The Hidden Problem of Contracting

Millions of contractors share a problem. It’s so common that to many contractors, it’s just something they think they have to live with. It no longer even occurs to them that they can do anything about it. It hides in the corners preventing them from making a good profit.

What is this problem? NOT ENOUGH CUSTOMERS.

How do I know this? I’ve been a contractor inLos Angelessince 1979, for over 30 years. We’ve been through several recessions where many of my competitors have gone belly up. For me, the saving grace that has allowed me to build a stable 25-person electrical contracting company has been having enough customers.

If you’re a contractor, let me ask you: What would happen if you had two or three times as many customers waiting for bids? Wouldn’t you bid your jobs higher, sell more jobs, and make more profit? For most contractors, the answer is yes. But why is the answer yes? After all, contractors need to do a lot of things right to make a profit, not just find customers.

There are a lot of steps in contracting – and a lot of things that can go wrong. From the moment a customer first calls you to the moment you’re paid in full on a completed job, you must handle each step and many details skillfully. You must bid the job, sell the job, schedule the work, purchase material, organize all the aspects of the work, complete each aspect satisfactorily, and finally, get paid.

Fortunately, most contractors do well enough at these steps that if they could just get enough customers, they could take it from there and make a fine profit. The one thing most contractors agree they have a problem with is not enough customers.

Getting customers is done in two steps. The first is promotion. Promotion is getting the word out so that you get calls or e-mails from customers. Contractors have typically done this with Yellow Pages, flyers, telemarketing, and even radio and TV ads. Today, of course, a lot of promotion is done on the internet. When internet promotion is done properly a contractor can expect a large percentage of qualified customers looking for their specific services to find the contractor’s website and then call or e-mails them.

Once your promotion has gotten the customer to call, the second step is sales — bidding the job and selling the customer on your doing the job.

Of the two steps, promotion and sales, promotion is the more important. With a large number of people calling, even if you don’t have a silver sales tongue, you can still land a high enough percentage to make a profit. In addition, if you have enough people calling, you can decide not to bid jobs that you suspect will be less profitable.  You can operate with a higher profit margin that will compensate for those jobs that don’t go perfectly. With enough customers calling, the sales, bidding, and construction skills of most contractors are good enough that they can run profitably.

Until very recently, the biggest source of promotion for contractors has been Yellow Pages. Unfortunately, Yellow Pages aren’t terribly effective — after all when a customer is looking for a contractor, your ad is almost indistinguishable from all the other ads jammed on the page alongside yours. Yet, Yellow Pages are very expensive. Thousands of dollars a year for the larger Yellow Page ads is not unusual.

With more customers each year turning to the Internet to find contractors, the effectiveness of Yellow Pages is sinking ever lower. Your customers are now increasingly looking for your contracting company on the Internet. Here’s the good news. If you start promoting your business on the Internet or improve that promotion, attracting the numbers and types of customers that you want is a lot more effective and will likely be less expensive than Yellow Pages.

Effective promotion, whether on the Internet or off, depends on a specific skill set. Knowing contracting isn’t enough. There are marketing skills involved in developing an attractive website and then driving traffic to it.

As an example from every day life, a boy might watch cars drive by his house every day and think that he’d like to drive a car, too. But if he turned the key in the family sedan and started tootling down the road, he would quickly learn that just because he can watch others drive, doesn’t mean he has the skills for it. I wouldn’t want to be in the car with him until he got the hang of it. Nor would I want the Internet promotion of my contracting company in the hands of an inexperienced marketer.

The skills for Internet promotion for contractors are not learned by doing contracting jobs each day nor even by doing Internet promotion for retail sales companies like vitamin stores. That’s where HappyContractor comes in. We’ve learned to get contractors to the top of page 1 of Google, to dominate their market on the Internet. Take a look at where some of our clients are, starting with my own electrical contracting company in L.A. If you go to Google and type in search terms that Los Angeles customers might type in when searching for an electrician such as “electrician Los Angeles” or  “Los Angeles electrician,” my website usually comes up #1 on the first page.

We charge a reasonable start-up fee and a monthly fee thereafter. If you’re not on page 1 of Google yet, we can get you there within about six months. If you’re already on page 1, our objective is to get you to the top of page 1. You will start getting the number of customers your need to solve the problem that unlocks profitability.

Call us today at 800-990-5811 between 9-5 Pacific Time. We look forward to talking with you.

Kim Hopkins, CEO