There is explosive growth in the skilled trades industry right now, according to post COVID statistics from staffing PeopleReady article dated Aug. 5, 2021. They display the following data comparing the growth in job demand between pre and post COVID.
Concrete masons top the list with 904% growth in demand compared to pre-pandemic numbers.
Job postings for window glaziers soared 422%.
House painters saw a 329% increase.
Electricians have risen 130%.
Plumbers are up 129%.
And carpenters are up 121%.
Surely this enormous growth in demand for skilled trades suggests any tradesmen branching out on their own can’t possibly fail.
Well, yes, but there will also be considerable growth in the number of tradesmen actually branching out on their own so competition within the marketplace will be fierce.
The post is a guide about increasing your chances of keeping ahead of the competition by creating a positive brand identity that will stand you apart.
Within the trades industry, branding traditionally means how the public sees your business—the signage on your vehicle, business cards, displaying your brand on your work clothes. And of course how your website ‘looks’.
In reality, however, you are the business brand. The way the public perceives you, your workmanship, attitude, communication skills, and time management are factors that affect your brand.
“But I will create a brand once I’m up and running.”
Sound familiar? Unfortunately, this attitude is a recipe for failure. Your brand is the most critical asset of your business, way more valuable than your tools or van. Creating a brand identity takes time and effort but a heck of a lot more time, money and effort to replace it if it doesn’t work.
This post will address both physical and personal branding.
How do you create a brand identity?
1. Business Name
Do’s and don’ts
Your business name should describe what you do and preferably include something unique about your service.
Choose a memorable name. Short and straightforward is memorable, and using alliteration can also work.
Suggest the purpose of your business but don’t be too generic. Using words closely related to your industry in an off-beat way can work well:
plumbers; leaks, flush, pipe, flow, unclogged, drained….
electricians; amp, energy, conductive, kilowatt, watt, power….
If you live in a multi-cultural society, be careful to check that your name doesn’t mean something different in another language.
Conduct a trademark search.
Align your business name with your domain name.
A funny or clever name can be memorable; however, be careful not to offend people.
Don’t include your name if you intend to sell the business sometime later on.
Avoid using the name of your location in your name because others will have already done this, which makes your name harder to register.
Don’t overcomplicate the name - simple is good!
Also don’t forget to register your name.
2. Business Logo
What primary color will you choose?
A Google search about complementary/contrasting or clashing colors shows billions of articles on the subject. Often, the articles will ‘clash’ in their different opinions, which suggests choosing colors can be an art as a science.
It is indisputable that different colors evoke different emotions. It would help to choose a color or color combination that best suits the ‘emotion’ you wish to evoke when people see the signage on your van or your primary website colors. The following image shows the feelings evoked by the primary colors.
Blue is an obvious first choice; however, “standing out from the crowd” can be problematic because of its popularity as a brand color.
Some colors do not go well together, and known as clashing colors. Best to avoid them.
Download the Guide which contains a section on colors within its 10 step explanation about starting your own business and getting it online.
3. Time management.
The most critical consideration for any tradesmen is how to manage your time.
If you are self-employed, your time is divided into four significant areas - Productive work, Marketing, Sales, and Administration. The unproductive parts includes; ordering supplies, answering client questions, quoting jobs, invoicing and basic bookkeeping, tool and truck/van maintenance, and more.
How does this relate to your brand?
You can quickly end up spending a significant part of your working day on unproductive tasks leaving little time to do the work that earns your income. Conversely, if you neglect the unproductive tasks, your business will quickly suffer along with your reputation and brand image.
Doing the following in a timely fashion will enhance your reputation and your brand image.
Respond promptly to client quotes and requests.
Invoice promptly and be rewarded with on-time payments.
Pay your creditors on time.
Reduce time spent on unproductive tasks.
There is an obvious way to reduce time spent on unproductive tasks. Say you charge yourself out at $80 per hour; you are better off getting a part-time person in at $20 per hour to do the basic bookkeeping such as invoicing, paying creditors, and, importantly, chasing overdue accounts.
As a skilled tradesman, you are likely the only person who can respond to quote/job requests. Your best option is to use an existing online quote and job management system that automates the administrative flow of jobs from initial quote through to invoicing and integration with accounting packages.
It’s wise to make sure the online system you choose allows for business expansion even though you may pay a little more per month for features you may not need right now. Paying a little more is a much better option than having to transfer all your data from one system to another because you suddenly need say a payroll system. Moving your data to a new system can be more than quite problematic. It is usually very disruptive, time-consuming, and open to errors.
We don’t make recommendations about specific job management software however suggest looking at the options on these two ‘review’ sites.
Lifestyle Tradie - Australian-based.
Tradesman Saver - U.K.-based.
4. Delivering a happy customer
The following section is intuitive and obvious but also vital to building your reputation and brand.
be on time - call if you are going to be more than few minutes late
do a good job - no shortcuts
be pleasant - people both like and gravitate towards friendly people
clean up after you - nothing worse than leaving stripped wire on the carpet
explain what you are going to do, what you have done and, any changes
followup the job with a phone call - often creates an opportunity for more work
Physical branding your business is important, but how you brand yourself and your brand image is more important. How you best manage your available time and appear to others within the marketplace are also essential factors.