The great thing about generating more sales leads is that it gives you more choice. You can be more choosy about customers, or you can raise your prices, or do a little of both. You also have the option to pursue growth
Benjamin Dyer of Powered Now looks at how to increase the number of sales leads coming into your business.
1. Create happy customers
Amazon has reached its pre-eminent position as one of the largest companies in the world with one primary mission: "to be the most customer-obsessed company in the world".
In business generally, and in trade companies in particular, doing great work and providing an excellent service is the way to bag recommendations - which in turn results in more enquiries and interest.
2. Own your website
The majority of work in the trade industry comes from recommendations, but plenty still comes from other sources. Many homeowners search the internet to find new trade companies.
3. Get all the free advertising that you can
There are a surprising number of ways to get free publicity if you make the effort. In the trade, you can put details of your business in big lettering on your vans and hand out business cards to every customer and prospect.
If a client doesn't object, there may be an opportunity to put a board up outside their premises with your details. Many companies ask their staff to wear a branded uniform. Everything helps.
4. Consider the online directories
According to Bradstone Assured, 90% of homeowners consult online review sites when searching for a new tradesperson if they don't have a personal recommendation.
Commercial directories that exploit this include Checkatrade, Rated People and MyBuilder. They curate 'vetted' trade businesses, supported by customer reviews, charging the tradesperson for any leads they generate through the platform.
In addition, there is the Which? Trusted Traders scheme. This is a little different, in that it is intended to provide reassurance, and this scheme works the hardest to make sure all of their recommended businesses are genuinely good.
The main benefit to local trade companies of these online services is the ability to turn the lead tap on or off. That means that leads are only generated when they are needed, enabling businesses to balance the incoming workload better. The theory is great, and has definitely worked for some businesses.
At the same time, there may be drawbacks. For example, many tradespeople believe that reviews are fake or rigged and can't be trusted, and some feel that there's too much of a focus on price rather than service quality.
There is no simple answer - the best advice is to experiment, to see if these services really work for you.
Ben Dyer is CEO of Powered Now, provider of invoicing, estimating and scheduling software for small businesses. Ben was previously CEO of SellerDeck which he joined in 2008, after working for Xyratex, BSkyB and BAE Systems.