Home – New Forums Starting your journey Re-starting a 40 year old buisness

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  • #987317
    Shyne
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    • Total posts: 2
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    Hi everyone !
    Long time lurker , first time poster…

    This might sound strange but I need some advice . My family has a plumbing business in QLD that has been going over 40 years , the trouble is , no-one knows it exists !
    We have two major companies that we have provided services for nearly 20 years now & these are our only customer base. It would appear in the near future that they may close down & we need to begin to build a customer base again.

    We have no website , no advertising ( except the free yellow pages one line ad ) no sign-age on vehicles , the list goes on. We have happily cruised along in life but realise that we need to grow or we may die !

    Getting a good website is obviously a great start for sure ! Do you suggest getting business loans / line of credit to help pay for vehicle sign-age , websites ect , or use available cash reserves ?
    Any advice you can share would be appreciated.

    Regards,
    Shyne.

    #1162092
    sam_leader
    Member
    • Total posts: 660
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    Hi Shyne,

    An extra warm welcome to you, transitioning as you are from lurker to poster!

    It’s an interesting challenge you’re facing but opportunities there for sure.

    All the best with the new future.

    Sam

    PS: Apologies, your post was inadvertently held up in moderation. Not a good start to your postiing experience :/

    #1162093
    PerfectNotes-Kathy
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    Hi Shyne,

    First of all – well done on being part of a 40 year old small business!

    What a dilemma – but at least you are starting to look at options before your current customer base disappears from under you. I would look at ensuring that you get glowing testimonials from your current customers, clearly outlining why they have kept you on for 20 years – that will go a long way towards building credibility as you start to expand to other customers. See whether your existing customers can also refer others to you – word of mouth marketing is the best and cheapest that there is.

    After that, I would look at getting a website – even if it’s only a couple of pages to start with – and pay for that with existing funds. Also, a Facebook business page would be a must for you. That at least gives you a presence and starts to let search engines know you exist. And of course, ensure your testimonials are part of that first take on a website. After that, start investigating the actual cost of signage and corporate uniforms – you may find that you can at least start that process without borrowing. (I personally think that covering costs if you can out of what you have is a better first step – only get a loan if absolutely necessary). As far as advertising goes, once you have a website, you can look at things like Google AdWords that drive traffic to your website, but where you can set a limit on the daily spend, so that it doesn’t break the bank.

    My 2c worth!

    Kathy

    #1162094
    Past-Member
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    Congratulations! My solo business is more than 27 years young, and my husband’s small business is over 46 years young. At 73 he has had to make many adaptations and changes and knows that his website and FB page are both the most important marketing tools he has.

    I shared that so that you know that other people who are a bit ‘older’ do embrace technology to go forward. It’s really important.

    You don’t have to do it all yourself – you can get a staff member to update Facebook or a blog, with photos of jobs done that week or interesting snippets, and you definitely need a basic website. (If you need help with that, please contact me.)

    Just try to think of change as exciting, rather than daunting.
    My hubby has no intention of stopping – it keeps him feeling younger. And, I know of other people (including a plumber we use) who thinks the same.

    You can do this. And you can go forward.

    Best wishes.
    Karen C

    #1162095
    Past-Member
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    re Getting a good website is obviously a great start for sure ! Do you suggest getting business loans / line of credit to help pay for vehicle sign-age , websites ect , or use available cash reserves ?

    Further to my above post – you don’t need to get a loan for all of that. It’s not that expensive to start out. Again – I am happy to discuss with you. Please contact me if you wish. Best wishes.
    Karen C

    #1162096
    Tony Manto
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    Hi Shyne, the key to all this is to do it right!!! Todays market is very competitive and only the best will survive. Don’t cut corners as appearance is everything in todays market. Good service obviously is essential for long term existence but to start the ball rolling, you need to make a very good impression. I am not saying you have to do it all at once. Make a list of everything you need, get some quotes then prioritise what is important and what you can afford. My first response is not to get a loan, but if you don’t have the fund to create the profile you need, then not getting a loan will be costing you money. If you have been doing work for two major companies , would try and find some other companies with the same profile. These might be Asset management companies, property maintenance companies and so on. Retails customer will take a bit more work…

    All this is possible with the right plan, approach and thinking.

    #1162097
    Stuart B
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    Welcome to the forum :)

    Get your website sorted out asap. If you don’ have one then you business really won’t exist in the minds of anyone.

    If it’s done properly than you should be able to capture traffic from people who are looking for your services in you area relatively quickly.

    #1162098
    MissSassy
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    Prioritising is going to be vital – I would also suggest that a business adviser will be of help during this transition.

    It is amazing to think that over all this time you have had and maintained just two clients – all your eggs so to speak.

    Set some goals, get some quotes and work out were you want to go. I am happy to help.

    #1162099
    SecElec
    Member
    • Total posts: 22
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    Hi Shyne,
    From one tradie to another. I am an electrical Contractor based in Rozelle Sydney, I service Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs & Inner West.
    I would say build up slowly without going into too much debt, just invest in a simple but informative website and try a small Google Adwords campaign. You can easily control your spending and workload that way.
    But I have found that once you gain a client, the real secret to success is keeping them. Most of my business comes from my existing clients and they also recommend me to their friends through word of mouth.
    So simple things like being on time, clean up your mess and try to be genuine and helpful. Treat your customers like your friends and you will retain their loyalty and enjoy going to work!

    #1162100
    Dave Gillen – Former FS Concierge
    Keymaster
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    Hi Shyne,

    You’ve run a business for 40 years without a website, signage, brochures, etc. How can this be, when everybody in the world is screaming at you to get a website and start looking like a “real” business?

    It’s because you had customers.

    Although a website is important, a website is NOT a business. And there are thousands of “businesses” out there with a website and no customers.

    I’d suggest putting your efforts into landing another customer or two before anything else. Figure out your strong points and which companies you could serve best, and contact them, set up meetings, and land a client.

    A funny thing usually happens when you build a website – nobody visits. Then you try to get some traffic, then it takes a few months, then you start getting some traffic and buy some ads for more traffic, then you realise that your efforts aren’t converting to sales, then you spend money (or time educating yourself) to make your website more effective, and so on.

    The point I’m making is that a website is not the shortcut to customers that some people think it is, especially when you’re new to the concept and it can take a lot of time and effort (if not money) to make it pay off.

    If I started a painting business today (or plumbing for that matter), I’d knock on 200 doors and book a couple of quotes, and again tomorrow until I landed my first job. Now I’m in business. THEN I’d start thinking about the website.

    A bit long winded but hope it gives you another opinion to think about :) You should get a website of course, but if you’re going to go into debt you want it to count – in the form of a new customer ASAP. That probably rules out the painted vans. ;)

    Good luck!

    Dave

    #1162101
    Shyne
    Member
    • Total posts: 2
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    Thanks to everyone for your replies , there are some great ideas here ! I really appreciate your input .

    BTW , we have a domain name but has to have a hyphen in the middle as someone else has the .com.au.
    Do you think I should dump the hyphen & go with .net.au or stick with .com.au ?

    http://www.shynes-plumbing.com.au ?
    http://www.shynesplumbing.net. au ?

    ( This isn’t the name of the business BTW 😮 )

    #1162102
    Past-Member
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    .com.au is the standard Australian extension. I would avoid hyphenating.

    Using your fictitious example, can you try http://www.shynesplumbingservices.com.au or something like that? Play with the words. Is there a nickname or shorter version people now identify with you?

    Cheers.

    #1162103
    John C.
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    Hi Shyne,

    It’s a little unclear from your post whether you intend to reinvent your business and look for one-off customers from now on, or whether you would prefer to just replace your current clients with another couple of businesses in a similar situation.

    If you’re happy with how your business has been operating until now, then I would concur with Dave that all you really need to do is know on the door (either literally, or via phone, email, social media etc) and try to secure one or two more business clients who can send regular work your way.

    In my opinion a GOOD website can’t hurt any business, and will be a long-term asset. You may as well start on one as soon as possible, as it’s not that expensive. But you’re first step is to figure out what sort of business model you envisage for your business, and take the most appropriate steps to achieve that goal.

    If residential and one-off commercial jobs are of interest to you, another option is services such as serviceseeking.com.au, who will send you qualified leads for a commission. It’s probably not a great long term strategy, but I’ve had clients who have used this and similar services to build their businesses quite quickly.

    Cheers,
    John

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