Is there a better way to run your skilled trades business?

Although skilled trade services are in high-demand across Canada, many business owners who work in the trades struggle with uneven cash flow because of the nature of a job-to-job cycle.

Although skilled trade services are in high-demand across Canada, many business owners who work in the trades struggle with uneven cash flow because of the nature of a job-to-job cycle.

For these business owners it’s important to ensure there’s an ongoing stream of projects and revenue to avoid a dangerous cash crunch when a contract falls through or a customer delays payment.

Consider these four ideas to help your skilled trades business to avoid the ‘feast or famine’ cycle.

1. Serve a niche

It’s one of the simplest ways to ensure you always have a number of projects in your pipeline: specialize in a niche market.

By narrowing the type of work you perform you’ll have fewer competitors and will be able to charge premium rates and you’ll win more referrals as a local expert.

Let’s say you’re an electrician, cabinet maker or plumber. You might choose to focus on kitchens only – and be one of the few specialists who come up in a local online search. A construction company could market themselves as the local solution for building decks. Or your business might serve a specific market segment, such as restaurants or green buildings.

Look to your past experiences with different customers and projects to find the most profitable niche for your line of work. And research local demand.

2. Offer a subscription

Most of us think about newspapers when we think about subscriptions, but the same business model can be applied to skilled trades.

You can offer any regularly scheduled service to your customers for a flat monthly rate, and earn predictable recurring revenue for continuous cash flow.

Pool cleaners could charge a set fee for regular maintenance, a lawn care company could receive a monthly payment to trim the yard each week, or a home maintenance company for seniors could drop by each month to inspect the home and do repairs.

What services could your business offer to your customers on a subscription basis?

3. Partner up with agents to sell for you

For some skilled trades businesses, such as home contractors and builders, a full pipeline is needed so they always have that next job lined up.

Registering your company with an online review website like Angie’s List or HomeStars is a great way to connect with potential customers in your area who need your services. Offer exceptional service on every job and your satisfied customers will hopefully reward you with top rated reviews – a very powerful way to continue to attract new customers.

4. Training opportunities

The anticipated skilled worker shortage in Canada – estimated to reach one million people by 2020 – means there are plenty of opportunities for experienced tradespeople to find work and participate in lucrative training opportunities.

Look into your local vocational college to discover what credentials you need to start earning extra cash by sharing your valuable expertise with students and apprentices in training.

Be sure to tap into available support

At Scotiabank, our advisors are ready to help you – just as we’ve helped thousands of entrepreneurs like you to take the next step in starting or growing a skilled trades business. 

Get more business advice, access helpful resources and learn about available financing solutions by speaking with a Scotiabank Small Business Advisor.

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