Yesterday, I asked members of the Remodelcrazy.com forums how they solved the start-up challenge. The answer, three people reported, is "business cards" -- lots of them -- but not just blind distribution. It is a selling effort.
Consider this posting of Rory Swain of Servicez Unlimited Inc., a Washington, D.C. area contractor.
My first year in business in D.C. . . . ALL of my business came from handing out business cards. I would give out 20-30 a day seven days a week . . . I also stopped and talked to everyone I handed out cards to.
Usually at least one or two of the persons I gave cards to had a project or knew someone that needed work done.
Within six months of being here I had about 30K worth of work. I worked eight days a week 26 hours a day, 400 days a year . . .
I forgot who it was but some once said on one of the forums I am on that they were handing out cards and shaking hands like they were running for mayor of their town.
"Well made" business cards and meeting people are the cheapest advertising methods by far. I give business cards to waitstaff, grocery store clerks, my doctor, the mail man, billboards, EVERYBODY even if they do not look like your type of client. The old five-foot rule definitely works.
1,000 professionally designed and printed cards that really stand out can be had for less than $300. Reorders are only $60 after that. If your card blends in it will not be remembered.
Join civic organizations and volunteer. Not only do you get to meet and greet people face to face to build trust and credibility for free - but you also get their email and mailing address (which must be used sparingly so as not to abuse)
Finally, SLS Construction in Cullman, Alabama, wrote:
I take it, no five-year plan - limited money?Simple and straightforward advice, indeed. If you are starting out in a renovation/remodeling business, you now have the proven success formula. These guys did it, and succeeded.
It depends, what works in his market and who is his target clientèle? Out here I get a ton of responses off two ads that only run me a little over $8 a piece in a small local classified-only paper. In some markets - print is dead (unless you over 40 or 50 or ?) and then it should be mostly Internet based.
Business Cards - they need to be talking to and handing out at least one business card a day, when you have nothing going that day - at least five. (It must have the web site listed, if they don't have one they need to get one.)
Once business starts coming in, then they can start looking at the fully integrated marketing plan. I personally would advise all three being done at once for them - create a web site, small print ad, and network.