A good name is worth more than gold, and in the world of business, your reputation is an incredibly valuable asset. Many big companies have teams dedicated to their brand’s management. As well they should, the vast majority of us head straight for the reviews before we make any purchase. With the likes of Trustpilot and Google reviews available at the touch of a finger, it’s easy to see when a brand walks the walk or is nothing more than talk.
The same is true for contractors. With it getting easier every day to leave a review (good or bad) and digitalisation making the market an ever more competitive place; our reputations are crucial to our long-term success. A great reputation inspires trust and helps you stand out from the crowd; it’s your best advocator and most silver-tongued salesman. It’s a product of years of hard graft, but once secured a stellar reputation makes it considerably easier to attract and maintain a profitable client base. Unlike big business, we don’t have the benefit of corporate branding or high-end marketing to win new clients. We have to be the architects and owners of our own personal brand to win repeat business and get our names on the grapevine.
As a previous contractor and business founder – I’ve found that a reputation isn’t built on flashy promotions but rather a slow gradual build-up that you simply have to work at and deserve. The best way to build your reputation is to live your values and be the thing you want people to be saying when you leave a room. Meet every deadline, go the extra mile beyond what’s expected and continually learn and develop yourself as a knowledgeable expert and leader in your field. Don’t just mouth the platitudes of hard work and attention to detail – show them and others will do the talking for you.
For my business a good reputation has been invaluable. Our client satisfaction is eight times higher than the UK average and the benefit of living our values of excellent customer service shows in how we gain new clients. An average of 50% of our sign-ups have been from referrals over the last three years. On the other side of the fence, as consumers we’ve recently been recruiting agencies and other external resources to work with – all of which have come from referrals and recommendations from our network. Their excellent reputation and reviews from those we trust have ensured we chose them above others who might have had more fancy websites or even lower prices.
As well as ensuring those you work with only have glowing reviews, you can help to manage your reputation with social media. In this digital age, anyone can now comment for all the world to see on your LinkedIn, your Twitter or your blog (all important parts of marketing and championing yourself). And a misplaced comment or emotional rant on Facebook can cost you business. It’s always worth remembering that anything you put out onto the net could be visible to potential clients.
But these platforms give you the opportunity to make what people are saying about you the cornerstone of your online sales pitch. Nothing is as effective as the word of a satisfied client so collect up those good reviews, ask for them after a project and share them widely; they’ll do a lot of your hard work for you. Don’t feel the need to silence more critical reviews either. It’s impossible to please everyone all the time. As long as you treat any negatives with transparency, a willingness to admit fallibility can add authenticity to your sea of enthusiastic reviews. You never know, candidly responding and opening a line of communication could even lead to an updated review or a rekindled working relationship.
From day one, word of mouth and online testimonials are incredibly important for your success as a contractor. Your reputation is a hard-won thing, so it’s well worth ensuring you’re continually building it with your clients and fellow contractors and promoting it through social media.