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4 tips to build your contracting business in a pandemic
An interview with contractor Mat Sewerynek of Tasson Construction
To say that times are tough would be an understatement, which is exactly why we’re bringing you Nix Pro Tips – industry advice from industry experts.
After seeing his post about free renovation advice on Instagram, we reached out to Mat Sewerynek, a professional renovator of 15 years and owner of Tasson Construction of 5 years, to ask him how his business is changing, perhaps even evolving, during a time when social norms have turned to social distancing.
TIP 1: Knowledge is power.
Nix: How has this pandemic changed the way you do business?
Mat: COVID-19 has put two projects on hold, and has delayed another. Our team worked hard to get those two projects to a livable state, as we could see there would likely be measures of physical distancing approaching.
Aside from onsite practices, which haven’t changed too much as of yet, the pandemic has given me a different outlook on the power we, professional contractors, have to help people who are looking for construction knowledge. When it comes to tackling projects on your own, Google is a powerful tool to learn, but only years of on-the-job experience can apply expert knowledge to unique situations, which most jobs have.
TIP 2: Use social media to help others, not just yourself.
Nix: How have things like social media helped you in this pandemic? How did you use it before this hit?
Mat: COVID-19 has helped me to start thinking of social media as a way to help others, instead of just to promote myself. Before the pandemic we used instagram as a marketing tool. We would post pictures of our finished product, and sometimes our process. While driving one day, I came up with the idea to offer free construction advice during the pandemic to anyone wanting or needing it. I figured there might be people out there who want to use some of their newly found time to knock off some projects around the house, and I wanted to help. I enjoy talking construction and see this as something that is not very intrusive on my time, yet potentially very beneficial for whomever wants advice.
TIP 3: Use downtime to teach yourself new skills.
Nix: How have you seen technology help your potential or current clients?
Before the pandemic I would refer potential clients to my Instagram page as well as my website. Clients like to see past work as an assurance of quality, job completion, and competence.
Another technology I use is sketchup. It can be hard to visualize changed to a space through 2-d drawings, so I taught myself this 3-d modeling software as a way to convey ideas. This is probably my strongest asset when it comes to the planning and quoting process. Many clients have vocalized their appreciation for the renderings.
During the pandemic, our offering of construction advice via Instagram postings has helped people gain some knowledge about projects they may undertake themselves. These people are not clients in the conventional sense, but I treat them as such as I want everyone to do the job right the first time.
TIP 4: Have patience. This too shall pass.
Nix: What have you learned from your clients during this time?
I would say that the thing I have learned the most from my clients during this time is patience and acceptance.
While I am stressing to get work done without compromising any physical distancing measures, clients I am currently employed by have been nothing but patient and understanding. My hands are tied, I am prepared to commence work as soon as I can, and they see this. I am very thankful for the great working relationships I have.
TIP 5: Stay focused on your business, even if you’re not currently working.
Nix: What advice can you give to other industry professionals on how to manage this time?
Mat: If you are a self-run business like myself, use this time to help others and update out of date social media and website (i.e. my website has not been updated in four years, so now’s the time to get it done). Also, think outside the box. It’s cliché, I know, but we’re currently living outside of the box. That mentality is what what you need to help you and your business.