Even the best contractors can slip up when they’re not paying attention. So, it’s a good idea to take stock of what you’re doing now and then to prevent easily avoided mistakes – especially the kind that can make or break your business. Here are three mistakes you could be making today without even realizing it.
1. Not Paying Enough Attention to the “Business” Side of your Business
By this, we don’t just mean the dollars-and-cents bean-counting, but the way you think about and approach doing business. You’ve already proven you know your trade or craft, but good business sense is what separates you from the competition.
Contractors new to the field frequently ask, “What’s the best way to attract more clients?” And while that’s certainly important, getting more clients is less vital to your long-term success than making sure you get the right clients and provide them with the best possible service.
The old axiom “measure twice, cut once” applies to more than just carpentry. Double-checking things such as scheduling, job details and supply logistics will help to build trust and goodwill with your clients. And simple etiquette – responding to emails and messages quickly, sending a follow-up note thanking clients after work is done, and respond to both good and bad online reviews – will help you generate referrals and enhance your reputation over the long term.
2. Asking the Wrong Questions
Sometimes, even well-meaning questions can be misconstrued. Inquiries about who will be home during the work, whether a spouse will be involved and if the homeowner lives alone can come off as invasive, insulting and, in some cases, even frightening.
You may feel as if you have a legitimate reason to ask these questions – after all, it saves everyone time if all the decision-makers are in the room at the same time. But you can avoid a lot of trouble, hurt feelings and lost business by phrasing some questions more diplomatically. For instance, “Will anyone else be involved in the decisions about this project?” is preferable compared with the phrasing, “Will your spouse be there with you when we discuss this project?”
3. Not Trusting Your Gut
Your most vital resource as a contractor is also the hardest one to measure. Sometimes you get that feeling, like hair rising on the back of your neck, that says something’s out of place. That job just doesn’t feel right, you’re not sure about that employee, or the gig doesn’t feel safe.
Of course, having such a feeling doesn’t mean you should automatically turn down work or let an employee go. But you should pay attention to the voice that’s telling you something is wrong. The least expensive way to fix a mistake is not to make it in the first place.
Your instincts got you this far. Don’t overlook them.