Branding: When It Rains It Pours

A couple of months ago we had some “cats and dogs” rain here in San Diego. It was pretty much non-stop for five days. And the rain didn’t come straight down; it was so windy it hit the house and the roof sideways. As a result, we got a leak, with a small amount of water dripping into our family room. Since we do not have a roofer as a client, we called around. This was a nightmare from a marketer’s point of view.

It has become clear to me that most contractors, builders, remodelers, painters, etc., haven’t got a clue about branding themselves, or their company. Over the years a good number of them have come to my house for various projects from painting to flooring to a full kitchen remodel. (For obvious reasons, I am not talking about the very large companies who have already covered their bases, and have probably grown to be large via great service and great branding.)

Painting with a broad brush, what I have found is that most of these companies:

  • Show up in an un-branded vehicle. No logos. No relevant decals. Not even magnetic signs with their phone number.
  • Arrive at the door in plain clothes. Jeans and a t-shirt. No khaki pants. No polo shirt with an embroidered logo. Not even a branded t-shirt.
  • Hand out a home-made business card made with Word, an old-school card with raised puffy ink, or worse, a freebie card from VistaP.
  • Use a logo that their sister-in-law made for a school project.
  • Usually have no photos of their work. If they do have photos, they are sloppily enclosed in a dirty vinyl 3-ring binder that is falling apart and torn.
  • Provide a quote on a home-made quote-sheet that usually does not have their logo.
  • Don’t leave behind a booklet or nice brochure showing their pictures, testimonials, and contact info.
  • Don’t use current technology to take emails, phone calls, etc.
  • Don’t follow up.

Call me crazy, but last time I checked, people in this line of work were desperate for work. If there was ever a time to put their best foot forward, it’s right now. So, for the benefit of the contractor community, we suggest the following baby steps toward a more successful future:

  • Hire a designer to create a great logo, and develop a unique color palette for your company.
  • Choose appropriate fonts for use on your materials.
  • Gather testimonials from past clients, and photos from your good jobs.
  • Wrap your vehicle with professionally-design graphics. If you cannot afford this, have vinyl lettering and logos applied to the sides and back of your vehicle. Still too much? Have magnets made for each side of the truck.
  • Buy some nice clean polo shirts and pay to have your new logo digitized, then embroidered on them. At least three shirts per staff member.
  • Hire a designer to create high-quality, impressive business cards. Print lots of them. Hand them out like candy.
  • Also design great brochures or hand-outs.
  • All of your materials should point to your matching web site, which should also point to your social media pages.
  • Take phone calls immediately on your cell phone. Return messages within 15 minutes.
  • Use a smart-phone that can take your emails as well. Return them quickly.
  • Show up to your appointment early. Not on time. Five minutes early. This sets the tone for getting the job.
  • At the door, introduce yourself and immediately offer your business card as proof of who you are.
  • Ask to see the job. Let the customer talk about how she feels, what she already knows, what she needs, etc.
  • Show your portfolio. Be sure your photos are in a nice, leather-bound binder. ($30 at the office supply store – and it will last a long time.)
  • In plain english, offer a solution and options. Make sure the customer understands the options.
  • Tell the customer that the job will take XX days, and ask, “Would it be best for you if we start on Friday of this week, or Tuesday?
  • Explain your payment process and how much you need to begin. Sign the paperwork.
  • Immediately give your new customer two of your brochures, and another business card, “for a friend.”
  • Thank your customer for her time, remind her that she can call you at any time, and that you will always get back to her quickly.
  • Leave.
  • Call two days ahead of the scheduled start date and remind the customer that you will be there at XX a.m.
  • Show up early and do a great job.
  • Remind the customer that you appreciate any referrals and ask her if she wouldn’t mind hanging on to a few extra brochures for any friends who might ask about your work.
  • Send a hand-written thank-you note.
  • Stay in touch with your customers weekly via social media, monthly via email newsletters, and quarterly (or semi-annually) in the snail mail.

We ultimately chose a roofer who was on-time, nice, honest, and wanted help with his branding. He did a great job, on-time, as promised.