In the A-Z of Marketing Experts, H is for someone who doesn’t even have a marketing budget!
I met Henry Bennett on one of my ski trips this year and asked him if I could interview him for my blog. Henry set up his company, FixTeam, in early 2018 when he was working as a subcontractor to a company which got into difficulties. He saw the opportunity to step in and fill the gap created by the failure of that business. After a few conversations and fitting together the right pieces of the jigsaw, a new business was born.
When you buy a brand-new house from a housing developer, you have a set number of days in which to register a list of issues, or ‘snags’, that need to be fixed. Most of the issues are small scale and cosmetic – doors that don’t fit properly, skirting that hasn’t been properly attached, or taps that are leaking. FixTeam works with the housing developers, to work on the snagging list and carry out the work that needs to be completed.
So how did Henry find his clients, without a marketing budget? He told me that his clients are either people he has worked for before, or they were active clients of the company that closed. “It took a while to build up confidence in my new company,” he explained. “We started with just three guys doing the work. But once potential clients knew that we had the workforce to do the work for them, they started to come on board.” The business started quietly and was built up gradually, with a sudden burst of activity about six months in, when clients stopped worrying about whether or not to work with FixTeam and took the company on. The business started to gain momentum.
In addition to existing contacts, Henry told me that FixTeam approached housing developers who previously wouldn’t work with the business that had closed. He arranged meetings with them to explain what he could do for them; and some of them came on board. One of Henry’s contacts moved from one company to another and took FixTeam with him. That company has now introduced them to their sister company. Another client came from a friend of a friend. “Do a job well and when your clients like what you do, they recommend us. Word of mouth just works,” says Henry.
FixTeam doesn’t deal directly with home owners so doesn’t spend any money marketing to them. The company only works with developers, so Henry focuses on building relationships with his contacts and doing a good job for them. He knows that it might take a long time to get a new client, but he told me that he doesn’t measure how long it takes or how many times he might need to take a client out for lunch, in order to build up the strong relationship.
Going for Growth
Henry explained that he believes the success of his business is down to having clear goals and constantly working towards them. He knows where he wants the business to be in a year’s time and is already working on next year’s plan. But he explained that he focuses on the big picture and doesn’t feel that he needs to look at the numbers on a daily basis. He is planning to double the turnover of the business this year and, based on the first month of this financial year, he is on target to reach this goal.
Henry told me that he knows that he needs to ‘mine’ his clients in order to grow the business year on year. “We want to offer more services to more markets, such as cleaning new houses before the new owners move in, and shop fitting. We have the skills needed – for some services it’s just a different application of those skills.” Offering additional services to existing clients is another way of continuing to build up those strong relationships that are essential to the success of any business.
“I want to find creative ways to expand the business by thinking outside the box. There are opportunities flying past all the time – you just need to grab some of them,” Henry tells me. He also explained that it’s not about building something and then asking who wants it. Instead Henry will start to talk about a new idea and if someone wants it, then he will create that service. “Don’t spend a penny until you know that you have a market for what you want to sell,” says Henry. He explained that he believes that too many people have a fear of testing their product or service. You don’t need to try to reinvent the wheel – just look at what other businesses are doing badly and see how you can do it better. Don’t worry about trying to get your website perfect before you will start doing any more marketing. FixTeam doesn’t currently have a website – it is under construction, as Henry tells me that contacts and prospects are asking to see a website. He knows that having one will help clients to refer them to other potential clients. But he still doesn’t have a marketing budget!
Talking to Henry, the message that came through loud and clear to me was that you don’t need a huge marketing budget and you don’t need to spend money of lots of different promotional activities. What you do need to do is be really clear on who your ideal clients are and then spend time building relationships with them. When you can do that, you can build a successful business.