Are You Investing Enough on Customers & Employees?

Home remodelers and builders needs to spend more time and money and customers and employees.

Home remodelers, landscapers, and every home improvement business that deals with appointments and work in the field will say that the most challenging parts of running their business include employees and customers. In other words: people. Hands down, regardless of if its formal surveys or passing conversations, these are the most common two biggest headaches in our industry. 

On the flip side, the biggest money and time investments by these same business owners include machinery, materials, and actual time on labor by business owners. Sure, this makes sense, and there's a lot of good reason behind these top three. After all, these are staples in the business, we get it.

The bottom three items for the least amount of time and money investment? Managing customers and employees. Well there's a strange misalignment. 

Your employees.

You get what you pay for! You expect your customers to know if they choose a lower priced bid than yours, they should expect less quality, right? Well take that same logic towards your most important asset: your employees. Regardless of what you've made yourself believe, your business can't function without your employees. No matter how great your reputation or your amazing masonry skills are, you can't complete great jobs without great people. So if you want better quality people, you have to pay up.

This starts with investing time and energy in searching for candidates. Putting up a search on craigs list and expecting a high surge of great candidates is unrealistic! Spend time and money on a variety of the right job boards.

Then, offer a salary that's more than reasonable. And if you think you can't afford more, yet struggle with finding enough great employees, then reassess what you can afford. Take money from other budget buckets and re-examine how much you can pay. Keep in mind, this is investment. If you have great people, you'll get happier customers. Happier customers=more new work (due to testimonials, quality of projects, and referrals).

Don't expect highly trained employee regardless of salary. Here is where times comes in. You can pay for dedication, timeliness, and other unteachable traits - and you should pay big bucks for this, but specific skills like installing a specific type of paver is a learned skill. Sometimes this means you have to take time to teach these skills. 

Your customers.

There are many ways to increase your level of happiness from your customers. Let's start with the type of customers you work with and this starts with the kind of projects you're selling. If you have too many low cost projects and you simply don't enjoy that type of work, then your resentment will build up. I know, we are getting into emotions here, but owning a business is emotional and you have to enjoy what you do. So, back to customers. If think you might enjoy a different kind of average project or job, then start targeting a different type of customer. You might just find yourself happier dealing with people about work you love the most. Not sure how to attract a different type? Read this article to help: How to Attract a New Type of Customer

If this isn't you and you do love your usual project, then consider how you can save time and energy with managing your customers (and prospects). Enter: CRM (Customer Relationship Management software). A CRM helps you store every conversation you have with someone. So after you speak with Mrs. Jones about her anything and she calls with follow up questions and speaks with your office manager, this office manager will know what you said and be able to offer a consistent, easy continued conversation with Mrs. Jones. The result? A more organized system of communications in your business leading to happier customers and a happier you.

There are a ton of CRM options, from free (HubSpot), low cost (Nutshell), to pricey (Salesforce). Any one of those could positively impact your business, depending on your needs. 

Now on to more customers. Referrals can't be your ultimate source, not in terms of growth! Marketing should be a calculated, well thought out part of your business. Kind of like machines: you spend a significant amount of time and money researching, purchasing, and maintaining trucks and such because it's a necessary part of running your business. So is marketing. It's the last place you cut money and the most important element in reaching a healthy cash flow.

What exactly is marketing? Anything that promotes your brand - sometimes it's to attract new customers and other times it's to maintain your brand value. The smallest form of marketing is your email signature or a business card. These are often to maintain your brand value. Attracting new customers is advertising for new customers. This includes traditional stuff like print advertising (related: Should You Do Print Advertising?) and much more modern stuff like content marketing (related: Content Marketing for Home Remodelers and Builders. Above all else, make sure you understand how your website fits into the advertising bucket for you - is it just something you reference to already potential customers or does it bring you new leads? Hopefully it brings you new leads since 81% of people start their search online (source: GE).