The current crisis has created uncertainty for most business owners. However, normal life will resume one day. Knowing how to make the most of your time in quarantine/confinement will surely provide you with advantages against others. Check out the suggestions our team has put together so you can get back to work in full force!
1. Follow online training classes and tune into webinars
Now’s the time to perfect your craft and better your knowledge while staying in the comfort of your own home. Have you always wanted to learn another language to increase your number of clients? Did you want to follow a training session on management to better your business management skills? Do you want to widen the scope of your expertise or become specialized in one particular field? There are many online training programs that allow you to get started. Here are some to consider:
- For Quebec contractors: Online training to become a general or specialized contractor (offered in French only)
- Online certificate in business management, offered by ICS Canada
- Continuing Education at University of Toronto (or any other school providing online courses)
- Learn French online at Sault College
You can opt for different kinds of training, widen your scope of expertise – whether it be in technical skills or business management. You can also attend webinars. What’s a webinar? Unlike online courses that are often pre-recorded, webinars are typically offered in a live format. Given that many businesses aren’t currently open to the public, many have reinvented themselves and have been offering live online conferences and discussion groups.
2. Create or update your portfolio for new clients
An image is worth a thousand words, right? Why not put together or update your business portfolio to better present your business’s know-how? Doing so an excellent way to assess your skill set and overall experience all whilst encouraging potential clients to work with you for their future renovation projects.
If your website does not have a section with images of projects you’ve completed, now’s the time to get one. Ideally, you’d hire an agency to put it together for you to ensure everything is well done. It’s important potential clients can find your site and browse through it easily. An agency will also know how to do so with ease.
Here are some recommendations to help you build your project portfolio:
- Proceed by selecting projects that are representative of the work you do by selecting the most recent projects and most relevant ones
- Group your projects into categories (e.g.: kitchen, bathroom, basement, etc.)
- Put some “before” shots if possible
- Provide an idea of the cost of such projects
- Describe the materials needed
- Provide a brief description of the project
Once your portfolio is put together, be sure to keep it up to date by adding new projects regularly. Also, keep in mind that you should ask clients if you can take pictures of their newly renovated space beforehand.
3. Revamping your brand image while you have time
Although we know we shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover, first impressions are very important. Your brand’s image isn’t only a question of aesthetics, it can also provide a sense of confidence and show potential clients that you run a business that cares about every little detail. A brand’s image is comparable to packaging of an item on shelf at the grocery store. Which product would you buy if you were taking a look at two unknown products that were virtually the same – including the price point? Chances are you’d pick the one with branding which inspires confidence and looks like it’s of better quality. The same goes for any company. If your brand image is coherent and looks elite, clients will assume that your projects are also high quality.
Your brand image can be found on a variety of channels. It’s just about visuals presented to the public. It’s also about the messages you put forth.
First off, make sure your logo is visible and clear on your website. Then, ensure that the content on your site properly represents the work you do. For instance, a contractor that only works on high end projects should not have the same kind of pictures online as a contractor that typically works on mid-range projects.
Flyers and other printable items
Flyers and other printable advertisements are physical touch points with potential clients. A well designed and properly identified flyer (in terms of contact information and logo) can go a long way for a business. If you opt to get advertisements printed, be sure that they’re of top quality and their branding is the same as your websites’.
On worksites, your employees represent your company. Providing them with clothing with your brand logo on them shows team cohesion and that you are well organized. Plus, clients will remember your logo and company name without much effort because they will have seen workers wearing your clothing non stop during their renovations. Chances are, they’ll also recommend your business to others because of this. Corporate clothing makes your employees ambassadors but also doubles as a form of advertisement.
In world taken over by advertisements, social media is a great way to reach people. Your brand image should also be coherent on these platforms. Visuals on your social media platforms should be of the same style as those on your website. The same goes for the messages you put out there.
Putting your business’s name on your car or truck, as a renovation contractor, makes total sense. It’s typically the first thing (or second after having visited your website) that clients see. A well maintained vehicle with a clear logo will provide you with free advertising and make your client feel like they’re working with a true professional.
Nowadays, competition is fierce among different companies. This is why you should pay attention to every detail. Now that you have a little bit more time on your hands, do what you can to put together or refresh your brand image so it accurately reflects the kind of service you offer. You’ll inspire confidence in your future clients and your current clients will easily remember you. However, be sure to respect the messages you put out there. For instance, if you promise top-of-the-line customer service, be sure that is truly the case at all times.
4. Bettering your quote submission forms, contracts and invoices
Just like your brand image should be coherent at all times, the same goes for your various corporate documents.
A well done and detailed quote should include your business’s legal information as well as your clients’ coordinates. This information not only protects the consumer, but it also protects your business. Besides legal information, your quotes should include as much information as possible on the work to be done. This will limit the number of surprises throughout the renovation process.
Quotes are typically converted into contracts given that the information on both documents is practically the same. Below is an image which shows which elements must be found on your final contract. Don’t simply provide an outline of the work to be done. The more details there are, the lower the chances of miscommunication that can lead to legal disputes.
The invoice is an official mandatory document provided in two copies. It acts as a legal, fiscal, and financial document. Your invoices must be done on a sheet with your company’s information in the header along with details of the completed work. It is considered a claim on behalf of the seller (you) and a guarantee for the client if ever an issue arises.
Here’s a tip: create pre-defined templates for each of these documents. You’ll save a lot of time when putting them together for clients!
5. Maintaining your relationship with employees during confinement
During confinement, it can be rather difficult to keep in contact with your employees. Though, it is crucial to keep that sense of belonging among your team members. With their return to work likely being very busy (to make up for delays), workers are likely to be recruited by other companies. Here are some tricks to stay in touch during these times:
Host video conferences
Whether it be to simply socialize with your employees or give them an update on the current situation, video calls are a great to keep in touch. A situation like COVID-19 can ensue a lot of uncertainty. The best way to communicate with your team is to be as transparent as possible when it comes to good and bad news.
Give something to your employees
Some businesses have decided to kill two birds with one stone. Given that encouraging local businesses is more important than ever, a great initiative can be to care packages with local products to your employees. If your budget doesn’t permit this, why not send them rainbow stickers – a symbolic gesture representing current times and bringing people together.
Birthdays and other events
Even though we’re all far away from one another, every act we pose counts. Do you typically provide birthday cards to employees on their birthdays? Or even a gift for their work anniversary? Now’s the time to make sure these traditions keep on living! Just send these gifts to their homes instead.
6. Reading books or listening to them (audiobooks)
Since it’s practically impossible to have a clear understanding of how long we’ll all be in quarantine/confinement and spending your days binge watching TV series isn’t always the best idea,why not take advantage of this time to read? You can develop yourself on a personal and professional level by doing so.
Here are some reading suggestions:
- Surrounded by Idiots by Thomas Erikson
To better understand the people you are surrounded by day in and day out, Erikson proposes a method based off of four personalities (categorized by colour): Dominant, Inspiring, Stable and Analytical. He presents the characteristics of each type of personality and studies how the complete or oppose others within an organization (or family).
- Atomic Habits by James Clear
This book explains how to break bad habits that are hindering our growth. Whether it be in your day-to-day or professionally, creating positive habits will help you achieve your goals. Based on neuroscience, psychology and biology, Clear shines light on the best techniques to practicing good habits.
- The Culture Code by Danyel Coyle
In this book, the author’s findings are based off of large organisations like Pixar, the San Antonio Spurs and the U.S.Navy’s SEAL Team Six to put together the best tactics to establish a winning organizational culture. Coyle proposes a strategy to apply in your own organization as well as traps to avoid to ensure your organizational culture is all about collaboration and growth among members. A great book for times like this where qualified labour is difficult to find.
- Finding Hidden Profits by Dennis Dixon
Being able to complete quality renovations is one thing, but understanding how to juggle numbers is essential for business success. Through advice and examples in the renovation world, this book helps you find dormant profits in your business! Whether it be by qualifying clients, communicating effectively and clear contracts, Dixon provides you with the tools you need to bring your business to whole other level.
- Construction Contracting: A Practical Guide to Company Management
Under textbook formal, this book contains a lot of information on building codes, laws, worksite management models, and more. It’s got everything you need to know for a success construction/renovation business. With its 678 pags, the 8th edition will surely provide you with some insights on your construction company and how to manage it.
Bonus: Signing up with RenoAssistance and becoming a Verified Contractor
If you aren’t already a part of RenoAssistance’s network of Verified Contractors, know that we can help you bring your business to a whole new level. We’ll refer pre-qualified clients your way without charging you sign up fees or yearly fees. You’ll only need to pay when you win a project!
Working with us puts you in better control of your business’s future. You choose what you’re passionate about, like kitchen renovations, and we’ll only send you qualified leads on kitchen renovations! Our Renovation Advisors are also here to help you better your service offering. RenoAssistance is not only qualified clients, but personalized accompaniment as well.
Although we haven’t chosen to be in confinement, we can certainly choose what we do with the time we have and make the most of it. How often do you tell yourself “if only I had tie to work on…”? Well, now’s the time! Whether it be to perfect some skill sets, maintain a strong company culture or better your service offerings, you have nothing to lose by working on one of the above suggestions!