Featured tradesman: Christian James
Member since 28 Jul 2008
Christian James (bathkitchens)
- Bathroom Fitter
- Kitchen Fitter
Main Skills & Trades:
You have to be polite and come across as
professional and trustworthy.
Tell us a bit about yourself?
I was previously in IT but decided to re-train about ten years ago to become a plumber. I went to night school and worked during the day labouring for builders to get some experience. I love the job I do now.
I got a lucky break when I started working for a really good CORGI plumber. From there I worked for a well known bathroom supplier for a few years. That was where I developed my skills as you had to do pretty much everything yourself.
How difficult did you find it to get started with MyBuilder?
I joined MyBuilder about two years ago. Coming from an IT background I didn't find it difficult to get started on the site.I think you have to be realistic and accept that you can’t take the mick. Stick to what you do best and how you present yourself.
How important do you think your MyBuilder profile is for engaging new customers?
I think my MyBuilder profile is seriously important - its your opportunity to create a good first impression.
Pictures of previous work are important to show what you can do. I look at some pictures from my competition and laugh; guys standing there trying to be all macho and in the background there’s stuff lying everywhere - it just looks like a mess. I sit there and think - well I wouldn’t want to employ you.
Do you think specialising in one or two trades helps you out more than being a jack of all trades?
Absolutely. I saw one guy listed as a fencing expert and he also says he fits bathrooms - it doesn’t work that way. You’ve got a rough trade and a finishing trade and they're usually quite similar in terms of skills.
I think you have to be realistic and accept that you can’t take the mick. Stick to what you do best and how you present yourself. Customers are becoming increasingly selective about who they choose and often feel more comfortable hiring a specialist.
Do you think qualifications and professional memberships help you win work?
It helps to have qualifications to be able to do the work well but it doesn’t mean you’re going to get the job.
What approach do you use to attract customers through the site?
You have to be polite and come across as professional and trustworthy. You have to be good with how you talk to people. I don’t have to sell myself - I think my profile and my feedback does the job for me.
If you come across like jack the lad when speaking to customers over the phone, that’s likely to put many people off. How you present yourself is important too - you’ve got to look like a proper tradesman. There’s no point turning up in a tracksuit.
How important is good communication when engaging customers through the site?
You have to be polite and considerate of the person you're contacting. I’ve posted jobs on the site and received one line messages that made me think 'no thanks'. Others send long winded messages that are clearly just standard blurb. You’ve got to be succinct - not forgetting to make sure there are no spelling mistakes.
Do you think MyBuilder has changed the way you market yourself?
Yes. Since joining MyBuilder, I've had some business cards printed and built my own website too. Again, it’s all about presentation.
How important do you think feedback is to customers?
Its seriously important. You’ve got to get along with the customer and you’ve got to do whatever they say. Then they’re more than happy to give you great feedback. If you even get close to hacking them off or making them question you that's it - you’re in trouble.
How important is feedback to you and your business?
Feedback undoubtedly gets me through the door and then its all down to me as a person. If you’ve got negative or neutral feedback, people are going to ask why and think twice about hiring you. It’s that sort of society nowadays.
Do customers ever ask you to work outside the site?
I don’t come across it that often - I’ve had a few but I think feedback is more important than giving the customer a reduction. If they want to work outside MyBuilder then they can go elsewhere.
What difference has MyBuilder made to your business?
It’s saved my bacon for the last year and has pretty much been my bread and butter. I haven’t felt the need to advertise or become concerned about anything at all. MyBuilder has saved me from a lot of sleepless nights, put it that way.