I need to get more commerical customers (mainly domestic at moment). Unsure how to approach commericals - anyone got any ideas or what has worked well for them? For example who you post a flyer to them - write to them? Any ideas greatly appreciated.
It tends to be much slower in coming than domestic. Generally, if you have an advert in your local trade mag, that will be the best atrractor of commercial clients. You will find that they just pick up the trade advertiser and call the first one, or ones they see. There is no real secret to getting them though.
I personally dont get upset by not getting commercial contracts. Most, not all, seem to think that they are entitled to a £10 per hour service like they presume everyone else gets. Generally they hate to spend money unless they really have to, and they take along time to pay. Having said that, they can be lucrative in the short term. You will find that many eyes are looking at your work, and often they pick up on what you havent done, rather than the excellent work that you have.
I would never have more than 25% of your client base as commercials, they are quite fickle, and it is not the standard of work that they are after, its the lowest price. Hence, you will often find that they are annually let down, and looking for new 'Cheap' contractors.
I too find commercial work very unrealiable, they are not so loyal and each year we get numeous letters asking us to tender/quote for commercial sites but when we have done we don't usually get the work. I agree that they want it done for next to nothing, I guess because its a cost to them along with many others. Its value is that the sites can be large and it offers year round earning potential. I personally find that the private clients are more profitable but thats just our experence.
Thanks again everyone. Take whats been said on board, really looking to get about 20 - 25% of my work from commercials - by which I mean anyone who's not a householder. Mainly for the reason that I sure some others do which is that it should give some regular monthly income. Only second year going full time so just trying to get more regular work than the monthly worry of what might or might not be coming in.
Its a good idea to get some commercial, but dont think it is better than a really good domestic customer. The monthly income will be often a month late, and you wil have to chase it very often. And it is rare to see a commercial customer year after year, as the want cheap, and those that want commercial often offer cheap, so before you know it you have been under cut. I have had the instances where they have said they have had a cheapper offer after a couple of months, would I drop my price. As always the answer was No. I have since driven past one of these clients and seen a couple of Old Geoffs, Mountfield mower on its side undergoing repairs, job half done, and they still had just under an acre yet to mow. Thats what cheap gets the client, what I will see next year is probably a new 'cheap' supplier.
Personally I dropped or allowed my commercial clients to go as they haggled after a better price and replaced them with private gardens, lawn care and ad-hoc jobs and my turnover is £10K higher as a result, so I'm in no rush to get any, although I can understand the reasons for having a small %.
My experience is that once you have a good reputation for a standard in commercial work for management companies, you are invited to tender, get into a good realationship with property managers and can quote higher prices as a result. the contracts are ongoing unless there are complaints. We hold high standards and never have complaints. I have 46 blocks spread across about a dozen management companies. Yes they pay later but the cashflow adapts to this. I have never looked back leaving my domestic customers and am now earning over twice as much at the end of the day. Domestic customers expect to see You, but with commercial work, so long as the signwritten van turns up, they know who is there, i.e you can employ. Once you are an employer you start earning.