There is a broad spectrum of quality when it comes to customers.
Some just want the cheapest price, don’t respect your time, and don’t care to understand what it takes to run a business. Then there are others who will pay just about anything and be grateful they found you.
I learned early to only deal with the latter (at least as much as possible) as I found that my enjoyment and profits were mostly determined by who I worked for.
But, it wasn’t easy. You can’t just make a decision to suddenly have a consistent flow of great customers. Getting cheap customers by lowering your prices is easy. You must work to find the great ones. It takes time, and more notably, it takes strategic effort.
So, how do you find these so called “quality customers?” That’s exactly what I share in this article.
How NOT To Do It
Many handymen operate their businesses willy nilly, take every job they can get from any customer they can get, and hope and pray their phones ring with referrals.
Typically their strategy is to win the customers over with the lowest price. Somewhere along the way they’ve been tricked into believing that price is the main decision point for customers. But it’s not. As I explain in detail in my book on pricing, there are many more factors that effect a customer’s decision on who to hire.
These same handymen tend to shy away from marketing their services, and if they do try some marketing, they will only attempt the lowest effort, lowest cost methods such as business cards, flyers, craigslist ads, and buying leads.
This is a great strategy IF your goal is to become cheap labor for people who don’t respect you or your time.
But, if you are reading this, I get the sense that isn’t what you want. You want the respect, profits, and enjoyment you deserve from your business. You’ve worked hard to gain the skills you have and you should be compensated for that.
Here are some tips (and hopefully some motivation) for finding better clients.
Do More Marketing
If you want to have a highly profitable and thriving handyman business, you must spend some time and money marketing your business.
By strictly relying on word of mouth, you will make less money. I do not recommend it.
In order to find great customers, you need a large volume to choose from. You want to have enough leads so you can afford to lose some.
If you do small jobs, you want to have enough leads so free quotes are NOT a requirement for staying busy.
That’s because certain customers aren’t worth working for. I hate to say it, and it sounds negative or elitist, but that’s just the way it is. Some people have unreasonable expectations and are only looking to get a bargain on cheap labor.
If you’re hesitant to spend time marketing your business, I get it. I really do. It costs money, it takes time, and it doesn’t always bring immediate results. It can even seem like your wasting your time. It can be hard to muster up the energy to keep working after a day of handyman jobs.
But, I encourage you to look at marketing as an investment because that’s what it is. It’s not just another expense or time suck. It’s a critical component for a profitable and sustainable service business.
Outside of the fact that good marketing attracts more and better customers, it’s also a smart move in terms of financial security. Just relying on referrals is a risky strategy.
If you’re ready to get serious about marketing, the most important thing to do now is to ACT.
Maybe that means buying some marketing books. Maybe that means trying a strategy you’ve been thinking about for a while. Maybe that means working on your website.
Whatever it is, there are many ways to generate leads for a home repair business. Don’t ask yourself “what’s the best way to market my services?” Instead, ask “what’s one effective way to market my services?” Then go do it. You might suck at first, but you’ll get better. It might not even work as well as you hoped. But you’ll learn from it. Keep trying until you find something that works for you.
Personally, I’ve tried all kinds of marketing. I’ve tried craigslist, paid for leads, flyers, and even went knocking door to door! The hands down most effective (and cost effective) method I’ve found is online marketing. It’s worked extremely well for me and for many other handymen I’ve mentored.
If you’d like save time and learn the exact step by step process I used to grow my handyman business from scratch using online marketing, check out this free video training series.
Get Good At Saying No
Once you have a solid flow of new leads (and even earlier if possible), it’s time to start saying “no.”
Say no to jobs that aren’t profitable. Say no to unreasonable customers. Say no to anything that takes time and doesn’t bring results.
Most handymen are terrible at saying no – myself included. Our helpful nature makes us want to help all customers. However, the idea that we can help everyone, or somehow create more time to fit more jobs into our already booked schedule is an illusion.
The counterintuitive reality is that in order to help the most people, you need to say no MORE often.
You must say no in order to create time and space to actually work on our business instead of just in our business.
The problem with saying no is that it goes against our natural psychological tendencies. We all fear missing out on an opportunity. It may even seem like a bad financial decision to say no. But, this is a scarcity mindset.
In the long run you’ll have more customers and jobs to choose from because of saying no. And, the customers you do work for will be happier because of the great service you provide.
Put Quality First
Even if you have to redo a job. Even if it puts you behind schedule. Even if you lose money on the job. Always put quality first.
From my experience, the best customers place a very high value on service providers who consistently get the job done well.
Because hardly anybody does. Most handymen, plumbers, electricians, and others are in a hurry. They underbid and in an effort to stay profitable, they cut corners. Underbidding a job is not the customers fault, it’s yours, and if you put it on the customer, you will lose money and your good reputation.
Your reputation is what pays the bills in the long run, not having the lowest bid.
Equally, and arguable more important than quality, is trust. The best customers want somebody they can trust, and are willing to pay more for it. In fact, great customers likely won’t even hire you unless they trust you.
I find the hardest times to be honest are when customers ask me about stuff I don’t know. I don’t want to look dumb and want to pretend like I know everything, but that’s just dishonest. Customers can smell a bullshitter a mile away.
The crazy thing is that when I’m just honest and say “I don’t know,” I gain instant trust. They suddenly realize that I’m not going to comprise their home just to make a quick buck. People crave that raw authenticity because it’s so rare.
Sure, you may lose that job, but once you have that trust they will come back again and again, asking you to do virtually everything. You become their trusted advisor for one of their most valuable assets.
As you can see from the tips above, great clients aren’t just found – you actually create them.
First you have to find them, then turn them into great clients.
The bad news is that it takes work. The good news is that it isn’t rocket science and anybody can do it with consistent, strategic effort.
By running your business with a clear intention behind each action instead of just taking what you can get, you will slowly separate yourself from the pack, grow a list of amazing customers you love working for, and make more money than you ever thought possible in this business.