When you’ve trained, qualified, grafted and developed your skills, it’s only natural for you to want to get out on your own at some point. You’ll no doubt have already seen others carving their own niche in the market – and, if you are employed full-time by another trade company that is soon to be your competitor, it might be a little awkward to announce your plans, but not entirely unexpected.
So, with that difficult conversation out of the way, here are some tips to guide you through your first days as a sole trader or self-employed roofer.
Get your paperwork in place
Depending on your new business plan, and we’ll return to that subject in a moment, you’ll need to either register as a sole trader, with HMRC, or with Companies House, if you’re setting up a limited company. Then, you’ll need to get the right level of insurance for your line of work – for instance, if you’re planning on only working on domestic roofs or taking on commercial projects as well. You’ll also need a simple system for invoicing, receiving payments and keeping your accounts updated.
Establish a solid reputation
Now, this one may be tougher, unless you’ve already managed to stamp your name on the roofing market in your local area. The easiest way to do this is, quite simply, to do a good job. Price may also come into it, but don’t undersell yourself too much just to get some work in, as rumours of not just a good roofer but also a cheap roofer can soon spread. You’ll already have a good idea of what others are charging, so stay competitive and let your quality of workmanship speak for itself.
Keep an open line of communication
One way to really keep your new customers happy is to be responsive. Unless you’ve got a long line of work already lined up, it shouldn’t be too hard to respond promptly, if not there and then, to enquiries and questions on price, progress and more.
According to Simply Business, the most common problems people have with tradespeople include not turning up on time, or at all, and not calling back. While this may be unfounded or exaggerated, it could make all the difference to obliterate exactly these kinds of perceptions in your early days at your own roofing company.
Get savvy with marketing
As you’ll know, the majority of work in roofing, and other trade businesses, comes on the back of recommendations and word of mouth. However, a little extra marketing, whether you venture into digital marketing or not, can’t hurt.
It can be tempting to mimic the branding of other successful roofing companies, but you’d stand a better chance of standing out were you to come up with your own, original brand. Whether you brand your uniform or van or set up a website or Facebook business page is up to you, but ensure that the brand is consistent on every item, physical or digital.
Finding the right balance between reputation and advertising could be crucial, as you work your way from a new roofing company, all the way to an organisation the size of Findley Roofing & Building, a firm of roofers near Hartlepool.