by Jessi Burg
Communication is a tough topic for many small business owners. We know we should be doing better, but it’s so hard to balance getting a job done with the communication that surrounds all of your other jobs.
Some days you’re answering your emails from a job site and praying you have enough cell phone service to hit send. Other days you’re answering the phone while driving, and desperately hoping you’ll still remember what you talked about by the next red light. The struggle is real.
Today, we’re going to discuss ways to make your communication easier, as well as why your communication around the job can actually be more important than the job itself.
Let’s start with the “why”. Communication matters because:
- A happy client equals repeat clients and referral clients
- When everyone is on the same page, the process goes more smoothly
- When you have a system in place, it’s easier to remember how things are done so that you can be consistent
- Operational efficiency will make or break your bottom line
The trades tend to have a bad reputation when it comes to communication (or lack thereof). We are here to change that. But how, you ask?
- Write Everything Down
First things first. Write everything down! It doesn’t matter where, as long as you know where to find it. Write things down while they are happening, and stop answering the phone while you’re driving or on a ladder or walking a dog so that you avoid forgetting it altogether.
- Block Out Time to Respond
Set designated times to call clients back and answer emails – this could be all at once at the beginning or end of your work day, or at a few set points in between. It could even be on your snack break if that’s what works for you. This also ensures that you respond to inquiries in a timely manner.
- Build Templates
Build templates for each different job you perform. This makes responding to your clients quick and easy, and makes it so your team has everything they need in one place. You want your operations to stay consistent, while also ensuring that you, your staff and your contractors (if applicable) have all the information needed to complete a job. (Not sure how to do this? Check out our Client Communication course for a more in-depth look).
- Create a Project Gallery
Devote a portion of your website to a project gallery or an FAQ’s section. This way, if your clients have general questions about your work, you can direct them to a page that explains your process and what to expect, saving you time and energy.
- Don’t Stretch Yourself Too Thin
Don’t take too much on. This sounds obvious, but sometimes it’s hard to notice when it’s happening. Give yourself 1-2 hours per day to make sure you’re caught up on upcoming jobs and client communications, and don’t book up that time with jobs or estimates. It’s tempting to fit “just one more job” in, but if you nail communication, you’ll have more jobs than you know what to do with, and be able to charge more.
- Pay Attention to Your Client’s Needs
Listen to your client’s needs and know your key demographic. If you learn to do a few things really well, you’ll be able to focus more on those jobs, charge more for them, and then repeat the process. Also, listen closely to your client’s questions and concerns – if you can address their questions, they’re much more likely to hire you, which in turn allows you to close more jobs.
For example, if a previous client wants a raised flower bed and you know that they’ve mentioned cost or sustainability in the past, you can anticipate their needs and come back with details about the cost and source of the different wood options available to them without them having to ask, thus strengthening your trust factor.
Pro Tip: DO NOT ignore anti-solicitation signs. If you do, the first interaction with your potential client will likely be one of annoyance, and they might not want to hire you.
Use these tactics to tackle communication within your small business. It can seem daunting at first, but once you organize your process you will realize that it doesn’t HAVE to be so difficult to manage.
Want more from Outgrow Your Garage?
-Support, connections and resources are invaluable tools for entrepreneurs. Small business owners from a variety of industries come together twice a week for Co-Working & Office Hours to work on their businesses, share insights, and troubleshoot issues. Running a business can feel isolating. You don’t have to do it alone!
-Business education should be easily accessible for everyone at an affordable price. We want you and your small business to succeed. No matter what area of your business you need help in, we offer a variety of business course topics that teach you how to turn your every day tasks into organized systems.