Pull out your phone, go to Google, and type in “electrician near me”. If your search looks anything like ours you will see a long list of results, even when filtered to those with positive reviews. Like many contracting industries, electrical contractors exist in a highly competitive environment with almost too many companies to count. This can pose several challenges. If you screw up on a project, your customers have 10-15 of your competitors to choose from. The same can be said of your employees. In a competitive market, there are always more job openings than there are qualified workers. So how can you stand out among the crowd? What strategies can you employ to attract new customers and employees, and retain those you already have? The good news is, there are plenty of elements of your business that are both in your control and can help you stand out. Let’s break them down.
When talking about standing out from the competition, it is almost impossible to not start with marketing. The basic function of marketing is to identify your target customers, and then get your value proposition in front of them. How this plays out depends on both your messaging and the customer. One form of marketing targets people who search for “best electrician near me” and then will be able to identify your name from the top results (though you also need to get into the top results). Other marketing strategies are designed to focus on having a potential customer not search google at all, instead having your name in mind by the time they ever need electrical work. Of course, a combination of strategies is often most effective. Every company is unique and you will have to work to develop a strategy that suits your business and its resources, but here are some of the basics to begin thinking about:
Step one of any successful marketing strategy is to determine who you are trying to reach. The characteristics of your ideal customer will shape your entire communications plan. Start by thinking about your customer and the basic demographic characteristics that are the best fit for your company:
For additional breakdown of how to profile your target customer, check out this Alexa blog post. That said, at a basic level, the more you know about your customers and potential customers the better.
Once you have an idea of you your target demographic is, it is time to reach them where they are. Does your target demographic frequent Facebook or other social media platforms? What local businesses/coffee shops do they spend time in, and do any of those allow things like bulletin board flyers? Spend some time on this one - ask your current customers how they heard about you, and build a list of hot spots that you should make sure to have your marketing messaging in.
Now that you know where to market, it is time to develop targeted, concise messages to let your ideal customer know the value you can bring them. This is one of those steps we like to call “deceptively simple”. Simple because you simply need to tell your customers what you can offer them and how you can bring value to their life. Deceptively simple because developing a clear message that your target customer can understand requires a deep understanding of the potential customer, the channel the message will be sent out on, and probably many drafts and revisions to hone in on a message that succeeds at turning potential clients into paying clients.
Word of mouth is vital for contractors. All of your marketing and messaging could go out the window if you neglect to address your reputation. We mentioned your reviews online earlier, and let's get back to that for a second. When someone searches for electrical contractors and sees 15 options with 4.5 stars or better, you will need something to set you apart. But if your reviews are bad, you won’t even make the top results. Dedicate some time to reviewing your reviews (Google, Yelp, the works). Address negative reviews to the best of your ability and thank customers who left positive reviews. You can also request that your customers who are satisfied leave you a positive review.
Offline word of mouth is vital as well. Many people ask their friends or coworkers for recommendations. Your reputation matters and while you might be tempted to let your work speak for itself, we would recommend a more intentional approach. According to Nielsen, 84% of consumers trust their colleagues and friends about products and services, making them the most trusted source . Leaving that to chance misses out on the potential to leverage this source to your advantage. There are several ways to approach word of mouth strategy, and this article has an in depth breakdown, but here are some basic components to consider:
From customer experience, to the quality of the work you actually do, there are no shortcuts here. Exceptional service and work will stand out for people, mediocrity will not. Be intentional about your team's interactions and keep a sharp eye out for any lapses in work quality over time.
Both your employees and customers can be powerful advocates for your company but only if the process to do so is simple and straightforward. Consider giving people different ways to share their feeling about your company and its work such as emails with review forms, asking them to share on social media, or providing a link to Google or Yelp reviews. The easier it is for someone to provide feedback, the more likely they actually will.
If you are looking to boost word of mouth for your business, you should consider developing a referral program. We put this last in this short list because you shouldn’t overdo it here. Bribing people to say nice things isn’t a successful strategy long term. However, providing people with incentives (alongside exceptional service and work) can go a long way toward swaying a customer to recommend you to someone they know.
Marketing to your customers is vital if you want to outpace the competitors around you. However, most of your top competition is at least aware of marketing and are making some efforts to go to war with you for your ideal customer. However, you may be able to win an equally important battle in the electrical industry: the battle for top talent. There is a real shortage of top talent building within the skilled trades. The Bipartisan Policy Committee estimates that the backlog of retirees building will result in a 40% turnover in the next ten years, with an estimated 150,000 jobs needing to be filled . A closer look at the electrical industry reveals a similar picture.
The bulk of the workforce is aging and are between 55 and 64. On top of that, there are fewer electricians entering the workforce, resulting in a net deficit of over 85,00 positions by 2024  No matter how good your marketing is, if you can’t attract and retain high quality employees, you will struggle to maintain any competitive advantage your marketing may generate. Get strategic about talent:
Attracting and retaining top talent in a competitive market can be a challenge. At first glance, most of the negotiating power lies in the hands of the talent. It might seem that your only option is to offer more money and benefits, but that is not the case. Don’t get us wrong, you have to stay competitive. If you are underpaying or failing to provide benefits in line with your top competitors, you are putting yourself at a disadvantage. But the truth is, attracting and retaining talented employees comes down to a lot more than a pay raise. After all, research shows that even if you hire someone with additional pay, 54% of employees would leave if the competition simply re-raised by 20%, sometimes less . So besides simply staying competitive, what CAN you do to win the war for talent?
McKinsey & Co., the world’s premier business consulting group describes talent with a sports analogy. Consider this question: why do quarterbacks get paid more than the rest of their team? It comes down to value creation. The quarterback has the most impact on the team winning. When you are looking at your organization, start with the key roles. Maybe it is your project manager or lead electrician. Find the roles that are the cornerstones of your operation and spend most of your recruiting efforts on these high impact positions.
Be distinctive. Stand out from the competition by focusing on something other than pay. We aren’t saying to leave that out, but instead go beyond it. You could focus on career progression, continued education, autonomy, flexibility, or whatever it is that makes your company unique. This requires you to know your organization and its strengths. Finally, make sure you deliver on what you promise. Broken promises quickly disengage employees, and disengaged employees leave 
A healthy organizational culture might just be your secret weapon as a business. But it can also be a determining factor in attracting and retaining talent. There are three components of culture we focus on with our clients: Leadership, Alignment, Safety
Leadership has huge implications for employee retention. You have probably heard the idiom “Workers don’t leave jobs, they leave bosses.” We focus on developing and deploying leaders throughout your organization who are trained in situational leadership: the ability to adjust for the people they are working with and the environment they are leading in. We break down leadership and organizational health in more detail here.
Alignment is engagement with purpose. When employees know their place in an organization, and how their efforts fit in with the overall mission of your organization they will perform at a higher level. They will also be more likely to stay. If you want to learn more about how alignment could transform your organization we have an in depth breakdown.
We have discussed at length the impact of safety culture on your organization. From lower insurance premiums to improved profitability and talent performance, the benefits of focusing on safety are numerous. When it comes to talent attraction and retention, improving safety culture can serve both as an asset to attract talent, and create an environment that encourages your team to stay.
In a highly competitive market, standing apart from your competition will be necessary to create long term success. It all starts with high quality work and driving value for your customers. Externally, through marketing and word of mouth, you can spread your value proposition to more and more potential customers. Internally, create a culture with strong leadership, employee alignment, and a safe environment to attract highly skilled employees and retain your best people. There is a lot of work condensed in that short summary. If you have any questions or want to chat about standing out in your industry, we would love to get to know you and your organization! Click here if you would like to chat.