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There’s little scarier than not being able to find clients when you’re self-employed. For electricians and other tradespeople whose construction careers often live and die by word-of-mouth, it can be especially difficult.
The good news is that if you’re an electrician in this position, there are a number of options to help you make sure your job list is full.
Let’s get the obvious one out of the way first: word-of-mouth. This is the bread and butter method of finding work for any electricians or tradesperson. It stands to reason, of course, that if your friend has just had an excellent electrician come round and do a job for them, you’re more likely to use them yourself since you’ve got a first-hand report.
You can supplement word-of-mouth with another tried-and-true method of finding work among the trades: business cards. Wherever you go, make sure you’ve got a stack of business cards in your pocket. You’ll never know when the opportunity to leave one in someone’s care will pop up – you could even get magnetic ones to stick on a fridge or boiler.
If you’ve got a work van/vehicle, make sure to put your business name and contact details on the side of your van. It’s 24/7 advertising that attracts attention whether you’re parked outside a client’s house or stuck in traffic.
Everyone and their grandmother has a webpage these days. Whether it’s a simple templated WordPress page or their own unique website, every sole trader, every limited company, and every freelancer is showing off their work. And you should be, too.
A website is a simple, curated way of showcasing all of your best work and displaying your strongest reviews and testimonies. Having somewhere you can store all of that promotional material and your contact information is a huge boon, especially if someone knows nothing more about you than your business name when they type it into Google.
Social media is also a powerful tool in the search for new clients. A 2018 study revealed that 71% of people used Facebook as their first port of call when searching for a tradesperson, which fell to just 11% for its nearest social media rival, Twitter. So if you haven’t got a Facebook page for your business, or you’ve not joined any of the litany of “Find a tradesperson” Facebook groups, you could be missing out.
As well as a website and a social presence, there are a number of recommendation sites for tradespeople. These are often used by prospective clients to find a recommended specialist in their neighbourhood.
The most popular of these recommendation sites is probably Checkatrade.com, but there’s also Ratedpeople.com, Mybuilder.com, and TopTradespeople.co.uk, among others. Managed well, these sites can be invaluable in driving new customers to your business, but there are differences in how much you need to pay to and the reputation of the websites.
Some recommendation sites will require a monthly or annual fee in exchange for your continued presence, or to have your business featured on them, but it’s a small price to pay for the exposure and opportunities you can get in return.
There are two ways you can go about this one: you can either advertise your services on a jobs board, or you can answer client ads on jobs boards.
Jobs boards such as Careers in Construction allow you to filter by your trade and your location, so you’ll always be shown the jobs that are nearest to you. Of course, you’ll be competing against other tradespeople for these opportunities, so making sure you’ve got a strong portfolio of work and some adoring testimonials on your website or social media page will be a huge advantage.
We also have our own jobs board – we’d highly recommend taking a look!
This isn’t to say you need to spend your days posting on forums and fishing for leads, but having your finger on the pulse is always going to be of benefit.
Tradesperson forums such as electricianforums.net are a great place to start. You’ll be able to access an entire community of electricians that have already seen and survived the trials and tribulations of a client shortage, and they’ll be able to offer you some insight and support based on their own experiences. You’ll also be able to keep up with industry developments, which only going to help you in the long run.
As well as helpful articles (like this one!), we have a range of jargon-free business guides with great advice on running a business.
As specialist accountants for the self-employed, we already help thousands of contractors keep on top of their business finances. We make it easy for you with our easy-to-use online accounting software and unlimited support and advice from your own team of client managers and expert accountants.
You can also join online communities like our very own Crunch Chorus, which will also allow you to source support and guidance from people that have been in your position before. Some communities will even allow you to advertise your services. Even if they don’t, keep your eyes open for anyone asking for any recommendations or help themselves. You never know who might be looking for an electrician, after all.