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DaveS79

Hi chaps hope all well.

 

Could do with bit of advice. As know from some of my posts started up on own 5 months ago and to say been a roller coaster is under statement. Still learning on my feet every day, dealing with customers, pricing and call outs to jobs had limited experience of.....for most part things going ok and don't think I regret decision but that solid dependable wage going in every Friday is missed at times. I decided to go with checkatrade, my builder etc to start with to try to get some work coming in. Am getting more and disheartened with these though and it really just seems to be a race to the bottom competition on price. Had leaflets made up, website etc and thinking of other paid for advertising that can be used to during quiet days ie Facebook ads, Google, gumtree etc.have any of these proved to be money well spent for you's during quiet times?

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Murdoch

Unfortunately you are now understanding the reality of how hard it is to establish yourself.

 

Year 1 is about covering costs and earning beer money. My first year netted about £6500 profit. Luckily for me the misses has a decent job, we had cash set aside, and our mortgage company allowed us 1 year of interest only payments.

 

The most effective marketing is turning up on time, doing the best job possible and don't argue with customers over a few pounds. 

 

Word of mouth is what you need. 

 

Looking back it was the end of my 3rd  year when things got easier. I'm at the end of my 10th year being SE now and in shedding difficult clients ...

 

Imho the trade sites can be a waste of money, as you are probably realise.

 

Hope this helps 

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DaveS79
40 minutes ago, Murdoch said:

Unfortunately you are now understanding the reality of how hard it is to establish yourself.

 

Year 1 is about covering costs and earning beer money. My first year netted about £6500 profit. Luckily for me the misses has a decent job, we had cash set aside, and our mortgage company allowed us 1 year of interest only payments.

 

The most effective marketing is turning up on time, doing the best job possible and don't argue with customers over a few pounds. 

 

Word of mouth is what you need. 

 

Looking back it was the end of my 3rd  year when things got easier. I'm at the end of my 10th year being SE now and in shedding difficult clients ...

 

Imho the trade sites can be a waste of money, as you are probably realise.

 

Hope this helps 

Thank Murdoch, much appreciated always good to head from someone who's been there. I always knew the first year would be difficult and if could make it past it things should get easier hopefully with word of mouth etc which is happening a little with trying to keep my work and advertising more locally based. Would be a lier to say disheartened at times with what people want to pay for a fully registered NIC business with all the overheads we have. Even while writing this had someone ring wanting to know how much 3 bed rewire is and wants to pay in monthly installmeents 😂. Lots of ways to throw money down the drain as well which I'm finding out

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Doc Hudson
1 hour ago, Murdoch said:

Looking back it was the end of my 3rd  year when things got easier. I'm at the end of my 10th year being SE now and in shedding difficult clients ...

 

 

Murdoch's above point echo's a statistic that I have read from guides about business start-ups; "approx. two thirds a new businesses fail within the first three years, but if you can get past five years of trading, you are generally doing things right to make a long term success".   Any third-party site that you have to pay to be listed on, and/or have to pay a fee to get the contact details for a prospective lead that you may not get, and/or have to give a percentage of the jobs earnings to someone else, should be avoided like the plague. Unless you have an abundance of spare cash that you are thinking of burning, shredding or just disposing of at the local waste site. The consideration for any type of advertising is how much will it cost you, and what value of new work will it need to generate to be a worthwhile investment. 

 

Just googled Checkatrade's FAQ, under their what will it cost? question they are talking of £70+VAT per month as a starting cost!  ttps://www.checkatrade.com/Join/FAQ.aspx#faq__question__whatwillitcost

That sounds expensive to me?  Advertising can be a bit like an unsecured investment in the stock market, you may get a big return, you may just break even or you may make a loss. But the basic rule is can you afford to loose that money?  

 

Doc H.      

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ProDave

When I first started I took out a small display advert in the printed copy of Yellow Pages that did quite well.  I would not do that now as YP have run the business down into the ground and the printed YP is an embarasingly small publication that I doubt anyone reads.  whether their on line offering is much better I doubt, but you should at least have the free basic listing on there.

 

I stopped that at about year 5 and have not advertised since.  All my trade comes from recommendations, an estate agent, and a few other tradesmen I know like plumbers and joiners.  Once you get to that point of enough work without advertising you know your business is established.

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DaveS79
3 hours ago, Doc Hudson said:

 

Murdoch's above point echo's a statistic that I have read from guides about business start-ups; "approx. two thirds a new businesses fail within the first three years, but if you can get past five years of trading, you are generally doing things right to make a long term success".   Any third-party site that you have to pay to be listed on, and/or have to pay a fee to get the contact details for a prospective lead that you may not get, and/or have to give a percentage of the jobs earnings to someone else, should be avoided like the plague. Unless you have an abundance of spare cash that you are thinking of burning, shredding or just disposing of at the local waste site. The consideration for any type of advertising is how much will it cost you, and what value of new work will it need to generate to be a worthwhile investment. 

 

Just googled Checkatrade's FAQ, under their what will it cost? question they are talking of £70+VAT per month as a starting cost!  ttps://www.checkatrade.com/Join/FAQ.aspx#faq__question__whatwillitcost

That sounds expensive to me?  Advertising can be a bit like an unsecured investment in the stock market, you may get a big return, you may just break even or you may make a loss. But the basic rule is can you afford to loose that money?  

 

Doc H.      

Thanks Doc. It is a big lay out on Checkatrade and the jury is still out for me on whether it is worth the expense. It has added something I think in terms of gaining reviews and touting them and membership on website, flyers etc. But in terms of a dependable source of income definately not

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Zeespark

Have you looked at local sites like Nextdoor etc Dave?

 

AndyGuinness

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DaveS79
52 minutes ago, ProDave said:

When I first started I took out a small display advert in the printed copy of Yellow Pages that did quite well.  I would not do that now as YP have run the business down into the ground and the printed YP is an embarasingly small publication that I doubt anyone reads.  whether their on line offering is much better I doubt, but you should at least have the free basic listing on there.

 

I stopped that at about year 5 and have not advertised since.  All my trade comes from recommendations, an estate agent, and a few other tradesmen I know like plumbers and joiners.  Once you get to that point of enough work without advertising you know your business is established.

Cheers Dave. Glad to head you've got to a good place. I have grabbed myself most of the free listings online. In all honesty they haven't provided many leads. I feel like although I am mainly focused on domestic a lot of it, is just silly odd jobs, fault finding, new lights and for apartments/rental properties, the odd eicr etc although it's all work it's not the sort that is going to build up great recommendations or future work. Need to have a look at who and where in targeting is what I'm getting at I think.

Just now, Zeespark said:

Have you looked at local sites like Nextdoor etc Dave?

 

AndyGuinness

I have Zeespark. Grabbed my free listing on there and post every now and again but haven't had much joy just the one job. 

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Murdoch

Have you got a website ? That said I find most of the "chancers" come from that!

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DaveS79
Just now, Murdoch said:

Have you got a website ? That said I find most of the "chancers" come from that!

I have mate. Pretty decent one to. Get a few enquiries through it but not a great deal but think takes to start getting ranked better. Starting to blog on it that sort of thing think that all helps it

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Murdoch
11 minutes ago, DaveS79 said:

I have mate. Pretty decent one to. Get a few enquiries through it but not a great deal but think takes to start getting ranked better. Starting to blog on it that sort of thing think that all helps it

 

The ranking is a farce.

 

never paid to get anything done to mine, never blogged on it, in fact, apart from adding customer testimonials, I haven’t changed mine for years ...

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SPECIAL LOCATION

I do think most businesses need to have reasonable internet presence and a half decent web-site, to stand much chance of getting their name known.......

 

 

Or... Put it like this...

If you don't have a Website but lots of your competition do... you may be already out of the running.... 

 

Even if its a pretty naff website..

It probably carries more clout than not having any web-site at all...

 

Business cards, Letter headed paper & A.N.Other flyers, always look more professional if you have a Website listed...

 

PLUS... If you can get an email address to match your website address then it can also look at lot more professional on any paperwork / invoices etc..

 

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Evans Electric
On 06/03/2020 at 17:23, Zeespark said:

Have you looked at local sites like Nextdoor etc Dave?

That can work well for you if you do general  domestic work  .  It takes a bit of time  but once you've done a job for someone who is pleased with the result, found that you were  a friendly , obliging guy  & your prices were reasonable  , a couple of things can happen : - 

1)  You can find you have inherited the extended family &  neighbours of your customer.

2)  They post a recommendation for your services . 

 

Slowly you local business should grow , don't try ripping anyone off  ,  with local media you will live to regret it .

Again if you are concentrating on a local service ....get your van sign written .  

 

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Sharpend

When starting out I find back to basics is the simplest and easiest way of getting your name out there. 
sit down at you computer of choice, make up some A5 size flyer, few details of what you do etc, then spend your time hand delivering for a couple of hours an evening or so. This way you know what areas you have targeted and can keep a record of where works and where don’t based on responses. 
the second option is to utilise the local rags, church publications, village publications and the like. Smallish outlay for a reasonably sized catchment area. 
 

then as others have suggested, be prompt, be smart, be professional - most important coz any clown can do a job, only a professional can do a job right and be remembered. 
the secret is to find a detail that is different to your competitions to make you stand out for all the right reasons. 

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DaveS79
2 hours ago, Evans Electric said:

That can work well for you if you do general  domestic work  .  It takes a bit of time  but once you've done a job for someone who is pleased with the result, found that you were  a friendly , obliging guy  & your prices were reasonable  , a couple of things can happen : - 

1)  You can find you have inherited the extended family &  neighbours of your customer.

2)  They post a recommendation for your services . 

 

Slowly you local business should grow , don't try ripping anyone off  ,  with local media you will live to regret it .

Again if you are concentrating on a local service ....get your van sign written .  

 

 

35 minutes ago, Sharpend said:

When starting out I find back to basics is the simplest and easiest way of getting your name out there. 
sit down at you computer of choice, make up some A5 size flyer, few details of what you do etc, then spend your time hand delivering for a couple of hours an evening or so. This way you know what areas you have targeted and can keep a record of where works and where don’t based on responses. 
the second option is to utilise the local rags, church publications, village publications and the like. Smallish outlay for a reasonably sized catchment area. 
 

then as others have suggested, be prompt, be smart, be professional - most important coz any clown can do a job, only a professional can do a job right and be remembered. 
the secret is to find a detail that is different to your competitions to make you stand out for all the right reasons. 

 

Thanks guys. I have been quite down about things not going to lie. Have took stock though and took on board some of your advice. If going to make it work really need to focus on things I can control I.e quality of job, time keeping, clarity on pricing. Also really focus efforts locally. I.e next door, Facebook, local leaflets. Funny enough had first leaflet job today, and got enquiry through local Facebook group 🙂 next trick now I think is keeping myself in their minds for future work and referrals....got a few manipulation tactics up my sleeve thinking of using....a few repeat business discounts might have to used as well for time being

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Sharpend

Nooooo, don’t offer discounts at this stage, wait till you get regular work from them, perhaps after one of their recommended has a job done. But don’t make it a habit otherwise people will play you. 
concentrate on what you can do. You want them to genuinely call you for your professionalism not because they can bat numbers with you, you will not earn. 

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DaveS79
4 minutes ago, Sharpend said:

Nooooo, don’t offer discounts at this stage, wait till you get regular work from them, perhaps after one of their recommended has a job done. But don’t make it a habit otherwise people will play you. 
concentrate on what you can do. You want them to genuinely call you for your professionalism not because they can bat numbers with you, you will not earn. 

Noted Sharpend.  You got any particular tactics though to get them referrals and repeat business? I feel like alot my jobs like call out stuff or silly little jobs aren't generating them. I get great reviews, get on really well with most customers but don't think it's generating enough at this point. Thinking at the very least sending a thank you message after each job with a prod to join business or personal Facebook page....hopefully that will keep me in their mind more and make it easier for them to refer me

Edited by DaveS79

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Evans Electric

No  ,  you'll appear to be over eager ,  if someone wants a job doing they'll ask you ....think about it ...what do folk do with all the advertising leaflets through the door  ?....straight in the recycle bin .  

 

And a thing with electricians  ,  you tend to get tiddly little jobs  in the domestic field ....do 'em  , be pleasant , have a cuppa ,   replace  that melted lampholder ,  leave your card ,  thats another would be contact .   They phone you  three months later , " Our son has bought a house , needs rewiring "  

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Sharpend

I used to send out a thank you letter out of politeness, it was what made me stand out to the customer, many commented on how nice a gesture it was. 

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DaveS79
Just now, Sharpend said:

I used to send out a thank you letter out of politeness, it was what made me stand out to the customer, many commented on how nice a gesture it was. 

I do think its a nice gesture. Seems to go down well

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Andy™
4 minutes ago, Evans Electric said:

 " Our son has bought a house , needs rewiring "  

 

and my response would be 'find someone else'. unless its someone i know well / do a lot of work for. no interest in rewiring houses

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Evans Electric
1 hour ago, Andy™ said:

. no interest in rewiring houses

Neither have I Andy     ( Oh the knees)    but DaveS79  probably has . 

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