Tuesday

Is it Time to Diversify?

For those who are general contractors who perform all types of services, it can be easier to find qualified work during har economic times. But for small businesses that specializes, times like these can be tough. Is it time to diversify?

With consumer confidence at its lowest level in fifty years, people are reluctant to make calls to get their improvement and repair projects completed. Fewer leads coming in can mean fewer jobs. To stay in business, keep your cash flow strong.

So, this brings up the question - should you generalize your services and take on a broader range of projects? As always, it depends on your business. If you have enough work lined up for the near future and you have cash flow to expand marketing efforts, you should be okay. However, you should think about expanding the number of lead sources you have.

If you have some work still ongoing but the phone has stopped ringing, it could be another story. To stay liquid and stay in business, it might be wise to use your marketing budget to bring in a broader range of jobs. If you have the expertise to add additional services to your business lineup, you may be doubling or tripling the amount of jobs you can bring to your business. That may be enough to get you through the tough economic times. You can return to your specialization later.

Being a specialist in this industry means your services will always be in demand if there is little competition. But demand can drop when worry takes over. Take a second (or third) look at your business and make the necessary changes.

Will Wall Street Affect Main Street?

It's been a wild, bumpy week in the financial world. Does the doom and gloom in the news affect you and your small business? Under normal circumstances, no. But these are not normal times. Two things are going to affect you and your business through the rest of this year.

First, your potential clients are watching the news and are worried about their stocks, 401K accounts, and insurance policies. This will sharply affect consumer confidence through the rest of the year. If people are worried about their money, not only will they not risk a high-end remodeling project but they may also skip on needed repairs and regular maintenance.

Second, as banks and investment firms circle the wagons, there's going to be an even greater tightening of credit. They'll take even fewer chances in the coming months and so it will be harder for folks on Main Street to get to the money they need to hire you.

Those two factors could severely impact every contractor and small business owner in the construction and remodeling industry through the rest of 2008.

We haven't had this sort of pressure put on the financial industry since the Great Depression so we're moving into uncharted territory. Fear of the unknown could prove harder for all service professionals to close those deals.

Keep an eye on your ConstructionDeal.com Contractor Update page for more updates in the coming weeks.

Friday

Contractors - We Don't Trust You

According to a new survey by the Better Business Bureau, consumers don't trust you. Well, not you specifically. A survey on trust was conducted along with the Gallup polling group. They found consumers are less trusting of companies they regularly do business with. Contractors were among the least trusted industries, along with grocery stores, auto dealerships, financial institutions and wireless providers.

"The decline in consumer trust causes serious problems for businesses," said a regional president for the BBB. You could see this survey as a result of a very down economy. But you could also see this as an opportunity to gain an advantage over your competitors.

When it comes to your business, consider and evaluate how you can put trust into everything you do. Does your phone book ad convey trust? What about your sales efforts? What about building trust on the job site? Do you offer any guarantees? Do you promise to make it right if something goes wrong? Do you belong to any associations, such as the BBB, NARI, ASID or any other letter combination that could show you are serious about your craft?

Build trust with potential clients. They have many alternatives to choose from, but if they feel they can trust you and your business they will come back and they will refer others to you. That is how you stay in business.

Tuesday

What Is Your Business Name?

As a contractor, you can make two choices with your small business. You can try to be all things to all people or you can specialize. And it always depends on what's right for you. But you need to make sure your business name matches the type of work you do.

For instance, if you're a contractor who does it all - from painting to plumbing to design services - then you should probably not name your company Frank's Interior Painting. The same holds true for companies that specialize. Joe's Contracting Service won't help your business if you only install custom staircases.

If you started out as one type of company, like interior painting, but have branched out to cover more work then your company name must keep up. Think about all the places you are listed - in the phone book, in the ConstructionDeal.com directory, in the newspaper, on the radio. Whether it's on a business card or in your email address, you need to be consistent.

Many fear making a business name change because it's a lot of work or it's listed in too many places. But the key to getting the work you want is to have your business name represent your business. If your name is too vague or too specific, you could be losing business. Potential clients need to believe you can do the job for them.

Your company name says a lot more about the quality of work you provide than you think.