By RYAN SPENCER
Even with a foundation of comprehensive training and thorough planning, your first year in business can be a roller coaster. As any industry veteran will tell you, it can be difficult to assess the situation amidst the chaos.
“The entire year needs to be looked at from a perspective away from the day-to-day grind,” said Matt Enfield of Montana Spray Foam Inc., an Icynene dealer. “Simply put, when looking back at your first year in business, if you ‘kicked butt’ more often than you had your ‘butt kicked,’ then you had a successful first year.”
So much of what contributes to a successful spray foam business not only entails the gun-end of the job, but also what happens beyond the application. Indeed, thriving early on is really a consequence of making and seizing opportunities, properly installing a great product, and avoiding common pitfalls.
As is so often illustrated in Google Maps, there are numerous routes from point A to point B. The same concept applies to your marketing plan: you may have outlined your company’s services and the customers you want to target in your area, but there may be a number of ways to reach them. The thing is, some methods are better than others, and the right marketing decisions can accelerate growth.
“Referrals and website leads are examples of where we see opportunity to generate more low-cost leads in the future…If leads come organically from multiple lead sources, I count that as a success.”
Leads are the lifeblood of any spray foam operation, and there’s more than one way to get them. One important means by which to generate new business is by working with a partner. For instance, Icynene dealers like Enfield can leverage the company’s Business Building Program, which uses co-op dollars to implement targeted marketing tactics like search engine optimization to drive dealers’ business growth. Dealer-oriented marketing programs such as Icynene’s offer valuable support for burgeoning businesses by providing contractors with a dedicated team that can assist in developing and executing a marketing plan.
Excellence in Execution
A focused marketing initiative is certainly a blueprint for success, but properly installed applications are what turn the blueprint into revenue. In other words, any plan for future success will prove unsustainable if applications aren’t done properly. Not only will mistakes and callbacks cost a company money in the short term, but they’ll also cost a company its reputation in the long term.
Of course, training lays the necessary foundation with which to properly install SPF, but that doesn’t mean a few training sessions will bestow a contractor with absolute expertise. On the contrary, installing foam insulation with a thorough degree of proficiency, like any other skill, is earned through experience and maintaining a perspective beyond simply pulling the trigger.
In balancing the necessity to hone one’s skills over time with that of installing the right application every time, it’s prudent to seek technical and building science advice from a trusted partner when needed. In Enfield’s case, Icynene provides dedicated technical and building science teams that are on call to work one-on-one with him to troubleshoot problems, assess unique applications, and demystify building code restrictions. Supporting best installation practices is really the only way to ensure proper execution from the beginning.
The quality of your work is a direct result of your execution, but what about the quality of product being installed? Do you want to install products that meet industry standards, or products that push the boundaries of what’s considered to be sufficient? Working to advance the status quo not only results in better products, but also results in a reputation surrounding the products that can benefit the selling process.
“Clients know the Icynene brand and what it represents, so the questions about performance, quality, and function are reduced,” said Ivan Pauliuchenka, owner of Cape Cod Spray Foam, an Icynene dealer. “This is noticeable compared to other brands on the market.”
If the product speaks for itself, then that’s one less thing left to chance when it comes to sealing the deal for a given job. But it’s not only the product that’s doing the speaking, as feedback from contractors like Enfield and Pauliuchenka is critical to Icynene gauging its products’ performance. The company conducts on-site visits with contractors to seek out what’s working, what challenges exist, and how product innovations can address those challenges.
Before work even begins, there’s ample opportunity to sink a company, or to allow it to thrive; the results hinge on the bidding process. Just as an application must be installed properly, a job must be quoted correctly. Bid too high and risk choking sales, bid too low and risk losing profit. It’s really about finding the sweet spot, and tools like job bidding software can support businesses in generating accurate quotes. Luckily, Enfield and Pauliuchenka have access to job bidding software vendors who’ve partnered with Icynene to foster quote accuracy among the company’s dealers.
As a business grows, it becomes increasingly imperative for the bidding process to be consistent, especially as the responsibility is transferred from the owner to salespeople. Furthermore, receivables are always a looming issue. To address these potential pitfalls, scope-of-work templates can ease communication between salespeople and building owners, and tools like PayPal and Square can provide customers with more payment options.
So, as your first year unfolds, keep in mind that it’s just as important to work on your business as it is to work in it.
Direct any questions you have about first year business success to Icynene: