A few ways to market your trade business – the basics

A blimp

We’ve been in the property maintenance business for several years and although it might be said that we were never very good at the actual property maintenance, one thing we were good at was marketing. So I thought I might write a short article on the best ways to market your trade business. As our property maintenance business consisted of providing homeowners with plumbers, electricians, scaffolders, painters, decorators, roofers, landscapers, gardeners, carpenters, plasterers, builders, AV engineers, satellite engineers and even at one stage cleaners – there might just be something for everyone.

Some of these are obvious but they are the most effective ways to ensure that your phone keeps ringing. And this article is called ‘A few ways to market your business – the basics’. I will write a follow on article for more in-depth marketing.

Loud and Proud

1. I’m assuming that you already have a website – if not, get one – if only for people to have a look at from the cards you hand out. You don’t need a whizz bang one with hundreds of pages but don’t get your nephew to build it either unless he’s Mark Zuckerburg. It will look like amateurs night out and your potential customers will think the same. Spend some money on the logo and a nice modern, crisp look. If you put your prices on there it looks like you are an open and honest company – which of course, you are.

Big Mouth

2. Word of mouth. As obvious as it gets but the best engineers and trades people always get called back for more work and referred. Do the very best job you can and if the customer has any problems – because there always will be problems, go back and remedy the fault. Even if that sometimes means going back to remedy something that wasn’t your fault. It’s your willingness to help that’s key and it will go a long way with the customer. And they will refer you, believe me. Customers used to call in and ask specifically for Olly, our best gas engineer and we never had to do any marketing for him, he was a referral machine.

Nice Cards

3. Bumpf. Get some nice, memorable, quality cards printed from somewhere like Moo.com. Don’t get cheap cards – it makes you look cheap. And while you’re there get some nice literature printed to leave with the client after you’ve visited. It sets you apart from the competition and you know full well that most customers are going to get at least 3 quotes, so there will be other tradesmen in before and after you. Give them something to remember you by.

In Uniform

4. Uniform. Or at least a nice polo shirt with your logo embroidered on it. Buy 20 of them and after a hard day of work when you are going to your quotes, change into a fresh one before you meet your potential customer.

Flyers to post

5. Flyers. Posting flyers can still work if you target the right areas. Look for the better areas of town local to where you provide your services. Don’t waste time dropping flyers to places where they can’t affords to buy what you’re offering. And for the flyer itself make it eye catching with one specific offer per flyer. So, ‘25% off new boiler installations until October 31st’ or ‘50% off your first clean until 30th January’. And make sure you put a closing date for the offer to make it into a compelling event, something that drives the customer to take action. Use a local reliable firm – or do it yourself, we used these guys Battersea Leaflet Distribution. You’ll pay about £30 per 1000 dropped. You need to drop around 10,000 per time and if you drop them every month your response rate will increase as you get more customer awareness. We used to get a sale of around 1 in 1000 after a few months and that could mean £20,000 worth of revenue on a boiler installation for example.

Charlie Mullins

6. Get your van liveried. If you can afford a full wrap so much the better. Go for a bright primary colour and don’t make it too busy. Put your web address on there and maybe a telephone number. If you keep driving around the local area in a bright van, you will get noticed and you will get calls. Make sure that you always have cards and literature in the van to hand out to people who ask for your details. This is especially important for builders, tenancy cleaners and landscapers who are there for a few days. The neighbours always notice and will often come over for a chat. And always, always keep it clean. Charlie Mullins at Pimlico Plumbers has made a terrific business from clean vans.

I sat next to a guy on a plane once and we got talking about property maintenance (he asked me what I did) and he told me that he had just had Pimlico Plumbers in to do a full electrical rewire on his house and that he had chosen them because their vans were so clean and that’s how he thought they would treat his house. That’s a true story right there.

7. Get some estate agent boards made up with your logo, number and website. If you undertaking a project in a residential area that will last for any length of time, ask your client if you can put up your board. You might not get hundreds of calls but it only takes a few every so often to fill in the blanks in your diary.

Remember that you are always marketing your business. The way you dress, the way you behave at a client’s property, the condition of your vehicle – your potential customers are watching you!

I’ll be putting up some more pearls of wisdom in the next article where I’ll be discussing trade accreditation bodies.