Many tradesmen, after completing their apprenticeships and working for a company for a few years, decide to up sticks and go self-employed. This allows them to choose their own working hours, set their own rates, and rake in all the profit from their work rather than just having some of it carved off for them. Leaving a business to start your own may feel like a big plunge to take, but the potential rewards are well worth it! If you’re thinking of going self-employed, here’s some handy advice to remember.
The most helpful piece of advice I can offer is to make sure your customer service goes above and beyond the standard of your competitors’. Customer service is hugely important in any business model, and being an independent tradesman is no different. Whether you’re a plumber, electrician or anything else, customer service needs to be of paramount importance. There are plenty of other tradesmen and firms out there, who are all going to be doing as good a job as you. If a customer has an issue with your customer service, it can be enough to put you on their own personal blacklist. On the other hand, if you can provide better customer service than other businesses in the area, it can take customers away from them and send them running to you! Punctuality is the most important part of a tradesman’s customer service, so don’t scrimp on vehicle maintenance or van tyres!
Secondly, ensure you invest in more marketing than you think you need. Word of mouth is the best kinds of advertising there is, especially for self-employed tradesmen. However, when you first start out, no one’s going to know who you are, and work is going to be scarce. I’m sure you don’t want your self-employed career to end as soon as it’s started, so be sure to put some of your budget towards advertising. Get some ads in your local paper, as well as sites like Gumtree, and distribute flyers around your local area. It’s also a good idea to have a strong social media presence, and invest in some localised digital marketing. Provided all your materials are professional and attractive, the customers will start calling.
Finally, don’t skip over any necessary insurance. Your budget is probably pretty stretched as it is, and before you have any clients you probably don’t want to sink any more money into your self-employed operation. However, you never know when you might need tradesman insurance, and going without it can often turn out a lot more expensive than paying for it. The most important thing to insure yourself against is damage to your customer’s property. If you’ve been in the business a while, you’ll know that jobs don’t always go to plan! After that, you should insure all your tools and equipment against theft and damage. You may not think it, but independent tradesmen are often a target for thieves. After all, you won’t be able to pay for a fresh inventory when you can’t get out there and do any work!