COVID-19 Delays Your Contracting Business Should Expect

 

 

 

 

 

It feels like parts of the world keep spinning, while others are set off their axis. You may have projects to complete, while your suppliers are considered non-essential. This can cause backlogs in your work, as you try to find ways to keep meeting client expectations as you can. Here are a few delays you can expect related to COVID-19, now and for several months into the future.

Inspections
Many construction projects require inspections at various points in the process. Since it will be more difficult to locate qualified people able to do the inspections, you should plan for significant delays in the inspection process. Right now, you are more likely to notice a slowdown because fewer people are working and more people are trying to minimize their contact with others. Overtime, as more industries open up for business again, the construction industry may face a glut of projects that need to move ahead as quickly as possible. This means that it may take you longer to get permits as well.

Labor

Finding labor has been tricky for several years, due to construction’s labor shortage. But finding qualified workers is going to be even more difficult right now. This is particularly true in fields where you were already having to pay more and search longer to find a qualified person ready to take on the project. Moving forward, you may need to prepare to offer higher rates as you can and start your search for work on specific projects further in advance. This can help you to avoid significant delays while you try to secure a subcontractor.

Materials
Since much of the world is currently dealing with COVID-19 or its aftermath, you can expect a number of delays tied to materials. If you typically outsource a lot of goods for construction from places like China, you may have already noticed a significant slowdown in the rate that you can receive them. It’s also worth keeping in mind that shipping is also taking longer on almost all deliveries that are less than a truckload. To mitigate this issue, you may want to source materials that are closer to your location, so that shipping times are less of an issue for you. Investigating your options to pick something up can also save time.

Tool and Equipment Rentals
Finding the tools and the equipment you need may be more difficult whether you are trying to buy or rent. Most retailers, even those deemed essential, are limiting their hours and restricting how customers can make purchases to reduce contact. Be prepared to order online and wait for shipping if needed. Once construction moves back to regular speed, you might have a harder time getting equipment rentals as everyone tries to catch up on delayed projects. If you can’t buy the equipment that you need, you should see if there is a way that you can book reservations earlier than you usually would.

Tips to Smooth the Process
Although running over time on your project is pretty common in construction, COVID-19 is making those typical delays much longer. The last thing that you want to do is lose money or reliable clients because you failed to estimate how long you need. You can minimize your chance of problems if you:

  • Revise estimates on time and pricing based on the most current data
  • Add extra time for each step of the project
  • Reconsider projects with equipment or materials that are difficult to source
  • Look for other ways to trim time off projects without cutting quality

Regular communication with your clients will help assure them that you are continually working in their best interest.

COVID-19 is changing the world as we know it, with significant effects for your construction workflow. Finding ways to predict problems so you can solve them in advance is how your contracting business survives. For more information about preparing for your contractor licensing exam, contact CSLS today!

5 Ways to Build Flexibility into Your Contracting Business Income During a Crisis

When you’re trying to establish or run a business in the middle of a crisis, you’ll hear a lot about protecting cash flow. In truth, cash flow is important, but flexibility is too. You want the ability to make decisions just in time, so you have the benefit of as many facts as possible. Here are five things to do to protect your business’s income during a crisis.

Stay Put
If you’re living or working in an area where the cost of living is high, it might seem to make sense to move somewhere that is cheaper. After all, housing and workspace rentals can be some of the highest single expenses for independent contractors. However, by moving, you’re cutting off at least part of your income and adding a ton of immediate expenses to the list. Moving to a smaller or cheaper area also limits the number of clients to replace your income. If it is possible for you to remain where you are and stay current on your bills, that’s probably the easiest way to keep more of your liquid assets.

Avoid Diving Into Expensive Markets and Luxury Services
If you were planning to move to an area that’s more expensive or start offering high-end services, it might be a good time to rethink these measures. While a lot of people will move from a lower cost-of-living area to a higher one because there are more jobs there, this doesn’t always mean you’ll be able to land them. During a crisis, when there are many more contractors seeking work than clients creating projects, it’s best to stick with the essentials. And in most cases, that involves sticking with the area you know and the work you can do with the least amount of complication.

Consider Multiple Viable Income Streams
When the immediate future feels highly variable, it is hard to tell how work is going to pan out in three months, six months or a year. If you’re only offering one service and it’s not in demand, or you suddenly have tons of other contractors to compete with for a limited set of jobs, it might be time to branch out. An economic downturn isn’t a good situation to leap into a market in which you have limited experience or ability. However, if you have services that you know how to do and you’ve already got the skills and credibility, it may not be difficult to add them to your business. Keep an eye on overhead and the supply chain, as those might have changed since you did these services before.

Keep Funds in Multiple Places
As a contractor, most of your assets are probably related to equipment and inventory. When you’re worried about future income and cash flow, you want to keep an eye on where you’re putting your money right now. Sure, you need to upgrade equipment so you can keep working on projects. Switching to rentals, minimizing your stock of inventory, or repairing equipment that you already own outright can help to keep your assets as liquid as possible.

Implement Practices to Maintain a Steady Income
Crises that trigger large-scale economic problems often bring out the scavengers, and you don’t want to get caught in a bad arrangement. It’s tempting to relax your payment intervals in the hopes that you’ll land more clients that way. And while giving clients all the time they need to make a payment is more likely to appeal to clients, you’re not always securing the right kinds of clients. Someone who is trying to take advantage of your worry to get a lax payment standard is probably going to make you fight for every dime. Following your original billing practices is the best way to ensure that the money keeps coming in.

Ensuring flexibility for your business doesn’t mean that you have to be flexible in your business decisions. In fact, it might mean that you’re less flexible than you were before, so that you protect your ability to make quick decisions later on. For more information on building a successful contracting business, contact CSLS today!

How to Get the Most from Your Contracting Business Workspace

If you’re like a lot of contractors right now, you’re trying to figure out ways to make the best of a workspace that’s not the jobsite. But even when you have more freedom to move around, you still need to think about using space efficiently. Here are a few ways you can evaluate your workspace and make it more productive.

Create Stations
An inefficient workspace is going to cost you hours in wasted time per week. To cut down on time spent moving from one side of the workspace to the other, create a set of stations for each task. You may not have a large warehouse where every project has its own spot. Still, taking the opportunity to organize your equipment based on the task makes it easier to get started, do the work and finish up for the day. Don’t forget to include a station for handling mail, invoicing and a place to keep your laptop and printer.

Plan Layout by Project
Having a set series of stations makes sense if you do very similar types of projects over and over again. If the services you offer are quite varied, you may need to take a flexible approach to structuring your workspace. In this case, you might want to plan the layout of the work area based on the needs of the particular project. Draw out a rough layout for each so you can repeat it later. If you are running more than one at the same time, you may have to split it in half or thirds. You’ll want to use organizational tools that are easy to move around, so that you can adjust it on the fly to create more space or design a different set of workstations.

Consider Adjustable Carts
In the middle of a crisis when most people are trying to maximize their home workspaces, you may not have a lot of room to move. If you are trying to do modular construction in a small workspace or garage, you may not have the ability to move from one station to another. In this instance, you want to make the stations come to you. Portable carts come in a variety of sizes, with the ability to customize them to hold tools and materials. Leaving room on one wall for a number of carts allows you to quickly pull one in for use, and then put it back when you’re ready to grab another one.

Organize Inventory Based on Use
If you’re like a lot of people, you organize inventory and equipment based on the way you think you should, not necessarily the way that you actually use it. For example, it may seem to make sense to keep all of your supplies in one place. But if you find yourself having to walk away from the workspace constantly to grab your supplies, you’ll waste time with this organizational setup. Instead, think about organizing your inventory and supplies based on the project. It may increase the time that you spend counting what you have left, but you’ll more than make up for it by having everything you need right where you need it.

Reduce Excess Clutter
In a small workspace, there is simply no replacement for a regular clutter management strategy. If you’re the type of person who prefers to clean up after you’re done with the project, this can lead to a lot of debris and waste in the corners. Over time, this can minimize the size of your workspace and increase the likelihood of injury. The best solution is to find organizational tools for papers that you need, and adequately-sized waste receptacles for packaging and buy products that you want to recycle or throw away. Keeping excess away from your workspace also minimizes visual clutter, which can make it easier for you to get work done.

Working from home or in another small space requires you to maximize efficiency so you can keep completing projects. These tips smooth out the rough edges. To get started building a great career in construction, contact CSLS today!

What Does Construction’s Labor Shortage Mean for You?

Construction has had a labor shortage since 2012. But this year, it’s only got worse. While this may seem like an absolute win for someone new to the field, it’s more complicated than that. It’s true that entering a field while it needs skilled workers can make it easier to find work, but you’ve got to balance that with the project delays and struggle to find other workers. Here’s how a labor shortage can affect your future business plans, and why it’s still a good idea to get started now.

How Is Construction’s Labor Shortage?
If you aren’t living it, it may be difficult to understand the dynamic of the construction labor shortage. The pandemic of 2020 has led to millions more people who are unemployed. You might think that this could address the shortage within a month. However, the major issue with the construction labor shortage is a lack of skilled workers, not just labor in general. This means that even if a government program could flood the industry with millions of new workers, they may not be qualified to do the work required. The solution takes years to implement, especially for people who are just starting in the industry.

What Does the Shortage Mean for Contracting Businesses?
Construction may have slowed down a little in the early months of 2020. But now, it is back with bigger demands. The housing shortage in California in recent years has yet to be resolved, leaving millions more in need of affordable housing options. Wildfire damage spawns recovery efforts. This creates a glut of possible construction projects in a variety of fields within the industry. It also creates problems for contracting businesses, especially those that struggle to find qualified employees or subcontractors to perform certain kinds of tasks. After all, if you can’t find the workers, you may not be able to complete the job.

What Does It Mean for Employees?
Ultimately, the shortage may mean that there are excellent opportunities for employees or people who are interested in building a business in construction over the next few years. When business owners can secure projects, but they struggle to find people who will do the work, the ones who can will be in higher demand. This translates into higher wages and better benefits, on top of more power for employees to bargain. Of course, that assumes that each project will have enough people available to complete it. This is why a majority of contractors are currently reporting delays and even canceled projects, on occasion.

How Could the Shortage Change Over Time?
Although the labor shortage has waxed and waned, it has remained a noticeable problem for almost a decade. This year has forced many businesses, large and small, to invest in ways to tackle it for good. The most practical solutions involve:

Resolving the extensive backlog of construction projects

Helping interested workers gain the skills and experience they need for the jobs most in demand

Balancing the needs of the population with the dynamic of the economy, as far as possible

At present, many organizations are investing in construction education. The goal is to increase the number of people in construction, while also ensuring that they have the skills needed to fill the gap. Within 10 to 15 years, the shortage may be gone or mostly managed.

Is Now a Good Time to Start in Construction?
Experts have been talking about construction’s labor shortage for years. And since many people are old enough to remember the housing crisis of 2008, it’s easy to conclude that it might be too late to start now. In fact, now is one of the best times to invest in construction. Building a portfolio of education and experience to take a position that’s high in demand requires years. But the sooner you start, the sooner you can take advantage of that demand.

Construction’s labor shortage gives employees lots of opportunities, and businesses the responsibility to meet them. To find out where a construction career could take you, visit CSLS today!

How Does the Payroll Tax Deferral Program Affect Your Contracting Business?

Payroll taxes are one thing that you’ll need to pay as part of your contracting business. As of September 1st, the federal government gave businesses the option to decline withholding these taxes from employee paychecks, as long as they meet certain requirements. There are benefits to this program, but also possible drawbacks. Here’s what you need to know.

What Are Payroll Taxes?
Payroll taxes are a percentage of an employees’ wages that must be withheld. These taxes come on top of withholding for federal or state income taxes. The payroll tax, which runs 6.2% of most employees’ wages, helps to pay for programs like Social Security. Employers are required by law to withhold it from their employees’ wages. People who are self-employed must pay these taxes either as part of their quarterly estimated taxes, or at the end of the year.

What Is the Payroll Tax Deferral Program?
The payroll tax deferral program issued by President Trump’s executive order in August defers payment of these taxes from September 1 through December 31, 2020. The program functions entirely on a voluntary basis. This means that employers must opt in by holding off on withholding these taxes from employees’ paychecks. It’s worth noting that this program is unique from other payroll tax holidays that have been enacted in the past. Unlike those times, this program is a deferral. In other words, any employer that chooses to participate in this program will need to withhold more taxes from employees’ wages to make up for it by April 30, 2021.

How Can the Program Affect Businesses?
Since the execution of the payroll tax deferral program comes primarily through executive order, some businesses aren’t clear on how they should use it. Employers aren’t required to take advantage of the program, but they also aren’t required to get employees’ support in order to implement it. Many businesses have chosen to participate in the program, in the hopes of ensuring a slightly higher wage for employees during difficult times. Other businesses have decided that the complication of determining eligibility, which may fluctuate for employees with variable income, makes the program too difficult to be worthwhile.

How Can the Tax Deferral Affect Individuals?
For those who qualify for the payroll tax deferral, a 6% temporary increase in paychecks could be a significant benefit. The program is limited to individuals making less than $4,000 every two weeks. This covers the vast majority of workers across the country. Employees should consider how paying it back may affect their paychecks in the first part of 2021. The federal government has made businesses that opt into the program responsible for withholding the additional taxes to cover for the deferral. This may mean that they have to enact new policies for employees who quit, to ensure that those taxes are repaid.

Could the Tax Deferral Program Change?
Given that the program came about through executive order, it’s possible that there may be additional legislation to support it, extend it or make it a true tax holiday. People who don’t pay much attention to the changes in tax laws may not know how common it is for a policy to be extended or changed right before it expires. If the government chooses to, the tax deferral could become a holiday that doesn’t need to be paid back. However, employees should pay attention to the news, and be wary of assuming anything will happen until it’s written into the law.

Figuring out taxes is something that you’ll do as an individual and a business owner. With the latest information, you’ll make wiser choices. For expert exam preparation on your way to becoming a licensed contractor, contact CSLS today!

How to Say No to Prospective Clients for Your Contracting Business

Although landing a client and a new project is a great thing, sometimes it just isn’t going to work. There will be points where you’re too busy to take on the job within the time specified. There will also be clients proposing opportunities that just aren’t the right fit for your contracting business. Learning how to decline these projects is a skill, and it can be difficult to do at first. Here are a few ideas.

Decide If It’s No, or Just Not Right Now
The first thing you should do is qualify the nature of your answer. In some cases, a project simply won’t work for your contracting business. These opportunities could cost you money if you try to make them fit, so it is easier to simply decline. In other cases, the projects may be appropriate under different terms. It’s important to confirm that you know where you’re going with your answer before you give it. That way, if you want to leave the door open to negotiation, you can save the opportunity for a later date. There’s no guarantee that you will be able to secure different terms with the same client, but it may be worth asking.

Decline at a Good Time
As with other types of business communications, there are better times to make tough decisions, and there are worse times. The last thing that you want to do is decline an offer when you are feeling tired, overworked or frustrated. Saying no during a bad moment may make you come off more negatively than you expected. If it’s an existing client or colleague that you’d like to continue working with, you should hold off until you have an opportunity to think clearly and communicate professionally. It’s not necessary to wait days for the chance to decline a project. However, making sure that you’re in the right headspace will help you protect those professional ties.

Be Clear About Why You’re Declining
When you know that you’re going to say no, the best thing that you can do is make it clear and simple to understand. If you are rejecting the offer because you don’t want to work with the client, it’s more practical to say that your business isn’t a good fit for their needs. This sends a clear message to the client that you are unlikely to accept future work from them. On the other hand, if you’re declining because the rate is too low or the timing doesn’t work for you, you can outline these in your rejection. This can give the client the opportunity to change their offer, in the hopes that they can secure your services.

Aim for a Professional Tone
Part of running a contracting business involves learning how to maintain professional communication, even when the news you have to share isn’t good. Clients may take your rejection with grace, or they may react to it with anger. In some cases, their reaction will confirm for you that it was a wise decision not to accept the work. And yet, it’s better not to descend to their level, especially if they start showing obvious signs of frustration. Such behavior rarely leads to good things for your business. Avoid saying anything you wouldn’t want one of your mentors to read aloud to you.

Know When to Continue Negotiation
Although some clients may get irritated when you tell them that you can’t take on the project, others will react by trying to negotiate. Negotiation is another skill that can help support your business, but you need to know the right time to engage in it. If you’ve decided that you are not going to take on the project no matter what the client offers, there’s little point in negotiation. All it would do in that case is waste your time. But if the project is appropriate and interesting to you, negotiating might be the key to getting the terms to a level that you would accept.

When you run a contracting business, learning how to say no is just as important as saying yes. To get started building your construction career, contact CSLS today!

Are You Investing Enough Time into Professional Development?

Do you blink your eyes and the day is done? Do you often go weeks or even months without taking a day or two to see what’s new? This is a common problem for anyone who runs a small business. It is so easy to get wrapped up in daily tasks that you forget about professional development. However, investing this effort is the best way to avoid becoming obsolete and have a better guarantee of knowing what’s on the horizon. Here’s what you should be doing, and how to know if you’re putting in enough time.

Join Professional Organizations
Starting and running a business is a highly independent endeavor, but it helps to have assistance from professional organizations related to your field. Joining organizations may carry monthly or annual dues, so you’ll want to be selective. But if you pick one or two and participate, you may find a lot of opportunities you might not otherwise have had. For example, the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) features chapters all across the United States, with two in California. They offer training and networking opportunities, as well as discounts with partner businesses.

Attend Construction Conferences
Taking a few days off from projects to travel and attend a construction conference may seem like a lot of work. Really, it’s an investment in your business. When you sign up for a construction conference, you get access to the latest tools and tips from industry experts. You might be hesitant to adopt new technology immediately, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try it out. This is one of the best chances you’ll get to have a few days focused on what is new and interesting in your field. You may return with a lot of good ideas to implement and a few new contacts in your area.

Take Education/Training Classes
By the time you have invested the time it takes to qualify for a contractor license, you might think that you already know everything you need to do. Of course, then you blink and realize that all the technology has changed and there are a bunch of new building practices you’ve never heard of, much less used. Taking periodic training classes helps you keep your skills fresh and build on top of your experience over time. It can even help you prepare to add another specialty to your license, which could expand the services you can offer. Sending your employees to training when appropriate can also help ensure that they provide better work for you.

Maintain/Expand Your Licensing
Part of professional development involves keeping your licenses active. Contractor licenses in California need to be renewed every two years to remain active. Without an active license, you can still renew but it’s a more complicated process. You’ll get a notice that your license is about to expire 60 days before it runs out. If this feels like a ton of time, you should know that it isn’t. Take this opportunity to think about what you want to be doing with your business, and how you can best get it. This is a good time to think about adding classifications or changing them, if you’re working your way into a field that feels better for you.

Make Time for Professional Development
With all these tasks on your plate, it might seem like you have hardly any time for paid projects. In fact, you can find a balance that keeps you progressing without compromising on the work that pays the bills. Set aside a day or two each month toward meeting these obligations. When you can anticipate the winter slow season approaching, plan for longer training sessions or attending conferences. This helps you get a bigger bang for your buck and make sure that even periods without as much paid work are productive toward your bottom line.

Professional development is easy to forget, but it keeps your business running into the future. To build a foundation of a business that you can operate successfully for years, contact CSLS today!

When’s the Best Time to Start in Construction?

Like most industries, construction has times when it’s easier to get established and times when there’s a lot of competition. But since it’s such a large industry and doesn’t evolve as rapidly as others, you’ll find a lot of flexibility. If you’ve been thinking about getting into construction and you’re not sure when is the best time to start, here are a few factors to consider as you make a decision.

Regional Development
As you might expect from almost any job, construction goes through periods where there is a lot of demand for projects and times when there aren’t so many. And while a lot of projects in the pipeline can be a good sign for your career prospects, you wouldn’t necessarily want to come in right at the end of it. Do some research and figure out what the capacity is for new development and renovation in your area. This will help to give you an idea of the likelihood of getting a good job in your chosen field. It can also highlight regions with a lot of potential that you hadn’t previously considered.

Long-Term Career Opportunities
If you have a pretty good idea of which field you’d like to work in, then you’ll need to scope out what the demand is for professionals in that field before you make a choice. People who invest years of work into a career have a pretty good chance of continuing on until they retire. Right now, there are lots of professionals leaving construction after decades in the business. This means there may be plenty of available spots in the type of job that you would like to do. Easing into a new role at this time could be a great opportunity to find your feet with less competition.

Future Growth
Of course, knowing what the region has planned for the next couple of years isn’t going to be enough to last you for a whole career. If you’re thinking about taking a path that you could travel for 20 to 30 years or more, you want to be sure that there is plenty of future growth waiting for you. The good news is that construction is a field that will always have some degree of demand. The trick is finding the types of jobs that are most likely to thrive with technological innovations and updates to construction practices. If you’re ready to make use of construction technology or perhaps even create some of it yourself, now is an excellent time to get started.

Personal Plans
Starting a new career path requires a fair bit of flexibility. This means that you’ll need to consider what your plans are for the next 5 to 10 years and balance them with your life as it is now. It’s not always clear when is the best time to make a big decision like a new job. And yet, they say that the best time to start something that takes years is to have done it already several years ago. The second best time is now.

Ready to Commit
Ultimately, the most valuable and competitive jobs and construction usually take a commitment of at least a few years to get yourself established. In a way, it’s not unlike going to college and then starting a career. If you want to get the most from the experience, you need to be willing to invest the time and effort to make it a success. If you are ready to commit to the work and study that it takes to become a licensed contractor, you’re already on your way to improving your life and building a career you’ll be glad to have.

Almost anytime is a good time to start a career in construction. The time you invest is what makes it a valuable decision. To get started, contact CSLS today!

Is Your Contracting Business’s Waste Management Strategy Putting You at Risk?

When you think about waste management on and off the jobsite, it’s more than an issue of cleaning up a mess or making sure you dispose of hazardous materials in the right way. It’s a matter of your own safety and the people around you. Here are a few factors to consider as you decide if your waste management strategy is ideal, or could use a reboot.

Environmental Risks
Whenever you work on a construction site, even if that place is a warehouse or your own home, you may have a variety of environmental concerns to worry about. Since this is heavily dependent on your working location, you’ll need to inspect each site and conduct testing as required before you can establish the type of environmental risks you’re facing. For example, you might have to deal with high levels of certain contaminants in the soil, like radon. The presence of a free-flowing water source nearby may make prompt cleanup more important, to avoid contaminating that water supply.

Population Concerns
You will also need to pay attention to the people who live and work around your construction site, and how the production of waste may affect them. In 2020, many construction workers in California have been invested in renovating or retrofitting existing hospitals to accommodate increased numbers of patients due to COVID-19. However, doing construction work in a hospital that has patients in it presents unique risks to a highly vulnerable population. You should consider the impact that dust and debris can have if they shift from the area where you are working before you have a chance to clean it up.

Cleanup Intervals
There are many different approaches to waste management on the construction site, and most of them have a different cleanup interval. If you are in the habit of cleaning up when a project is completely done, and not one minute before, you may be putting yourself and others at risk. The chance that dust and debris can blow away from an open jobsite is relatively high. But you should also keep in mind that it can create a slipping or tripping hazard while you continue to work in the space. Setting a more frequent cleanup interval, as often as every hour, keeps the excess out of the way.

Disposal Practices
Although cleanup at the jobsite is a major part of your waste management strategy, it is not the last step. You also need to dispose of your construction debris and garbage on a regular basis. Knowing how to dispose of materials is a vital skill that you as a business owner must master. In many cases, being able to control all aspects of site cleanup is a matter of following the law. If you haven’t thought about these practices in a while, now may be a good opportunity to re-evaluate them. You may have more options for recycling or local disposal than you did in years past.

Employee Training
As in many industries, you may discover that there is a significant difference between what you are supposed to do and what people are actually doing. In a lot of cases, this is an indicator that people are unaware of how to dispose of waste on a construction site. Since this can be a serious matter of health and even life or death, training should be an important component of your business practices. Make sure that you know how you should handle site cleanup depending on the site and the type of project that you are doing. Then invest the time and money to confirm that everybody you work with has that knowledge as well.

Waste management is a time-consuming task, but one that you need to do for your health and the security of your contracting business. For more information about building a successful business in construction, contact CSLS today!

Simple SEO Tips When Your Contracting Business Doesn’t Have a Marketing Budget

You probably know that if you want business success, you’ve got to have an online presence. But in order for your potential customers to find you online, they need to be able to find you in a search. Search engine optimization, also known as SEO, is a way of targeting the content you put online to help your business in a search. You can pay a marketing company to handle this for you, but there are a few things you can do for yourself. Here’s what you can try.

Search for Common Terms
In order to figure out where you would like your page to show up, you need to figure out what’s there. Some keywords are overused, and it’s hard to tell how much until you start searching for them yourself. For most small businesses that operate within a limited location, your ideal keywords will be the type of services you offer in your broad location. If you live in a small suburb or in a rural area, you may need to search for multiple nearby cities to get a sense for what may work. Search terms that don’t bring up a lot of hits may have a need that’s not met, or a lack of demand. Use your best judgment to determine which is the most likely scenario.

Try Various Types of Keywords
There are many different ways to approach keywords. Potential clients may use a variety of them, or stick to just one. For example, you might have clients who search for “plumber in Los Angeles,“ while others search for “plumber Los Angeles.” There’s been a resurgence in the use of long-tail keywords, which are long key phrases that encapsulate what the user is looking for. You may have more of an opportunity to increase your search rankings by using them yourself. You might try creating a few different pages that each focus on a different keyword style.

Answer Questions
To improve your search engine rankings, adding value is the thing you need to do most. When you search for something on Google, you’ll often see a list of similar questions that people search for, related to your topic. These snippets can be an excellent way to get your business onto the first page. You may have to make a few guesses as to which questions are most important to your prospective clients. But if you can answer them better than other companies, you might be able to get a big reward that way.

Avoid Keyword Stuffing
Years ago, many companies aimed to bring their search engine rankings up by cramming each page with the same keyword dozens of times. This is an old trick that may have worked in 2010, but is likely to cause problems for you in 2020. People visit your site or your social media pages because they are looking for relevant information. A page full of nothing but keywords isn’t likely to get them what they need. As a result, Google tends to penalize pages full of keywords with lower rankings. Aim to keep the content natural, with a handful of keywords sprinkled in. Using them in headings or near the top of the page can be the most helpful.

Track Your Progress
Although you’re trying to do this on a tight budget, that doesn’t mean you should just make a bunch of random efforts and hope that something sticks. You still need some kind of a strategy. In order to know how well your SEO techniques are paying off, you’ll need to track it somehow. Social media platforms may have easy ways to track visitors and engagement. If you want to track the performance of your website, it might be worth signing up for something like Google Analytics. Many of these services offer a free version, but it’s usually pretty limited. Consider it a way to evaluate your options and decide which one is worth making an investment.

SEO is one way that people can find your business, but it doesn’t have to break the bank. To discover how becoming a licensed contractor helps you build the business of your dreams, contact CSLS today!