Carpentry can be a satisfying and lucrative trade, but there’s a lot of competition out there. No matter whether you’re setting out in business or looking to expand your existing client base, you need to plan carefully if you want to succeed. You might have plenty of work at the moment, but what about in six months or a year? You need a regular stream of work from existing customers and new clients to keep your business competitive.
We’ll have a look at some tips for growing your business in a moment, but first you should have a think about what you have in place right now. You don’t want to build your business strategy on straw; make sure you have a good framework to support your expansion. Beyond the necessary carpentry skills and professionalism, you should also have:
A business plan: Even a single page of writing is enough to outline your goals and how you plan to reach them. This can help keep you focused as you make important business decisions.
A contract template: With any business engagement, it’s always best to have things in writing. Ask a lawyer to provide you with a contract template that you can adapt and have your clients sign before each job starts.
Correct licenses/permits: Every business must be compliant with the relevant laws. Ensure you have all the right documentation to undertake carpentry business in your location.
Business insurance: Accidents and mistakes can happen, even to the most careful carpenter. Make sure that you have the right insurance in place so you’re covered in the event of mishaps or claims against you.
Once you have all the above, you can start thinking about specific ways to expand your business.
Marketing and Branding
Customers can’t hire you if they don’t know you exist! Marketing and branding your business helps get you in front of the right people so you can start working for them.
1. Get your own website
There may be carpenters who do fine without a website, but most will find it a welcome boost to their business. Getting a website up and running isn’t too expensive, especially as there are several platforms that make building it quick and simple. Some items to include on your website include:
- The services you are offering – If you can include pictures of your previous work (with permission from clients), the more the better.
- Information about you – Let the clients get to know you by briefly explaining what path you followed in your career, your qualifications, any big jobs you’ve done in the past, and other details relevant to your carpentry. Include photographs of yourself at work (where you can).
- Customer recommendations – When you’ve finished a job and the customer is satisfied, ask them if you could have a brief testimonial to include on your website.
- Contact information – Include your phone number, email, and physical address (if you have a shop that customers can visit). You can also include links to your social media accounts or a contact form.
If you’re hoping that new customers will find you by searching on Google, it could be useful to gain knowledge about search engine optimisation (SEO) or hire a specialist to help you. If done correctly, this will help your website appear near the top of searches.
2. Show your brand off
Your brand is everything that makes you different from the competition. This includes things like your logo, the colours on your website, and even how you speak to customers. Good branding can make your business memorable, so when customers think about carpentry, they’ll also think about you!
Having company branding on your commercial vehicles and your work uniform are common ways to remind people who you are and what you do. They also enhance your professional appearance and turns you, your staff, and vehicles into moving billboards.
3. Get on social media
Social media can be a useful tool for carpentry businesses. Creating accounts on popular platforms is a great way to show off photographs of your work and invite potential customers to ask questions. You can do this for free, but you can also pay for advertising that is specifically directed at customers in your location.
It’s not necessary to create accounts for your business on every social media site. In fact, it can be too time consuming to keep them all updated, and some may not be appropriate for your carpentry business. Think about the sort of clients you are looking for: What social media platforms are they using? It makes sense to focus just on the sites where potential clients are visiting, liking, and sharing.
4. Create business listings
Even if you don’t have a website or social media presence, you need to get your business listed on directories such as Yelp and Google Maps. Most people use the Internet to find out about local businesses. The more listings sites you can get your business on, the greater the likelihood is that you will be found.
5. Get some business cards
There is still a place for the traditional business card, even in our digital world. Keep them handy and ready to hand out to potential customers at networking events, showcases, farmer’s markets, or other places where you’re promoting your business in person.
Upskilling and Education
There’s always room to improve your craft, even if you’ve been a carpenter for decades! You might even find new customers as you practice and learn new techniques.
6. Become a better carpenter
If you are running your own carpentry business, you are already no doubt an expert carpenter, but there’s always room for improvement. There are many courses available, both online and in person, where you could learn specific new skills that you might have missed out on in your initial training. Not only is this enjoyable and rewarding, but it will also help to expand the services you can offer to clients. This could also save you money, as you would no longer have to get in specialist subcontractors for work in which you don’t have expertise.
Additional training doesn’t have to be carpentry specific. A course in computer design could pay dividends. If you can provide clients with 3-D designs of the type of work they are asking for, showing exactly how it would fit into their property, you could have better chance of landing the contract. Modern computer design software is relatively easy to use and greatly improves your professional image.
7. Think about specialisation
There are many different jobs that fall under the heading of carpentry. If you find yourself mainly performing one specific type of work, you could advertise yourself as a specialist. For example, if you mainly do garden sheds and planters, it might be a smart move to advertise in gardening magazines and on their websites. On the other hand, if you want to do a wide range of different types of carpentry, make that a virtue—advertise yourself as a person with the talent to do anything.
8. Take on more employees if you need them
As your business becomes more successful, you may find that you are having to devote more time than you wish to doing your accounts or returning customer calls. This could mean that it’s time to hire a manager, an accountant or other office professionals so you can focus on what you’re really good at, the carpentry.
Additionally, you might want to think about going into partnership with another carpentry professional so that you can take on bigger jobs and more clients. If you can find someone whose skills complement rather than replicate yours, so much the better.
Nurturing and Networking
Sometimes new customers are right under your nose! Asking your current client base and network could bring in more business.
9. Remember your previous clients
Retaining clients who were already satisfied with your work is both easier and cheaper than gaining new ones. Recent customers may not have any immediate carpentry needs, but there might be a project they are thinking of for the future. It may be worthwhile to offer them a repeat customer discount on their next job. If a client mentioned that they might be in the market for a particular service in a year’s time, add a note to their file and a reminder to get in touch with them at the appropriate time.
10. Ask for referrals
People are far more likely to try a product or engage a tradesperson if they are recommended by a friend. Don’t be shy about asking satisfied customers if they would mind referring you to friends who need the same sort of work. You might also offer incentives, for example a discount on future services or rewards like free meals or sports tickets, for those who refer you to valuable jobs.
Whether your business is big or small, don’t forget that you may need insurance for your carpentry business, protecting you against any claims arising from mishaps in the course of your work or any actions taken by your customers.
BizCover can help you find insurance to protect your small business, so you can work with more peace of mind. It’s quick and easy to compare quotes online and purchase in minutes!
Experience insurance made easy today.
* The information provided on this page is general guide only and does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. This information should not be construed as any form of advice. Consider your own personal circumstances, objectives, financial situation, needs, Product Disclosure Statement (PDS), and full policy terms and conditions before making a decision. Product descriptions on this page are intended only as a guide to coverage terms and conditions, and should not be relied upon to determine policy coverage. Policy coverage is subject to the specific terms and conditions of each policy wording.
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