Thursday

2008 Contractor Marketing Outlook

In most parts of the country there has been a downturn in the economy. Many contractors are feeling the pinch because the phone is not ringing and job leads are drying up. Fears of a recession have people holding off on major projects. At times like this, the first step many business owners want to take is to cut back on costs.

This could be a mistake for most companies.

The answer to surviving any economic downturn is not to hide the presence of your business. It's important to increase your marketing spending when times are tough. The outlook for 2008 is not good. This means there will be fewer and fewer leads to go around to all the contractors in this country. Fewer leads means fewer chances to land that job.

A major factor in increasing our rates for subscribed members is that we want to increase spending on our advertising campaigns. We need to spend more to bring in more job possibilities for our contractor network. And you should do the same thing when it comes to your advertising budget.

It could mean cutting costs in other areas of your business, but closely examine how you can spend more to market your services. If you don't, there's a good chance potential customers will choose your competitors over you. They'll be visible and your business won't be.

Interesting Economic News for Contractors:

NEW YORK (Reuters) - "Black & Decker Corp and Stanley Works on Monday gave dim forecasts for 2008 as a slowdown in the U.S. housing market has stifled demand for building equipment."

"Black & Decker, which makes DeWalt power tools and Price Pfister faucets, offered a first-quarter profit outlook that was lower than Wall Street forecasts, and Stanley Works cited a 'possible mild and short-lived U.S. recession,' for its full-year sales growth forecast of flat to up 1 percent."

"Investors were worried about Black & Decker due to indications that home remodeling projects were declining more than expected, but less disappointed by Stanley Works' outlook after the company had earlier tempered investors' expectations for 2008, said analyst Nicholas Heymann of investment firm Sterne, Agee & Leach."

"'We recognize that the U.S. economy is slowing, and we do not expect a housing recovery in 2008,' Chief Executive Nolan Archibald said in a statement. 'While our international momentum and new product pipeline remain strong, we are forecasting that organic sales will decline at a low single-digit rate in 2008.'"

"Analyst Heymann said investors were concerned about the home remodeling outlook. When the economy slows, remodeling picks up as people renovate their homes rather than build new ones, he said. But the credit crunch is making it more difficult for homeowners to get loans."

"'Remodeling isn't going to be as helpful during this downturn,' he said. 'It's basically a bit of a shock.'"

RECESSION TALK

"Stanley Works, which makes carpenter's hand tools, door hardware and hydraulic tools, stated 'We're anticipating a very mild and short-lived recession... by definition that would mean two quarters of negative GDP growth in the U.S.,' James Loree, chief executive officer, said in a conference call with analysts and investors."

"Deutsche Bank analyst Nigel Coe called Stanley Works' 2008 outlook 'clearly challenging,' but said the company was still executing 'very solidly' in a tough environment. "

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Monday

Visualize Overcoming Objections - See Is Believing

Professional athletes are good at what they do because they practice visualization. Visualization is the ability to create a mental model of a situation. When the quarterback comes out of a timeout, he's got the play in his head and is visualizing a completed pass to a wide receiver. In a down-turning market, contractors should consider using a form of visualization to help them land a potential job.

Practice Makes Perfect
Visualization is a form of preparation. It's a mental simulation of what's to come. Every type of contractor must sell his or her services to potential clients - part of the sales process is overcoming objections. The trick to closing a sale is to be the authority while presenting an authoritative presence. The project owner must believe you're the right person for the job. The key is to have the ability to answer any and every question (or objection) imaginable.

So you need to imagine them all.

It's easy to dismiss a potential client's concerns by rattling off your answers "on the fly". But here's where it's important to put yourself on the other side of your introductory handshake and imagine what questions they'll ask. This visualizing you do will help you be prepared with the perfect answer every time. Having that perfect answer will calm fears they may have about which company to hire. Before any sales pitch, visualize yourself answering all possible objections.

Visualize yourself being calm, cool, and collected. Your knowledge and abilities will land you the project. And generate quality referrals, which you need to grow your business.

Seeing is believing.

RELATED ARTICLES:
Sales Advice: Silence is Golden
Get the Contract Signed
Overcoming Objections

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Wednesday

Want More Cellphone Battery Life?

Someone was once surprised that my phone didn't have a camera. I replied to the person, "Yes. And guess what? My camera doesn't have a phone." But these days we can't live without our cell phone. It's more than a luxury. It's a tool that helps us conduct business. We wanted to provide you with some tips on how to preserve your phone battery while you're in the field, doing your job.

First, turn off that camera feature. And any other feature you don't regularly use. Besides the camera, disable the bluetooth capability, the video camera, and don't try to connect to the Internet (WiFi, GPS, etc.) These features use a lot of power.

Keep the battery cool. Leaving it in your truck or close to you, in a pocket, will use up battery life. Turn off the vibrate feature - it also requires more power. And keep the battery contacts clean. Dust and dirt will accumulate inside your phone, which slows down the energy transfer. Use a Q-tip and a little bit of rubbing alcohol to clean the metal contacts.

Finally, if you know you're not going to be able to use your phone, or you're going to be in area with no reception, turn it off. Just leaving it on burns up battery life. Keep in mind that batteries don't last forever. Remember not to throw them in the trash when they're done. They can be quite toxic and it may be illegal in your area. Check with the manufacturer to see if it can be refurbished. If not, dispose of it at the retailer or a local recycling center.

Tuesday

Contractors: Get Your ConstructionDeal.com Gear!

Many have requested that we have our own line of T-shirts and other items, so we've started a CafePress.com store.

If you're interested in a shirt, mug, mousepad, or even a yard sign, you can order it today.

We'll have a larger selection of products soon. This was just to get the ball rolling as soon as possible.

Check out our current product line right now!

Happy New Year!

Friday

Contractors - What Do You Do?

Many lead referral companies give you a limited number of category choices. You can select DRYWALL, FLOORING or REMODELING. What if your business only handles Tree Removal Services and your only choice is to select LANDSCAPING?

At ConstructionDeal.com, we're doing things differently. And better than our competition... As a registered member, you can now go in to your account and select just the services you perform.

Our new process allows you to receive only the leads that you decide are right for you.

Here's How it Works:
Say your company only wants to get Hardwood Floor Refinishing leads...

Instead of signing up for our FLOORING category, you can check off the service "Hardwood Floor Refinishing". Or if your company installs ceilings, but doesn't repair or remove ceilings... you select only the "Ceiling Installation" service.

But, if you do want to receive all the ceiling or flooring leads, you can! You just check off all the services within that category.

You Talked. We Listened.
A lot of our contractors only do specific types of work and this is our way of making sure they only get the leads they need. Many contractors do various jobs, so we'll continue to meet those needs, too.

Steps to Update Your ConstructionDeal.com Account:
All you have to do is log in to your account, click on Preferences in the top left, and review your list of selected categories.
  • In Preferences, you'll see your category list.
  • Next to each category is the word Services.
  • When you click on Services, a new page will show all your choices. Only select the Services your company performs.
  • Then, click on Save.
Here is an example of what the Service choices look like (for Architects & Engineers):

ARCHITECTS & ENGINEERS CATEGORY SERVICES

To get jobs for the services your company offers, please select from the list below:

  • Architect Services
  • Civil Engineering Services
  • Drafting & Design Services
  • Environmental Engineering Services
  • Geotechnical Engineering Services
  • Mechanical Engineering Services
  • Other
  • Permitting Services
  • Structural Engineering Services
Do this for each category you have chosen. This helps make sure you only receive leads that you want.

Let us know if you don't see your service listed! While we cannot accommodate every single type of business, we'll do what we can!

If you have questions, call Customer Service at 866-663-4711 (Mon.- Fri. 8am-5pm PST).

Monday

What Do You Know About Your Clients?

First and foremost, contractors in the remodeling, repair and building industry know their jobs. But do they know, or care to know, their clients? While it is very important you understand how to build, repair and renovate, I believe it's equally important to understand the people who pay you. Sure, you can get referrals and recommendations if they love you, or love your work. But there is more to it.

Clients have a lot of needs. It's possible many contractors don't care about them, but that could be a huge mistake. Every client's needs involve how you and your finished project are going to make them feel. With every meeting, before you begin a project, know your client wants to feel understood, listened to, and appreciated. These may seem like minor, insignificant, and useless concepts. But you may not realize that your clients mostly all buy products and services based on emotion. And they choose contractors based on trust (and not just price!) Intangibles based on trust and emotion are nearly impossible to quantify.

Consider that by getting to know your clients can do more than help you get the contract or gain valuable referrals. Listen, with interest, to what they tell you. Repeat it back to them to let them know you not only heard it but understand it. Share common experiences and stories to develop a quick rapport. Let them teach you what they know about their property. The reward for you? By gaining their trust, you will get great communication with almost every client throughout the whole job. If you can appeal to their emotional side without talking down to them, they will be more apt to expand their project and spend even more with you.

By getting to know your clients, you can have someone willing to talk comfortably with you and tell you what they want and not just need. You can get them to sign long-term maintenance contracts because they want you back on their property. You can avoid anger and disgruntlement when surprises and problems arise (and they arise on nearly every job.) You can get them to take chances with you and trust your judgment. You will, of course, also get those recommendations and referrals because they believe in you.

It does take time and it does take patience. But it can be the difference between a good and a great experience. And great can mean a whole lot more success and profit on each job that just good.

Think about a time you visited a doctor and it didn't go very well. Ever have a doctor, or dentist, who only had to hear about one or two symptoms and proceeded to cut you off as you wanted to go into greater detail? Because they had already figured out the problem? Even if they were right, they didn't promote trust.

And if they were wrong... Well, that's another story.

RELATED ARTICLES:
Contractors: Know Your Customers
Sales Advice: Be Part of the Solution
Overcoming Objections

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Wednesday

Contractors - How to Network and Expand Your Business

Do You Network?

Contractors like to work. What many contractors hate are the things you have to do in order to keep working. Sales, marketing, finances, etc. These are all part of being a small business owner. Near the bottom of the list of all things necessary is schmoozing. But the act of networking can really help you expand your business, especially in a slow economic market.

What is Networking?

Basically, it means you're building business contacts. By creating relationships with others in a similar business or industry, you can help bring in referrals. And it's not just a matter of shaking hands, passing off a business card, and asking people to send work your way. It does require effort. You don't need to become best friends with every contact, but you should get to know people you want in your network contacts. Passing on expertise and sharing information helps others to remember you. Networking works best when you can reciprocate and provide help to others.

Who Should You Network With?

Schmooze with the people who can send traffic your way. People in real estate can help. They know people who own property. By reaching out to realtors, mortgage officers, and management companies, you can be the one they send clients to whenever they are asked. Anyone who supplies materials can be a resource for referrals. Contractors who specialize in other types of work can also be part of your network.

Where Do You Network?

It's not easy to truly network from your office or while you're on the job. You need to have face to face contact to really schmooze. Conventions, trade shows, home improvement stores, real estate offices, seminars, classes, parties, sporting events, just about anywhere. Always have business cards on hand and a smile on your face.

How Do You Network?

  • Focus on what you can do for them and not what they can do for you. Think about how much you would want to help a person who is committed to helping you out. Once people know you can be passionate about what they are doing... they're never going to see you as a schmoozer but as someone they want in their network.
  • Always listen more than you talk. When you make them the center of attention, you'll have a friend for life. Everyone loves to talk about what they do and talk about themselves. But don't just hear them, truly listen to what they're saying. Learn about them and you'll get a better idea on how you can help their business succeed. When you can do that, they'll tell everyone they know about you and your services.
  • Help them remember you. Always keep the business card on hand. You don't need to through your tri-fold, full-color brochure at them but you should give them a quality card with your name, number, email, and website on it. If you can, make sure the back of the business card is blank so that they can write out a quick note to themselves on who you are and where they met you.
  • Follow up with them. Don't just get acquainted with someone and then hope you can ring them up for a favor several months later. And don't stalk them by calling several times a day and waiting outside their door with flowers every morning. But follow up a week later to touch base, share a bit of juicy information, and remind your new contact that you're there to help them.