Marketing Your Business - Joining A Trade Association Might Be A Great Move!

As A Kitchen, Bathroom or Bedroom Business Joining A Trade Association Just Might Be The Answer For Your Business!

If you are a business owner, working in a trade and looking to expand your business, solidify your market position or want to expand your marketing reach then you may be looking for an organization like FairTrades which represents the interests of its member firms within the home improvement industry? As a contractor in the home improvement market you will most likely looking for a way to get more out of your business not only this year but for the future.

A Small Businesses Marketing Strategy can be a tricky thing to get right. It can be a costly practice too. You need to get the basics right and then expand on those best practices which you have learned over time, constantly improving them month in and month out. Marketing your business is all about applying the learning you have gained from the past and using it to your best advantage today, while driving down the costs all the time. The problem is that many small businesses don't truly know how to best do that! We can help.

So you use smart marketing techniques to generate more interest in your business? It's all about great customer relations and exposure that will help steer your business in the right direction and again, we can help.

The Three Business Opportunities:

There are three ways to grow your business. The first is to rustle up more customers, the second is to get your current customer base to buy from you more often, and third is to increase the price you charged and in so doing you make more profit from same amount of business.

Unfortunately most businesses tend to only go with the first option. They are constantly looking to take on new customers while neglecting to realise just how much money it costs them to acquire each new customer. What they should be doing is re marketing the current client base where possible which greatly reduces the overall cost of that sale, instantly improving profits thanks to significantly lower new client acquisition costs.

If there is little opportunity to re-engage previous customers then why not look at another way to utilise this resource. Set up a marketing partnership with related business, or ask your current clients to refer friends or work colleagues who may require your services. Perhaps offer an incentive for this too. If you were to get a job installing a new kitchen worth £4,500 it should be easy to see why paying one of your previous customers £50 for that referral is so worth while.

Attend a business breakfast club, there are many such networking associations around the country. Their primary purpose is to introduce business owners to like minded individuals and the resulting camaraderie can be a very lucrative source of new leads for any business owner. Another way to get great value from customers you have worked for the past is to request references from them which you should place in your marketing materials and on your web site. Always engage previous clients to get the maximum value for your business. By requesting testimonials you not only tell your clients that you value their opinion but you also demonstrate to future clients that you have nothing to hide and operating an ethical way. The FairTrades Association is at hand to help you every step of the way.

Well Planned Leads:

A good lead is the result of a well-planned strategy. When given the opportunity to get a new lead always take full advantage. What good is there in getting a person's name without a phone number? Always attempt to get a mobile phone number as opposed to a landline where possible. It also helps to know where that lead is geographically situated,  so if at all possible ask for a postal code or city name. When dealing with a member of the opposite sex ask if this person's title is Miss, Mrs or Ms. This will help you come across as far more professional when you make that first appointment or sales call.

The Hard Sell:

Going on the hard sell makes it far more difficult for a business owner to stand out from his competitors. Going for the hard sell is most often a mistake! A good business owner will realise that a bigger and better business can be built on listening to what your clients are looking for. The hard sell is all about selling features while if you took the time to ask potential clients about their needs you soon realise that it's not about a services features so much as about solving problems where the big money is made. The likelihood is that when a homeowner contacts you to do work on the property they have a problem and a fairly serious problem at that. You're most likely to win a business by winning their trust. To win their trust you need to demonstrate that you're willing to listen to their problems, understand the problem, and come up with a solution.

Focus On Your Strengths:

To be the best in business you need to have a strong focus. What makes your business unique? What makes your business stand out from the rest? Why are you different? What can you do for your clients that your competitors can't?

Where do you start? The first step is to make sure that you understand the difference between features and benefits. The next step is to make a list of the features and benefits you believe your business has to offer a potential client.  It is very rare that an educated consumer will purchase a product or service based purely on features. A consumer is far more likely to make a purchase based on the perceived benefits. What value will your service add to their home, lifestyle or business? Perhaps there are financial benefits to using your service? As a business owner it is your job as the managing director to ensure that your business has the benefits in the product or service that you offer. If not you will find that it is incredibly difficult to compete in the marketplace.

As a business owner you will no doubt have hear about the 4Ps of marketing. Little understood is that there are actually seven and there has been for a considerable number of years now.

The Seven Business Marketing Elements are:

1. Product - You need the right product when you enter your chosen market. Just because you are able to purchase a pink bathroom suite from your wholesaler at dramatically reduced prices from the contemporary white suites, this does not mean you will be asked to install the pink suite when it comes your turn to sell it on to clients. Keep up to date with trends and stick to your known market, don't deviate if you don't have to, it costs money to experiment and if your clients are not asking for something there is very little reason to expect you will be on to a winner. On the flip side, always monitor your competitor's marketing activities as they may source a product your customers might be interested in. Your competitors can very often teach you new tricks, may source new products from suppliers you did not know about and if they have more money than you, you may also be able to learn from mistakes they have made.

2. Price - You need to sell at the right price if you want to to make a profit; appeal to the right customer base and ensure that your price helps sell your product. If you trade in an affluent area like Chester or Chichester it would not make sense for a kitchen fitment company to sell cheap kitchens. The customer in an affluent area will expect high quality products and will expect to pay a premium for the privilege of having you install that kitchen in their house. Always cater to the expectations of your customer. Luckily, cheap is associated with lesser quality materials rather than workmanship, so when lower price is requested be sure to explain that savings in a reduction in price come from the materials and not your workmanship. The higher your prices the better your profits, the more experienced your staff can be as you can pay them more easily and the higher the quality of the materials you will be able purchase too. Going too low is as bad for business as out pricing yourself from the market. Finding the right price is critical. Pricing too high will result in less work coming in while being too cheap will result in a business with little to no profits. A certain way to the unemployment market. Research the market in your area and then check that research again with a price test to find out if you have got your price right.

3. Place - Set up business in the right part of town to reach your customer base most effectively and efficiently. If you are a top end bedroom fitter then there really is no point in setting up a showroom in a small rundown council estate on the outskirts of a small town when the high street or a popular shopping mall should be your first point of call. Likewise if you fit budget bathrooms and specialise in sourcing discontinued bathroom suites from big suppliers then why spend vast amounts of money in a fancy business mall when your route to market will most likely be word of mouth or the local radio and flyer drops. As a business your customers may base some of their decision on your local. If I am having an average priced bathroom fitted why would I ask a bathroom company in Bournemouth for a quote if Worthing? The main reason is perceived cost. It surely costs a bathroom company far more to attend to work in my house if they travel 60 miles to work for me. These costs must be passed on to the consumer and if not your business will need to foot the bill. At the end of the day promote your business in the area you decide to set up trading.

4. Promotion - Use the various media available to sell your services, internet, trade magazines, local or national papers and even television for big corporate's. The internet is always a great place to start. You are after all reading about our trade association on the internet are you not? Be aware though that although the internet is a form of promotion the internet web site itself requires promoting! The days of put up a web page and it will be found are long gone and DIY web sites are rarely a great source of business. Pay for professional to build your web site, find out about CMS and ensure that your web site has CMS. CMS is content management systems and it enables the owner to work on their web site with very little experience. Invest in some self tutoring when it comes to SEO or Search Engine Optimisation too. It costs £8000 per year if you contract out, so well worth learning the basics for yourself. Keep your web site look and feel in keeping with your customer base and if you accept money online make sure you have the appropriate security in place.

Trade Shows and Trade Magazines are a wonderful source of new business if you are a manufacturer or supplier. If you are an installation company then don't expect to find many new clients here. Use the trade shows to learn about trends and new products which you in turn can use in your business. Use trade shows and trade magazines to source new suppliers and perhaps lower your acquisition costs, but realise that consumers, homeowners do not read these publications in any great scale. Home and Garden magazines might be a great place for high end businesses to advertise providing the adverts appear in regional editions otherwise it may be wise to leave this type of media to big national companies with branches representing their business spread across the length and breadth of the UK.

5. Physical layout of product or showroom - Set out your bathroom showroom in such a way that customers find their way to their area of interest quickly and easily. Create a maze in your showroom and create confusion and indecision in the minds of those customers. As soon as your potential customers get distracted by the beautiful shiny chrome taps displayed at the entrance to your full suite display area they loose focus on the big ticket item and may even feel that with such high prices on the taps, how could they possibly afford to have you install a full bathroom suite in their house? Even if this does not distract your customer, they must be able to make their way quickly or easily to the various sections in your showroom with as little distraction along the way as possible.

6. Staff/People - Inform your customers that you have the right people to do the job, this time and every time. Invest in your people as a business! Make sure that you have the right staff handling enquiries, taking complaints and and providing both you and the customers with the best possible feedback or solutions to any problems. Make sure that you customers know that they are your businesses number one concern and that you as their contractor are always happy to take their opinions on board.

Training is a critical aspect of some trades. Electricians and plumbers need certain certification to work on a job and their skills may need up dating from time to time. As any plumber or electrician will know, when hiring an experiences tradesman who has been out of work for some time, retraining may be required as legislation and certification requirements do change quite frequently.

Clearly display your staffs certification in your reception area and invest in keeping their training up to date. People are your greatest cost and your greatest investment.

7. Business Processes - constantly work on improving your businesses processes from handling complaints to compliments. Task a specific member of staff with this job and ensure that management are kept up to date daily with what is going on. Design and improve systems to promote both positive feedback to your staff and the public while learning from negative feedback by updating processes and procedures which minimise the chance of mistakes happening again and again.

Getting the mix of these elements right enables the organisation to meet its marketing objectives and to satisfy the requirements of customers.

You've worked hard to establish your business and you deserve it to succeed. Joining a trade association is the next logical step, so why not Join FairTrades today?

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Fair Trades is the trading name of Fair Trades Ltd. Fair Trades Ltd is registered in England
Company Number 1813671. Registered Office is Suite 40B, Port of Liverpool Building, Pier Head, Liverpool, L3 1BY
General Enquiries: (+44) 0800 131 0123 - Membership Enquiries: 0800 131 0500 - Fax: (+44) 0800 131 0900