Monthly Archives: January 2021

Getting Out of a Rut In Your Contracting Business Marketing

Marketing is one of the best ways that customers can find you. But if you’re not investing time into it, you might find that you’re not getting a very good return. It’s tempting to set up your marketing and hope it will run by itself, but without occasional changes, sometimes you get stuck in a rut. Here’s how you can get out.

Get Data on Your Marketing Efforts
The first thing that you need to do is figure out what is working and what isn’t. In many cases, business owners start to gather data on their marketing strategies and discover that only some of the parts aren’t working. For example, your marketing might be driving lots of people to your website or your social media, even if it doesn’t lead to conversions. You don’t want to drop the first in favor of the second. There are a handful of free data-collection services that you can take advantage of, but it may be worth investing in a paid version that provides detailed insights that you can use to tweak your strategy.

Rethink Your Marketing Approach
There are a few things that you should know about marketing, including the fact that the most popular approaches change on a regular basis. This means that if you are taking marketing tips from five years ago, or even ones from last year, they may not be very relevant today. Regardless of your clientele, you’ll probably need to do more than rely on word-of-mouth or minimal advertising. This will likely require you to invest a bit more, usually in the form of money but also time. The good news is that trying out new methods gives you more information to make your marketing work more efficiently.

Look for New Sales Channels
In order to tailor your marketing strategy, you need to consider all possible sales channels for your business. The right ones depend on the type of business that you do. For example, if you work primarily with non-business clients, you might want to market your services directly or through an intermediary. An intermediary is a company that offers an auxiliary product or service through which you may be able to secure new customers. If you’re having a hard time getting clients by marketing to them directly, this may be a practical approach.

Try New Advertising Formats
Marketing may seem like one of the driest, most boring aspects of running a business. But it doesn’t have to be. In fact, improving your marketing and sales can sometimes be much more interesting and engaging than you expect. If you’ve gone through traditional advertising approaches and you’re not getting a big return, there isn’t much risk in trying something completely new. Create a YouTube channel with tips for consumers. Market your business on TikTok. We might be surprised how many new prospective customers you find.

Create Customer-Focused Marketing Plans
In some ways, marketing may be simpler than you think. Realistically, your primary goal is to ensure that your marketing efforts reach the customers most likely to pay for your services. This means you have to figure out where they spend their time and how your advertising can reach them. Keep in mind that the type of advertising depends on where prospective customers are in the decision-making process. If you focus too much of your advertising on discovery and not enough on persuading them to hire you, you might have leads but no sales. If you spend too much time pushing them to choose you, they may feel overwhelmed and back away. Plan to formulate different types of marketing and make sure that you’re covering potential clients at every stage of the process. That way, they won’t feel like you’re drowning them or leaving them out in the cold.

Changing up your marketing strategy is a great way to get out of a rut and get more sales. First, you need to be a licensed contractor. To find out how expert exam preparation can help you, contact CSLS today!

5 Body Language Cues You Can Use in Your Contracting Business Communications

As a business owner, you’d be surprised how much the things people say and the way they feel don’t match up. If you’ve ever had to pretend to be happy in the middle of a frustrating situation, you get the idea. But if you can’t read your clients to get a sense of how they are interpreting your interactions, you’re more likely to get on their bad side. Here are five body language cues that help you determine what they really think.

Direction of the Hands
The way the people use their hands can give you some practical insight into their moods, especially as they relate to the discussion. For example, someone who is using big open gestures may be more interested in what you have to say. Someone who keeps their hands at their sides or pointed down might not be as convinced as you think. In some cases, mimicking these gestures can help you relate to the client. Then, as you explain your points, you can turn your hands upward and see if they do too.

Arm Position
As with your hands, the position of the arms tells you how your client is feeling at the moment. Someone who consistently keeps their arms folded or locked tightly to their sides may be nervous. It’s possible that they either do not trust what you are saying, or do not trust the environment that they are in. This type of position indicates that somebody is feeling awkward or out of place. You may be able to set them at ease by offering them a choice of chairs, or the opportunity to meet in a different room.

Position While Sitting or Standing
Even though the arms can tell you a lot about what a person is thinking, you’ve got to take the rest of their body language into consideration as well. There are times when you will have a conversation with a client and you really need their entire focus. You’ll know that you have it if their upper body is turned toward you. By comparison, if it’s turned away from you, your client may be distracted or uninterested in the conversation. You can usually avoid this type of problem by seeing clients in places away from busy activities and loud noises. That way, they are less likely to keep turning around.

Eye Contact
Many types of body language are forms of communication in and of themselves, and eye contact is a good example. Experts have mixed views about the meaning of looking in particular directions before answering a question. Contrary to popular belief, you can’t necessarily tell if someone is lying simply by the way they look around the room. However, people do pick up social cues from the presence or lack of eye contact. If you never make eye contact with someone, they may wonder how committed you are to working with them. If you make prolonged, constant eye contact, they may feel intimidated.

Facial Expressions
Perhaps the most obvious of body language types is the facial expression. Of course, your facial expression can be a way of expressing a variety of feelings, only some of which may relate to the discussion. If friends or family members often tell you that you seem intimidating or angry, it’s worth paying attention to your facial expressions. Look in the mirror and allow yourself to speak naturally and see what happens. Since facial expressions are difficult to read, be wary of drawing too many conclusions from them based on the way your clients look. If they seem confused or frustrated, it’s fine to offer clarification. Otherwise, they might not have a high degree of control over their expressions generally.

Body language is an important part of interpersonal communication and one you’ll need to understand when you’re working with clients. Knowing how to interpret these cues can help you put customers at ease and make more sales. To learn more about becoming a licensed contractor, contact CSLS today!

How to Turn Failed Bids Into New Sales

Sometimes, you bid on a project and you don’t win. It happens from time to time, and it’s hard to know why. The good news is that you may have a second chance to make a first impression. In some cases, you only missed out because the client was looking for something you didn’t offer, or even that they made a choice they would later regret. Here are a few ways that you can help turn it around.

Keep Them on the Mailing List
If you’re working primarily with clients who aren’t businesses, you don’t necessarily have to trash their contact information once you learn that you didn’t land the project. Clients go with different contractors for a variety of services. Just because you weren’t the right fit for the first one, it doesn’t mean you’re out of the running forever. If they signed up for any kind of mailings that you offer, printed or electronic, continue to send it to them. This is one way that you can stay on their radar for future projects.

Request Feedback
If you have the ability, it’s always worth asking them why they chose someone else other than your business. In this case, you have to be prepared to hear some constructive criticism, and possibly some less-than-constructive criticism as well. Nobody wants to hear about the mistakes that they made, but you won’t be able to improve unless you’re aware of them. Sometimes, it’s simply a case of who arrived first and landed the job. In other cases, a few simple decisions on your part could have made the difference between coming in first and coming in last.

Identify Obvious Problems
Based on that feedback, identify obvious problems with your workflow as it relates to your bid for that particular project. For example, many contractors take too long to return client phone calls or emails. Clients might still be interested in getting a consultation for comparison, but there’s not much you can do if you show up after they have mostly made the decision. Similarly, clients may expect that most of the transactions will happen in a digital format. If you’re still working off paper and pencil mostly, it might be time to upgrade.

Keep Lines of Communication Open
When you’re interacting with colleagues and larger business clients, keeping the lines of communication open is key. In a world of construction labor shortages, coming in second as a subcontractor on a contractor’s list isn’t necessarily a disaster. It just means that the next time they need to hire a subcontractor, you may still have a chance. Assuming that you know why you weren’t chosen, it’s worth following up with the contractor to thank them for the opportunity. Treat it as a long-term professional relationship, and they’ll be more likely to do the same.

Stay Positive
It’s OK to admit that losing out on a project is really frustrating. However, letting it take over your mood and make it difficult for you to interact with others can create problems long-term. Keep in mind that many business owners hear the word “no” many times before they start to consistently hear the word “yes.” It takes practice to learn how to create a fair bid that clients are likely to accept. If you can take your early experiences in a positive light, you’ll be more likely to learn from them and improve over time.

Learning how to fail and bounce back even stronger is a big part of running a contracting business. You’ll get better with practice, especially if you get the right foundation. To discover more about starting your construction career, contact CSLS today!

How to Stay Warm on the Construction Site

Working outside can be a great benefit for construction, except when the weather is bad. During the winter, it’s important to stay warm for your health and to help minimize the risk of injuries. With these tips, you will know the best ways to stay warm in most kinds of winter weather.

Watch the Forecast
Certain parts of California have a relatively predictable climate and a forecast that changes little from one season to the next. In other parts of the state, you can switch from cold to baking hot within the course of a few hours, particularly if you’re at a higher altitude. This change underscores the importance of watching the forecast as a way of planning out your workweek. If you can see heavy rains or snow upcoming, then you know that you’ll need to prepare to be colder. And since some of these storms can accompany other problems like mudslides, blocked roads or ice, you can prepare for those too.

Use Layers
When you were a kid, you probably had a parent or grandparent remind you to wear layers when you went outside. You may not have paid much attention to it as a kid, but it’s really important now. If you rely on a single heavy coat or coveralls to keep you warm in winter weather, you’re going to be playing a game of temperature control all day long. This exchange doesn’t do much for your productivity and can wear you out faster. Instead, wear multiple layers that you can add or take off when needed, including:

  • Long underclothing
  • Insulating layers
  • Outer layers with rain and snow resistance

And don’t forget to use layers for your head, hands and feet. A hat and gloves may not be sufficient.

Add Heat Safely
There are lots of ways to add heat to an outdoor or indoor space. You just have to make sure that the ones you choose are appropriate to the task and safe for the environment. For example, a propane-based heater may be a relatively effective way to provide additional heat outside. Inside, it’s a carbon monoxide nightmare. You also need to confirm that you’re not doing any work around it that could cause ignition. Indoor space heaters that run on electricity may be an alternative, but they are also a common cause of structure fires. Even the single-use heat packs that skiers use might be sufficient, but you have to be careful not to burn yourself in the process.

Take Breaks Indoors
If you’re doing a lot of work outdoors or in another space that is particularly cold, make sure that you have a warmer place to go to for lunch and other breaks. Even a single room with a heat source that you can turn on when you arrive and turn off when you leave could help you maintain a more constant body temperature. Many people use their cars as an additional method of heat generation, but you may come up against idling laws if you do. Try to scope out a few options near the jobsite as an alternative.

Change Tasks Regularly
One thing you need to know about working in cold weather is that it can aggravate some of the symptoms of repetitive stress. If you’re doing the same task over and over again for hours, your limbs or back may get stiff from the cold and repetition. This increases the likelihood of accidents, particularly if the temperature is low enough that you’re not getting good circulation to your fingers. Instead, try to change tasks on a regular basis, as frequently as every 15 minutes in cold weather. This allows you to work different muscle groups and keep your whole body in better working order during the day.

Staying warm during the winter is part of a construction job in many parts of California. So is a good foundation. To learn more, contact CSLS today!

How to Manage Your Contracting Business During a Personal Crisis

Every now and then, something is going to happen in your personal life that may put your contracting business at risk. Crises like a family illness or major car accident could divide your attention and most importantly, your time. Here are a few things you can do to ease your stress when you’re trying to manage a difficult load.

Set Priorities
People sometimes get into trouble when they try to balance too many things at once during a crisis. It’s not difficult to imagine. You try to make sure that you handle everything in normal order, even when your personal life is in chaos. This can lead to burn out, which increases the likelihood of mistakes. Instead, you should set the most basic priorities that will keep your business functioning, such as:

  • Completing pressing work
  • Notifying clients of delays
  • Paying bills
  • Paying employees

These are the tasks that help you keep the lights on while you devote time to more important matters.

Determine Likely Points of Failure
One of the first things you have to learn as a business owner is risk management. Risk management is a business practice that encourages you to evaluate the risks you’re likely to encounter with a project or approach. When you reach a point where you can’t keep running your business as you have been, it’s time to do some analysis on the most likely points of failure. This can be difficult for business owners to do because it requires you to admit honestly what you are most likely to do wrong or incompletely. But making a list can help. These points of failure are the ones that you need to plan for in advance, so that they don’t sink you.

Designate Checkpoints
Some people find themselves in a situation where they will be in a crisis for the next week or so. For others, it might be a month or two. In either case, you want to set a handful of checkpoints that allow you to evaluate your situation and decide if you need to make changes. This step is important because you may not need to operate at the same diminished capacity for the entire duration. There may be points where you can do more work, and days or weeks when you will need to do less. You can ask a friend, relative or business partner to help you remember to check-in. Otherwise, even a reminder on your smartphone may be enough to help you dedicate that time.

Delegate
The way you run your business depends a lot on your personality. Some people like to do the vast majority of the work by themselves, so that they don’t have to answer to anyone or delegate. Others prefer to lead by example and build a team of employees who can support them as fully as possible. When you find that you’re stuck in a bad situation, being able to delegate is a very useful skill. Assigning tasks to someone who is willing and able to perform at full capacity can help to ensure that they get done on time and according to specifications. If you don’t have employees, this might be a good time to research a few options for outsourcing that you can call upon when you need it.

Avoid Overextending Yourself
You know that meme about the dog that is sitting and drinking coffee inside a building that’s on fire? You definitely don’t want that to become your business. Overextending yourself is a quick way to lead to burnout, especially when you are having personal issues. If you build your business on the premise that people want to hire a contractor who will get the job done right the first time, you can understand the damage that can be caused when you’re so overcommitted that you start to cut corners. Instead, try to under-budget your time, assigning yourself less work than you think you can handle. That way, you can always give someone a pleasant surprise instead of disappointment.

Personal crises are likely to come up sometimes. How you manage them can help you keep your business afloat. For more information about building your contracting career, contact CSLS today!

Want to Start a Contracting Business? Make a Five-Year Plan

Going from your first day in construction to starting your own contracting business takes at least a few years. You’ll spend some time on the job learning skills, more time refining your knowledge and choosing the right field for you, and the last bit getting ready to launch your own business. Here are a few things to consider as you make a five-year plan.

Evaluate Future Job Growth
To start out, you’ll want to pick a field that has growth potential that can sustain you for the length of your career plans. The Bureau of Labor Statistics keeps data on the anticipated job growth for most industries and specific jobs within the construction industry. This means that you can do a little research to see where the jobs that you’re interested in doing are likely to go within the next 5 to 10 years. You’ll need to have this information to determine what your competition will be like and how much demand there will be for your services.

Select Ideal Working Locations
As you’re starting to browse through the careers you could have within your chosen fields, you’ll want to select locations that will be the most likely to meet your needs. As a licensed contractor, you will be able to work within the state where you get your license. This means that if you’re planning on moving out-of-state, you may need to consider how getting a license in that state will affect your plans. If you’re planning to stay in California, the good news is that you’ve got a lot of options, from the most rural to extremely urban.

Research On-the-Job and Educational Opportunities
Many people get their start in construction by working under a licensed contractor. You don’t necessarily need to take an educational route, but that’s also an option. Some fields have lengthy apprenticeship programs that you might apply for. Selected candidates can receive an income while they get a thorough, high-quality education within the field. These types of experiences can qualify for at least some of the experience you need in order to take the contractor licensing exam. Research what’s available to you in the area, and don’t hesitate to aim high. You don’t know what you may be able to achieve until you try.

Explore Different Fields
If you’re brand-new to construction, the choices you would make might be quite different then they would be for someone who’s been working in construction for several years. In either case, it’s important to explore different fields and careers you can have within those fields. Research what you can expect from various jobs, including:

  • Income
  • Demand
  • Work environment
  • Clientele

This will help you to make a choice you’re more likely to be content with by the time you get your license.

Keep Learning as You Grow
For most people, becoming a licensed contractor is a step they take on a career path that will continue to change for decades. This means that once you get started, you’ll keep adding onto your knowledge and experience. That can make you a better business owner and someone who is more likely to be able to meet the changing needs of clients in the future. Taking an ambitious, positive attitude about career development is an excellent way to start.

If you’re just starting out on your construction career path, you’ve got a few years to ensure that you do it right. To find out the benefits of becoming a licensed contractor, visit CSLS today!

5 Business Skills You’ll Need to Run a Contracting Business

In order to run a business, you need a balance of business skills. You don’t necessarily have to go to college to get a degree, but your business is more likely to survive if you aren’t starting the process at the entry-level. Here are five skills you can start developing now to help ensure that you’re ready to begin strong.

Simple Budget Management
You don’t need financial expertise to be a successful business owner, but you do need to master the basics. In the early years, you may rely a lot on your own ability to:

  • Set a budget
  • Track income and expenses
  • Balance a budget
  • Plan spending to maintain cash flow

Accountants can be expensive. And while you’ll probably need to hire one on occasion for some tasks, you may be left to do several aspects of financial management on your own. Try it out with your own finances, so that you can test your skills before your business goes live.

Business Communication
Learning how to communicate with your future colleagues and prospective clients is an important aspect of running a business. The tricky part involves understanding the best way to communicate as a part of your field. Every industry has its own preferences, but it’s reasonable to start researching how to:

  • Bid on projects
  • Respond to business inquiries
  • Send invoices
  • Provide updates to business or residential clients

If you tend to rely a lot on spelling and grammar checkers to find typos and other problems in your writing, consider using a free or paid service that evaluates your writing first. Create a few templates that you can use regularly so that you only have to change names and relevant details.

Basic Technology
In a connected world, people tend to assume that they already know all the technology that they will ever need to use. And while this may be true for a lot of people, it isn’t always the case. Research the standards in your chosen field. Look up software options and test out ones that are free or low-cost to use. If you aren’t accustomed to working with spreadsheets or PDFs, now‘s a good time to start. This investment gives you an opportunity to figure out how it will work for you well in advance of needing to use it in relation to projects.

Research
If you ever wanted to know when you would need all the research practice you got in high school, running a business is a good example. Before you can even start your business, you should probably write a business plan. And for that, you’re going to need to do tons of research:

  • How to open a business in your area
  • Who your competition is, and what they charge for services
  • Target customers’ preferences

Fortunately, you don’t have to spend ages at the local library hunting down periodicals. Most of what you need may be readily available through an online search, assuming that you know how to do it. Practice using different combinations of keywords to find what you need, and get more comfortable with Boolean search techniques. This work makes it easier to learn without wasting your time clicking on useless links.

Project Management
In order to run a business wherein you complete regular projects, you’ll need to pick up some skills in project management. It’s not enough to know your own role in the task and be able to fill it. As a business owner, you may need to manage several people completing different aspects and ensure that the final result meets specifications. Pick something that you’d like to do around your home or a friend’s home. Make a list of every aspect that you have to manage over the course of that project. Create detailed plans to handle each one. Once the project is done, make a few notes on what worked and what didn’t. That way, you can increase your likelihood of success in the next round.

Starting a business may take years of preparation, and these skills can help. For more assistance about what you need to open a contracting business, visit CSLS today!

Does Your Contracting Business Need an Office Manager?

When you run a contracting business, you’ll spend a lot of your time completing projects for clients. Unfortunately, that isn’t all you need to keep your business going. If you’re not able to spend enough time on office tasks, the flow for your business could come crashing to a halt. Here are a few ways you can tell that you need some administrative support.

Your Business Is Expanding
In the beginning, there may not be all that much to coordinate for your contracting business. After a year or two, or sooner if you’re in a field affected by the labor shortage, you may want to expand. Expanding your business increases opportunities, but it also makes your business more complicated. As you grow, you may need to hire more employees. A dedicated team of professionals could have coordinated schedules and other administrative tasks that take away from your time available to work on projects. At this point, most businesses need to consider hiring someone who can manage the day-to-day functions.

You Need to Coordinate Multiple Projects
If you only work on one project at a time, it may be relatively easy to plan your schedule. On the other hand, many contractors need to book out at least a little bit to keep their business is running. After all, some projects take a few hours, while others may take several weeks. If you are lining up multiple projects, you need to make sure that you aren’t overcommitting yourself, your employees, or your equipment. The last thing that you need is to double-book on two important jobs and end up having to choose one. Instead, having someone coordinate your schedule frees up more of your time for work, while ensuring that each project gets appropriate attention.

Your Response Times Are Lagging
When you run a business, you’ll spend time preparing to do work and doing productive work. While you’re working, you want to be able to focus on the project-related tasks at hand. Unfortunately, having a busy contracting business makes it harder to be available to answer phone calls or respond to customers. Over time, lagging response times may translate into fewer leads and a decrease in available projects. Obviously, it’s a problem you should try to prevent. If you notice that you are taking more than a day or two to get back to people, you may need someone who can handle that correspondence on your behalf.

You’re Forgetting Administrative Tasks
Before you start a business, you may wonder how anybody could possibly forget to complete regular tasks like sending invoices or paying the bills. Then you start a business, and it all begins to make sense. After a long shift on the job site, the last thing on your mind is more work extending into the evening hours. And yet, those administrative tasks are absolutely crucial to keeping your business functioning. If you are late in sending invoices to clients, you may have to wait longer for payment. That can throw your cash flow into chaos, making it harder for you to order supplies or handle expenses. If this becomes a problem, you should plan to solve it as quickly as possible.

You Need Someone to Coordinate Services
There may come a time in your business where you no longer have to perform all the work yourself, but you’re not yet at the point of hiring a dedicated staff. In this case, you might rely on outsourced services for things like payroll or marketing. But even if you have other companies that you pay to handle these aspects of your business, you still have to make sure that the work continues to meet your expectations. This means that you will need to be available to periodically check up on them, and communicate with them as necessary. Hiring someone to coordinate the services for you can give you one point of contact for updates while removing those responsibilities from your daily list.

Running a business involves a variety of jobs that you can’t always complete on your own. Bringing someone onto your team can help take the load off. To learn more about starting your own contracting business, contact CSLS today!

5 Reasons to Consider Hiring an Accountant for Your Contracting Business

If you’re good at money management, you might think that there is no reason to hire an accountant for your contracting business. Some business owners don’t, especially in the first few years when they’re working to get established. But there are reasons you may want to hire one, especially if you struggle to keep your focus on your books. Here are five.

You’re Not a Tax Expert
Many people choose to calculate and file their own taxes. When you start a business, it’s tempting to think that it will be easy to manage your business taxes as well. And if you don’t have a lot of business expenses or purchases to make, that might be close to the truth. On the other hand, hiring an accountant to do your taxes is a relatively minor investment. In exchange, you’re more likely to learn about less-known deductions and credits that your business may be eligible to claim. An accountant is also more likely to get everything correct so that your tax forms are accepted without dispute.

You Need Someone to Manage Your Financial Records
Maintaining financial records is a crucial task for your business. Without it, you may be stuck in a panic when someone asks you for an updated form. For example, if you apply for a loan, you may need an updated profit and loss statement for the application. If you have investors, you’ll need to show them updated financial records for your business activities as well. Just like your taxes, these records can be complicated and easy to make mistakes. In this case, it may make sense to hire a regular accountant who can handle these tasks on your behalf. You’ll need to provide the data, but an accountant can process and use it to generate the required reports.

You’re Not Sure if You’re Following Financial Guidelines
There are a lot of financial guidelines that you may have to follow as a contracting business owner. For example, if you want to bid on public sector projects, you need to confirm that your rate structure for employees complies with local guidelines. Do you know what these guidelines are? Which forms do you need to fill out and submit along with your bid? If these questions fill you with dread, then you might need an accountant to help you sort through them and determine which ones apply to your business. This way, you can avoid the stress of being unsure if you’re following the rules, with extra support in handling these administrative tasks.

You Want Help Planning Your Spending
In the early years of your business, cash flow is everything. Before you increase your own income or invest further in your business, you must make sure that you have adequate funds to keep the business running. The problem is that you may not know what you need to make that happen. And if you make errors in your estimates, you may end up without the money you need to pay yourself or your employees. Accountants do more than just file your taxes or fill out other forms. They can also help you look at your income and expenses, and create a plan that you can follow for several months or the next year.

You Don’t Have Much Business Support
There’s a reason that many licensed contractors are self-employed. In the beginning, you might not have anyone else available to work with you. Being able to make all the decisions can be nice in that you don’t have conflict when it’s time to make a choice. But it also means that you don’t get input from others, which can be a problem when you’re making a decision without a lot of information or experience to guide you. In this case, it makes sense to consider hiring an accountant to help you evaluate financial choices and select the one that works best for your business. This way, you have an objective expert who can provide you with an appropriate level of support.

Handling your business finances is less stressful when you can hire a professional accountant to ensure everything is correct. For more information about starting your own contracting business, visit CSLS today!

Virtual Meeting Tips for Your Contracting Business

The virtual meeting seemed like something that construction professionals were only going to need for a few months. Now it looks like they are here to stay. And really, it makes sense. If you need to give an update to a client who is hundreds of miles away, virtual is the way to go. But it isn’t always easy. Here are a few tips to simplify the process.

Learn How to Use the Platform
One of the biggest nightmares of virtual meetings in 2020 is the high number of people who do not know how to use the platform. Although it seems like there ought to be a great deal of similarity between platforms like Google Meet or Zoom, there can still be a steep learning curve. Most people who end up doing something ridiculous or embarrassing in the middle of a virtual meeting found themselves in the predicament due to a lack of understanding. If you’re considering new platforms for virtual meetings, set up a few meetings with employees or even friends who can help you test it out. That way, by the time you’re ready to meet with clients, you’ll have more expertise.

Find Tutorials for Clients and Employees
Part of the reason that hearing about virtual meeting horror stories has been so entertaining is that it’s a combination of shared experience and a high unlikelihood likelihood of occurrence. In short, lots of people are still struggling to use these programs effectively, largely because they didn’t get time to learn them in the first place. If you find a good tutorial with information that your clients and employees can use to help them master the platform, share it with them. Don’t worry that they’re going to think you assume they’re ignorant. If they don’t need the information, they’ll just disregard the attachment.

Send Documents in Advance
Meetings tend to take much longer than they should, and this is more likely to happen when people don’t get a chance to prepare in advance. When you’re meeting with clients, you may need them to sign a contract or review a design plan in order for you to be able to proceed on the project. One of the best things you can do to smooth out the meeting process is to send these documents in advance. Give other participants of the meeting at least 1-2 business days to take a look at the documentation and prepare questions. This will save you a lot of time spent waiting while they read the document.

Follow Meeting Etiquette
As a general rule, behaviors that you would never do in a meeting in person should also be avoided for virtual meetings. Many people get into the habit of thinking that meeting on a virtual device allows them the freedom to act as if they are not in a meeting at all. But even if your camera is off while the sound is on, you can still end up in odd or annoying situations. For example, if someone takes a device outside next to a busy road, you may not be able to hear them over the sounds of traffic. Keep in mind that sound travels differently through speakers than it does in a room. If you’re doing a lunch meeting, keep the speaker away from your face so that no one has to hear chewing.

If All Else Fails, Send an Email
In all the rush to stay connected despite remote work, many people seem to have forgotten the old wisdom that technology is only necessary when it can be useful. The fact is that there are many meetings that never needed to happen if the relevant parties were simply willing to communicate by email. Meetings aren’t bad, and there are times when you can accomplish much more by meeting face-to-face even virtually than you could in writing. But it’s worth investigating whether the time you spend collaborating is actually getting you closer to the solutions that you need.

Maintaining communication with clients is part of running a successful contracting business. A good education is another. To learn more about our contractor licensing exam preparation options, contact CSLS today!