If you’re ready to grow your home improvement business, congratulations: it means that you’ve done plenty of things right along the way. But as you get ready to take the next step, you’ll have to start thinking about yourself a little differently: as a business owner first, and as a builder second.
That doesn’t mean you should let the quality of your work slide. But it does mean that you’ll need to prioritize the bigger picture, giving careful thought to how you’ll grow, how you’ll invest in your resources and your people, how you’ll market yourself and your business, and how you’ll get to the next level.
Here are 7 tips to help you grow your exterior home improvement business:
How do you plan to grow? The answer should not be “take any project that comes my way.” Be strategic about how you’ll expand. For example: will you target a few larger projects or several smaller jobs? Will you specialize in a specific aspect of home improvement—perhaps solar roofing, LEED-certified renovations, new home builds, additions, etc.? Specializing will set you apart so that you stand out in a saturated market, especially since people in search of a specific service tend to trust specialists over generalists.
“How will I get more customers?” That’s a good question, but take it one step further: how will you serve more customers when you do get them? Think ahead about what you’ll need to do to prepare for growth: will you hire more employees? Invest in new technology and new equipment? Hire someone to oversee safety for every project? As your work increases, so will your workload—and you’ll need more people, as well as better technology, to accommodate it. Think carefully about how you’ll scale up your resources as demand for your services grows.
As your business grows, you won’t be able to “do it all” anymore—at least not by yourself. But even though you may bring more people onboard, you may still feel the itch to jump in and “help” by doing things the way you used to when your business was small. Resist this urge: let people do the job you hired them to do. If you were confident enough to hire them, then be confident in their ability to do great work. Explain your expectations, train for skills they may still need, and then step back and vow not to micromanage. This is good for everyone: it frees you up to grow the business, and it shows your people that you have confidence in their abilities.
Unlike other forms of advertising, word of mouth can’t be bought. You don’t “invest” in it the way you’d invest in an Google AdWords campaign, but you still invest in it each time you treat a customer well, complete a job to perfection, and respond to challenges with grace. Customers who love working with you will tell others about you, and can be the best source of repeat business and referrals. Treat them well. Treat them right. And make sure that no matter what project you’re working on, that customer is your top priority.
Your business may grow organically through great word of mouth, but you can still generate a lot of new opportunities simply by connecting with people in your area. Always be reaching out to homeowners, contractors, architects, and others in your field. Network with professionals who work with the same customer base that you’re targeting: could you team up to help serve them better? Could you help promote each other’s services or refer new business to one another? The more you reach out, the more possibilities you create for yourself.
When you’re using the right technology, it’s like the difference between using a garden hoes and an excavator. The right tools matter: they help you get things done faster, more efficiently, and without all the unnecessary strain. Great technology can help your business make huge leaps forward, so consider investing in a great CRM you love to use, email marketing tools that can help you reach out to future customers, up-to-date materials and equipment for each job you work on, and innovative platforms like HOVER, which can capture fully-scaled, accurate measurements of any property you work on. Use the 3D property package that HOVER provides to set yourself apart from your competition, get the attention of new leads, provide superb customer experience via your sales and production teams, grow your margins and ultimately win more business.
Growing your business is a risk—but one that can pay off in the long run. For a lot of small business owners, it’s worth it. However, as you grow you also expose yourself to legal blind spots and other pitfalls. Those risks are not worth it—especially since you can protect against them from the outset. Speak to a lawyer to make sure your contracts are up to date and the legal language is strong. Put non-compete agreements and NDAs in place when appropriate. Consider possible labor issues, union policies, environmental risks and regulations, and insurance coverage questions that will be associated with your increased growth. Plan how you’ll mitigate each of these risks ahead of time, so you’re not blindsided at the worst possible time.
Finally, enjoy the process. Your business is at an exciting turning point, and there are a lot of opportunities up ahead. We hope that these tips help you take not only that first step, but help you keep going until you get to where you need to be!