We all know it can be difficult for gas engineers/small-medium businesses in the plumbing, heating, gas and electrical industry to find new customers, to build a reputation and be competitive, so here is some advice on how to become the next Charlie Mullins of Pimlico Plumbers:
How to get your name out there
1. A good job is always worth it
You do a great job, and you know it, and a good job speaks for itself both in job satisfaction for you, and in customer satisfaction with your services.
But there’s no harm at all in making the most of a job well done and using it as a marketing opportunity. So why not speak to your happy customers and ask for recommendations? Who else do they know who needs their boiler fixing or servicing, that leaky shower sorting out or their house rewiring?
If you’re in business, people are probably always telling you to get out there and network to get more customers, and this is just a very targeted version of that. You already have a customer who is thrilled with your work. They are primed to want to tell people about you and what a good job you just did, so why not let them?
The best time to ask for a recommendation is to strike while the iron is hot, and speak to your happy customer at the end of the job you’ve just done for them, particularly if they are singing your praises and obviously really pleased with the work you’ve just done.
Don’t leave it too long after you’ve finished the work, though, as you may have lost the momentum.
2. How to make the most of word of mouth to make more sales
We all know how important word of mouth is in the industry. It can bring you more work, and it’s great marketing that provides social proof that you’ve done a good job, which is far more convincing to new potential customers than you telling everyone how great you are.
So how do you use it to make more sales?
You’ve collected positive reviews on sites such as RatedPeople, Check a Trade and TrustMark, you have glowing testimonials, but what do you actually do with them to bring in new customers? ("Which review website should I use for my plumbing and heating company?")
Well, obviously, you should be using your testimonials and reviews on your website, on your social media, and in your marketing materials, but one way that can make you stand out is if you make a video showing the very best of what your customers have to say about you.
Even better, record some of your customers and get video testimonials. Those really are the ultimate in social proof, as there’s no denying that they are real people who really said all those good things about you (Check our video testimonials here).
Why not make a video with shots of your written testimonials and reviews, mixed with some of your video testimonials, and someone from your company who is confident on camera to introduce your company or perhaps to do a voiceover of your services?
That way, you’re letting your happy customers speak for you, while also introducing what you can do for anyone who is new to your company.
3. Be a business person, not just a plumber or an electrician
When you own a business, or are self-employed, you aren’t just a gas fitter or a heating engineer; you have to be the marketing department, the face of the business, and the salesperson all at the same time.
Where to start?
Do your research, know who you are targeting and who your ideal customer is. Are you a high-end engineer who wants to work for large companies with an equally large budget to get the high rate that you know you deserve? Do you prefer to work on domestic projects because, yes, you want to make good money, but you really enjoy working with people on their homes?
Knowing those things tells you how to market, what language to use, and who the decision maker is that you want to approach.
• Ask people for help
You don’t have to go it alone, even if you run a one-man band. Don’t be afraid to ask your friends and family for help spreading the word, or why not get to know other business owners and see if you can team up and go for bigger jobs together?
If you’re only qualified as an electrician, for example, what’s to stop you working with a plumber from another company to do up a house? You’ve nothing to lose there, only something to gain, and so has the plumber. That’s a win-win.
• Use tools
There are so many free and paid tools out there on the internet that can boost your productivity and get you organised, without having to sit there with a pencil and paper, or a dreaded spreadsheet.
(Read: "How to grow your trade business with social media?")
Why not try some of the automated tools to get your social media marketing working for you, while you get on with the job in hand? (Read blog post: 11 free or cheap tools to help you grow your business)
One piece of software that can really help you make the most of your business is Commusoft (https://commusoft.co.uk). It is designed specifically for electricians, oil technicians, plumbers, gas engineers and heating engineers, helping you manage your quotations, jobs, customers, invoices and your engineers’ diaries all in one place, and integrating with many of the well-known accounting packages, such as Quickbooks and Sage, letting you manage every job perfectly from start to finish.
4. Be confident - don't undervalue your product or service
You’re qualified and certified, and have so many years’ experience, so be confident in yourself and in what you offer. What you do matters. It is a real skill that you have, and a valuable one.
When you don’t have a lot of work queueing and you’ve got bills to pay, it’s easy to just take any old job for any old rate to get the money in, but while you are taking low paid jobs, you’re taking up precious time that you could be using to market yourself and bring in great paying jobs.
There’s an often-told story in engineering circles that a company hired an engineer to fix a piece of equipment, and when he arrived, he took a look at it, gave it a kick and it started working perfectly. Then the engineer handed the business owner a bill for £45, and the owner said “You were only here for five minutes, and all you did was give it a kick.” The engineer said “Yes, but you’re paying me to know where to kick.”
That’s you. You’re the one who knows where to kick, because of your experience and your training. And that’s your value.
Have the confidence to know what you are worth, and to ask for the going rate, or even more if you feel your service and your experience deserves it.
If you’d like to find out more about what Commusoft can do for your business, watch our demo (https://info.commusoft.co.uk/commusoft-short-demo-video) or give us a call on 0203 0266 266.