Twelve things I have learned / relearned while running an interior house painting company that you can apply to any business (especially local services)...
Customer service / relationships are as important, if not more important than the painting itself. The more you can connect with your customer, the easier it is to discuss issues that arise. Clients often say to me "Wow, you showed up on time."
Respond as fast as possible, show up when you say you will, be reliable and ethical. Clients appreciate quick responses and don't forget to write well and in relatable language.
Don't cut corners, it seems like an easy way to get ahead and be faster, but in the long run it bites you in the butt and takes twice as long and adds stress.
Find great referral partners, build relationships with people who compliment your business. For house painting, I work closely with realtors, flooring people and handymen(women). I closed 3 jobs in the past 2 weeks worth $11k gross from 3 realtors I know.
Join every local Facebook group and have all your friends recommend your company when someone posts a request for your type of service, 50%+ of my work comes in this way.
Hire great people, take time to find them and get rid of the bad ones as quickly as possible. This has been hard this year since I'm so busy, I have needed anyone I could get. I can tell which ones add stress to my life and which don't.
Are you a new local service provider? Join Home Advisor, turn off all leads except for "Opportunity Leads" pick and choose the best jobs that fit your skills. Respond to leads immediately, goal is to win as many jobs as possible your first year for referrals for year 2.
Have an amazing brand, website, business card and marketing eye candy. I have a cool Fox pin I add to every business card when I do an estimate. EVERYONE loves them, especially their kids. I also have a stuff fox mascot named Chip.
Set 1, 2 and 3 year goals, for me my first year was to get stable financially. 2nd year was pay down/off debt, 3rd year is growth. I'll be out of credit card debt, school debt sometime in July. This week I'll do my 89th estimate, which is how many I did ALL of last year.
Do the small things, the detail work. 95% of your competitors don't want to do them, this is your way to high quality referrals from your past customers. Don't penny pinch, do that small "extra" thing to win over your customers, it will pay off long-term.
Think long-term, a small $300 job that my competitors turn down almost always turns into thousands of dollars in future work and referrals. Don't gouge your customers to get a big onetime paycheck, price fairly, it will lead to referral after referral.
You are the center of everything in your business, work super hard, but take breaks to get refreshed. Work as little as possible on weekends, work standard business hours, keep your evenings for you, family and friends. When they go to bed, work on loose ends.