Today’s guest is Matt Jones from The Site Shed and he’s going to help us understand how effective marketing is done for the trades.  By the trades, I mean the construction industry.

Too often I see traditional brick and mortar businesses forget about marketing.  If you own a business and you want to keep growing, you must market.  And, in our book marketing means how you get found by customers and potential customers.

You might think you know exactly what you need and after listening to this episode, I bet you’re going to have a little different opinion about what you need to know to market effectively in your business.

Just a few of the things we’ll cover today are:

  • Why asking questions is the key to finding out what your customers need.
  • You need to paying attention to retaining your customers and not just focusing on new customers.
  • What you can do to show appreciation for your present customers and remind them about the value you bring.
  • Get tips on what a qualified customer is and why you need to only talk to these people.
  • How to build a recurring revenue model into your business.


Narrator:         Welcome to The Sustainable Business Radio Show podcast where you’ll learn not only how to create a sustainable business but you’ll also learn the secrets of creating extraordinary value within your business and your life. In The Sustainable Business, we focus on what it’s going to take for you to take your successful business and make it economically and personally successful.

Your host, Josh Patrick, is going to help us through finding great thought leaders as well as providing insights he’s learned through his 40 years of owning, running, planning and thinking about what it takes to make a successful business sustainable.

Josh:                Hey, how are you today. This is Josh Patrick and you’re at The Sustainable Business.

Today, our guest is Matt Jones. Boy, Matt has been so patient. This is one of those days we’ve just had all sorts of technical glitches trying to get our recording stuff to work. And because I’m recording from my house and have a slow internet connection, it’s causing us all sort of problems. So I apologize to Matt and I really thank him for his patience.

Matt specializes working with contractors. He’s from down under. He lives in Australia. He’s a director of Tradie Web Guys and The Site Shed. Both of these, folks, are on education and equipping trade-based business owners around the world with knowledge and the tools to build a successful organization. That’s the reason I really want him on this podcast. I’m really glad he’s been patient with me today. Let’s bring Matt in and start the conversation.

Hey, Matt. How are you today?

Matt:               Josh, we made it.

Josh:                We did. I’m embarrassed. This is episode 120 for me. You would think, by now, I would’ve gotten it down.

Matt:               Yeah. Oh, mate. I don’t know. We’re up to 136 now, I think it is, and the same thing. I recorded three podcasts last week and none of them came out so. Anyway, it’s just the way it goes.

Josh:                You know, I guess, it is. It’s part of the work. Let’s start talking about contractors and stuff about why technology annoys us.

So, tell me, if you’re advising a contractor, which I know that you do, what’s the first you talk with them about?

Matt:               Well, look, we work heavily in the digital space so we have a lot to do with websites and then, I suppose, lead generation tools and technologies and tactics and things like that. The first question I normally ask them is, in the space of, let’s have a look at your website and let’s see if that has got all the, I suppose, critical elements that a modern-day website should have.

Josh:                I assume that you primarily are working with your clients on revenue generation?

Matt:               Yeah, it is. I mean, it’s one of those things, Josh. Like, people come– you may or may not be familiar but a lot of people, they’ll come to us and they’ll say one thing but what they actually need is another. It’s not until you start asking questions and diving a little bit deeper that you really ascertain what they want.

For example, a lot of people will come to us and they’d new leads, for example. And then we have a look at their business and we have a look at their existing database and we realize that they’re not actually doing any marketing whatsoever to the people that are already qualified in their databases. So we’d want to start up like a re-engagement campaign with their existing customers to get them back in the door or something like that.

Josh:                That’s a really point. And I often tell people, “Look, there’s only three ways you can improve the sales in your business. You get new customers. You can sell more to the customers you already have. Or, you can raise your prices.” And of those three, you just hit my favorite which is also the easiest which is selling more stuff to the customers you already have.

Matt:               Right.

Josh:                Is that your experience also?

Matt:               Yeah. Well, I mean, I think a lot of people fail to realize – and for listeners out there, you are eight times more likely to retain a customer than you are to gain a new one. What that means is a number of things. First of all, the hardest part of getting a sale is the initial sale. It’s getting your foot in the door, especially for a contractor. Actually, building enough trust and rapport so that woman or that gentleman lets you into their home, that’s the biggest step. Overcoming that barrier is what costs you the most money from a lead generation/marketing point of view, initially.

If you’ve already done it, then you’ve got eight times more likely chance of that person letting you back in their house again. Now, this is where we see a lot of companies fall down because they get so caught up in trying to chase new work and chase new leads that they tend to neglect the people that are already what we consider highly qualified – qualification being somebody that’s already brought out their checkbook.

Josh:                Okay. I would argue that that’s not the only thing for qualification but we’ll just go with that for the time being.

Matt:               Yeah. That was a bit tongue in cheek. I should also make a disclaimer to the listeners here that I am from Australia which means, of course, that I am extremely hard to understand and that a lot of the things that I will say may not have relevance. And we also, Josh, I don’t know if you’ve spoken to a lot of Australians before, we also have a very sarcastic tone. You’ll have to bear with us if there are some things I say which sound a little bit off cue.

Josh:                Oh no, that’s fine. I actually am the same myself. Maybe I’m really from Australia.

Matt:               You must be from Tasmania if you are, mate.

Josh:                Obviously, just having a checkbook doesn’t make you a qualified customer. Although with more businesses than not, they would tell you that if somebody can write me a check, they’re a qualified customer.

Matt:               No, no. I should clarify. What I meant by that was if you’ve got a list of people on your database and they’re qualified leads, in the sense that they’ve downloaded something from your website or they’ve picked up the phone and made a phone call with you, the person who has engaged your services is more qualified than the one that has not.

Josh:                Sure. That makes perfectly good sense to me.

The thing that I was thinking about, while we were talking before, is that one of the challenges of a business is recurring revenue. Contractors have a bigger challenge than most in that, you know, I build a house once and I’m kind of done building my house. Or, if I’m a plumber, “Gee, I really don’t need you a lot” and it’s hard to say when I’m going to need you again.” I have sort of come to the conclusion that construction businesses need to fix recurring revenue through their sales process.

Matt:               Yeah.

Josh:                Does that make sense to you?

Matt:               I mean, look, there are some contracting businesses that do have recurring business models built into them and it does work quite effectively. For example, some plumbing companies have like recurring maintenance schedules. They might show up to properties and service blocked drains every three months, or every six months, or whatever it might be. And that’s kind of recurring. However, it’s not recurring in what you and I would typically call recurring – monthly subscriptions, that kind of thing.

Although, some of these companies also do offer memberships to like a club by where the individuals can join their club. They can get a discount for their services. And they basically go on like a retainer so they get priority treatment if they have a problem and they get special rates and discounts. It’s exclusively available to members of that club and things like that so there are little things that they can do.

A lot of the landscaping customers and guys that deal with lawn care and that kind of thing, a lot of them run a recurring style income. They’ll go back and regularly mow somebody’s lawn or regularly trim their hedges and that kind of thing just to keep everything maintained and looking good around the clock.

I agree with you, for the better part, a lot of the businesses like, yeah as you say, builders, you build a house. Sure, you have a few little maintenance things maybe to do around the place but that’s typically not something that you can charge on a recurring basis. It’s more often part of your retention package.

Josh:                You just said something which I find really interest which is developing a membership organization for contractors. Could you sort of go through the process of what you would do if you were to set up a membership organization?

Matt:               It’s quite simple. What some of these companies are doing is, when the contractor shows up to the property. They will be speaking to the client and then they’ll be saying, “Well, look, we have two or three different pricing packages here. This is the first one which is basically the standard pricing package. And this is the second one or our gold membership package by where you sign up to our program for the next 12 months, you get X Y Z blah, blah, blah and you also get a 30% discount on the cost of this bill, or 20% discount, or whatever it is.” They sort of incentivize the annual membership by offering doing things that they wouldn’t otherwise get as just a regular client.

Josh:                What type of things might they offer? Let’s take a plumber, for example.

Matt:               Say, within your annual membership, you might get six visits covered within that annual membership. You’ll get priority treatment. So, will we guarantee to have a technician on site within the first hour, every time. You’ll get a discount on all of your service requirements. A lot of these companies as well these days, they’re not just plumbing, they might do plumbing and HVAC, or plumbing, electrical and HVAC and that kind of thing so. You also get the same treatment across the board with all the other services. Things like that.

Josh:                It seems to me that if I was to set up a membership offering within my company, I’d be probably going upscale the higher value customers?

Matt:               Yeah, maybe. I suppose, that’s what you try to do inevitably is just qualify that customer. There’s probably better people you can have on the show that could talk about this because it’s not something that we actually do per se. It’s just things that we’ve experienced and I’ve seen in organizations. However, it’s another level of qualification in the sense that somebody that’s willing to purchase an annual membership is probably going to be more qualified than somebody who is just going to call you out to fix their taps.

Josh:                Yeah, to me, that just seems to be something that if I’m in this business, I would really want to be thinking about that. In fact, if I’m in any business, if I can find a way of moving my customers to a retainer model, it’s a much stronger relationship than if you’re going to just be hourly.

Matt:               I think, yes and no, Josh. I think as well, you’ve got to be respectful of the customer’s needs and the position they’re in. I mean, some business models suit the retainer a lot better than others. I’m not entirely convinced, to be honest, that a lot of trade-based business models do suit it. I think it’s more within the business owner’s interest than it is in the company’s so you need to be discerning, I suppose, when you’re making those decisions because you don’t want to cause any animosity between yourself and the customer.

Josh:                Yeah. That’s certainly makes sense.

If you’re going to go to a tradesman or you’re going to your tradeswoman and you’re going to say, “Here’s my best idea for how you’re going to get booked.” What would you tell them?

Matt:               So what we do, Josh, is we like to consider the ecosystem. I’ve coined it the digital ecosystem, which basically incorporates, I suppose, a number of elements that factor in when we’re talking about conversion.

A lot of people will come to us, first thing we look at is normally their website because we find, in today’s landscape, more or less, everything that your contractors will do from a marketing perspective will inevitably end up back at their website. And so, what I mean by that is you could have the best car graphic in the world and you could be driving down the street. Statistically, it was especially here in Australia, perhaps not so much – I’m not sure in the United States but I know here in Australia, statistically, somebody is more likely to see your car, your truck drive past with a beautiful branding on it. And instead of calling the number that’s under the logo, they jump on their cellphone and google that company. You’ve got to take into consideration that entire ecosystem in the sense of, “Okay. Yeah, my car looks fantastic. However, what is going to happen next?”

That person’s going to come back to the website. If they see a dodgy website, a website that’s not built well or doesn’t represent your business professionally then that has a direct reflection on, I suppose, that first impression that that customer’s going to be making of you. So, likewise, you could put that across to anything, so you could be running a letterbox drop or you could be handing out business cards. What’s going to happen next? What’s the next step? And we typically find that that next step is people jumping on their phone or going back to their computer and googling the company before they engage them so it’s really important.

Josh:                I think I just read yesterday that people are making as much as 80% of their buying decisions before they even pick the phone up and ever call you.

Matt:               Absolutely. Yup.

Josh:                To me, that means that you better have an online presence.

Matt:               Yes. You better have a good online presence.

Josh:                There was a second about having an online presence that adds glory to your company. It doesn’t make you look like some guy that just started up in the back of a truck two weeks ago.

Matt:               Right, yeah.

And the same goes as well, Josh, when you correlate that across to marketing campaigns and things like that. If you’re running Google AdWords, or if you’re running Facebook, or SEO, or whatever it might be, you’ve got to consider the ecosystem there. What’s going to happen next?

You’re driving Facebook ads, or you’re driving Google AdWords, pay-per-click ads back to the homepage of a terribly-built website or are you driving it to a specifically-built landing page which talks about specifically that advert that they’ve just seen. Things like that. There’s a whole ecosystem there to consider.

We know, from a statistical point of view, with all the campaigns that we run– and it was funny because I was looking at this only yesterday with a new client of ours, one of their competitors is running AdWords and they’re driving AdWords for a certain service back to their homepage. And when we got to the homepage, there was nothing to do with any of the services that we’d seen in that ad so we had to go looking for it which is a terrible user experience. We know, internally, that that kind of setup would normally get about a 2% conversions.

Now, when you’re paying $20 or $30 for a click, you want to make sure that you’re converting at a higher rate. By getting your digital presence setup correctly, you’ll increase those conversions anywhere from 2% up to around where [inaudible 00:14:36], at the moment, about 40. What that means is you’re not spending any more money. You’re spending effectively the same amount of money. However, the results you’re getting is compounded.

Josh:                Instead of costing you $30 a click, what’s your cost at 40% conversion?

Matt:               Well, I mean, your cost is going to be the same, right? But you’re getting 20 times the amount of conversion. Where your website’s gone from all that web page has gone from a 2% conversion and now it’s at a 40%. That’s 20 times improvement. It basically means that you could be spending the same amount of money on the click itself. However, you’re converting 20 more of those clicks into leads.

Josh:                Aha! So I want to have my web page set up properly so when people do visit it, they find it attractive and they want to do business with me.

Matt:               Yup.

Josh:                What are the three, four, or five things you tell your customers they must do to make that happen?

Matt:               First of all, it’s really important that the website displays a crystal clear message when people land on it. Keeping in mind, as well, that we live in a world today, Josh, where people have a very short attention span and you’ve typically got around three seconds to catch your audience’s attention, otherwise statistics tells us, they’re gone. That’s not a lot of time.

One of the first things you need to make sure you’ve got down is you’ve got to make sure that you have good load speed on your website. You’ve got to make sure that your site loads quickly because– you and I have been to many sites before where we could take 10 to 15 seconds for a web page to load. Now, that doesn’t really work in today’s landscape.

The first thing I would look at organization’s websites and I would say, “Okay, well, your hosting needs to change. Your website needs to load quicker.” That’s really important. Secondly, you’ve got to make sure that once that page does load that the message is crystal clear. “We are the renovation specialists on the north of [inaudible 00:16:26] Sydney.” People need to realize, “Okay. Okay, these guys are what we’re looking for.”

And then as you go down, they need to have, I suppose, just fundamental conversion elements. You’ve got to have ways for customers to be able to contact you. Do you have a click-to-call phone number? A click to call is when there’s a number on the top of the page, can customers see that on their phone, push the button and it calls you directly? Or, do they have to go try and memorize the number they’ve seen and then they’ll go back into the dial pad on their telephone and try and remember. And enter the number they’ve tried to remember.

Are there web forms? A lot of people don’t want to have the phone conversation. They prefer to fill in a form and have you contact them. Are you facilitating that?

Is there some form of opt-in? Is there a way that if somebody’s coming to your website and they’re looking for a renovation service, is there something that they can get hold of, which is of value to them, which puts them into your communication program? That might be a monthly newsletter or it might be a how-to series or something like that. They’re the real fundamental elements that we consider extremely important when looking at a website. Of course, layout comes into play and branding and theme.

You don’t want to over clutter things. I mean, people get very confused very easily these days so it’s quite easy to go to a website. You look at it and go, “Wow, this is just stretching me out. There’s just too much going on here.” So, very often, less is more.

Josh:                That’s one of my favorite sayings, by the way.

Matt:               Yup.

Josh:                It is absolutely true, less is more.

So, what I’m hearing, Matt, is that before I do a website, I have to do a lot of work beforehand. What might some of that be?

Matt:               It’s probably not as much work as you would think, to be honest. I would say, you just go and speak to an organization or a company that can help you do it if you’re not sure yourself. Or, go and look at websites that are doing a good job and basically just copy them.

Some of these companies will spend thousands and thousands of dollars on conversion optimization. You don’t need to do that. You just need to see what they’re doing and copy it.

Josh:                Ah, one of my favorite things. One of my favorite sayings is, “Steal from the best. It’s always a good thing to do.”

Matt:               [inaudible 00:18:48]

Josh:                One of the things that always the people I work with do when we get into this sort of thing is what we call persona or avatar development. Meaning, we really want people that we work with to have a very clear idea of who their best customer is and that’s who they need to be talking to on their website in a language that their best customer would recognize that “they’re talking to me”, so they know who they are. So that’s what I mean by doing a fair amount of work beforehand. Folks that I work with find that a very challenging process as a rule.

Matt:               Yeah. Look, it is tricky. A lot of the guys we speak to, there’s that saying, “If you try to be too much to too many you, you’ll be nothing to anyone” kind of thing. It’s pretty true. When you look at a lot of these companies, they try to offer too many services. They try to target too many people. And, as a result, they end up not really casting a clear message towards anyone in particular. It is true.

Yeah, you do need to get your customer profiling down. Are you targeting age demographics or professionals or whatever it might be? It doesn’t mean you have to turn work away from other people. It just means that when you’re casting that image like everything will tie into it – your branding, your content, your language. All sorts of things – color schemes, social media profiles. All of these kind of stuff ties into that.

You don’t necessarily want to be running Facebook ads to 90-year-old women if that’s your target market. You’d probably be better off maybe running newspaper ads and that kind of thing. Yes, I agree with you. It is good to have good clarity over your avatar.

Josh:                Yeah. To me, that’s a really important thing.

The other thing is that if you’re not hearing no from a fair amount of people that means you’re trying to be too broad, most likely.

Matt:               Yup. Yeah, definitely. Rejection is not necessarily a bad thing.

Josh:                No. I like to say to people– and we do this when we’re trying to hire people. Often, in job ads, we will put, “Who is not a good candidate for the job.”

Matt:               Yeah. Yup.

Josh:                The same thing with marketing, you might want to write in your marketing material who you’re not good for and everybody else might say, “Oh, then they might be good for me.”

Matt:               I mean, we do that. We’ve got lead generation programs. We market quite aggressively on Facebook and things like that. We definitely only want certain people in that group. We actually qualify them over the phone. If they’re not the right people, we don’t let them in.


Just like our avatar, people that actually want to get things done and they’re prepared to do the work. And if that’s not them, it doesn’t make them a bad person. It just means that they’re probably not going to fit into that program. We know, from our point of view, you can waste a lot of time and energy on people that don’t fit that profile so we make sure that we’ve got that down.

Josh:                Okay.

Matt, we are out of time, unfortunately. And, hopefully, there are some people who are listening to this– I actually was looking at countries people listening to this podcast and we do have listeners in Australia. So, if somebody wanted to get a hold of you, how would they go about doing so?

Matt:               Probably, is the podcast. TheSiteShed’s available on iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud, YouTube, iHeartRadio, everywhere else, basically, that you consume your podcasts. And yeah, you can get hold of me through that website quite easily. You can get hold of all of our products and all of our stuff through there as well.

Josh:                Oh, cool.

Well, Matt, thanks so much for being on the show today. I really appreciate it. Again, please accept my apology for all the technical glitches that we had. You certainly have an interesting viewpoint on how to get business.

Those of you who are in blue- collar businesses, this is stuff you really need to be paying attention to. It not easy. So, give Matt a call. I’m sure he’ll be willing to spend a little bit of time with you. I would assume that you would use Skype to talk to people in the U.S. and you might even take some U.S. clients if they wanted to.

Matt:               Oh, yeah. We’ve got lots of U.S. listeners and lots of U.S. clients now so. I’m actually presenting in a workshop in Vegas in a couple of weeks so.

Josh:                Cool.

Well, Matt, again, thanks so much for your time. I appreciate it.

Matt:               All right. See you.

Josh:                I’ve got an offer for you folks, too. We have a one-hour audio CD. It’s a free CD you can play in your car. If you don’t have a CD player anymore, just send me an e-mail at and I’ll even send you the audio file. To get it, it’s really easy, you just take out your smartphone – don’t do this if you’re driving, and text the word SUSTAINABLE to 44222. That’s the word SUSTAINABLE to 44222.

This is Josh Patrick. You’ve been at The Sustainable Business. Thanks so much for stopping by. I hope to see you back here really soon.

Narrator:         You’ve been listening to The Sustainable Business podcast where we ask the question, “What would it take for your business to still be around 100 years from now?” If you like what you’ve heard and want more information, please contact Josh Patrick at 802‑846‑1264 ext 2, or visit us on our website at, or you can send Josh an e-mail at

Thanks for listening. We hope to see you at The Sustainable Business in the near future.

Topics: recurring revenue, blue collar business, sustainable business podcast, Marketing, Sustainable Business, podcast

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