Here is a significant posting from GrumpyPlumber in the Contractortalk.com thread: Referral Topic:
You reap what you sow.I responded:
Spend a year building business by offering discounts, they refer you to more of the same.
Spend a year losing more jobs over price but being patient and getting the better jobs, they refer you the same.
Over time you built a reputation as one or the other, eventually you're booked full time with one, or the other.
Just my .02
Grumpyplumber raises an important issue in his last posting. He is talking, in effect, about brand development. Big marketing words, eh, but important. Your business culture and practices permeate the way your current/potential clients perceive you -- how you behave consistently (or if you are sloppy, inconsistently) will almost mould their behaviour and you'll end up over time with exactly the business you want, or don't.I will ask GrumpyPlumber if he would like to identify himself. He gets the message. (While I searched for Grumpy I found Terry Love's plumbing forum, where Grumpy posts, as well, and Love's fascinating tour of Bill Gates' home bathrooms.)
This is why brand changing is so difficult -- when everyone perceives you one way suddenly shifting tactics can seem jarring, inconsistent, and risky -- and your current and potential clients (and employees) won't often get it. So you either draw back to your original ways, or fail, or push through the changes. More gradual and subtle changes are less stressful, but of course these often again seem to falter as they are lost in the midst of your regular operations.
A good scare or crisis, like near business collapse, can do the trick. So if things are really going wrong, you may actually have an opportunity to fix your underlying circumstances. This is where hard times separate the survivors from the failures.