As you may have already noticed, our brand new podcast has kicked off with the popular topic of ‘finding the right work for your business’. This isn’t directed at increasing your volume of work necessarily, but to help you find the right work for you. These tips will allow you to both find that work-life balance and allow your business to flourish.
We’re here to run you through some valuable steps, created directly by Nest owner Kyle Walker and his personal experiences. And sure, we all want to win more work, but how do you know it’s the right kind of work for you?
Check out this step by step guide
Don’t fret, we’re about to take you through six easy steps to help you to find and nurture relationships in the work that fits your business. Winning work is great, but with just a little more effort you can turn clients into long term partners, earning crucial referrals along the way.
Step one: Identify the bread and butter
You may already do this, whether subconsciously or consciously in your work. The point here is to make this very much a conscious thought and something you have actively chosen.
But what is the ‘bread and butter’?
- In short, the bread and butter jobs are frequent, reliable work that requires setting out boundaries around the type of work that ‘works’ for you, rather than you working for it.
But where do you begin?
To position yourself in a place to seek this type of work, you need to look directly at your business model – analysing your infrastructure, your resources and past experiences. A lot can be learned from spending 10 minutes writing down the pros and cons of past experiences, fundamentally this will help you to identify the jobs that did and didn’t work.
For example, if you’re a building contractor that has a fantastic groundsworks and bricklaying team, the chances are you’ll be looking at extension work, with the possibility of new build projects. These are the type of projects you can leave to run with relative ease, with little impact on your day to day work – As opposed to loft conversions, as this may not suit your existing workforce.
Step one recap time…
- Identify the bread and butter, the jobs that work for you.
- Look back at past experiences, your existing resources and what trades you have that work well.
- Don’t be afraid to look at those that didn’t work well, there’s always room to learn from these projects.
Step two: Tailor your approach.
This may seem more like a marketing strategy than anything else, but it will most definitely help you in aiming your efforts in the right direction. Once you’ve identified your bread and butter, now’s the time to tailor your marketing to capture that work correctly.
Look at the different areas that you’re currently focusing your marketing on, this could be planning leads, a purely website driven focus or maybe social media and answer this question:
Another source of work that you want is word of mouth. This is something that flows naturally if you’re a contractor and you do well at your trade. In terms of how you present yourself from a marketing perspective, don’t be afraid to showcase your projects and successes. Don’t simply hide behind stock imagery if your own is available, being as real as possible is what will hook new clients.
Another great way to showcase your previous projects is through fact files, as this allows people to get a feel for the type of projects you do, the standard they can expect and potentially the costs involved. In fact, this is something we will soon be introducing to the Nest website as we frequently received requests regarding the breakdown of a build.
By now you should have…
- Identified your bread and butter work.
- Tailored your marketing approach accordingly.
Step three: Understanding your enquiries
Understanding which enquiries work for you, and which are worth pricing can save you a lot of time in the long run. This step runs alongside step one, helping you to identify the type of jobs that did and didn’t work.
Let’s look at it this way… If you look at a range of work and come across three that didn’t quite work, you’ll soon start to spot a trend.
For Kyle, one of the first speedbumps is very much drawings and details. Are they clear enough? Are they hand sketches? Just how much detail do you have to work with? These are fundamental factors that work towards your project’s success. For Nest, ultimately this is the groundwork of an estimate – Something that may get passed onto tradesmen, and when it comes down to it, it has your name on.
Taking these elements into consideration, this is probably more of a question for your site visit or initial phone consultation where you can get a feel for your client and determine how serious they are about moving forward with the project. Unfortunately, many homeowners and clients are unaware of the expense and cost involved when going through the tender process, as the industry has somehow into an expectation of free quotations.
How projects change
Beyond the quotation or initial phone call, the next hurdle refers to the client straying from the design on the drawings. We’ve all been there, right? Understandably, clients have many questions surrounding their project, but before you know it the project in front of you both is far from the finished article.
Changes and amendments are to be expected, but if at that early stage they are making drastic changes, there is a high possibility that the design phase hasn’t quite gone the way they envisioned it. What does that show?
- Quite a lot of indecision on their part.
- This client may require you to be a bit stricter, as you can only price on the information you’re given.
- They’ll need to produce a new set of information in line for what they actually want you to build.
Ultimately, they want to get to a cost. If they can’t afford it, they can’t afford it. However, the process also needs to be fair for you. For Kyle, this is another key indicator and something he considers a red flag. These are things you can start to put together with an initial enquiry form, enabling you to quickly recognise and separate the right projects from the tyre kickers.
Step four: The site visit
This is by far one of the most important parts of your enquiry process, and one we always recommend – where possible, always visit the site. This allows you to not only get eyes for the job but also a feel for the client. Think of it like laying the groundwork for your working relationship… You’re potentially engaging with this person for up to six, maybe eight months and that’s a long time if you don’t get on with the person or if you’ve already noted a couple of red flags.
Once you’ve broken down your bread and butter, tailored your marketing and created boundaries for your work, you’ll be well on your way to spotting red flags a mile away – This will allow you to focus on the right work, right away.
Let’s sum up step four, shall we!
- Getting a questionnaire in place and spending a few hours getting in touch with what this looks like for you could save you thousands.
- Identifying the type of work that works for you will save you wasting your time on estimates for the wrong clients.
- Use the site visit to leave a lasting impression on your client. Showcase your work well and they’ll feel safe in the knowledge that you can do the job well.
- Nurture that working relationship – Clients are far less likely to spend thousands of pounds with people they’ve never met after all.
Step five: The estimate
The estimate is where the work comes together! You’ve done your initial enquiry, you think this client is a go-er and they’ve ticked the right boxes.
By this point you should have:
- Done your site visit.
- Asked plenty of questions.
- Done the usual… Tapping the walls, banging the floors, checked out the garden and ensured the drainage is up to scratch.
- Had a good conversation with the client, showcased some of your work and most certainly sold them the dream…
Now’s the time to pull that estimate together. Here at Nest, we’ve done plenty of research surrounding what this looks like for homeowners and builders alike. For homeowners, we’ve come to realise that when we supply an estimate we are more than likely one of several. Those estimates are most definitely going to be different, and so ultimately it comes down quite often to that initial feeling from your site visit.
How do we do it?
Well, we’ve gone back to basics. Our estimates go through a logical phase so they walk through the build as it would be being built. So the client can get a feel for what that build looks like and even walk through the build with the figures as it is being built.
We provide a description under each build phase, including some key facts and key points, with a cost under each phase. As well as clearly listing out at the end any exclusions and notes that we’ve picked up from the tender – Notes are your fail-safes, so it is important to include them and make sure you’ve covered what you need to.
The estimate is quickly out of your hands and is the final piece of the jigsaw that are they are physically going to receive from you. Here, presentation is important, so put some effort in! Get some templates in place, or reach out to an estimating company and speak to them about how they can help you if you don’t think that your current system is working for you.
Step six: Follow up and aftercare
Now that your working relationships are in place, it’s just as important to maintain them as it was to build them in the first place. It’s very rare that a client snaps your hand off straight away and makes a decision instantly. They could be waiting for other quotes, advice from their mortgage advisor or simply need some time to think the project over…
But whatever it may be, once you’ve submitted the estimate, done your site visit and built that rapport, you need to nurture it further. Your follow up call and that aftercare service doesn’t need to be in-depth and it doesn’t need to be overkill… But simply a touchpoint.
Find out how they are progressing, whether they have any questions and see if there’s anything that immediately you can help with. They may say no… But they may also ask for a meeting of some sort.
The follow-up call instils a bit of confidence in your client and demonstrates the level of care you’ll be offering when working on their project. After all, it’s all about building that relationship and building trust, as well as managing expectations.
Woah, that was a lot to ingest, right? Let’s recap.
- Step one, identify the bread and butter.
- Step two, tailor your approach.
- Step three, identify which enquiries work for you and which ones are worth pricing.
- Step four, the site visit.
- Step five, the estimate.
- Step six, follow up and aftercare.
With enough focus and energy on those six points, you’ll soon be winning work in the right areas that suit your business. This isn’t just about winning work, this isn’t just about the client… This is about you as a builder, and as a developer, and as a business owner… Doing the right projects for you, because we are all ultimately in this to find a balance.
If you’re looking for an estimator you can trust, get in touch with our team and we’ll have your project underway in no time. But for now, keep your eyes peeled for our next podcast or drop a topic recommendation to us via our Instagram or Facebook page.