Stories abound every year about how unscrupulous self-employed contractors and other professionals take advantage of people and don’t, or can’t, perform the services they were hired to do. These types of news stories make it very hard for honest and respectable self-employed individuals like plumbers, carpenters, electricians, and roofers to gain the confidence of potential customers so they can get hired and earn a living.
Here is an overview of what you as a self-employed individual should do to help convince a potential customer that you are a true professional and the right person to hire to get a job done.
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Regardless of what services you offer to people, you should show that you have the knowledge necessary to fulfil your promises. The best way to show you have the training necessary to do the job which you are trying to get hired to do is by showing your potential customer your certificates from the training you have received from trade schools and other places. You should put copies of the certificates in a binder to keep it and other paperwork on hand to show potential customers you know how to do the work.
If you have a track record of doing the type of work your potential customer wants to get done, you should create a list to show it. You can keep an on-going log of completed jobs in a database on your computer that you can print up and put into your binder. The list should be broken down into the different tasks you perform. For example, if you are a plumber, you should have separate lists showing the septic service repairs or maintenance tasks you have done and a separate list of the indoor plumbing projects you have done like emergency pipe or toilet repairs.
This way when you are talking to a customer, you can look up a task you’ve performed that matches what the potential customer needs and have a discussion on how you handled the previous repair or service.
Before and After Pictures
You should take pictures of what the job site looked like before you started and what it looked like once you were done. You should also add pictures of what you did to complete the job. The pictures should also be put into your binder and will provide you with a visual aide you can use while explaining what the problem was and how you fixed it.
Reputable self-employed home improvement contractors and tradespeople will have a tradesman insurance policy. A tradesmen insurance policy protects both you and the customer in case of injury or property damage that might occur while you are working on a project at a business or home. Contractors who skip on getting a policy is a warning sign to potential customers that if anything goes wrong they could be liable to cover the cost of the damage or injuries that occurred on their property. You should have a policy and a copy of it should be put into the binder.
Trade Association Memberships
Trade association memberships show a potential customer a number of things including that you appear to be a valuable member of your professional, are aware of updated procedures and laws affecting your profession, and that you have easy access to continuing education courses.
Trade associations typically don’t allow disreputable contractors who could bring dishonour to the association to be members. You should keep copies of the certificates of membership and continuing education courses and seminars you have attended in your binder to show your potential customers.
People appreciate when they have been treated well and a job has been performed to their satisfaction. You should always ask a satisfied customer if they would be willing to provide you with a character and job reference that you can give to potential customers to give them an understanding of your work performance.
In some cases, especially if the work you have done can be viewed from the outside, a satisfied customer may allow a potential customer to stop by and view first-hand the work you have done.