Most contractors (especially beginners in the business) forget these very basic ways to make a flawless first impression — and the best part: they are all very easy to do.
You only get one chance at a first impression. These tips will change your game!
Get a professional email address
This one has two important tips in one. First and foremost:
Do not use your personal email address. Create a new email account named after your business — it might be tricky to get the name just right, but try to get one that is as close as possible to the real name.
While you’re creating your new email account, make sure the words are easy to spell and don’t encourage mistakes — for example, something like “[email protected]” can lead to typos (too many “s’s” in there), which in turn, leads to mails getting returned or being sent to the wrong account.
And if at all possible…
Get a custom email account. Services like Google offer custom email names for a small fee (starting at $5 a month) — then it’s nearly guaranteed you’ll get your business name exactly like you want it.
Even better, you can set up different accounts for other purposes, for example, a [email protected], [email protected], or the best of all: [email protected]. It looks professional (and really awesome!) on a business card.
Get a new number for your business
A common mistake new contractors make when starting out is using their personal number as their work number.
It’s understandable — most contractors work for themselves and have to take phone calls wherever they are.
But this creates two big problems:
First, you never know how to answer the call. A business should always answer calls in a professional manner, but since it’s hard to tell what each number wants, you would be forced to answer as a company on your personal phone… or make the mistake of answering a potential customer with a cold “Yeah?” or just “Hello?”.
They would immediately think it was a wrong number — and as much as you can confirm otherwise in a few seconds, this initial confusion causes a very bad impression. Remember that first impressions can define a business!
The second problem is pretty obvious — your personal phone would be littered with dozens of calls every day, and you won’t be able to properly separate your work hours from your personal time.
What’s the solution?
Ideally you’ll want a separate phone exclusively for business, but when starting out, affording a brand new smartphone is not that easy.
Luckily, there are some smartphones nowadays that allow for two SIM cards at once, so take advantage of that feature and get a new number exclusively for business.
Smartphones with this feature show from which SIM card the call is coming from, which lets you know how to react immediately — no more confusion. Even better, once the work day is over, you can program an automatic SMS and a proper voicemail for calls made after hours.
If your current smartphone doesn’t support more than one SIM card (like iPhones, for instance), you can use free online services such as Google Voice to forward your business calls to your personal number. You’ll still have two separate numbers, but you’ll be able to answer calls coming from both on the same phone.
And speaking of voicemail…
Change your voicemail
It’s confusing enough to use your personal phone as a main work tool, but if you ever do, at least change your voicemail to something that sounds professional.
Potential customers will automatically think they’ve called the wrong number if they hit voicemail and hear a half-hearted “I’m out now, leave a message and I’ll call back.”
A professional voicemail sounds more like:
“Hi, you’ve called Johnson’s Painting. Sorry I can’t take your call right now, please leave a message with your name and phone number, and I’ll call back as soon as I can. Have a good one.”
Change your phone greeting
We’ve established that a cold or uncertain greeting can ruin your first impression, but what is a good phone greeting?
A good phone greeting is simple, short and confident.
Here are a few ideas:
- “This is John from John’s Painting. How can I help you?”
- “Hi, this is John from John’s Painting.”
- “John’s Painting, how can I help you?”
Feel free to add your own spin to it!
Dress like a boss
If you want to cause a great first impression when meeting customers in person, your clothing should be on point.
On a business suit though? No.
You don’t have to be that formal — the contractor line of work rarely asks for that. The standard t-shirt, jeans, and shoes combination usually gets the job done. But how to impress with such a simple setup?
Get custom t-shirts. They won’t break the bank and the impression a proper uniform gives customers is worth the price alone.
You can probably find a local company providing this service, but in any case, here are some websites where you can get custom shirts made with ease:
Merchology. Polo t-shirts in well-known brands with custom logos. Prices start at around $15.99 a piece.
CafePress. Custom t-shirts with prices starting at $15.
Zazzle. Custom t-shirts with prices starting at $15.
Custom Ink. Their differential is they offer to create a logo for you. But you can also send your own. Prices depend on quantity and size of the shirts.
When you get your custom shirts, always keep a pair in the car wherever you go — that way you always have a backup in case yours gets dirty or sweaty on busy hot days!
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This post is not sponsored and has no endorsements of any way. All suggestions are based on providing you options based on solid research and contractor advice.