It’s one thing to start a business, but it’s quite another to grow an electrical contracting company. How do you grow or expand it?
Although we are not a mentoring or coaching business, we do know a lot about business and have created this guide to help you get started.
What is business growth?
Growing a business is ultimately about increasing revenue.
While you can look at increasing your team, your capabilities, and growing your number of contract awards, ultimately, it is all about growing revenue.
How can you increase your revenue? It is important to increase the number of jobs that you win or to expand the job opportunities.
Although it is not difficult, it can be challenging. We see many electrical contracting companies that fail to grow or even remain in business.
This guide will give you a solid foundation on how to grow your electric business.
- Make sure you have the right systems
First, get your systems running efficiently. If your system is clogged up, you won’t be able to win more jobs or grow your business.
Another benefit is that, even if your revenue doesn’t grow by a lot, you may be able to increase your profitability with more efficient systems.
You also know that sometimes, increased profitability can be more satisfying than higher revenue.
Use Job Management Software
To make your electrical contracting business more efficient you should use job management software. This will allow you to manage your staff, as well as yourself.
We won’t discuss the benefits and features of each job management system, but we will tell you that there are many. In our experience, there isn’t one best. Some electricians love option A while others prefer option B. Others still love option C.
Here are some options to help you get started.
- Service M8
Cloud-Based Financial Software
Trade businesses can be crippled by paperwork. Make sure your financial operations are running smoothly.
There are many options, but Xero is our favourite. We have used it ourselves and can vouch for its ease of use and business benefits.
Cloud-based accounting software like Xero can also be integrated with many popular job management options. This makes invoicing easier.
Use Other Apps
While job management and accounting are your most important apps for electrical contracting, there are many other tools that can be used to help you run your business more efficiently.
PROTRADE United, our friends, has created a guide of the five best apps for tradies. You can find it by clicking the link.
Once your systems are running smoothly, you must ensure that your office staff (or you, if you’re the only one) is fully in control and can deal with the increased workload.
- Make your brand stand out
Once your office functions are running smoothly, the next step is to improve your branding.
There are many ideas about what branding is. While some people think branding is just your logo, business card, etc. others see branding as everything that has an impact on a client.
This guide will focus on branding as the business’s physical identity. We’ll look at these things:
- Name of the business
- Business cards
- Stationery (letterheads etc)
- Signage for vehicles
It’s crucial to start from a solid foundation before we move on to the exciting parts of marketing. If clients are not going to trust the basic marketing strategies, it’s worth investing a lot of money.
This is because if you want more business and more revenue, your business must appear more professional.
You might want to review your business name depending on your goals.
If your business name is “Shane’s After Hours Electrical” and you want to expand by winning more commercial fit-out jobs, this name may need to be changed.
You might want to change your name if your electrical company is called One Electrical Contractors. This will allow you to attract more jobs to your area.
Maybe you want something more corporate. While “Shane’s Electrical” was a great name for a small business that served local residents, it may not work well if you’re chasing large commercial jobs.
It’s better to change your name now than wait until you are already large if you’re embarking on a major growth strategy.
You need a logo as soon as possible if you don’t already have one. Take a look at your logo and determine if it is representative of the business you are trying to build.
As a start-up, it is important to keep your costs down. Your logo might have been designed by you or a friend. You might have chosen to hire a graphic designer at a low price.
Your logo has a huge impact on people, so make sure it is sharp and clear.
Accessing top designers has never been cheaper thanks to the internet. You can now get a great logo for as low as a hundred dollars.
Your business card, just like your logo is important for that first impression.
A professionally designed business card costs less than a logo, so it is definitely worth spending a few hundred dollars.
You’ll save a lot of money if you also have a logo designed.
If you want to make your professional appearance more polished, this includes all of your letterhead, invoice and quote templates, as well as presentation folders.
Imagine a family meeting to discuss proposals and get quotes. Your competitor has an advantage if you have a cover letter and a quote template prepared by one electrician. If your quote is printed on plain paper or a generic template, it’s likely that your competitor has the same.
Clients might accept a lower quote from your competitor if they feel that their electrician’s presentation is representative of the quality and value of their work.
It may be true, or it might not, but what matters is the client’s perception.
While stationary and letterhead are not expensive, they can make a huge impact on your ability to get hired.
Similar to the previous points, a professional outfit can help clients form a positive impression of you.
If you show up for the job wearing a high-vis or dark khaki suit, the client may view you as the same electrician. But if you wear a nice polo shirt with your logo embroidered on it, you will instantly appear more professional.
You can also use basic vehicle signage to make your business appear more professional.
A vehicle bearing the logo and company name will always look more trustworthy than a van with no branding.
Your van or work ute can make a lasting impression and be a business-generating tool.
A full vehicle wrap can be costly, but it can make a huge impact on the roads if done correctly.
Your business will appear bigger and more professional to other road users.
This section has a last-placed website. When we discuss your website at this stage, we are looking for a simple website that looks professional, functions well and is easily found by Google when someone searches for your business name.
Even if you prospects of getting a lot of business through referrals and word-of-mouth, people will often visit a company’s site before they make the initial contact.
If people search for you on Google, they discover a sloppy website that makes them less interested in calling you, what’s the point?
At this point, all we need is a website that looks professional and can be found easily. Keep reading, as things will change.
- Take the Tools Off
Many electricians and other trades dream of “getting the tools”.
Different electricians may interpret this differently. It might mean that you spend more time quoting than actually doing the actual work every day.
Others might find it difficult to accept this role in the electrical business, while they can pursue other business or leisure options.
It is crucial to get off the tools when you are trying to grow your business so that you can focus more on the business and less on the tools.
Although it is an old business cliché, it is so true. If you are too busy working on tools, your electrical contracting business will not grow. It is important to take time to think strategically, improve processes, build relationships, and pursue new opportunities.
- Marketing is worth investing in
We now have the basics covered. You are now ready to go, and all the foundations for your marketing are in place.
We assume that all other things are in order in terms of your capabilities and staffing. These are not our areas of expertise, so we’ll leave those to you.
There are many ways to market an electrical contracting company. Each idea might be worth its own article. We won’t go into detail on any of these ideas but we will be covering the basics.
Google Ads is something most people are familiar with. These are the first three to four results that appear on the search page after you type a query in Google.
It was previously known as AdWords. But it is now just Google Ads.
Does Google Ads work for electrical contractors? We don’t know if we can say yes or not, but there are many electricians who advertise in this manner.
Google Ads targets specific keywords. This is how it works at a basic level. Targeting searches that include the suburb name seems to be the best way to begin for electricians.
If you are based in Brisbane’s northside, for example, you would want to target keywords like “Electrician Stafford”, and “Electrician Everton Park” as well as any other suburbs you’d be happy receiving enquiries from.
This allows you to be extremely specific about how your ads are targeted. If you are looking for work after hours, your ads could be targeted to show only during those hours.
You could also set your ads to not appear outside of normal hours if you don’t want to work after-hours.
A dedicated article was recently created on Google Ads for Tradies. We recommend that you read the guide to get more information.
Don’t Waste Your Clicks!
You must ensure that you convert as many enquiries as possible if you plan to invest in Google Ads.
Your website will be the first thing that someone sees after they click on your ad. Your website must look professional and trustworthy so the user will want to go on to the next step, not just click “back” to search results.
It is important to decide what the user should do when they arrive at your website. Are you asking them to contact you? Do they want to fill out an inquiry form? Or are you happy for them both?
This is where the key decision will be made about whether a click becomes a lead.
You must ensure that you are following up with your leads in the best possible way. Although it is great that someone clicked on your ad, and they have been converted to a lead by your website, it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t follow up with the lead.
You should have a system to follow up on leads and do so more than once.
Search Engine Optimization
It would be amazing if all those visitors could be found on Google.
You can! It’s not always simple. Search engine optimisation is how you rank your website on Google. The higher your rank, the more visitors you will get.
In the past, around 10-15 years ago, you could create a simple website and add the phrase “Sydney Electrician” to it. Then, anyone looking for an electrician in Sydney would find you on Google.
It’s not easy, but it’s possible.
Although some experts may tell you that there are many tricks and magic ways to rank high, our experience shows that having a lot of quality, relevant content on your site is the best way to do it.
This could be a lengthy article, but the main thing to search engine optimization is to keep your website updated with lots of information. It is also a good idea to grab a few backlinks whenever possible.
Social Media for Electricians
Although social media has been around for over a decade, it is still a relatively new technology when it comes to marketing for electrical contracting companies.
While Facebook, Instagram and Twitter all fall under the same social media umbrella, they all have their own marketing perspectives.
We have found that Facebook is not a great platform for marketing trade businesses, but it’s important to be there in case they do search for you.
Before I use their services, I’ll look up any company I like on Facebook. I want to read their reviews and see who has commented on their posts. It is important that they are active businesses.
Even if you don’t plan to be super active on Facebook, it is important that you have at least one business page. Keep it updated regularly. You don’t have to update it every week, or every month. However, it’s important that you do not leave it unattended for six months or more. This could make it appear that your business is no longer active.
Instagram is the best place for electricians and other trades.
Although I would say Instagram is more effective at building relationships between tradespeople and builders than with clients directly, it’s still a good thing.
A simple strategy is to create a decent profile, then use paid promotion (which can be very inexpensive) to get your posts appearing for more builders or any other target.
This will help you get your brand noticed by them. Then, you can engage with them by liking their content and commenting. You might be able to get them to come back to you the next time they need electrical work done.
Although it might sound absurd, we have had success with this strategy.
If you want to get more work from builders or other trades, it is a great idea to be active on Instagram and show off your work and abilities.
We aren’t big Twitter users so we don’t have much information to share. This type of business finds Twitter less attractive than Instagram and Facebook because it is less visual.
This is a fascinating topic. LinkedIn is a more blue-collar platform than LinkedIn, but that doesn’t make it irrelevant for the growth of an electrical contracting company.
You might end up dealing at a higher level of white-collar if you are pursuing big commercial jobs, especially if the people you are dealing with are all business owners.
LinkedIn is not something we can speak to in-depth, but it may be worth taking a look at.
Other forms of advertising for electricians
Marketing is a broad area that we have mainly focused on online, but there are many other areas you can take advantage of.
Sponsor local sporting groups or teams, do advertising in local newspapers, do letterbox drops, magnets, billboards… there are so many options!
You can also opt for more personal touch options such as joining networking groups or trying to get introduced to builders. There are many options.
These options are not our focus, and we won’t be discussing them much. Our expertise is in branding and digital marketing.
We hope that you have found something helpful in this article. It’s very long and covers many topics. However, you will learn so much more if this article is important to you.
This is where you could find your competitive advantage. Most electrical contractors don’t want to spend the effort or time learning and then implementing this information. You’ll be able to take advantage of this huge advantage.