The three elements contractors can't forget when running their business.
Todd Magatagan, owner of Texas-based Around the Grounds, offers his top tips for a successful small business.
Delegate, delegate, delegate!
This may seem like a simple one, says Magatagan, but it’s an area where small business owners often struggle. “They try to do everything on their own including the billing, marketing and the actual work,” he says. “You need to learn what your true skills and aptitudes are and focus on those. Then, as soon as you can, delegate the areas that aren’t your top skills to someone who does excel in those areas.”
Magatagan says that many business owners struggle to let go of handling the billing on their own. But if they’re not on top of it, it can lead to trouble. “It tends to be one of the bigger problem areas in the industry,” he says. “Guys are slow about invoicing and slow about collecting money. That can become a huge cash flow issue that could, by itself, sink the business. It comes back to knowing your skills. If billing isn’t one of them – delegate it.”
Adaptable Customer Service.
Everyone knows the value of good customer service. After all, besides pricing, it’s the one thing that can really set you apart from the business down the road. The problem is that many business owners offer what they think is good customer service, but it may not be what their clients want. You need to adapt your customer service to your specific client base, says Magatagan. What that means is communicating the way your clients prefer to communicate. “Most of my customers tend to be over 40 and haven’t adapted new technology – like texting or e-mail – as their primary form of communication,” he says. “When they have an issue, they pick up the phone. So that’s how I communicate with them. But there may be customer bases out there that prefer to communicate by text message, so you need to be adaptable. Don’t communicate with them the way you think is best – communicate with them the way they prefer.”
Maintain your Integrity.
Of all the advice out there, Magatagan says this is the most important for success. It includes maintaining integrity for the service you provide, the information you give and your billing. The latter is an area where companies may go astray. “There are guys that change their prices based on the customer,” says Magatagan. “That will come back and bite you because people find out. You can’t change a head for $10 for one client and $50 for another. Be consistent and fair.”
It’s important to maintain integrity with service and information you put out there, as well, says Magatagan. “It’s better to tell a client that you can’t get to a job for two weeks than to say you’ll get to it right away and take two weeks to do it.”