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Unread 07-12-2011, 02:30 PM   #1
tileam2000
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Selling yourself

Hi, I have been doing tile now for 5 years for the same company. Work has been very slow with them and I am considering going out on my own and starting my own company. I have already been doing my own jobs on the side under the table for 2-3 years.
I have always felt that tile is like an art and you have to have natural skills (along with years of experience) to produce quality work and become a master at your craft. For example, one person can go to school to be an artist/painter and have all the textbook knowledge and 20+ years of practice and never be as good as somebody with a natural ability to draw. Same goes with music. You could study and practice scales on a piano or guitar for years and never be as good as some kid that just has this natural ability to play. So my question is when you are bidding on jobs alongside other guys with 25+ years of experience and you only have 5-6 years how do you sell yourself when on paper you are already at a disadvantage even though your skills may be better than the competition?
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Unread 07-12-2011, 02:36 PM   #2
Levi the Tile Guy
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Welcome Andy,

You need to be education on the technicalities of your business, develop a nice portfolio, and be charismatic. If a customer trusts you, you are already a step ahead. Never let them stump you on questions, and do the best possible work you can so every job you do will refer you.

I would think long and hard about starting out on your own in this economy though. There are a number of pro's that have very good reputations and have been doing this a long time that are starving right now.
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Unread 07-12-2011, 04:23 PM   #3
Shpedly
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Sorry to butt into the Pro area but some things are universal in any new business. I am not a pro tile guy but do lots of it for the shear pleasure. I'm actually in the VW and Audi repair business. Started in 1987 with 2000 dollars to my name and a pocket full of credit cards. I was waiting tables to pay the bills, the first couple years. Well, I just past the 24-year mark last month and have never had a single BBB complaint. Haven’t gotten rich but I make a decent living, and I am my own boss.

Andy, the short answer is trust and reputation. Unfortunately that takes a crap load of jobs well done, and time. The longer you wait to make your own stake, the more "experience" your competition will have on you. What I'm saying is, there is no perfect time to start a business. If its what you want to do, I would not waste a minute getting started. I'm sure there are plenty of guys out there with 25 years under the belt hacking jobs all over the place. I see it in auto repair every day. If your committed, and good at what you do, you will be fine. As they say, "the cream always rises to the top".

I have a boat load of things I think anybody starting out should be doing but dont have time to post them right now.

Ed
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Unread 07-12-2011, 04:55 PM   #4
Lazarus
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I've been in the "sales" business for longer than I can contemplate....restaurant stuff when I was 18, Fleet Manager of an auto dealership for about 10 years, got into the tile business about 35 years ago. It all boils down to trust with the principal. I can walk into a home and build a bond with the HO in a pretty short time. Do I get all the jobs? Hell No! Do I get the one's I want? Yes, for the most part.

You have to look at their lifestyle and needs. You have to relate to them. You have to rise or fall to their level and be able to build trust.

My mom used to sell Life Insurance. She taught me that she could sit, cross-legged on the floor and drink corn liquor out of a jug or sip martinis with the Mayor and his wife. If there is anything I learned, it was from her.

I can talk design and I can sell the latest technology for tile and stone.

Some of these attributes are what sets us apart from the norm.
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Unread 07-12-2011, 05:04 PM   #5
custombuilt
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Good posts so far.

I was once told that this business is 20 percent skill and 80 percent self confidence and common sense. Its true.

Sales success= building trust with customer, finding out what they want and showing them how to get it.

As to business for yourself, a do or die attitude is a must. YOU have to be convinced that this is what you want to do, and work hard to get it going. Forget the competitions experience, educate yourself, do great work and you will stand out.

Read the book "How I raised myself from failure to success at selling" its only a few bucks on amazon.

By the way, I am probably the youngest contractor on the forum, and started for myself with less experience than you, and this was never a problem for me.
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Unread 07-12-2011, 05:07 PM   #6
Davestone
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I agree with all,but would say,Things will be very slow for you if you go out there.Reeaaally slow.You will eat up your existing work in no time and freak out when the phone doesn't ring, or you have to advertise,big bucks for that.

I would work on getting the license,ins. whatever,even getting all your tools in order,cards made,trailer,contacts,credit at tile supply,or flooring places and such for awhile first.Start talking and schmoozing with the shop owners where you pick up stuff,local gc's,builders decorators,realtors.Make sure people know you by name, and not where you work.These things take time so if you do it now you'll be ready if things pick up.

Keep doing the side work,pocket that money and keep it hidden, you will need it when you start out.
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Unread 07-12-2011, 07:13 PM   #7
Toddman
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Welcome Andy,
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy
So my question is when you are bidding on jobs alongside other guys with 25+ years of experience and you only have 5-6 years how do you sell yourself when on paper you are already at a disadvantage even though your skills may be better than the competition?
The fact that you may be bidding against guys with 25 years experience shouldn't matter, because there are a lot of guys out there that have doing it wrong for 25 years! You've got to be able to explain to your customer why you're using the methods and materials that you are, for their job, and what the benefits are, and why it's going to last a long time.
Stay educated. There are a lot of different products out there for different situations. You'll learn a lot here.
Good luck.... unless you're in Minneapolis. J/K
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Unread 07-13-2011, 09:39 PM   #8
custombuilt
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Plus an added benefit of being on the younger end of the trade (but not inexperienced) is that customers look at you as being around for the next 20 years, not dead.

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Last edited by custombuilt; 07-14-2011 at 07:41 PM.
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Unread 07-14-2011, 04:09 AM   #9
tilemanct
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Make sure you learn the business side of this business. The one thing most people forget is that you have to make a profit to stay in business. I see lots of guys brag that they made $2k last week. What they forgot in that statement was all the overhead and materials they need to "pull" out of that $2k. In reality, they made minimum wage. The person flipping burgers made more that week. Learn to be a great salesman and never stop learning. Learn to manage your money. When you have a great month, bank it and fight the urge to go out and spend. You will need it when the next month is lean. Be a professional, and not a knuckle dragger. Do the best job you can possibly do. Leave the job cleaner than when you showed up. As you get a few good jobs under your belt, the referals will begin to flow. Just remember the old saying...When you do a good job for a customer, they tell a few, when you do a bad job....they tell the world!
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Unread 07-14-2011, 07:45 PM   #10
custombuilt
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Also as the thread is titled "selling yourself", I will share this. When bidding a job, don't talk yourself out of it. Look carefully at the details, ask a few inquisitive questions, explain quickly how you will overcome any difficulties. If you talk too much it makes you look unsure of yourself, or you bore them with unneeded details. If you don't say enough however they still have questions in their mind.

Find that balance, show self confidence and you will sell yourself every time.
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Unread 07-14-2011, 08:37 PM   #11
koihito
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I started out on my own 14 years ago at the ripe age of 21 (I looked 13) and less than a year of experience and $400. I underbid some jobs to land them, made a lot of mistakes, and then fixed them.

Personally, for me, the single biggest factor in landing jobs was just doing what I said I would. I.E., if you say you will be there at 9, be there at 9. If you screw something up (and you will; like the time I obliterated a shower door with my level) fix it. Trust is built by be being trustworthy
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Unread 07-14-2011, 08:58 PM   #12
Tiger Mountain Tile Inc
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Quote:
Originally Posted by koihito
I started out on my own 14 years ago at the ripe age of 21 (I looked 13) and less than a year of experience and $400. I underbid some jobs to land them, made a lot of mistakes, and then fixed them.
I started out under very similar circumstances


Quote:
like the time I obliterated a shower with my level
This reminds me of when I got so mad at this tub deck, I took my 4ft level (stabila) and swung it like an axe on the floor approx. 10 times. It was pretty noticeably crooked after that.
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Unread 07-14-2011, 09:08 PM   #13
koihito
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Oops, it should read shower door

I was doing an estimate in a small bathroom and put the level through the door... I paid for and installed a new one; and got the job

I could share a few stories of unintentional and/or unwarranted destruction caused by stupidity and immaturity.
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Unread 07-14-2011, 09:09 PM   #14
Tiger Mountain Tile Inc
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To help get this thread back on track:

Quote:
Originally Posted by tileam2000
You could study and practice scales on a piano or guitar for years and never be as good as some kid that just has this natural ability to play
This doesn't mean that the kid with the talent can go without studying the scales. You still have to learn what you need to learn. I've been doing tile for (almost) 15 years and there's still several things I need to improve upon.

It's funny. When I was about 3 years into it, I thought I was pretty close to learning all I needed to know. But the fact is that I was too stupid to realize how ignorant I was.

Basically, I didn't know what I didn't know.
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Unread 07-14-2011, 09:17 PM   #15
Tiger Mountain Tile Inc
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Quote:
Originally Posted by koihito
I was doing an estimate in a small bathroom and put the level through the door.
I'm cracking up as I read this. I can just imagine asking a guy to come give an estimate on a shower and he just obliterates the glass door.

Quote:
I paid for and installed a new one; and got the job
This is a tactic I think would work on a regular basis. You get them to feel sorry for you and guilt them into giving you the job.

You should write a book.
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