You are in a tough game my friend, and I want to show you how the last guy I hired got my business and at a higher price than most other bids.
I hope I don’t offend you, but while you are a skilled tradesman who will most likely be able to get the job done right and at the right price, If you don’t have some company image items in place most people are going to see you as unprofessional and untrustworthy.
It’s not fair to be judged so harshly, but the reality is that there is a lot of competition out there and if you think you are going to build your business on craigslist by responding to ads and sending out bids you are going to have an uphill battle.
Why the hell would you care what I have to say? I have been a tradesman myself for nearly 2 decades. I was a sign maker for 15 of those years and the last 4 I have been freelancing as a software developer and graphic designer. But what got me to know contractors like yourself has been my involvement in property restoration. Over the years, I have taken on several home restoration projects. I do a lot of the work myself and I enjoy it. Every now and then though, I hire out some of the work. It’s when I hire out that I am reminded of the problem most professional tradesmen face. Regardless of how good they are and how qualified they are, most tradesmen with a new company do not have the look of a professional company. I am not talking about your personal appearance and clothes. I am talking about your company appearance. How it looks to the world.
Here is a real example. I am currently finishing out my basement. I have finished two rooms so far which took me a year in my spare time. I know that’s a long time but as I said, I do this on my own time and dime and enjoy it. I put a lot of care and pride into the work and try to make it professional grade. Well, recently we had a hard freeze and a pipe burst in the ceiling above one of the rooms I had finished. I didn’t know when I bought the house that the builder had failed to completely seal the part of the main floor that overhung the basement by 2 feet. The ceiling I installed created a nice little pocket between the insulation and Sheetrock that trapped that cold air drafting in. So, -7 degrees all night was just what it took to split a section of the copper. Damn.
The ceiling and one wall had to be torn out and I was heartbroken to see all that hard work destroyed. I had put a lot of time and effort into the rounded corners, the perfect float, and a light knockdown texture. Painting had taken my wife and I an entire weekend and now it all had to be redone. I didn’t have the time as I was busy with my real job so I decided to use the insurance money to hire a pro like you to come in and complete the Sheetrock work and paint.
I placed an ad on Craigslist List and received about 35 responses in 8 hours. The competition is tough my friend and the responses were all relatively the same. NO ONE STOOD OUT as the right choice. Much of the emails came across as a poorly written introductions with a final note that said call me. I had put every detail about the project in my ad so I did receive a lot of bids based on pics and dimensions, but out of those it was hard to tell who I wanted to call out to my home. I can’t just have 40 people coming out to bid on this project. I don’t want some guy who decided yesterday to quit his pizza delivery job and start a drywall company to come out and bid. How could I tell who had the background and professionalism I needed?
You know what I needed? I needed some sort of sign that the people I was about to deal with were solid, professional, trustworthy and could do what they said they can do. I didn’t get that though. It’s not their fault, there is no training for “How to look professional” and these guys are just trying the best they can. But they are failing.
There was one guy though. His email was clearly written and he explained that he needed to come out to look at the project to bid on it. He further explained that I could find out about him and his company by googling the company name or visiting his website to which he gave me a link. You know what, before I called him I did just that. I visited his website and saw that he took the time to make his company look professional and cared about his name and brand. He had pictures of past projects and references. The site described why he is in the business and how he handles it. When I googled his company name I found ratings, a map listing, and a link back to his website. Because of this I felt like I already knew a lot about his company and was half way sold without even seeing a bid. I called him out to bid on my project along with a few other guys who sent rough estimates via email.
When he came out to view my project he had just finished at another job. He greeted me and handed me his business card which was professionally designed. He had a clip board and tape measure and took notes as I showed him the room. After we finished discussing the project he asked if it would be all right to email me the proposal. About an hour later I received an email and attached to it was a PDF document of the proposal. Again, the proposal was professional looking, with his logo, all the particulars of the contract and the pricing. The only problem was that it was about 15% more than the rest of the bids I had received.
The other guys were nice enough, don’t get me wrong. However there was a very common trend. No business card or, I kid you not, business cards with scratch out numbers and new numbers written in. Bids were provided by mouth with no written estimate. Not that big of a deal but it shows that professionalism is not a big concern. Getting in and getting out seemed to be the concern and that is unsettling.
After I thought about it, the 15% increase in cost was worth it for the peace of mind. I could clearly see this guy’s past online and I knew that almost all of his reviews and references were great. Even the one bad review of his company was handled professionally. I felt confident that it was the right choice to hire him and I did.
“Where the hell do you think you are going looking like that?” – Dad
I am not a guru or a guy that wants to talk to you like I know it all. However, I am a business man that was brought up in a family of business owners. I was taught early on how to operate and it has paid off for me through the years. One of the first lessons I learned about professional appearance was when I started my lawn mowing service at 13. I was a skate punk back then. I dressed in thrashed out clothes, had long hair, and a bad attitude. When my dad suggested I start mowing lawns to pay for the new deck I wanted to purchase it sounded like a great idea. I headed for the door in my usual thrasher clothes and messy hair and my dad stopped me cold. “Where the hell do you think you are going looking like that?”, He said. He knew I was going to try and drum up some business and immediately followed with, “You won’t get a single job like that. If you want to be important you have to look important.”
“If you want to be important you have to look important.” – Dad
He explained that I needed to take a little time to print up some flyers that told about my service so I could leave them with the people I talked to and that I needed to have a better appearance. I didn’t need to wear a suit but I needed to dress the part of a kid who would respect my potential customer’s homes because let’s face it, people are judgmental and first impressions count. Although I was a rebellious kid I listened to my dad and the next day, wearing jeans without holes and the only collared shirt I owned I went out door to door with flyers I had made on my dad’s computer. I closed 3 lawn jobs for the weekend and many more that summer. Lesson learned.
How Can I Help?
I am going to help you implement a few key components to your company that are going to put the shine on and let people know you are someone that can be trusted and are worth the money you are asking for. What I will do for you requires little effort on your part. The cost is minimal and in the end an investment that will help you build your business.
Let’s get started on your image today.
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