Builder’s Backbone; “Its more than just co-working offices for contractors!”

How can Builder’s Backbone help me?

The construction industry is filled with entrepreneurs -talented individuals whom after they have worked and honed their skill set, decide to branch out on their own. These contractors very often face big challenges to grow their business because their resources are scarce as a new business owner. Builder’s Backbone plans to change this forever.

The concept for Builder’s Backbone was developed initially as a means of providing a shared platform from which new businesses can share resources and connections that otherwise would be out of their reach till they are much more established. Resources like offices, showrooms, warehouse space, trucks as well as professional help for things like marketing, accounting, finance, insurance and website development.

For less than most people spend on coffee and donuts each month a business owner from any part of the construction industry as a whole, can join Builder’s Backbone to utilize its resources and while at the same time supplementing the other members of the community by providing their own trustworthy and dependable skillset for others to use and/or collaborate with.

Very quickly this concept that was dreamed up to help small and new businesses, has enveloped all parts of the industry in the spirit of teaming up and working together for the collective good of the community.

Today Builder’s Backbone has one 24/7 facility in SW Houston, the named the Builder’s Backbone Synergy Center, located along the Westpark tollway between the inner and outer loops. It is 56,000square feet of showroom and office space for collaboration.

Membership  is basically divided into two groups;

  1. The virtual office option which gives businesses access to our app, network of members and a new business address where they can register and run their business from, virtually. ($49/mo)
  2. The other membership levels all provide 24/7 access to the Synergy Center along with all the benefits included with a virtual membership. (Monthly membership starts at $199 and varies depending on the office space you select)

Today, Builder’s Backbone endeavors to empower entrepreneurs by giving them tools, resources, and options they can use to focus their own time and efforts on the more important parts of their business and spend more time doing the things they do best.  Ultimately, we realize everyone has their own reasons for working hard day in and day out,  but at the core of all these reasons is a desire to provide a better quality of life for ourselves and the ones we love.  

Builder’s Backbone provides an almost countless number of features and benefits for our members to utilize, but at the end of the day, when all the tools are put away, THE REASON we do it is to help you have a better life.

Choosing contractors; 7 things to consider

Choosing Contractors can be hard! (But it does not have to be!)

How to do it, why it matters and where do you start when choosing contractors!

When you are thinking about improving some part of your home like, flooring, roofing, painting, cabinets, countertops, or anything else…it is easy to decide what you want to do, but often it is harder to find the right person to carry out the job for you.

Close up of two young colleagues shaking hands in an office

It doesn’t have to be a difficult task! You just need to know what you look for and where to look for it.

 

#1 First things first, decide exactly what you want them to do for you. When choosing contractors, you are hiring a project manager for your project. They need to know what you vision is and your expectations. Too often the objectives are unclear and it’s very hard to deliver on something that is invisible. Providing a clear and concise directive to your contractor will automatically improve your odds of success dramatically, no matter who the contractor is.

Handyman varnishing pine wooden planks in patio outside the new house

#2 Ask around and do research – When choosing contractors, do not make this decision hastily. Allow yourself enough time to talk to your friends and family, see if anyone has a recommended contractor they can link you up with. Check online for reviews of their business. If you are fortunate to live in a city with a Builder’s Backbone Synergy Center, visit the member’s list and choose a contractor who has good reviews and attractive photos of past work. Best of all any “Backbone” contractor comes pre-screened by Builder’s Backbone to ensure you can trust them.

#3 Paperwork and licenses matter. – If budget is a big factor when choosing contractors, you will likely run into candidates who are independent, and not licesnsed. It is advised that you go with a certified, licensed contractor. This will ensure that you have a professional who knows how to see your project through from start to finish. If they took the time to acquire all the proper paperwork, they will take the time to do your work the right way also.

#4 Look at past work –  Most contractors will be able to show you their past work. Do not hire a contractor who cannot show you that they have done the kind of work you are wanting them to do for you. It just is not worth the potential problems you could face. Let them practice on someone else who doesn’t mind paying less for inexperience.

Construction engineer and architect’s desk with house projects, laptop, tools and wood swatches top view, male hands using a digital tablet

#5 How soon, how long, how much? – Find out when they can start for you and when they think it will be complete. A good contractor will have answers for all three questions. Expect to wait for a good contractor, as they are good for a reason and therefore in high demand. If they cannot tell you how long it will take, they are either inexperienced or they are not good project managers. Either is bad for you and you should avoid them. All costs should be written out in advance. You may want to ask if they offer financing options or warranties during this phase of your research.

 

#6 Materials matter – When choosing contractors, it is nice to know where they will get the materials for your job? Can you supply your own? Builder’s Backbone contractors get their supplies from within the Backbone community, this means you know they are the highest quality for the best possible price.

#7 Design work – Often times a job will require a design to be completed prior to the job starting. How will this be provided? Backbone members have access to industry leading design services that are timely and affordable. All designs are done in collaboration with the contractor and the materials supplier to ensure everything is going to be on time for your job.

 

Choosing contractors can be intimidating, and even a lot of work, but it will be worth your time when the job is done right!

 

 

 

How to grow your construction businesses social media presence online

How to grow your construction businesses social media presence online

First of all, get started! There is no better advice that I can deliver in the space of this blog post that will have a greater impact on your social media presence than starting. It is literally the difference between “Yes, I am on social media” and “No, I am not on social media”.  So get started.

But how?

Okay, a fair question I suppose. The first step is to create an account on the platforms you wish to use. If you have no idea what platform you want to use, then I recommend Facebook and Instagram. In 2017 these are the most likely to yield the results you are wanting with as little work as is possible. (Don’t get me wrong, this is not about making it easy, it’s going to be work, but these will allow you to leverage your industry knowledge best.)

For businesses, you want to create a FACEBOOK PAGE, next pick the right “type” of account. Choose  “company or local business place” account. (If you are a brick and mortar that has walk in customers choose “local business place”, otherwise choose “company”.  Fill out your accounts totally and completely. Add images to Facebook, including profile pictures and header images. Look around at the competition, do something similar to the one you like. Don’t steal, just draw inspiration.

NOTE* Images are property that belongs to the owner. You cannot use any image you like. Search for “free use stock images” on Google or take a photo yourself. Ensure all images you use are “free to use”.

Describe your business in detail. More people will read this and decide their opinion of you than anything else. It’s your time to shine and tell everyone why they’d be nuts to go with anyone else other than you.

Instagram is a little easier to set up. Just get your account set up, if it is a business, select business account. Fill in your profile info and get started!

But How?

Okay, another fair question.

Instagram is photo based. You MUST post an image at the same time or you cannot complete your post.  Start taking a lot of pictures.

  • before and after of jobs you do
  • Finished product
  • interesting steps along the way
  • weird situations you encounter while working
  • using tools on the job
  • pictures of you working
  • pictures of the materials you use.

Both Facebook and Instagram will allow you to post as long a description as you like.  I recommend that you tell people what they are looking at in the image.  Whenever possible tell a story!

Use hastags.

Make a list of the 30 most relevant terms to your business. Take each one, ad the “#” immediately before each one with no space and paste that list of “hastags” to every single post (this next step is important) as a comment.  Hashtags help people find what they are looking for on social media. If you are a pool builder, someone looking for pool pictures will use the #pool hashtag and your posts will show up among others in the results. The more hashtags you have that match the search, the higher up your result will be for the person searching.  (Note, you can only use 30 hashtags per post, going over will result in the text being removed, so count carefully.)

Facebook is great for sharing all things with your followers. You can post a link to a blog or article you liked somewhere else online and Facebook will retrieve the link and make it look nice for you. Than all you have to do is make a comment in relation to that post and hit send! Tada!

Follow the same idea list from Instagram for your photos .

Videos:

Get comfortable shooting video with your Smartphone. We all walk around with HD cameras in our pocket.  You cannot post too many videos of yourself working and explaining things. It doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, it shouldn’t be perfect, people are skeptical of things that look “too finished”. Their advertisement meter goes off immediately and they tune out. So if you stutter or whatever, don’t stop. Just keep going and try to get to a point where you are able to talk to the camera like your own friend.

Note* You can also set up a Youtube account and post these videos there as well.

BLOGS:

Social media is great, but blogs last forever. You can post something on social media and it will no longer be visible in your followers feed within minutes to hours. But blogs stay put and last forever. People usually find blogs by searching on Google. Think about all the times you have looked for info online about something and someone had written an article explaining how to do  the thing you wanted to do. Helpful right? You want to give people answers to the questions that they are asking as well as answers to the questions that they should be asking too.

  • how to buy ___________
  • 3 things to know before you buy _______________
  • why you should always say no to _________ when buying __________________
  • The difference between _____________ and __________________
  • How to make your ______________ last longer
  • Show your work off. Take before and after images, as well as images showing the process along the way.

Be sure to share the link to your blog on your social media accounts. This will help bring customers to your blog and vice versa.

In summary:

If you will start doing these things you will be farther ahead than 95% of the people in your industry.  Your first posts and videos and photos will not be great, but you will get better and that is okay!  There is no substitute for experience in this situation.

Remember, this is not about advertising your business so much as it is about delivering value to the user. If you give them information, entertainment and confidence, they will regard you as the authority and when they need what you sell, they will come to you because they already know you, they already trust you and they have already seen your work and know you are the man for the job. So do not try to advertise your business as much as you try to educate. It is acceptable for you to say the name of your company and your website at the end of beginning of the video so people know who you are.

Good luck! All you have to do is get started and you’ll see that not only is it possible for ANYONE to do, but it is possible for you to be great at it!

If you are in Houston and need help with your social media presence, visit www.buildersbackbone.com and look into becoming a member. We help our members to connect with other members of the construction community more easily and created trusted relationships that will have a real benefit to their company. We’d love to help you grow your social media influence and your network!

 

 

 

Being a LONE WOLF in construction will get you killed.

Don’t be  a lone wolf:

 

Many of us got into the construction because we felt we were really good at providing a specific skill. We started a business based on that skill with huge ambitions that it would be our ticket to financial freedom. But quickly you discover that running a business can be tons of work and you are not making the kind of money you planned on making.

You know that if you had more help you could get ahead. You know that if you had more money,  you could purchase resources that would help you to get ahead. But, neither of those are realistic options.

Most people in this situation will continue to keep doing the same thing that they have been doing because they feel like they are treading water and they cannot manage to get ahead.

STOP DOING THE SAME THING IF IT IS NOT WORKING!

Step one

Ask yourself, why do I do what I do? Have lost your way and gotten distracted from your original purpose? If so, readjust and refocus on the thing you do best.

 

Step two

Interact with your community. The best way to get referrals and business, in general, is to build relationships with people. Customers want to do business with the people that they trust and that they know. Does your city have a community or Builder’s Group? In Houston, you can team up with Builder’s Backbone. Once you are accepted into their community (acceptance is easy, and contingent only upon doing good, honest business) you can start to promote yourself to other people who have the influence you need to sell more jobs.

Step Three

Build up partnerships and alliances. Contractors are frequently asked if they know someone who does ____________ well. If you have partnered up with several other professionals you can send them business and they, in turn, will send you business as well.

 

Step Four,

Appearances matter. Think about the times you have looked to hire someone for any reason. You are forced to judge the book by its cover when you do not know the person. In the modern world, we live in this means, Facebook, website and even your physical address. Each one needs to indicate that you are Trustworthy, Skilled and Easy to do business with.

That is all great advice, but how do I get started making it happen?

Get out and talk to people. It may feel weird, it may be way outside of your comfort zone, but it is necessary. They best way to network in a meaningful way is to go to events where you are surrounded by like-minded people. They will be there doing the same thing you are (most are even nervous to be there too!) Be sure to take business cards with you and collect business cards from people you want to work with.

REMEMBER: People are not typically looking for what they can do for you, so you must find out how you can help add value to them first. Once they see you as a valued partner, they will be more interested in finding ways to help you.

 

How to turn quotes into high paying (very happy) customers.

The quoting process is very likely the most valuable marketing tool you have in your arsenal. DO NOT WASTE IT BY ONLY GIVING A QUOTE!!!  A quote is like an audition, and it’s your time to shine. Giving the actual price quote is only 10% of the task. Adding a one-sheet will do the other 90% of the work by convincing them why they would be crazy to do business with anyone else but you, even if the competition is cheaper.

What is a one-sheet? What should be in it? Well, we’ve got your back. Just keep reading.

So, how do you do it? Start with out-thinking your competition.

It starts with knowing EXACTLY what clients  want from you and why they want to do it. Listen VERY CAREFULLY and ask questions because it will be impossible to exceed their expectations (and delight them) if you do not see their vision clearly. Do they want only green materials? Do they keep asking you if you will fix something if it goes wrong? (Hint: They are wanting a warranty.) This process will make your potential customers feel valued and understood. If they believe you share their vision, they will be more likely to hire you for the job.

Convince them they are spending their money right by hiring you. Because telling them you are honest, dependable and skilled WON’T WORK!

Do not waste your time telling them the things that everyone else is saying. They already expect you to be honest, dependable and skilled. Instead give them several SOLID reasons why you are the right person for the job — even if it costs them more money.

Build a case for them. Introduce the one-sheet.

Set yourself apart from the competition based on facts. Consider these marketing weapons when drafting your one-sheet.

  • Change your method. A great way to set yourself apart is by doing things differently. Now your sales pitch can focus on how “everyone else” is doing things the “old way” and you are doing things the “new and better way.” You can accomplish this by using a new or different kind of tool or by employing an alternative process. Focus on how this different way of doing things will not only achieve the desired result, but it will also give additional benefits, value or quality that the old way does not.

  • Change your materials. Find a different kind of material or product that you can incorporate into your process and focus your pitch on the benefits it provides. Tell them how you are using a new technology and material to provide them with the desired result in a better way, that will stand up better to the test of time. If it is a more expensive material, tell them why it’s worth it.

  • Go green. Find any possible ways to Go Green. Be sure to tell your customers how this will help the environment and do less damage than your competitors are doing. These things are often meaningful to customers.

  • Stand behind your work. Everyone likes the protection of a warranty. It makes them feel safe and secure in their decision. Don’t be afraid to offer a better warranty than everyone else. The trick is to be confident in your work and write a warranty that stands behind your craftsmanship and excludes things that are out of your control. If you are already committed to doing top of the line work on every jobsite, why not stand behind it and use it to your benefit. It will result in more jobs sold and more referrals down the road.

  • Communicate better. People like to be kept in-the-loop and know what is going on. Find ways to share the process with the customer and let them know how their project is coming along and when it will be done. Perhaps consider using a WIFI camera to live-stream the process or sending updates as each phase of the project is finished via text or email.

  • Become a friend. Provide a page that tells them all about YOU. How long you’ve been in business. Some of your most impressive clients (if any). What you specialize in. People feel more comfortable doing business with people they know instead of strangers. You can use this opportunity to introduce your family situation, help people understand why you started your business, your goals and dreams, and of course your values.

  • Introduce your team. Provide short bios for your team, especially if they will be on the job-site. This will help potential clients feel more at ease and safe while you are in their home. Help make them feel more comfortable to talk to your workers if they need to address a concern.

  • Stack value for them. Figuring out small but meaningful ways to enhance their project and improve it above and beyond what they hired you to do will make a big difference. They will look at this like getting freebies — and who doesn’t like getting a little something extra for free!? When you go the extra mile for your customers, they will go the extra mile to tell people about your business.

Now, summarize these points on your one-sheet. This sheet is the most important marketing tool you have for selling more jobs. Make sure you include it with every single quote you give to people, either in person or by email. This will help them to remember why they would be crazy to do business with anyone else but you, EVEN IF THEY ARE CHEAPER.

 

Pro Tip: Remember, the best customers are the ones who will value your work and not just the price. When a customer is only focused on price and nothing else seems important to them, they are more likely to be difficult after the sale. The best customers are the ones who understand the value you are providing and want to end up with the highest quality product possible, not the cheapest.