Whether you are just starting out or if you are a seasoned decorator, generating enquiries and new business is an essential skill.
No matter how successful your are, or how much ‘word of mouth’ business you usually get, being able to generate new business is something you must be able to do if you want your business to last.
Generating a consistent stream of new business not only means that you won’t have to worry about quiet spells, but it also means you can be choosier on what work you do.
For example, you might think you are doing well because word of mouth referrals alone always keeps you booked up 2 months in advance.
This is a good position to be in…but it could be even better.
Imagine if as a sole trader decorator, you got a steady 10 enquiries a week and on average you convert 50% of your enquiries into deals.
You couldn’t keep up with the work!
Not at all.
If you’re booked up 3 months in advance and have 10 enquiries a week coming in, guess what you can do?
Put your prices up!
And not only can you put your prices up, but you can also be pickier on the work you want to do!
Let’s say you had 10 enquiries come in. You know at your usual prices you would normally get 5 out of 10 jobs.
However, you are booked up several weeks in advance. So, you don’t need to close 5 out of 10.
You only really need to get 1 out of 10!
So, what do you do?
Well, firstly you can get rid of the jobs you don’t really want.
3 of the enquiries involve painting spindles…no thanks.
2 of them are for exterior work and you prefer to work inside. Pass.
5 potential jobs left. 4 that would be ok, and 1 that you’d quite enjoy.
Well, now you price the one job you actually want at your normal rate and the other 4 at a higher than usual rate.
You could even quote for the spindles jobs and exterior work you don’t want at a hugely inflated price.
Now, whatever happens is good.
You either get a job you want at your normal rate. Or you get a job you weren’t so keen on, but you make more profit on it!
Oh, and don’t feel bad about charging more for jobs you don’t really want to do.
Let’s be honest, very few decorators actually get paid what they are worth.
It is a completely underappreciated trade.
So, what you think is overcharging is likely just what decorators are actually worth. I mean, let’s be honest, you got hired at that price, so the customer certainly values your skills to be worth that money!
Well this all sounds great, but how do we start getting loads of enquiries?
Well, recently I asked a community of decorators to let me know their strategies for getting work if they are having a quiet spell.
Below you will find the suggestions. All are tried and tested techniques.
The key is to keep pursuing new business even when you are booked up months in advance!
Remember, it is basic supply and demand! The more customers who want your services, the more you can start charging!
- Contact local property developers – A quick Google search will help you find property developers in your area. Get in touch with them and try to arrange a meeting. As a minimum, just let them know who you are and that if they ever need a decorator you’d be happy to quote.
- Get your van sign written – One of payment and it’s 24/7 advertising. A no brainer for me.
- Do a leaflet campaign – Or even put business cards through the letter box! You don’t need to do as many as you think. Most decorators will find success from just 150-500 leaflets. Pick an area local to you and spend an evening walking round posting flyers.
- Google ads – You can do this yourself relatively easily via the Google homepage. You can set daily and monthly limits too, so you never get a shock bill!
- Facebook ads – Pound for pound one of the best places to spend your advertising money. You can be super targeted and get a lot of traction very quickly with a reasonably small outlay.
- Local Facebook groups – Free and effective. What could be better!? Every town and community will have a local facebook group. Find yours and start posting in there. You’ll find thousands of potential customers that are practically on your doorstep!
- Contact other local trades – Get in touch with local builders, carpenters, plasterers etc. Sometimes you don’t even have to phone them. You might just be able to find them in the local pub on a Friday afternoon. Introduce yourself and build a local network.
- Contact other decorators – I’ve always loved the community in the decorating industry. Reach out to local decorators and 9 times out of 10 you’ll get a warm response. You may well be able to sub for them on some upcoming jobs.
- Build a website – If you haven’t got your own website then it is time to get yourself sorted. I built my website for under £200 in less than 4 hours. It is nowhere near as complicated as it once was. Get yourself over to godaddy.com and register a domain.
- Increase your social media presence – If you are not on all the major platforms then it is time to address that. I know what it’s like…you don’t understand Instagram…or you don’t like facebook. I get it. In fact, I personally refused to go on facebook until this year! Now it is the number one source of traffic to my website. Nearly half of all my website visitors come from facebook and I almost didn’t bother with it. Don’t miss out on potential business just because you can’t really be bothered to have multiple social media accounts.
- Build a relationship with your local decorator merchant – Once you get to know the staff there you might start getting referrals from them. They might even let you leave a stack of your business cards on the counter!
- Put your business card on local notice boards – Smaller villages will have these around the village hall. Sometimes you’ll find a notice board in the hairdressers or local newsagents. Pop a card in the window. If it’s free, then there is nothing to lose really.
- Advertise in local town/parish magazines – Most towns and villages will have something like this. If your hometown doesn’t then check out the surrounding areas.
- Contact local schools and colleges – This is especially fruitful just before the summer holidays. Often lots of decorators will get drafted in to complete a load of work over the summer holidays. Make sure you are on their radar!
- Be opportunistic – If you see a property having renovations done, pop in and have a chat with the site manager. Be brave! Walk on to the site and see what happens. It will take 2 minutes to introduce yourself and it could lead to months of work. You never know!
- Team up with the local window cleaner – Do a promo where they get their windows cleaned after every exterior job. You pay the window cleaner out of your profit. Everyone is happy.
- Join the Decorators Forum work leads group – It is a group dedicated to finding and offering decorating work.
- Use an online lead service – Rated people, Checkatrade or Bark can all help.
- Contact your local lettings agent – Lettings agents and estate agents always need work doing. Drop in and introduce yourself. If you are a decent all round handyman then you will find lots of work available with them. You might start by tightening up the odd handle or nailing down a loose floorboard and before you know it, you’re doing all the decorating work they have available.
- Look for a local networking group – BNI is a massive networking organisation. They have groups in most towns. Quick Google search and you’ll find one without a doubt! These can help not just will generating new business, but you can also learn a lot from the other people in the group.
- Get some advertising boards made up – Hang the up whilst you’re doing work and watch all the neighbours jot down your details.
- Recruitment agencies – Contact your local recruitment agency. They may well be able to find you short term contract work whilst you try to generate more of your own work.
I hope you find this helpful! For more tips feel free to connect with me on social media and join my free mailing list below!