For any contractor worth his or her salt, being clear about the best and most cost-effective ways to generate leads is critical. Business is getting better in the industry, but it doesn’t mean you can afford to just throw money at lead generation without getting a big bang for your buck.

In fact, continuous contractor lead generation is also the answer to keeping the sales pipeline full when business is hot and it seems like your team can’t take on any more work.

Yet lead generation just for the sake of lead generation will result in wasted time and resources, and who needs that?. The challenge is to figure out how to effectively spend your organization’s time and money on lead generation in a way that provides consistent, high-quality leads that convert and keep your pipeline intact.

No-Cost or Low-Cost: Three Great Lead Generation Sources

Before designating budget dollars to those traditional marketing and advertising channels (like radio/tv, newspaper or billboards), we challenge you to try something new: give the no-cost and low-cost contractor lead generation sources the attention they deserve. Here’s where to start:

#1: Contractor Review Sites and Directories

The online space has opened up the doors to customer-generated marketing and a tool we absolutely love when it comes to retention and referrals: online reviews. Contractor review sites that are top of mind for builders and retrofitters: Houzz, Porch, HomeAdvisor and Angie’s List — but the list goes on.

For each of these sites, it most often takes no more than an hour or two to set your business up — you’ll need basic business information, photos, and links, depending on the profile. Setting your business up on review sites benefits you by:

  • 1) Driving traffic to your own website. All of the review sites listed above allow you the opportunity to post links to your own site. (You can capitalize on this even further by setting up custom landing pages depend on where traffic comes from.) Profiles on these sites, populated by a generous amount of online reviews, also help increase your search ranking in Google so others can easily find you, leading to the second benefit:
  • 2) Introducing you to customers you aren’t already marketing to. Setting up profiles on the right sites that speak to your target market means giving yourself exposure to potential leads and clients that you may not have access to in any other way.

The best part about this? It’s free, it’s simple and it’s effective! Our customers report that over 35% of their customers who found them through online sites like these have turned into signed contracts!

#2: Referrals

The reason we love online reviews is that they often lead to a favorite lead generation method that costs a minimal amount: referrals. JobFLEX customers report an average of nearly 40 percent conversion from lead to sold job when they originate from referrals!

Word-of-mouth marketing and direct referrals from happy customers is often the best type of customer-generated promotion you can hope for, since those customers are likely talking to people just like themselves. In your case, that means expanding your network of ideal clients simply by over-delivering on the experience for the ones you already have.

Here’s an example: offer a $25 gift card or other incentives to current customers who refer new business. Why we love this:

    • It’s easy. It doesn’t take long to add a referral incentive detail to the bottom of your invoice, or create an email or snail mail campaign to go to existing customers.
    • You can keep it in-house. No additional hiring is necessary to set up an incentive campaign. In fact, it needs to come from you — you know your business and your customers best.
    • You can kill two birds with one stone. Create incentives that expand the more your customers do. Refer a friend? Get X. Write an online review? Get X. You get the idea — and you can build your online review base in the process.

Offering incentives to increase referrals isn’t free, but it can be simple. Your cost per lead will likely be lower than advertising, so take advantage of the customer network you’ve already built.

#3: Repeat Customers

Repeat customers are the bread and butter of your business. Some contractors believe that their current customers simply won’t need them for years to come. We disagree. Contractors using JobFLEX in their businesses report that over 40 percent of the customers they followed up with after completing jobs ended up signing new contracts for additional work.

Generating repeat business and retaining your current customer base requires additional effort, but doesn’t have to be intrusive to your current business operations. You’ll want to create additional touchpoints — gather customer emails and create ongoing communications that are valuable and personal to them. Consider referral incentives that can also increase repeat business: refer a friend; receive a discount on your next project. Retain and refer. (#efficiency.)

Among the benefit of retention being a relatively simple (and affordable) way to increase business, we promote retention because you’ll also find that it:

  • Decreases administrative costs. Reduce costs when it comes to onboarding and marketing as you continue working with clients that are familiar with your processes.
  • Allows you to work only with clients you love. If you’re fortunate to be picky about the work you take on, a retention plan gives you the ability to only continue working with the clients you truly love working with. It’s a win-win for you and them.

Retention is the name of the game, and online reviews, referrals, and repeat business are the way to success.

Contractor Lead Generation Done Smarter, Not Harder

It’s time to stop overlooking the no-cost and low-cost lead generation methods that offer you the opportunity to stretch your resources farther, more effectively. A $5,000 advertising campaign might bring 250 new leads in the door (who may or may not be qualified), but capitalizing on what you’re already doing and the people you’re already working with can go much further in the long run.

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