7 Ways to Find New Construction Customers
To grow your construction business, you need to get in front of potential new customers and convince them to hire you. Here's how to do it.
For most businesses in any industry, finding new customers can be challenging. Yet having a steady stream of new customers is crucial to building a successful construction company. While repeat business from established customers is important, it’s also a good idea to routinely find new customers so you’re not too dependent on your current ones. Here are some of the top practices and methods for finding new construction customers.
It’s courteous for contractors to let the neighbors know they’ll be doing work on a home in the neighborhood. This initial contact may also be used as a marketing opportunity to find potential customers.
“New construction projects take months to build from start to finish,” says Serena Miller, the marketing manager for Seattle-based general contractor Pro.com. “By the time the house is finished, the whole neighborhood knows about the project. Take this opportunity to introduce yourself!”
Miller advises sending an introductory note to the surrounding neighbors, letting them know how to get in touch with you if they have questions or concerns about the project. Not only is this a professional courtesy, but an easy way to build a good relationship with the neighborhood.
“Some folks are just curious, but I’ve found that a surprising number of folks are considering a similar project,” Miller says.
Partner Up With Suppliers
Sometimes, customers are looking for contractors who use a specific supplier’s product. They’ll go to the product supplier’s site and try to find contractors who use that product for their projects. Asking your existing supplier to add you to their contractor directory, if they have one, or inquiring about marketing opportunities might just make your partnership a lot more valuable and profitable.
Molly Werner, senior brand manager for MoistureShield, says their site features a “Find a Contractor tool” that allows contractors to partner with MoistureShield to direct homeowners their way. “Homeowners perusing our products simply enter their city, state, or zip code to find an experienced pro in their area,” she says. The company also uses an awards-based point system, allowing contractors to accrue points toward merchandise with every purchase.
Use Direct-Mail Marketing
In this day and age, with so many people opting for digital marketing strategies, traditional strategies are often forgotten. However, these “old” strategies can still bring in a lot of new customers for construction companies.
In particular, casting a wide net through direct-mail marketing — sending actual paper mail to potential customers — still works, says Patrick Hogan, CEO of Handle.com, which provides construction businesses with lien management software and financing solutions. Enticing wording, of course, is key.
“List down your services in an easy-to-digest design,” he advises. “Incorporating a promotion like discounted or bundled rates or free inspections can also drum up interest and get you better responses.”
Offer Incentives to Current Customers
Your current and former customers can be your greatest promoters. If you’ve done a great job for them, these referrals might come naturally. But to help ensure they’re sending customers your way, you can offer a little encouragement through incentives.
Hogan’s method? A post-service inspection that ends in a request for referrals. “Offer a discounted rate for future work or free add-on services in exchange for warm leads and introductions,” he says. “Not only are you potentially getting referrals from previous customers, but you can also get repeat business from the inspection.”
By establishing yourself as the local authority for your industry in the area, you help build out your brand awareness and become the go-to expert for customers who need work done.
AM radio has been a boon for Andy Lindus, COO of Lindus Construction. “After doing one or two home improvement shows a year on Minneapolis station WCCO, our company was asked to turn it into a weekly program,” he says. “Our live call-in show has really grown the remodeling and construction side of our business. It allows us to establish ourselves as an industry expert and connect with current and potential customers through authentic conversations.”
YouTube provides another way for pros to establish authority. The Lindus Construction channel allows current and potential customers to go behind the scenes on their home improvement projects. It has more than 1.3 million views.
“Learning background information about our company and seeing our installers in action makes it a less intimidating endeavor to call our company for a bid,” Lindus says.
If a radio show sounds like a lot of work, try podcasts once or twice a week to build up a digital presence. Or offer free in-person classes highlighting simple DIY projects. You can host and promote your class on sites like Meetup, or even set up a Facebook event. Rest assured, if you can teach people how to replace a window or fix concrete cracks, they’ll hire you when they have a bigger construction or remodeling project.
In this day and age, a website is mandatory for any local company wishing to get new customers, since most people who need a contractor turn to Google. Social media is another excellent way to promote your brand and make sure people recognize it.
“Social media has given us a ton of traction by highlighting contractor projects, which gives homeowners deck design ideas and also showcases the contractor’s work,” Werner says.
Evaluate your online presence and make sure it’s easy for new clients to find you. “Does your business have an updated website with professional photos and a compelling company story? Do you have a Facebook or Instagram profile where you post your latest announcements?” Pro.com’s Miller says.
“A number of our clients hired us because they saw the photos on our website and wanted to build a similar project. The wider your reach, the more opportunities you have to build trust with prospective clients.”
Lindus notes his company’s YouTube channel also assists in organic search engine ranking. When potential customers Google construction companies, Lindus Construction pops up closer to the top of the list.
Place Search Engine Ads
Besides improving your website and social media presence, consider search engine ads. Nick Miller, a home construction contractor from ContractorAdvisorly, calls them one of the fastest ways to find new customers.
“A website will require you to work on its search engine optimization before you start to see any traffic,” he says. “Social media will require you to build out a local following before your posts start to gain any traction. Search engine ads on places like Google can send instant targeted traffic, bringing in potential leads and new customers to you.”
It doesn’t matter how long your website has been live or how much you’ve been working on it, Miller adds, only that your ad is good enough to get customers to click on it.