Price is self-explanatory. Are you charging a competitive rate? Research the competition and if you find your prices are expensive, consider reducing costs by negotiating bulk purchases from suppliers, cutting back on overheads, or lowering your profit margin. And remember, pitching your price too low suggests poor quality workmanship.
Next, get to work on your product. Is the quality and range of service you offer up to scratch? Using premium products from reputable suppliers can reassure the customer and will improve the appearance of your work. Similarly, guaranteeing your work, or gaining accreditation from a respected industry institution can help.
In terms of range, if you've had to turn down work in the past because you don't have the necessary equipment or skills, then consider developing your capacity. Or build a working partnership with another business or someone with different skills: you could, for instance, team up with a local interior designer or decorator.
For place, ask yourself whether you should extend the geographical area you serve to attract clients further away. This would involve building up your reputation in these new areas. Or you could focus your energies on a smaller area and aim to increase your client base there.
Promotion is the area where you can be most creative. How far you take things depends on your budget, but some suggested tactics are:
- Branding – your visual identity is important: a proper livery on your van, well-maintained tools and suitable work clothes, for example.
- Communication tools – produce leaflets or set up a website to show the range of services you offer, photographs of previous jobs, testimonials from happy clients and your contact details.
- Building a relationship – a phone call to the customer soon after the work is completed to ensure everything is in order is a nice touch – and could lead to more work if the customer is happy.
Steve Snaith is trade customer marketing manager at ICI Dulux.