How to Attract High-End Clients as a Small-Volume Contractor
High-end clients have the means to purchase more at higher prices. Learn how to position your contracting business to serve this valuable audience.
High-end clients don’t grow on trees—attracting clients with luxury tastes and budgets to match takes excellent service and great PR. The home improvement space is already full of competitors ready to try their hand at these customers. The Associated General Contractors of America estimates that there are about 6 million workers in the construction industry, which is a lot in the running, to say the least.
And from a global perspective, the American economy performed quite well in 2016, at least compared to other developed nations like Japan and many countries in Europe. That’s left Americans with much more capital, meaning an expected 5% growth in construction starts in 2017. And residential units will get a large share of that growth—there’s a projected 12% dollar rise in single family housing. And where there are money and growth, there’s the opportunity for luxury products and goods, and less need to advertise the savings of a particular service.
As a contractor, maneuvering your business towards high-end customers may mean you let go of certain cost brackets. However, the clients you do attract will have the means to purchase more, at a higher price point. Typically, business owners find that establishing a brand reputation for low cost is a failing strategy since it means you will constantly have to outsell the competition. On the other hand, luxury services and products provide the opportunity for long-term growth and repeat business.
Here are the strategies contractors have successfully used to attract high-end clients:
Don’t Sell Yourself Short
Imagine you’re about to buy a car, and you’re presented with two options from your dealer. One model costs $6,000 and one model costs $100,000. Which one would you say is the better car? Unless your clients come to you on a referral, they’re a lot like the customer in this example. That is since they haven’t seen the product you intend to provide them—because it’s not built yet—much of what they know about you gets communicated through your prices.
Keep in mind that high-end clients aren’t necessarily looking for a bargain or the best value. To these consumers, a lower price translates as a lack of quality. And if you haven’t been in the business for a long time, chances are, you’re probably charging too little anyway. Analysts who study this sort of thing note that most of the time when the price on a product or service is wrong, it’s because it’s too low, not too high. In fact, that’s the case with about 80% to 90% of bad prices. As a small business owner, the first step to evolving your customer base is to step up your prices.
Add Polish to Your PR and Customer Service
No brand wants customers to see how the sausage gets made—but particularly when you’re dealing with high-end clientele, customers will expect an experience that’s polished and thorough, from beginning to end. That means you may have to trade your work clothes for a clean collared shirt when you first greet your clients.
It also means branding your business using a well-designed logo and professional-quality photos of your past work (no more fisheye lens captures of that intricate cabinet work you did last summer). A trained graphic artist or photographer can provide these materials, and you can find many eager artists that will perform this work on contracting sites like Fiverr and Upwork.
Similarly, sensory touches—the ability to touch and feel wood samples, for instance, or walk through a showy display room—mean a lot to high-end consumers. Even very small touches, like your company cards, should be on textured cardstock meant to evoke a feeling of luxury and richness.
You may need to up your game when it comes to customer service, as well. That could mean hiring and training an employee to answer the phones when you’re out on the job site. It may mean investing in your website or spending time responding directly to social media. While every customer values their time, high-end clients are accustomed to fast, knowledgeable customer service exchanges. They prefer to be guided through the process by an expert, rather than doing a lot of it on their own.
Get to Know Your Ideal Consumer
It’s easy to get excited about consumers with good financials. A customer base with a ton of expendable income? What business owner wouldn’t want that? However, your customers aren’t just a tax bracket, so if you treat them like a walking wallet, they’re going to feel it in your interactions.
To understand your ideal demographic, it helps to design a profile (or multiple profiles) of your ideal customer. Imagine the specifics: where they live in your area, what their home looks like, what they’re coming to you for. For instance, a highly-paid professional with two young children may have different needs than an elderly, retired couple living in a luxury community.
Additionally, you may need to keep an eye on the trends dominating the market. With a lot more income at their disposal, these homeowners are more likely to want to incorporate the latest designs into their remodel or new construction. Staying on top of new features like solar panel installations or floor-to-ceiling windows will help you capture these clients’ interest.
Network, Network, Network
It’s all about who you know, and that’s never more true than when you’re trying to rewrite your brand. Wealthy clients have the ability to consider reputation above price, so they’re looking for a standout business with a well-known pedigree. That can be difficult to accomplish with a small business: You’re likely not able to afford the kind of expensive ad space that you’d need to communicate your message.
One tactic that several remodelers have found successful, however, was asking former clients to post anniversary signs for their business in their yard. If you can, approach homeowners who live close to the neighborhoods you want to target. The signs communicate both your longevity—it’s your business’s anniversary, after all—and your good reputation in the community.
Another idea is to sponsor an event or charity function in those areas. Your business’ name will be plastered everywhere, and there’s no better way to meet the clientele you hope to draw. Besides that, it’s an opportunity to gather intel about what your future clients need and want, so be sure to engage and ask plenty of questions as you talk to attendees—you might just walk away with a whole new customer base!
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