With Industry Information

Knowledge is power, but knowing how to have that knowledge come directly to you instead of wasting precious time constantly researching for it might be a super-power. The best way to ensure you business is thriving in today’s economy is to be confident that you are fully informed on what is happening in your line of work and what are the new things people are talking about in business.  Here are three simple ways to make the news and information work for you by using three free and easy services.

Would You Invest in Your Own Business? Evaluating Yourself

I’ve said it before and feel it bears repeating; if your not thinking about the next step for your business in moving forward, then your slowing moving in reverse.  There is no standing still.  Something I think every business can benefit from, whether your hocking gold fish at a carnival game or pushing 1980 Ford Pintos on a used car lot, is evaluating one’s own image from an outsider’s perspective.  Are you presenting your services 100% while making a strong and trustworthy connection with your prospective clients?  Here are some topics you might consider when evaluating your own business:

Weekly Marketing to Grow Your Business

Life can get busy balancing family time and business and waiting in line at the drive through window for your coffee and doughnuts.  Try to set aside a small amount of time each week to only focus on growing your business.  If you wait for it to be taken care of when you aren’t busy, it’s likely to not get done (or at least not as often as it should).

It’s important to always be thinking about how you are marketing your business; what has worked in the past, what hasn’t, what are some new strategies you have yet to fully dive into.  As retired football coach Lou Holtz once said, “In this world you’re either growing or you’re dying so get in motion and grow.”

Here is a list of things to periodically check on:
•    Amount of traffic to your website and where it is coming from
•    Bounce rate: number of people who visit your site and leave without taking any action
•    Your cost-per-click for online advertising
•    Review split-test advertising campaigns you have setup
•    Update your blog
•    Add new photos and content to your Facebook fan page to keep it fresh
•    Subscribe to any trade blogs or websites using an RSS reader to stay current on what is happening
•    Make sure you are addressing all Twitter posts that address your specific business

Mark it in your weekly calendar and make it happen.  You’re business will thank you for it.

(Flickr photo by loop_oh)

What Contractors Can Learn From ServiceMagic’s Remodeling & Repair Index

ServiceMagic just released their Remodeling and Repair Index for January-June 2011. The index contains data on service requests from ServiceMagic’s website, as well as surveys conducted with homeowners and contractors.

The index has a lot of good data, and while the method may be partially flawed (just because service magic saw a 52% increase in solar requests does not mean that the population as a whole is 52% more likely to request solar. It may just mean that ServiceMagic increased their advertising efforts for solar, which led to the increase in service requests), the data still shows interesting trends in the home improvement space.

The contractor survey (pages 17-22) shows some very interesting insights that have real implications as to how contractors should be following up with their leads.

On page 20 ServiceMagic asked the question “With the downturn in the economy, what changes have you seen in homeowners’ buying habits?” Only 5% of contractors reported that they saw no change. 95% reported changes in customer buying behavior that has an impact on their sales.

ServiceMagic also asked contractors how they are addressing these changes. 92% of contractors changed how they present estimates, price work, or pursue leads.

What does this information have to do with you? Well, it’s becoming quite clear that the landscape is getting more competitive and margins are going down as contractors compete for jobs. As a result you should place extra focus on how you follow up with leads and the little things you can do to stand out.

How have you changed your strategy since the recession?

3 Reason to Attend Your Next Local Trade Show

I recently attending a tech conference on using social media and other tools to reach one’s audience.  What I learned from attending the event was incredibly valuable to the future of my business and got me thinking in more creative ways.  As a contractor you should consider attending more trade shows.  Here are 3 reasons why:

3 Easy Ways to Improve Your First Impressions

Every interaction a homeowner has with your business helps them decide if you are the right contractor to hire. And since there are very few times you won’t be competing with other contractors, every positive impression you leave gets you one step closer to winning the job. So it pays not to overlook the small things your company can do to help you win jobs.

Here are 3 small things contractors can do to look more professional.

6 Tips for Photographing Your Work

You know that feeling after you’ve just spent a long week sweating in the heat and breaking your back to complete a job the expected deadline?  You’ve got all of your equipment loaded back onto the truck and you are shaking the homeowners hands as you back away from the house and look over your work with pride.  Ahhhhhh.  It feels good, doesn’t it?

That’s something you should be sharing with potential customers.  Having a profile page up on CraftJack is great.  You can promote your business by showcasing photos and video from jobs you have completed in the past to help set your company apart from the competition.  Here are some simple tips on photographing your work so shows all the hard work you put into the job.

World record contractor call with homeowner?

One of the technologies we offer contractors who use CraftJack is the ability to automatically track every call they make to each lead. This makes it easier for contractors to keep track of which leads have been called, when the last call was, and how long it took them (or their sales team) to make the first call. In the future it will let our system help contractors improve their follow up process by analyzing call data.

Today I was browsing through the call logs in our system. I was shocked when I saw a call that a contractor made to a lead we sent them that lasted 105 minutes!

That’s definitely a record for our system and it’s great to see contractors using our system to build great relationships with homeowners.

What’s the longest call you’ve ever had with a homeowner?