The mining boom may have slowed down but tradespeople are still in high demand (and probably always will be). To run a successful trades business though, you need to have the right tools. And I’m not just talking about drills and wrenches.
With housing markets on the rise and an endless need for repairs and renovations, being a tradesperson comes with some seriously great perks. Especially when customers will pay premium for quality and long lasting plumbing, electrical, building, roofing and tiling services. But there’s more to the small business industry than meets the eye. And if you’re not taking advantage of all the essentials, it’s easy to get left behind your competition. Here are a few tips to get you started:
1. Invest in Social Media for Connecting and Conversing
If you’re not online, then you’re missing out on a big piece of the marketing puzzle. Connecting with people offline is still important, but engaging with people through relevant social media channels will help to position yourself as a trusted tradesperson. Start by identifying which social media platforms your target audience use and build a credible presence on them. Sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram are effective in building brand awareness. The time you spend on social media inspiring and engaging with potential and existing clients should be seen as a relationship-building exercise, one that’s vital to propelling your business forward.
Tip: Keep an active and consistent social media presence. Share valuable content relating to your industry, tips and tricks. Upload photos of past or current projects you’re working on with SEO-friendly (Search Engine Optimisation) captions to help expose you to a wider network of customers. Make sure you keep an eye on what your competition is doing on social media too.
2. Don’t Ignore Insurance
Get covered! Tradies are exposed to more risks than most industries, so it’s vital you invest in the right insurance policies for your needs. Public liability, workers’ compensation, tools protection, income protection and vehicle insurance are just some of the covers you’ll want to look into to see which ones are best for you. Insurance can be expensive, but smart tradies will get a good cover to safeguard against costly issues.
Tip: Engage with the services of a reputable insurance broker for the safest option. Their job is to work for you, offer good advice and make sense of the insurance jargon. They will ensure you have all the covers required for your specific line of work, whilst saving you time and money in the process. If you do need to make a claim, an insurance broker will help with this too.
3. Obtain the Right Licenses
Excellent customer service is one thing, but if you don’t have the required licenses to do the work legally, you’re going to lose your client base (and your reputation) pretty damn quickly. The type of licenses needed vary between states, industries, job size and business structure – so make sure you do your research first.
Tip: Check with your state’s licensing body to assist you with the information you need to get started. Customers will be able to check through licensing sites whether you have the right ones for the job before hiring you too. You’ll also want to include all your relevant licenses on your website to give peace of mind to any potential customers.
4. Create a Professional Website for Credibility
Word of mouth isn’t enough anymore - your digital presence is important. Social media is one part of it, but without a professional website too, it’s easy to lack credibility. A well-designed website which is optimised for SEO helps to inform and educate clients about who you are and what you do. It also acts as an online portfolio of the work you’ve done and the projects you’re involved in. This is a great selling point for people to want to do business with you! A good website will also help to raise awareness of your business and build organic traffic so potential clients find you in the major search engine results.
Tip: Make sure your site is loaded with lots of information and pictures. Users should be able to clearly and quickly identify what it is you do and the services you provide, with photographic evidence of recent work, contact details and an online enquiry form.
5. Save Time Through the Right Tools
Not the tools of the trade, but online tools and apps that are designed to help you run your business more efficiently. Take advantage of accounting software and invoicing apps on your smartphone so you’re up-to-date with payments and compliant with everything. Use online tools like Hipages to alert you when someone is looking for someone with your skills in the area and tracking apps to manage the hours you’ve worked easily.