Learn how to grow your contracting business by turning employees into brand advocates who can attract new business.
For a home services business to grow and thrive, it needs a steady stream of customers. Traditional marketing efforts such as social media, flyers, and print ad campaigns are a major source of business, but there are other effective ways of generating leads. Your employees are out there every day, wearing your uniform and acting as representatives for your brand. Learn how they can turn contacts into leads during their day-to-day work, helping you grow your business with every interaction.
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Turning Employees Into Advocates
Your employees interact with a lot of people in their personal and professional lives. This means they have lots of opportunities to promote your business, whether that's talking about what they do with those in their social network or going the extra mile while they're working, impressing clients and their neighbors. Harnessing those sales opportunities could help you build a sustainable business without spending a fortune on marketing.
Most construction employees won't spend much time thinking about how they can help their employer grow their business, but if they're given incentives, perhaps in the form of an employee referral program, that could encourage them to spread the word. Construction workers and tradespeople aren't professional salespeople and they're unlikely to generate the conversions a dedicated sales team will, but they have the opportunity to reach warm leads that might not otherwise make it onto your marketing list.
Your Employees Represent Your Business
When a small business owner in the home services space starts trying to grow their business and hire employees, the first thing they look at is often whether the employee has the skills to do their main job, whether that's carpentry, painting, or plumbing.
Those trade skills are certainly important, but a growing business also needs to think about the softer side of what they're selling. Every time an employee visits a customer, they represent the business. When they go into someone's home, they're not entering that property as themselves but as an extension of your brand. If they need to call on a customer's neighbor to ask them to move a vehicle or do something that might briefly encroach on their property, they're representing your business.
If your employees wear a uniform or drive a van with your company logo, then each time they're seen in public, the things they say and do will reflect on your business. Your employee management and hiring decisions should reflect that. Teach your construction workers to think about what they say and how they act, and impress on everyone from the youngest apprentice to the most experienced site leaders that being polite and friendly at all times matters.
A Good Impression Is Worth More Than A Sales Pitch
Each time your employees go to a job and interact with a customer, they'll leave an impression on not just that client but on their friends, family, and neighbors. If they do good work, those people will be happy to name your business when people comment on that part of the house. If a family hires your company to install a new footpath and fence in their garden and the neighbors like how it looks, they may well choose your business to do something similar for them. The power of word-of-mouth marketing is clear.
That's why getting the basics right is important. Even employees who aren't naturally good salespeople can generate leads by simply doing the best they can at their jobs. Once those basics are in place, you can look at turning your employees into powerful lead generation tools through launching an employee referral program.
Close-knit teams of people who are proud to serve your business make the best advocates for the products and services they offer. If your employees would be happy having their colleagues do work on their own homes, that will show in the interactions they have with others, and they'll be more likely to bring in high-quality, qualified leads from their own circle of friends and family.
What Is An Employee Referral Program?
Employee referral programs are common across all industries, from travel and consumer goods to home services. An employee referral program encourages workers to refer their friends, family, and other contacts to the business, offering a reward in return.
As a small business owner, you can set the terms of your referral program and even change them based on how busy your business is at the time. One common structure is to offer a discount or value-added extra to a customer who's referred to your business by an employee, then give the employee a bonus for each job they help the company get.
The beauty of employee referral programs is that if someone contacts your business after being referred by an employee, it's obvious they're a quality lead. It should be easier to close the sale with them than to close a deal with someone you reached through cold calling or a social media marketing campaign.
In addition, because most employee referral programs focus on rewarding employees for sending paying customers to the business, you know you'll see a return on investment from the program. You'll only have to pay out a bonus if an employee actually makes a sale. This is in stark contrast to social media and paid search campaigns where you pay per click or impression, even if the lead doesn't make it all the way through the sales funnel.
The administrative load of an employee referral program doesn't have to be significant. Depending on the size of your business and how much capacity you have to take on new jobs, you could simply provide each employee with a business card with a referral code on it so that when someone gets in touch, you know who referred them. A more modern, digital version of this would be to supply a link to an employee referral form where visitors are offered special pricing. This form could be restricted to a limited number of uses, adding a sense of exclusivity to the referral and increasing the likelihood of the lead becoming a paying customer.
Employee referral programs don't just have to be for bringing in new business. They can also be used to attract high-quality new staff. The key thing is that your existing employees are rewarded for showing loyalty and being advocates for the business.
Training Employees To Sell
Not everyone is a good salesperson, and not everyone wants to be one, either. If you're hoping to build a team that generates leads for your business, you'll need to instill a sense of pride in the business into all your employees. When you look to hire employees, prioritize a positive attitude and willingness to learn over preexisting skills. You can teach someone who's willing to put in the effort, but a negative person could ruin an otherwise strong team.
Explain The Value Of Your Products Or Services
For your team to be able to promote your products or services, they'll need to fully understand them. Depending on the nature of your business, it may be that most of your employees are specialists. A plumber may do some work installing a fitted kitchen, but could they sell the kitchen on the strength of its other features? Do they understand the commitment you have to timely, on-budget installations and robust warranties?
The more your employees understand the broader aspects of your business, the better equipped they'll be to promote it. Remember, too, that happy employees are more likely to take pride in their work and show their enthusiasm. Your employees will be better advocates for your business if they believe in the work they're doing.
Make Rewards More Than Just Money
Financial rewards are just one of the things you can use to promote sales, but they're not always the best option. You want your team members to find you qualified leads that could genuinely benefit from using your service. Sometimes, other rewards such as gift vouchers, tickets to a sporting event, a bottle of wine, or even a little extra time off work can offer the same morale boost as a financial incentive but for a smaller outlay for you, and with less chance of a person hard-selling the wrong prospect.
Provide Bite-Sized Sales Training
Construction workers and other specialists didn't start those jobs expecting to sit in a classroom and learn about "overcoming objections" or "closing a sale." It wouldn't be fair to expect them to take an extended course on how to sell. Fortunately, you can use bite-sized training sessions to explain the key points of selling without taking up too much of your employees' time.
Remember, lead generation sites and other marketing techniques will still make up the biggest part of your promotion efforts. The leads your employees bring in are just a useful extra, and the time spent on training for this part of the job should reflect that.
Supply Effective Promotional Materials
It's much easier to sell a product or service if you can explain it clearly and if people can see photos. Give your employees a few copies of your sales brochures to take with them in their vans. Provide business cards or QR code flyers so they can share contact details quickly and easily. Consider providing a few promotional gifts, too.
If you ask people to sign something at the end of a job to say they're happy with the work, provide pens with the company's web address on them. Have your contractors hand over a pen and let the customer keep it. Give out mugs or memory sticks to clients who used you for high-value jobs. While you're not necessarily expecting those customers to come back immediately for more work, they may well refer their friends and family.
Get A Helping Hand With Reputation Management
Lead generation is a complex task that requires effort from every part of the business: sales, management, and even the people who are out there working on a customer's home on a daily basis. Once you've completed a job for a customer, it's a good idea to encourage them to leave a review or provide feedback on the job. Following up on recently completed jobs and making sure customers are happy can be a time-consuming task.
At CraftJack, we offer reputation management services to help business owners present the best image of themselves online. We'll handle those time-consuming administrative tasks so you can focus on other essential parts of your business. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you grow your reach online.