Research shows that there are currently more than 700,000 construction companies in the U.S. sharing $1.73 trillion in annual industry revenue. While there are big names in the industry that claim a large portion of these sales, there is still plenty of room for small-scale contractors to grow their businesses. In this article, we’ve asked the experts to share their own lead generation strategies to increase your quality leads and improve your chances of conversion.
Here are the top 21 contractor lead generation ideas from the pros.
Marc Prosser, Co-founder, Fit Small Business
Use a service like Yext to make sure your business is listed in as many online directories as possible. It’s a free tool that lets you scan local listings across multiple sites so you can see where you show up and make sure all of your information, such as phone numbers and website address, is up to date. Click here to scan your listings for free.
2. Offer Valuable Content in Exchange for Email Addresses
Jerry Robertson, Marketing for Small Business Coach, More Leads Less Stress
The key to lead generation is to be unique from your competition. The best way is to offer a short guide to a problem they want solved. Some examples are “Homeowner’s Guide to Window Replacement,” “What Roofing Contractors Don’t Want You to Know,” and “Sunroom Idea Guide & Portfolio.” The key is to capture their email address and send them the link to the guide. Other than the email address, just ask for their first name—anything more than that and you can reduce subscriptions by more than 50%. Send an email weekly with valuable content and a compelling message to take action at the end.
3. Ensure Your Contact Information Is Always Highly Visible
Jeremy Schaedler, President, Schaedler Insurance Agency, Inc
In our industry, we work with a lot of residential contractors and have found that one of the best forms of marketing for this group is having contact information visible on all work vehicles. Contractors have reported that when doing a remodel project in a particular neighborhood, they often pick up a new project from a curious neighbor who may have been thinking of pulling the trigger on a new project, but never got around to bidding it out. Having contact information visible on all work vehicles is a great way of letting curious neighbors know how to contact the construction company to inquire about their own remodel plans when driving by.
4. Optimize for Voice Searches
David Erickson, VP for Online Marketing, Karwoski & Courage
Voice search is quickly becoming the dominant mode of search (both Google and Bing predict that it will account for 50% of all searches by 2020). The Google Now phone app and the Google Home smart speaker use these listings when people do voice searches, and rank the results based on proximity and ratings/reviews. Likewise, Amazon’s Echo smart speaker uses Yelp reviews in the same fashion for voice searches. For this reason, general contractors should think very carefully about how their customers experience the services they provide. Have a plan to resolve negative customer experiences and closely monitor their online reviews.
5. Get Listed on Local Services for Google and Amazon
Nate Masterson, Marketing Manager, Maple Holistics
Google and Amazon have started making win-win investments in local service businesses, like most other broad firms that will offer service all around the country just to farm all the work to subcontractors. Amazon charges a percentage for service performed while Google charges per lead. The advantage with these is that everyone uses Google and Amazon and whenever customers “Google something,” some of the top search results are service providers. Anyone can advertise their business using this tool. Both will require a background check that is usually based from your ratings and customer reviews. Google gives you access to multiple platforms, including their GPS mobile application.
All Amazon requires is that you have general liability insurance with a limit of $1,000,000 per occurrence and licensing for trade professionals. Amazon sends a job and you can choose to take it. They let you set the price and they just charge extra for the referral. Amazon only works with the best in your area.
6. Find Requests for Proposals with a LinkedIn ProFinder Account
Stacy Caprio, Founder, Growth Marketing
An effective lead generation strategy is using the free LinkedIn ProFinder that sends you relevant leads in your geographic location every few days through email. To have a LinkedIn ProFinder account, you need to first sign up and have a LinkedIn account (register here). Once you sign up and indicate your areas of freelancing interest and location, LinkedIn will use that information to match you with relevant jobs. Every few days you will receive a LinkedIn ProFinder email with a job match that you can submit a proposal on. If the company or individual likes your proposal, they will respond in message form, often requesting a phone call before moving forward. I’ve found it to be a great lead generation tool, and a bonus is that it is completely free.
7. Solicit Recommendations from Other Non-Competitive Businesses
Brad Leahy, Vice President, Blades of Green
The construction industry runs on a good reputation. Some of our best leads have come from other small businesses in the area that can recommend other companies to their clients. Homeowners don’t always know what they’re looking for in a service company. Usually, all they would go to is Yelp or HomeAdvisor and what their neighbors have to say. A recommendation from a trusted person with roots in a home service field can go a long way, so ally yourself with people in adjacent industries. Lawn care, pest control, HVAC, plumbing—once your client’s home is built, they’ll need people to help maintain it, and those businesses you refer people to may turn around and refer people to you when their customers are looking for a contractor.
8. Claim Your Business on Google Maps
Ryder Meehan, Digital Marketing Consultant, Meehan Digital
Many small businesses are localized, so their lead strategy should be as well. One of the best sources of small business leads is Google Maps, and it’s both free and easy to claim your business’ listing. Just visit Google My Business and fill out your business profile. Include images of past projects and link to your website. Google will mail you a postcard to verify your address within a couple of weeks, and then you’re listed on Google Maps for thousands of local customers to find you.
9. Focus on Content Marketing
Steve Yi, Co-Founder and CEO, MediaAlpha
This entails creating and distributing digital content such as company blog posts, informational videos, Facebook and other social media posts that are useful for your target customer. For example, a blog post with a title along the lines of “Construction Mistakes 101 – Dangers to Look Out For” would be an excellent resource for workers new to the space or even consumers researching different construction companies. Once you’ve put time and effort into creating great content, you’ll want to make sure you reach the largest audience as possible. You can amplify your message and drive engagement through promotion across multiple channels, including paid social media posts, sponsored listings on traditional search engines and even influencer marketing.
10. Keep in Touch with Previous Clients
Chuck Solomon, Co-Founder, LineHire
Repeat business is often overlooked by home improvement contractors because they don’t have a simple system to attract that business. Repeat business from previous customers doesn’t cost anything and is a great way to grow a business. Most people don’t remember what they had for lunch yesterday, let alone the name of the company that remodeled their bathroom two years ago! It’s up to the business to keep their brand on top of mind for their past customers. Here’s a simple system to help customers remember you. First, find 12 resources that would be helpful to most homeowners. It could be articles about home improvement, maintenance, decor or a free home maintenance app like HomeSpot. Next, create a series of monthly emails that highlight the resource. The email can start off with “Hi, Just discovered this great resource on X, thought I’d share it with you.”
It’s typically best to send these email out via an email marketing program like MailChimp so that you can see who opens your emails. Each company that I have implemented this with gets repeat business each and every month.
11. Target Keywords to Buyer Intentions
Reuben Kats, COO, GrabResults, LLC
Clients need to see proof of work, so if you want leads from customers who look for contractors online, you need to develop a portfolio that will sell itself. That is how clients are assured that your company is capable and reliable with providing any construction service. Contractors also need to make a user-friendly environment for their clientele and provide potential clients with a free estimate. Lowering the cost will always get a higher percentage of conversions. I have also built many campaigns using buyer intent keywords that convert with clicks and calls. This way, the business starts getting calls after a week of being online.
Google’s spiders and Bing will find any new content and information usually after a week of being online, so your business can really show up organically without paying the high costs of each click in that specific industry.
12. Build Lead Generation Assets You Own and Control
Ben Landers, President & CEO, Blue Corona
Don’t put all your money in lead generation sites. We’ve seen it time and time again—a contractor shovels his entire marketing budget into these subscriptions, and then is disappointed with the poor quality of the leads he gets. Building lead generation assets you own and control—like your website and social media profiles—is like buying property vs. renting it. If you depend on lead generation sites, you’re out of luck if those companies get sold, acquired, or just generally go downhill. You’re also sabotaging yourself, since 93 percent of online experiences begin with a search engine, and website authority builds over time.
13. Create and Share Infographics
Tom Hartel, CEO, Valley Fire Protection Systems, LLC
This is especially great if somebody has already written on a competitive topic and it would be really difficult for you to outrank them. All you need to do is to make a beautiful infographic that covers all of the discussed points and then link it to the author’s post. Don’t forget to share your creation on Pinterest and make it visually longer so that it covers more space. Also, keep the infographic simple. Overly crazy design can be difficult to read and we don’t want that. Include a link to your website in the infographic where you can invite your visitors to opt into either notifications for special discounts or a referral program to get them curious about your services and stay on your website.
14. Join a Vetted Contractor Network That Uses a Mobile App
Rishi Matthew, CEO, Keepe
More and more people are attracted to the convenience of having services available on their mobile phones, and contractors would easily benefit from adopting the technology into their lead generation strategy. This is made possible by joining a network of contractors where potential clients can go to when they need work done. The software matches pre-estimated jobs, which removes time spent on providing estimates and following up on unqualified leads. One good example of this is Keepe, which will send you actual jobs on your mobile (based on your indicated schedule or availability) that need to be done right away. The app also guarantees secure payment upon successfully completing a job, which makes it convenient for you and your client.
15. Master the Art of Getting Referrals from Clients
Kevin Namaky, Founder Gurulocity
Getting referrals is sometimes easier said than done. People are busy and once they’re done working with you, they don’t necessarily owe you anything. That said, there are a few things you can do to greatly increase your chances of getting positive referrals (and reviews!) for your business.
- Ask for them: It would surprise you how many businesses don’t get referrals simply because they fail to ask. So, the first step is to make it mandatory and start training employees and sales on how they should ask, making it a standard practice.
- Optimize the timing: The best times to get a referral is at the peak of the customer experience when they are happiest with you, so think about how this might apply to your business. Is it at the moment of purchase? During the actual process of working with you? Once the entire service/job is completed? Getting this right will greatly increase the rate at which you get referrals.
- Incentivize them: This can be in the form of a thank you (e.g., gift card, coupon, additional bonus services) or as an upfront incentive (e.g., a discount on the entire project in exchange for contacts they think would also be interested).
- Systematize: Make it a part of your system that can’t be skipped or forgotten. For example, you could make it a standard section of a written application form, digital form, or contract. It could also be incorporated into post-service feedback forms and surveys that are sent for all finished jobs. If you make it a part of your physical or digital process, you’ll essentially automate the process so it happens every time.
16. Combine Direct Response Mails with Content Marketing
Craig De Borba, Founder, OnPoint Internet Marketing
A perfect not-so-typical lead generation strategy for a general contractor combines direct response mail with digital marketing. Any general contractor can create a series of reports and/or e-books that cover his/her service area (for example, bathroom remodeling), send out direct response mailers, and instruct recipients to go to theiroffer.com to get access to their free home improvement series and discounts on home improvement services. Visitors to the landing page will be retargeted. Be sure to keep the message very personal and from the contractor himself. Do not use “Dear Homeowner,” but instead use the homeowner’s name. Most of the leads will opt to have the service done for them in the end. With the dedicated landing page or call-in number, the campaign metrics can be fully tracked. Even better, because hardly any contractor is tapping into this, it easily enables you to stand out.
17. Get Reviews—Fast
Scott Bishop, CEO, Up And Social
Getting more leads comes down to whether or not a client can trust you. Show them you’re trustworthy with your online reviews. If you ask a client to leave you a review, they’ll say yes but in reality, they never get around to it. It’s not hard to leave the review online—it’s just inconvenient. A surefire way to get your client to leave a review is to follow up with a personalized email. Your email should include a thank you note and a link that opens right to your Google review page. Recently, Up And Social launched a new product called “Review Booster.” The Review Booster allows business owners to easily solicit reviews from all of their current and past clients.
After submission of the client name and email, they will receive a message with a link that goes directly to your five-star business page ranking. On average, clients using review booster see an average increase of over 500% of online reviews!
18. Find Buyers of Dilapidated Properties
Lucas Machado, President, House Heroes LLC
Real estate investors buy houses that need lots of work, fix the house, and flip it to the end user. Most investors rely on general contractors to manage the renovations, making real estate investors the ideal lead for a general contractor. General contractors make contact with this lead at very low cost. The general contractor needs to monitor properties for sale on the open market that need lots of work. After the sale of the dilapidated property, the public record is updated with the name of the buyer, which the general contract can look up in the public record website. That record will have the buyer’s name and address, and the general contractor can either call or send a letter pitching their services. Another way to find local real estate investors is to contact realtors.
Realtors are familiar with the local real estate rehabbers and can put the general contractor in contact. Realtors also are always in contact with homeowner clients and may be working with the owners to fix-up the house being listed on the open market.
19. Network with Exhibitors at Trade Shows
Konstantin Obuhov, Founder, EMS Group
Being a creative art shipping service, we find that relationship building is a key ingredient to our business model. One of the most effective strategies we use today is connecting with exhibitors at upcoming art fairs and trade events. We tailor a straightforward two- to three-sentence email with a creative deck, describing who we are and what we do. Our email communication serves as a segue to an in-person introduction at the fair, which reinforces our connection and builds rapport with a potential client. This very simple yet effective tactic consistently proves to be successful, builds lifelong relationships with clients, and can be applied as a lead generation strategy for general contractors as well.
Don’t waste your speaking opportunity by missing out on getting as many leads as possible during the event. Oftentimes, even the best resource speakers tend to forget maximizing lead generation the moment they start their session. With everything going around, it’s important to have someone to assist you to keep tabs of what needs to be done. Asking for the attendee list is one of them. Attendees of your speaking engagement are already interested in what you have to offer, so getting their contact details and reaching out to them after the event, when they can still recall attending your session, is the best time to speak to them about trying your services.
Your website’s landing page gives you the best opportunity to capture leads. So, when evaluating your website’s optimization, it should include criteria on having an effective landing page. Understand the role that your landing page takes in your inbound conversion path and develop a micro strategy that can effectively execute its role. Not sure where to start? Follow this quick guide on creating killer landing pages for construction companies to improve your lead generation strategy.
Getting endorsed by insurance companies is a big deal in terms of lead generation. Each time insurance claims for damages are filed with your partner insurance agency, you can be that someone who has to perform the repairs. Additionally, having your company name on insurance company websites as their preferred contractor can easily get you new clients. But not everyone knows where to start. This article gives you a guide to becoming the preferred contractor for insurance agencies.
Over to You
For contractors, leads will always be the lifeblood of your business. But it doesn’t mean you have to constrain yourself in the old strategies. Combine your tried-and-tested approach with new ideas from our experts to improve the quality of your leads.
Have more contractor lead generation ideas you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments!