According to the Annual Babson report, entrepreneurship has increased for the past couple of years because people are interested in running their own businesses, not because they simply need to start a business to survive—as was the case during the ‘Great Recession’. So if you think your business has a lot of competition now, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Especially with the internet at your customers’ fingertips it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle as they flip through the listings. So how do you maintain and grow your business in this ever increasing sea of competition?
Find and Grow Talent
Building a team of skilled, reliable workers can be tough to do, but it’s a necessity for your business. Getting a leg up means knowing how to find talent and get training for your growing staff.
First, let’s focus on finding talent. Trade workers aren’t falling from trees these days but fortunately there are a number of resources online that can help with your recruiting efforts.
- Craigslist is a perennial favorite for finding local help, particularly for contractors. Unfortunately, Craigslist job postings are no longer free, but at only $25 it’s still an excellent and highly localized option for many contractors to quickly fill an opening.
- ZipRecruiter is another excellent option as it provides the opportunity to post free job listings that get shared on over 100 job boards around the web. Job seekers can set up email alerts as well, so your posting likely will end up in many applicants’ mailboxes.
- Indeed also has a free job posting option and is one of the largest job boards on the web which makes it worth the time it takes to quickly set that up. If you have ongoing hiring needs, there are paid options that allow you to sponsor listings daily or set up an entire campaign.
- Twitter & Facebook are also great options for your recruiting efforts. You can use your business and personal accounts to reach out to your followers with job openings, and even try some paid advertising to assist in your efforts. A boosted post on Facebook can get thousands of impressions for as little as $10. Just define your target audience correctly to make sure you’re not displaying the post to people interested in carpentry in Timbuktu.
- Piggybacking on the previous idea, you can create an incentive for employee referrals. That should magnify the reach of any job postings you share. While you might not find an electrician when you share a post on Facebook, but you have a greater chance of reaching someone who at least knows an electrician. Putting a little money in that person’s pocket can be a great way to increase your likelihood of finding talent.
Growing talent is another area many businesses struggle with. Offering additional formal training to your employees might seem out of reach, but fortunately there are many state programs that can assist with this. At the state level, many states like Michigan have opportunities like the Skilled Trades Training Fund which assists with funding for in-demand skilled trades training. Each state will have their own regulations, but you’d be surprised at the opportunities that these sorts of programs can offer a small business. As an example, Michigan’s program allows up to six months of training for current employees at community colleges, trade schools and other approved providers.
Stand Out With Technology
There are several ways you can stick out from a crowd of contractors by leveraging technology. A good example of this is infrared technology for insulation contractors. As a customer, it’s a lot easier to trust a company that invests in this level of technology and can demonstrate exactly where the hot and cold spots are before getting to work. This sort of technology is something you can promote in your advertising and on your website to help differentiate your business and close more deals.
There are other less flashy ways that technology can improve your business as well. Take generating quotes as an example. Many contractors are still writing up sloppy, handwritten quotes or generating them from generic templates. With the internet making it easy to find companies and get quotes, making yours the most professional looking and with the most level of detail is a great way to tip things in your favor. This is precisely where job estimating software like JobFLEX can make a big impact on your ability to close quotes and manage your business.
JobFLEX is one of many inexpensive or free technology solutions that can help you streamline your operations and improve you and your staff’s productivity. TSheets did a nice job of putting together a collection of top apps for contractors, and this is a great place to start researching which apps might give you a leg up on competitors who are behind the technology curve.
Outhustle Your Competitors
Sometimes it just comes down to outhustling your competitors. In the world of contractors that means working hard (and consistently) on your marketing efforts. Obviously, it can be hard to keep up on all aspects of your business, but marketing is something that can’t get left behind. Consistently tackling a few important items can be a big difference maker when your competitors get lazy. Here are a few that are worth your time and attention:
- Keep your website current and easy to use (check out our website marketing guide for more details)
- Make sure you have accurate information listed on Google My Business (this is where Google gets the information from for their map results)
- Get listed on the contractor directories that people use! Check out our breakdown of the most used directories for contractors to decide which ones you should spend the most time on if you’re not using them already.
- Get reviews! This is possibly the one you’ll have to put some effort into on an ongoing basis but it’s worth the time and effort. Whether it’s your Google listing or your listing on Homeadvisor, potential clients are more likely to give your company a shot if you’ve received a lot of good reviews. Check out our blog post on the importance of reviews to learn more about how you can build customer reviews into your business process.