Let’s face it: Businesses thrive when customers have something to talk about. But as a remodeling contractor potentially dealing with project delays, client expectations and vendor relationships, it can be difficult to drum up that kind of enthusiasm. Add to that the fact that it’s hard to get an edge on competition with a number of firmly established remodelers already operating in most areas. So just how did they build those businesses? The key is through word-of-mouth — client referrals allowing customers to come to the project with baked-in trust in a remodeler’s professionalism and skills.
Here’s how to get that kind of referral system started for your business:
Operate as a model of professionalism
It goes without saying, but clients only recommend those contractors who have given them an excellent experience. That means you’ll need to deliver quality service — not just at the beginning of the project but throughout its completion. Of course, like most things, that’s easier said than done. There are a couple of areas where contractors tend to get into trouble:
- Managing client expectations. Many contractors perceive themselves as skilled craftsmen, not account managers. But when you graduate to your own remodeling business, you must be able to span both arenas. “Under promise, over deliver” is the modus operandi for remodelers, who will have to work harder than ever to earn client trust, due to the poor reputation of contractors in general.
- Listening to what clients want and what they actually need. Remodeling is a stressful event for homeowners. For more than one couple, it’s even been the impetus for divorce. Clients don’t have your expertise and experience, and are often going into projects blind or have just enough information to be dangerous. It takes some finesse to offer alternatives without dismissing customer concerns outright, which can read as condescending.
- Receiving criticism. It’s easy to dismiss negative client feedback as a case of misinformation. After all, homeowners often have unrealistic expectations of how their remodel will transform their space. However, it pays to keep an open mind when fielding criticism. Clients may not always know the ins and outs of remodeling, but they know when they’ve gotten service with room for improvement.
Create a system to receive feedback
Contractors wouldn’t be in business if they didn’t think they were already delivering excellent service. Meanwhile, there could be massive gaps between perception and reality. Elevate your business by offering a system to receive client feedback. GuildQuality is one such service — designed specifically with remodeling contractors in mind — that allows you to collect and read surveys from past customers. If you keep seeing the same response appearing on survey after survey, you’ll have a much better idea of what you need to work on, and knowing is half the battle.
Develop actionable goals for improvement
Good business leaders understand failure is just another word for improvement, and that’s true whether you’re running a Fortune 500 company or your own remodeling business. Still, “professionalism” is a somewhat vague goal; so once you have some idea of what you’d like to work on, it’s best to develop a clear, trackable target for yourself. For instance, your objective shouldn’t be “improve project timelines,” but more precise, such as “narrow the window between an executed contract and project start to two days,” and so forth. Actionable items require specific, definable goals.
Implement a referral system and thank customers who respond
These days, online review systems like Yelp will do the work of a referral service for you, but you do need to ask clients to complete responses. Stay aware of your business’ online presence, and be sure to personally thank any clients who provide positive feedback — with a suggestion they recommend your services to their family and friends if the need arises. Also consider emailing a newsletter to past customers with information that’s both fun and dynamic, so as not to appear too self-serving. Meanwhile, you’ll remind readers to forward your contact information to a friend if they see fit, making it easier than ever for them to pass your name on.
Erin Vaughan is a blogger, gardener and aspiring homeowner. She currently resides in Austin, TX where she writes full time for Modernize.com, with the goal of empowering homeowners with the expert guidance and educational tools they need to take on big home projects with confidence.
Modernize is a driving force in online lead generation – connecting high-quality local contractors with homeowners looking to complete home improvement projects of all kinds. Modernize also focuses heavily on making things energy efficient through sustainable home improvements such as solar panels and upgraded roofing. Learn more about Modernize and how to get involved here: https://modernize.com/contact.