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robert griggs
robert griggs Member Posts: 65
Just wondering how others out there advertise their services?

I am starting out on my own and have put ads in a few church bulletins in the area and the yellow pages, as well as pass out some flyers door to door. I was also thinking of putting an ad on placemats of local diners. The guy is sending me some literature in the mail now.

Anybody have any creative ways of advertising?
Any thoughts would be appreciated.


  • Starch
    Starch Member Posts: 102
    my experience

    This is just my opinion, but I think it is probably shared by many. I have found that, at least around my area, yellow page advertising is worthless. I have spent nearly 6 grand a year for the last five or six years on the YP's, and I don't think I've gotten my money's worth. Whenever a new customer calls us, I make it a point to ask where they got our name. Most received it from talking to someone who referred them to us. I can count on one hand the number of times a new customer found us in the yellow pages. We are in a very rural, tourist-oriented area. I don't know if it would be different in a larger metropolitan area or not. I will not be renewing my ads this year, just a plain listing.

    Something we started doing this year.....our local paper publishes real estate transfer notices once a week. We made up a form letter (nothing fancy, just a brief description of the services we offer, our hours, phone, fax and email address. no fancy pictures, just some red highlights to catch the eye) which we send to the address listed in the paper.

    Also, I had a flyer printed up with our logo and a description of our service offerings. My men carry a stack of these in their vans, and leave one at each house where they work. This does two things - 1)It calls attention to ALL the services we offer (I have had customers for ten years who all of a sudden realize that we do heating, as well as plumbing!), and 2) it lets the customer know that we were at the house (many of our customers are not at home when we perform service for them). The men will leave notes to the customer on the back of the flyer if needed, also.

    The other thing I would suggest is to join the local chamber of commerce, if you haven't done so already. This can provide some networking opportunities with other businesses and potential customers. Other good organizations to join would be the Lions Club, Athletic Boosters, Rotary CLub, etc.

    The placemat idea is questionable to me. Most people have food on their minds when they're at a diner or restaurant, not their heating system. I'm sure you might pick up one or two customers from such an ad, but my guess is that it wouldn't be enough to pay for the ad cost.

    By far, the absolute best advertising is word-of-mouth. Ironically, it's also the cheapest. Let your reputation speak for itself, and your satisfied customers will sing your praises.

    Good luck going out on your own. It's hard work, and it can be frightening at times, but it's worth it!

  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,490
    How about

    Find a Contractor?
    Retired and loving it.
  • Mark Hunt
    Mark Hunt Member Posts: 4,909

    I agree with Mr.Starcher. I can count on one hand the number of YP calls I have ever gotten, and I have never looked to find a contractor on a placemat.

    I would suggest that you get EVERY SINGLE PERSON YOU KNOW telling EVERY SINGLE PERSON THEY KNOW about you.

    Pass out business cards at family functions, offer them referral fees for jobs sold, remind them constantly about what you do.

    I would also look into a local web listing company in your area. Lots of folks shopping on the dot com machines these days.

    And....... look into getting listed here. I just signed up and I have already gotten one radiant heat lead from it.

    If I sell it, the ad is paid for!!!!!

    Good Luck!!

    Mark H

    To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"
  • John@Reliable
    John@Reliable Member Posts: 379

    First Good Luck , nothing like being on your own
    (good& bad). First thing what are you starting? Plumber , Oil heat, hvac and where are you? We could maybe help more.
  • Andy Michl_2
    Andy Michl_2 Member Posts: 14

    It really depends what kind of work that you are trying to do. I found Dan"s book in books and more called Just Add H2O to be very helpful. It gives some very good examples of how to show the value in the services you provide. In hind site I bought my first jobs because I needed the work, but now just 3 years later find people telling us to put them on our list. Some times a simple add in the want adds can get the ball rolling. Also your work truck is a traveling billboard that people see all the time. While it seems expensive at first it really is the cheapest billboard you can buy, and also shows potential customers that your working at the neighbors. Hope this helps
  • direct mail

    will be my next move, I will buy a list and have a post card designed for approx .40 cents a mailing, at a thousand names , the reply should be in the neighborhood of 2-3% that will be a good bit of leads if all goes well.

    the list is made from demographics of different qualifiers, I want "homeowners" over 50yrs, with incomes over xx,xxx per year, visa/mc holders ,homes over 20 yrs old, not exactly the diy types.

    murph' (SOS)
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,490

    Chuck Shaw told me that he closed $100,000.00 in sales off his Find a Contractor ad last year. Worth mentioning.
    Retired and loving it.
  • Customer referrals

    We do a newletter about 4 times a year. Make it real newsy and don't really do a hard sell. Give them ideas on things they can do as a homeowner, ie. change filters, check the air conditioning condenser for dirt and leaves, etc. We have had customers come through the door carrying a newsletter from 6 months or a year ago and want some service or product they saw in our newsletter. The other thing takes a little bit more effort, but it is a referral service. Keep track of new customers and ask them who told them about your business. When you get the referral name, throw their name in the hat and have a drawing once a month and then award a free something or other. Also post the list of people making referrals in your newsletter or at your office. People love to see their name in print and being recognized for helping.
  • Dan Peel
    Dan Peel Member Posts: 431
    I've resigned..

    Or is that signed in again. My advertising and promotion budget includes "Find a Contractor" , a small 1/4 page ad in the local program for a summer concert series and a small ad in the yellow pages. Each has their place in filling my job jar. Your best advertising is yourself and referrals from comfortable clients. Enjoy the ride..... Dan

    To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"
  • John Felciano
    John Felciano Member Posts: 411
    Get recognized

    The first thing I would do if I were to do it over again is I wouldn't use my name in my business name.I'd come up with something simple and recognizable.Come up with a logo or design and use it on everything.People will come to recongnize you from this.Think about home depot we may hate them but,they are marketing geniouses.They have taken a color and a dude in an apron and made it their symbol,just by useing it in all their ads.

    Our biggest and best form of advertising besides word of mouth has been our cube vans.We currently have three of them and I get more leads from them than any ad type advertising, and in the long run they are the cheapest.

    Yard signs,tee shirts,paper ads,stickers,place mats all just get your name out their and the more your name is seen the more you will be remembered.I hear from people all the time"I see your trucks and signs everywhere" It's just a matter of being noticed.Think of how many times you see a Coke or Pepsi commercial.

    I'm no big fan of yellow page ads, but you still need to be in there.We run a very simple little box ad just so people can find our number.I agree with everyone else they are just not worth the $$$$.We get a much better response from the small local papers.

    Good luck

    To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"
  • the ficticous name

    would be great, did you ever consider doing it and running the same ph # forward to your regular line, possibly to track advertising and such?? maybe "snappy soup" turtle is our special. or something like that.

    sherriff murph'


    kinda early, even for me!! great edit button.
  • ScottMP
    ScottMP Member Posts: 5,884
    NO yellow pages

    I have never used the yellow pages and have been in business for 16 years now. what I have gotten good use from is the small local phone books. I don't know your area but mine is a smaller rural area where people want some one local. They want to have "My Plumber" working at their home.
    I have tried the border ads like a placmat and other flyers like local maps. I have not gotten much from them, it a waste of good money. Your best advertising is word of mouth.. get your name out to friends and family. Also a good logo will do wonders for you. Talk to some one in that field. Dont try and do somthing yourselve. We all think we know what to do but some one in that field will have the experience to know what works. Many of us think we can do it and you wind up with an ad. or logo that has too much going on. Trying to say to much, trying to get your monweys worth out of the ad. People are looking for your services, not read a book. Catch thier eye, dont take thier time up with a long disertation about what you do. You can do that when your at thier home talking.

    My Two Cents


    To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"
  • Tony Conner
    Tony Conner Member Posts: 549
    Comanche Marketing

    Check out Matt Michel's "Comanche Marketing" site at www.decisionanalyst.com/publ_art/comanche.htm . He's got a ton of ideas and info.
  • Maggie Reed
    Maggie Reed Member Posts: 22

    All Great Ideas. Here are a few more.

    Radio Remote Broadcasts - Call your local radio station and have them broadcast from your business. Have a barbeque or some giveaways to entice listeners to come and check out your business.

    Newspaper Belly Bands - Call your local newspaper and find out if they will allow you to put a band around the outside of the newspaper with your business name and logo.

    Don't forget about co-op advertising. Most HVAC manufacturers have money set aside to help the contractor out. Some have apparel programs to uniform you and your employees, truck decals, professionally designed ads, radio scripts, etc... They also have a professional marketing staff that (if you find the right manufacturer) will help you with ideas.

    Good luck!
    Maggie Reed

    Marketing - ECR International
  • Dale
    Dale Member Posts: 1,317
    Don't DIY to yourself

    marketing is not what you do best. Just as you are a specialized contractor there are expert marketing consultants, I have a friend who's one, who are skilled in setting up marketing plans, logo's, web sites whatever so that all the separate parts match and the whole marketing system works as designed. Sure it costs some money but the same reasons you give to your heating customers to have you do the work apply to you. Instead of the ready, fire aim let's try some stuff method and change it later if it doesn't work think about a complete marketing plan and add to it as you grow. Make it part of your business plan.
  • Dale W.
    Dale W. Member Posts: 42
    I just started 16 months ago.

    We came up with a company name that did not include my last name. (Radiant Designs) I then designed, with the help of a graffic artist, a logo that I put on a flyer announcing the start up of the business. I made up a mailing list of every person I know, my mother knows and my mother-in-law knows. I sent each of them a flyer and to this day some people are still using the $10 off any service call coupon I included with it. I missed the Yellow pages the first year but went with it this year. I spend about $800 a month on the YP and I know it is not worth it. The best money I have spent so far is for Potato Chip Clips and refrigerator magnets. I leave two chip clips and two magnets with each service call. I also have a large sticker that I install on every heater, condensing unit, water heater or any thing else I can stick it on. I had both of my service vans lettered (about $750 each). Every thing is done with the same Logo. The graffic artist has it on disc and will E-mail it to anyone who needs it. All the advertising companies have their design work on computers, so my logo is a perfect match on my uniforms, trucks, letterhead, envelopes, chip clips, stickers, magnets, etc..
    But probably the most important advise I can give is don't sell yourself short. If you're proud of your work, don't be afraid to demand the money you deserve. You can't pay your bills if you give it all away.

    The first year was tough. This year is financially much better. Right now I can't get to all the work I have. I've raised my prices and hired people and the work still flows in. Be the best in your field and enough people who want only the best will find you.

    Dale Wegman
    Radiant Designs
    Bear, DE
  • robert griggs
    robert griggs Member Posts: 65
    starting out

    I should have mentioned that I do plumbing and heating, radiant, hot water, steam and some forced air. I am located in central New Jersey.
  • robert griggs
    robert griggs Member Posts: 65
    thanks to all

    Just wanted to thank everyone for all their advice. I appreciate all the input.
  • John Mills
    John Mills Member Posts: 7
    We use

    mostly Cable TV. It can target the parts of town we want to use and by which channel we advertise on, we can target the type of viewer. We have simple (cheap) 30 second ads with a catch-phrase at the end making fun of mispronouncing the company name. It's become about as popular in our suburb as "where's the beef" was.
  • robert griggs
    robert griggs Member Posts: 65
    real estate notices

    Just curious how well the real estate notices work for you?
  • Starch
    Starch Member Posts: 102
    Too soon to tell

    We just started doing them a couple months ago. I figure each one costs me less than 50 cents, so hopefully it's worth it.

This discussion has been closed.