Building & Renovating Tips
Four Tips for Keeping Your Roof in Great Condition 0
Since it’s not really something that you use or even see every day, it can be easy to overlook your home’s roof when it comes to maintaining and taking care of your property. However, the roof is one of the most important parts of your home – without it, you’d have no shelter from the elements and your home would be simply uninhabitable. Because of this, it’s vital to keep your roof in good condition, especially during the winter months when the cold weather can cause a myriad of problems that could lead to damage to the rest of your property or even pose a health risk to yourself and your family. Here are our top tips on taking the best care of your roof.
Tip #1. Inspect it Regularly
In order to keep your roof in the best condition, it’s important that you’re always aware of anything that’s going on with it. Ideally, you should inspect your roof at least twice per year, both from the outside and inside. You can inspect your roof from the outside using a good pair of binoculars that will allow you to see it up close, or delegate the task to an experienced roof repair company or handyman who has the tools and experience necessary to get up on your roof safely and give it the once-over. From the inside, you should inspect your roof from your loft or attic. When you’re in the loft, look out for daylight – if you can see the light coming through, it’s usually a sign that something is missing on the outside.
Tip #2. Solve Issues Quickly
If you notice that anything is wrong with your roof, it’s important to make sure that it doesn’t become a job that keeps on getting put off for a later date. Problems with your roof might seem small and insignificant at the beginning, but over time, small issues such as loose tiles or broken roof shingles can weaken the structure and lead to costly, time-consuming roof repairs being necessary.
Tip #3. Keep Your Gutters Clean
Gutters that are dirty and clogged with debris can not only cause issues around the outside of your home and lead to nasty leaks, they can also cause damage to your roof. Leaves and other debris in your gutters can, over time, decrease the efficiency of your gutters and lead to water collecting in the gutters and on the roof rather than draining away. Not only will this weaken your gutters, it can also lead to damp in your roof and even leaks into your home.
Tip #4. Ventilate Your Attic
Putting a skylight or vents into your attic is definitely a good idea when it comes to looking after your roof, since the hot air in your attic needs to be properly ventilated to ensure that the underside of your roof does not become too heated. Too much heat in the attic can put pressure on your roof and cause damage to its structure.
Did these tips help? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.
7 Ways to Save More Money as a Home Builder 0
As a builder or contractor, you always want to save more money and expand your margins to expand your business.
The good news is that you can do it with some smart and practical tips that we’ll cover in this article. The tips will range from dealing with things such as handling your waste to negotiating terms for your purchases.
Let’s head on to the post.
1. Handle all your waste efficiently
Everything that you do in construction project from the foundations to finishing the work, will produce a lot of waste and excess materials during the process.
It’s not just limited to excess wood and bags of cement, you should also consider the food and drinks that you and your workers will (inevitably) consume during work; all of it has to go somewhere.
Skip bins are a solution to waste but they can get very expensive quickly if you get someone to do the waste disposal job for you. To save money, get someone from your team or do it yourself to dispose of waste.
It is a bit of work but you’ll be saving a lot of money from not having to pay extra fees for waste disposal.
Speaking of waste disposal, it is a good idea to reduce waste all the time during a project.
Remember, the more things that you are trying to dispose of, the more that you are going to pay in fees for extra work. If you are doing it by yourself, you’re going to waste more time by disposing of more things.
Here are some effective tips to reduce the amount of waste at the work site:
- Estimate accurate measurements and make accurate cuts to reduce waste
- Accurately identify the amount of materials that you need for the project
- Find a way to store your materials safely for multiple day projects to prevent theft or damage
2. Make sure that everything is included in your accounting statements
Getting your account books right is a tried and tested way to save money as a business owner.
If you don’t have one, you will be surprised at how much small expenses (buying screws, one-off drinks for employees, etc.) add up at the end of a fiscal year.
If you have the means to hire a credible accountant, do so as they’ll be able to help you figure out what you are spending on and where you can save more money on.
Handling your finances correctly also allows you to budget your projects accurately. This means you won’t encounter situations where you’re over-spending on a project or worse, underestimating your budget which could lead to issues with your client.
Besides, having a detailed accounting history will also help you a lot with tax deductions which is the most effective way to save money as a builder.
3. Motivate your crew to do their best
Pushing your crew to the limit doesn’t mean you have to become a dictator-like figure at the work site. Your workers are extremely important to your business so you have to treat them well.
It’s also no secret that happiness is a strong driver in improving work efficiency. When your employees hate their job or you, their work quality suffers and they may not even turn up to work!
Keeping your employees happy is not expensive; here are some things that you can do in your next project:
- Offer to buy lunch or dinner for your crew
- Give your crew time off if they really need it for things like their anniversaries, important school events with their children, or time off after a long period of work
- Hosting parties of BBQs with your crew after a project
Avoiding overtime is also a way to save money for your business. Business owners think that working overtime brings more money to the business but you are actually losing money.
Working overtime means you’re paying more for labor, and workers are tired and less productive when working overtime.
When you have a happy crew, your work quality improves which leads to better clients with bigger checks. You can also work more quickly which gives you a higher profit per hour compared to slow projects.
4. Find the sources of your materials and try negotiating
You’ll burn through a lot of material during your build, and a great way to save money is to get your materials from your source directly and maintain a stock instead of getting materials right when you need it.
Often times, going to the source of the materials is cheaper than buying from a retailer as you avoid the additional costs of dealing with multiple parties.
Dealing with sources also allow you to get things such as custom materials or access to materials that are not available at retailers.
Usually, you can head into showrooms to find what you want. With the help of the Internet, you can then search for the best price online or try to find the manufacturers of the materials.
Multiple dealings with the same source can also help with negotiations. For example, if you’ve been dealing with Bob the woodsman for over 10 years, you can negotiate for lower prices on your next wood purchase.
You can also ask for discounts or special prices on bulk purchases with many retailers. Money is not the only thing that can be negotiated; you can also for faster shipping times or free shipping provided that you have a good relationship with them.
5. Do some of the work yourself
As a business owner, it doesn’t hurt to do some of the work yourself to reduce employee costs.
For example, things, like digging a hole or carrying wood, are things that everyone can do. You can also leave the grunt work to your employees and take responsibility for more specialised tasks.
Basically, if you have time to spend on doing something that you are capable of in the project (such as drilling or wood sawing, for instance), you should do it to save money.
6. Take proper care of your tools
It is not silly to regard tools as your employees in any project.
Proper maintenance of tools makes them last longer as well as reducing repair and replacement costs which add up very quickly.
Maintained tools are also safer which reduces the risk of injuries and accidents which are extremely costly to your bankroll and reputation.
Here is a checklist for you to go through.
Every time you use a tool:
- Brush and clean off dust as it can wear our your tools over time
- Inspect power cords and cables to look out for any signs of damage. Frayed or exposed wires should be replaced as soon as possible.
- Any screws and bolts on your tools should be checked to see if it’s still tight or not. If there are cracks or damage, consider replacing it.
There are also some things that you should do every year as part of your maintenance check:
- Look for cracks in all of your tools especially the ones that require power. Any cracks that are larger than a hairline should be replaced immediately.
- Tools that are used a lot should be lubricated with something like WD-40 to improve its longevity.
- Each tool should be cleaned and maintained according to the owner’s manual
Just like oil changes, you should keep a schedule of every time you perform a maintenance on your tools.
Remember, the longer your tools last, the more money you will save in the long run.
7. Consider higher quality tools that cost more instead of cheaper tools
You might be thinking to yourself: why should I spend more on expensive tools when a cheaper one can do the same job?
Cheaper tools are often made from lower quality parts that need to be replaced more often.
Therefore, a higher quality product may cost more up-front but the average cost is going to be lower than a cheaper product thanks to reduced maintenance costs.
Another important factor is the quality of the results. Some builders argue that the skill of a builder is more important than the tools used. This is true but you can’t deny that a high-quality tool can bring better results to a project.
To learn more about building tools and other articles like this, head over to our blog where we have guides and how-tos for builders and homeowners.
What Do Homeowners Look for in Contractors? 0
In today’s modern era where everything is dominated by technology, contractors are still an indispensable part of the community. In fact, the tech boom has benefited contractors to find and land projects more easily
Now, landing clients and projects is the most essential part of being a contractor. You can the best builder on the planet but if you can’t get clients to actually do your work, that talent goes to waste.
A good way to understand the process of getting clients is to actually go into the minds of a prospect. Understanding what prospects want and what their decision making process is going to help you a lot in negotiating projects.
In this post, we’re going to cover the qualities and signals that homeowners look out for when hiring a builder or contractor.
How to get construction contracts as a builder
Usually, homeowners would want to look for a builder or contractor who is a tradesman with respectable experience in home construction; basic repairs and having knowledge about designing and building homes is a massive trust signal for prospects.
Even if your business hires subcontractors to do the work, it is extremely important for you to show the prospect that you understand how to do the job yourself.
This means that you must be the one who maintains responsibility and accountability for the job, schedules the work well, and making sure that every subcontractor finishes their work on time and delivers great results.
Ideally, you would want to have previous experience in construction of buildings similar to the project that is being worked on. This is also applicable to projects that do not involve homes like buildings or schools, for instance.
You’d also want to have a belt of medium to large projects under your belt as doing small projects only is likely to overwhelm you when you receive a decently large project from your prospect.
2. References and testimonials
Excellent contractors will keep information about clients or projects that they’ve worked with in the past to use as referrals. Therefore, it is inevitable for a prospect to ask you to provide several references during the negotiation process.
While some contractors deliberately fake testimonials to land client, you should never do that. Customers will contact your referrals to ask about reliability, work ethic, and the quality of the work done.
A fake referral could easily lead to a lost project and negative word of mouth about your business could spread.
Prospects will also look for your reputation when finding a contractor to work with.
The reasoning behind this is simple: prospects want to look for someone with a great reputation as they want to make sure that the money spent is worth it.
This is also a great thing for you as when you provide good service, your prospects are very likely to tell their friends and close ones about your services should they need a contractor.
Prospects also relate a contractor’s reputation with the quality of service that they offer so give your best in every job and never, ever disrespect your client.
Even if you or the client were to make a mistake, be resilient. There will be periods when times are tough, but you should persevere as much as you can. It’s completely normal and acceptable to not do everything right; do not give up and do not let yourself be affected negatively by your work.
4. Reliability and integrity
Reliability and integrity are two important qualities that need to exist in your business.
Put yourself into the shoes of prospect; if you were to hire a contractor who does not stay true to his word, the project of building your dream house could easily turn into a nightmare.
Therefore, it’s extremely important that you have references (as mentioned in the point above) to reduce your prospect’s doubts as much as possible. You should also always commit to what you have promised. Over-promising just to land a project is going to overwhelm you as well as disappointing your customer.
Remember, if your prospect has even a slight doubt about the reliability of a potential contractor, they will move on to find a more suitable candidate.
This means that you should over-charge a customer even if they don’t know what you’re doing. Some contractors take advantage of a prospect’s lack of knowledge to charge higher prices – don’t do this, people know when they are over-charged and it will spread to the local community.
You should also be responsible for the wok that you do. If you made a mistake, take full responsibility and solve the problem quickly. You should also maintain the work site well by keeping the site organized and disposing of rubbish and excess materials responsibly.
5. Your personality
Prospects will also gauge your personality to determine if working with you is the right choice. Your clients will be communicating with you constantly during the project and if both of your personalities clash, the project is likely going to be an unpleasant experience.
Since it’s your client’s home or site that is being worked on, your client should have a fair share on the direction of the building process. You must allow them to tell you exactly what they want and why.
They may request for things that downright impossible structure-wise or is not within the budget of the project; it is your job as a contractor to explain why it cannot be done and offer a solution to satisfy heir demands.
Again, communication is extremely important in building projects. It is important that your client understands everything that is being worked on and they are updated about project. Things like the cost estimate for the project to progress updates are things that the client should know.
You should also be a good listener to your client so you are able to understand his or her point of view and respond to any questions or concerns that your client might about the project.
6. Organisation and licenses
Organisation is another quality the clients look for in a general contractor. A good contractor must be well organised in the planning and execution of the project as well as being able to multitask efficiently.
You must be able to manage their time efficiently in order to finish projects before the deadline. At a minimum, you must be able to successfully manage everything from the negotiation stage till the end of the project itself to land good clients.
Another important thing to have is proof of your licenses as a contractor and insurance for your business. You must be able to present paperwork that features vital information such as your contractor’s license, bonding and insurance, compensation for your workers, as well as general liability.
To learn more about building tools and other articles like this, head over to our blog where we have guides and how-to’s for builders and homeowners.
How to Get More Clients as Home Builders 0
Getting clients for your home renovation and building business is the holy grail for many business owners.
You can have the best building skills in your area but that doesn’t mean much if you can’t get word of your business out. Like it or not, marketing yourself to your target audience is an essential part of running a business.
In this post, we’re going to cover actionable tips and strategies to get more clients for home builders like you.
Getting referrals from the past or current clients
In many businesses, referrals and word of mouth are the number 1 strategy for getting clients.
Why are so referrals so valued in the business world?
- It is free. All you need is an introduction to someone from your clients and you have a warm lead for you to close.
- It is simple. When a referral gets in touch with you, all you have to do is to get in touch with them; you don’t have to go through the process of moving them through your sales funnel or things like that.
- It is effective. Referrals as effective as people trust their friends and colleagues. If a best friend of yours talks about how great a certain home builder is, surely you’d trust him, correct?
To understand the technique of getting referrals to your business, you have to understand why people give referrals in the first place.
Make sure that your client is satisfied
Customer satisfaction should always be the main goal of your business.
You may think that you are guaranteeing customer satisfaction, but do you really know if your efforts are enough?
If you are only delivering customer satisfaction during the final stages of a consultation, when there’s only a thin line between closing the sale, then you’re not doing it right.
Customer service is not an on or off switch; it is also not something that you do when the process of finalising a sale happens. Instead, it is something that you MUST do before, during, and after the deal is over.
You also have to change your mindset from getting a sale to establishing a good relationship with your clients. It’s worth it–excellent customer service will delight your clients as well as leading to referrals.
In a nutshell, excellent customer service comes down to keeping their needs covered and minimising their risks and doubts as much as possible. The only way to achieve this is by delivering good service with plenty of honest and frequent communication with your clients.
Here’s what you can do to generate more referrals.
1) Have realistic goals and expectations for your clients
You should always have a realistic expectation in place for your clients.
It may be easy to land a gig by overselling your services to your client. However, if you can’t meet the lofty expectation of yours, get ready to handle unhappy customer concerns.
However, this does not mean that you should completely shut down the expectations of your clients; you want to give them a benchmark that satisfies them as well as being easy to be met by you.
This is all done through honest communication with your client.
If expectations change along the way, you have to be honest and brave to tell your clients about what’s happening. Remember, it’s always better to let them know the truth than to disappoint them with fake hopes.
A great way to do this is by involving your clients in the process. You can set up seminars or consultations to let them know what your working process is.
For instance, if you are setting up drywalls for their home, go through a chat with them and explain what’s supposed to happen and what to expect from the process. The more involved your clients are with the process, the more they will understand the expectations of the project.
Of course, if your client is a reserved or hands-off person, you don’t have to force or pressure them into doing so.
2) Have a referral program in place
Offering incentives for customer referrals can benefit your home builder marketing strategy—if you do it carefully. It’s a good low-cost way to generate qualified business leads, and you can reward existing clients for their loyalty at the same time.
So, what are the incentives that should be offered to referrals?
If your clients are likely to make a repeat order with you, offer them discounts or cashback on their next project with you.
This acts as a double reward for your business; you get a new client and your past clients come back to you for repeat business.
You can decide to give your clients a percentage or an absolute amount discount. A rule of thumb to remember is that for invoices above $100, a percentage discount seems more attractive. For invoices below $100, a cash discount is better.
You can also use gift cards or gifts as incentives for your clients. To make things even better, understand the personalities, quirks, and hobbies of your clients.
If you know that one of your clients, Rachel, loves Starbucks, for each prospect that she brings to you, give her a Starbucks gift card as a token of appreciation.
Of course, you can use money as an incentive but be careful not to burn yourself along the way.
You have to make sure that your referral programs do not become an income-generating platform for your clients. Instead, it has to act as a ‘thank you’ offer for bringing clients to your business.
Getting clients and leads from search engine results
SEO is an acronym for search engine optimisation. One of SEO’s goal is to put your rankings on the first page of Google’s search results page (or any other search engine like Bing or Yahoo) for your target keyword.
This means that when people search for something like “local builders near me”, you want to be on the first page and preferably at the top of the results page.
The idea is simple: how many times have you actually clicked on the second page of Google’s search page let alone the bottom 5 results?
While this section won’t cover SEO in great detail, doing these strategies should be good enough for now until you learn more about SEO.
Use a clear and attractive title for your website
You want your website title to contain your keyword as well as including your brand name.
Let’s assume that your business is named John’s Construction and you perform home renovations for locals in Sydney.
You don’t want to have a headline like this:
“John’s Constructions Ltd. Home Renovation and Home Builders and Maintenance in Sydney, Australia”
The first title is too long for search engines which means that a good portion of the sentence will be cut off. It is also over-optimised which means that you’ve put in too many keywords in a single sentence.
It sounds counter-intuitive but having too many similar target keywords in a sentence or a webpage is going to cause a penalty from Google; a penalty results in a loss of rankings which means that your page won’t even appear on the results page.
The second sentence could work if you are already famous in your area but it does not give enough information about what you do. It also does not contain keywords related to your business which means that people would have a hard time finding you.
Of course, not having keywords in your website title is not the end of the world but it would help much more if you have some.
Instead, you want to go with a title like this:
“Sydney Home Builders and Renovation | John’s Construction”
“Sydney’s #1 Home Builders – John’s Construction”
“John’s Construction | Trusted Home Renovations And Builders in Sydney”
As you can see, the titles are descriptive, does not exceed Google’s title length, and contains relevant keywords to your business.
In general, you want your title length to:
- Contain your brand name (your business name)
- Contain one or two keywords that are related to your industry
- Not over 70 characters in length
- Effectively describe the purpose or services of your business
Another important aspect of search engine results pages is the description below your website’s title.
The same concept applies to the description as well–you want your description to accurately describe and explain what you do as well as your services.
For writing descriptions, follow these guidelines:
- Describe your services clearly without using too many characters. For example, a home renovation business could contain the phrase “We build and renovate houses with quality materials at the lowest price.” The key here is to be short and simple.
- Contain one or two keywords. Using the above phrase, you want to include keywords like build, renovate, or renovation in your description to make it easier for search engines to identify your website.
- Keep your descriptions below 100 characters if possible.
- Insert a call to action in your description. You want a phrase that invites the user to click on your website. You could use phrases like “Free consultations, click now!” or “Click for the best rates”.
Using Google My Business
Google My Business is Google’s solution to local searches. This means that with Google My Business (GMB), you’re able to directly connect with searches from people around your location.
When your business is registered on GMB, locals will see a results page similar to this when they search for a keyword relevant to your business.
To make sure that your business stays on top of listings, you have to:
- Have a listing with your actual business name (Google will reject your application if it’s fake)
- List your business in the correct category or industry
- Provide as much data about your business as possible from your address to your opening hours
- Have a valid and working business phone number in place
- Include clear and accurate photos of your office or business location
- Include local citations from places such as Google Pages or Houzz
Thankfully, Google has an extremely detailed and easy step-by-step guide to setting up Google My Business.
Head over to this link and get your business up and running on GMB now.
Using AdWords (paid advertising) to get clients
Google AdWords is Google’s primary business model for a reason: it’s effective and it works great for local businesses.
To learn more about setting up Google AdWords for your business, this post explains setting up a Google AdWords campaign well.
Here are some guidelines to follow in your Google AdWords campaigns:
Use a relevant landing page
A landing page is a page or website that you send your visitors who click on your ads to.
The number 1 mistake to do here is to send them to your homepage. Most homepages are not targeted enough to get a good ROI on your ad spend.
To get better results, you want to send your visitors to your contact page or your services page where you have information on what you do and how to contact you.
Remember, most of the times you’re aiming for a sale, not a click on your ad.
Don’t trick your visitors
You don’t want to misalign your ads with your landing page. This means that if your ad is for a home renovation service, you want to send them to the home renovation service section of your website.
Misguiding your visitors and sending them to irrelevant web pages lowers your Google ad score. Lower ad scores will lead to lower exposure of your ads; you’re not only losing money but you’re also getting fewer clicks and views along the way.
Use negative keywords
Negative keywords are an option on Google’s AdWords platform. These are keywords that are related to your objective but are also keywords that you do not want to include for your ads.
For example, you want to advertise your home renovation services but you do not want to work with condominiums and apartments for now.
By including negative keywords such as “condominium”, “condo”, or “apartment”, your ads won’t be shown to people who search for those terms which reduces the cost of your ad spend as well as increasing the relevancy of your ads.
Always test and split-test your ads
A split-test is the action of having several variations of the same ad to see which works best. Think of it as a competition where you change a few things in variations of your ads to find a “winner” which is the best performing one.
A common mistake among business owners is to use an effective ad for a long period time.
A great ad may work but if you constantly use it without changing anything, its effectiveness fades over time which leads to higher costs and lower ad scores in AdWords.
To keep your ads consistent, always split-test things such as your headline, landing pages, or descriptions. When you find a winning combination, stick with it but not for too long.
Use your experience and lessons learned from your split tests to craft better ads for your business.
For more information on optimising AdWords, Google’s official resource page has excellent information and knowledge for you to learn.
To learn more about building tools and other articles like this, head over to our blog where we have guides and how-to’s for builders and homeowners.