10 I just noticed an ad for a 'customer-based referral service for finding service professionals' on one of our local TV/news stations' website: http://www.servicemagic.com/servlet/RedirectServlet?m=worldnow&D=SUPERCAT&entry_point_id9
- My first thought was "Wow, that'd be useful. To know that other customers would know who did decent work and then pass that info on to those looking for qualified/reasonable/capable [fill in the blank]." It looks like you (the service professional) sign up and then your customers can search for someone (you) in their area.
2) The other avenue for information that I personally have found useful in terms of knowing what needs to be done and what to look for (quality-wise) was through my home inspector who mentioned several things that needed improved that I wouldn't have known:
- sliding glass door was not tempered glass (not good w/ 3 rowdy kids)
- 'new' window install wasn't done right - no vapor barrier up to window edge. (The idjuts didn't even finish their work as the stucco was never redone but it made the other issues easier to find.)
What this indicated to me was that at least there was a knowledgable source of info to help me improve my home. It was kind of nice to hear advice from someone who didn't have a 'vested interest' and wasn't going to make recommendations based solely on his own profit motive.
3)I've suggested here before that through church or civic organizations you can become a known entity by offering a free short course on 'what to look for' in your field of expertise or do a quick handyman's ministry kind of thing (call it a complimentary service call or a senior citizen's advocate visit or an annual safety check if you're not comfortable with 'ministry') - just do something free, nice, quick, simple, etc. for your fan/customer base and they'll remember you.
4) Trade fairs are a good place to start. Rent a table or booth, hand out cards, flyers, fridge magnets, and set up a display to show things that need annual visual inspections or things to check for safety, quality vs. poor quality in electrical installs, hazards to warn children to stay away from - anything that your local population may not be aware of or may benefit from.
5)Career days at your local schools:
- teach the little kids to look (but don't touch!) for unsafe conditions in their homes and you'll have a whole platoon of little tattle tales to send business your way, I guarantee it!
- Go to the Jr. High or High School and offer to help with a class project, supply or loan tools for the day (with your supervision, of course), hand out a 'door prize' to a student or two, they'll remember you and so will their parents. I am a huge advocate for mentoring and apprenticing! (One of my all-time fav memories is getting coveralls for a birthday & using my dad's tools to tear apart a couple of engines. He used to call these kind of projects 'therapy' for a motor-mouthed grease-monkey kind of girl.)
6) Find the summer day-camp coordinator and set up a 'let's do a seminar' kind of 1-day thing. Send each kid home with a card, a flyer, a photo of them with the project/tools/etc. Your name will be first on their lips.
7) Offer to do a series of short informational columns for your local paper. An example might be "Aluminum wiring: is mine safe?" and address what to look for, what to do to reduce the risk of a problem, etc. Another example is "When to call an electrician." and give examples of situations the home owner should or should not tackle without professional assistance. Our local realtors have been doing this in every Sunday issue of the paper regarding the real estate realm and it has been very interesting and enlightening.
It doesn't necessarily require a big financial investment - just become someone your community looks toward for your field and be someone they can trust and rely upon.