Insider Info From a Branch Manager

What makes you stand out?

It’s no secret that the electrical contracting industry is fiercely competitive, no matter what area of the industry you’re in. Standing out in the crowd and having a unique point of difference can be the difference between ultimately succeeding or failing as a business owner.

All too often I speak with contractors about this issue, and when I ask them “what is it that sets you apart?” the answers may vary somewhat, but I usually get a few key themes: “I’ve got <insert number here> years experience,” or “I give great customer service” are the usual responses. I hate to break it to you guys, but the truth is there are plenty of contractors in the area who have been in business just as long (if not longer) than you. Secondly, being polite to your customers doesn’t necessarily constitute great service. By the same token, there are lots of contractors out there who offer the same or better level of customer service as you do.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Here are a few ways to help you stand out:

Create Systems

Systemising your business makes it easier for you to do what you do best. Whether you’re on your own, or have a team working with you, having proper systems in place allows you to spend more time on the job, and less time with your head buried in other aspects of your business. I should note here that I’m not necessarily talking about the latest software or smartphone app to have hit the market. It could be that, or a good system could be anything from the way you write down information in your notebook, to the way you organise your diary or calendar, to having a specific list of questions you ask new customers when they call. Regardless of what shape they take on, good systems will help you to be more professional in the eyes of your customers. Making sure you have some kind of system in place for acquiring customers, scheduling workflow, completing jobs, and billing clients, as well as for marketing, finance and administrative aspects of your business allow you to be more efficient, productive, and above all, paints a great picture of your business for those who matter.

Tell the world

You’re a great electrician. Chances are that’s one of the key reasons you went into business in the first place. You know it. Your clients know it. But what about everyone else? A sure-fire way to get yourself noticed is by showing the world what you can do. Get your business onto social media, build a following by getting your friends and family to spread the word amongst their networks, and most importantly, take 15 minutes during or at the end of each successfully completed job to take a photo or 2 of the great work you’ve done, or even better, record a video chat with your client while they’re still euphoric about your terrific job, and upload it to your social media pages. Not only that, but any community-minded activities you take on (maybe you sponsor a local footy club, or volunteer your time for another local organisation), it won't help your business if you're the only person who knows about it. Posting regular updates about your work in the community helps you to show something unique about yourself and your business. Remember, most social media platforms allow you to sync across other platforms (I.e. syncing Instagram to Facebook and Twitter, etc), allowing you to save time by sharing to one place and letting the magic of the internet do the work for you. It’s also vitally important to regularly upload new content to your website. New content (particularly images and videos) help keep your website relevant and engaging. This also allows for a better hit rate on Google searches, ensuring you're more likely to get found than the next electrician.

Stay connected

Most of us use Facebook to stay connected with family and friends. Most contractors don't realise the opportunities presented by staying connected to the local branch/wholesaler that they shop with! Often wholesalers like Auslec/L&H offer up exclusive specials and competitions for customers through social media. This could mean extra savings & free promotion for your business to a massive audience!
So while browsing Facebook on your next break, connect with L&H and stay up to date by clicking here

Stay In Touch

It’s great to walk away from a job-well-done knowing that you’ve made a difference to your customer. But what happens after the glow wears off? How do you stay relevant to a customer after you’ve fulfilled their needs? It's quite simple. Stay in touch with them! Firstly, show them that you care by following up with them after you've completed their job. Set up an automated email service that sends an email to customers 2 weeks after you've billed them for their job. If you'd prefer to keep things more personal, then a quick courtesy call to ensure that they're still happy and (heaven forbid) nothing's broken down on them. Taking a genuine interest in your jobs AFTER they're completed shows clients that you really care. Invite your customers to engage in your social media pages. This can be as simple as posting a link to each different page to the bottom of your email template. It might also be talking to your customers about your online presence while you're working on their project. Finally, if you want to get really engaging with customers, set up a monthly newsletter through a provider like Mailchimp. From past experience, creating a worthwhile newsletter shouldn't take any more than 2 hours of your time, but, with the right content, is a great way to stay in the face of your customers, ensuring A: that they'll hire you again next time they need your services, and B: they'll refer you on to other people in the personal and professional networks.

It's important to note that the suggestions outlined above, along with the countless other ways you can differentiate your business don't have to cost a cent! Some of them will take time for you to create and manage. All of them, however, require you to be consistent in how you implement them. It's no good creating a new system if you're not going to be diligent in using it. By the same token, posting to social media is great for reaching your audience, but only if it's done regularly and consistently. As with all aspects of running a business, consistency is the key.

Author:  
Chris Karavasilis, Branch Manager 
L&H Taren Point, NSW