Whether you’re a custom home builder or a remodeler you know that winning new clients isn't always easy — there's always someone willing to do it cheaper or faster.
If you want to give yourself an edge — something that sets you apart from the competition — you need to focus on your biggest and most unfair advantage: your work.
Let’s face it, clients care more about the end results than how you got there. This is where showing off your remarkable portfolio comes in. Showcasing your best work upfront gives you immediate credibility. And in this world of technology, many potential clients expect it. But, more than that, a client can find inspiration in your previous work, which gives them confidence in your abilities.
To build a great, client-winning portfolio there are several things you need to consider:
Think about who your clients are and envision what they want to see.
Are you a kitchen and bath specialist who's expanding into the full gut renovations? Or are you a remodeler looking to start building custom homes?
When your portfolio showcases the best of those jobs, your potential client can imagine themselves in your finished work. If a potential customer looks at your portfolio and feels a sense of connection to you and your past work, they will undoubtedly want to hire you.
No matter what industry you’re in, every great portfolio has one thing in common — great photos.
There are a variety of ways for you to get the best possible pictures.
Hire a professional. Yes, this may sound daunting, but it’s a sure-fire way to get great quality pictures. And believe it or not, they can be very reasonably priced. Realtors rely on professional photographers to showcase their homes in the best possible light. Literally. Why? Because they know it can sell a home more quickly. And that concept applies to you too.
Another option is to invest in a really good quality camera. Digital photography is better than ever before. And there are many affordable options out there. A great starter camera is the Canon EOS Rebel T7 starting at $399 and they go up from there.
Keeping it simple can work too. Using the latest technology found in your iPhone can turn out amazing portfolio photos too. However, there could be a learning curve to get the best possible images and learn the software to edit them.
Quality over quantity. I know you’ve heard that one before, but it’s true.
Clear, thought-out, and straight forward images are better than a lot of “just ok” pictures. You really only need one or two pictures for each setup or angle. Meaning, don’t showcase five photos of the kitchen from a single angle. Change it up and move around capturing the room or home from various positions.
If you’re doing before and after images, always make sure to take plenty of before pictures. This way you can closely match the angle with the after photos. Seeing the room from the exact same position before the project completion can ramp-up the wow factor.
And with digital photography at your fingertips, you can see the images immediately. This helps to ensure that you have plenty of quality images to chose from.
Keeping a photographic record of every job is good practice. But, that doesn’t mean you need to showcase them to every client. Be choosy about which projects you share with each client.
If you’re a custom home builder and your client says they’re looking for Spanish style, don’t send them pictures of a modern glass house. Build on that inspiration and provide some variety to show your diversity and skill. Just keep in mind their aesthetic and overall style preferences.
A good rule of thumb is to organize your portfolio. Set it up in a way to make it easy for the client to find what they’re looking for. You want to balance “less is more” with you “hit the nail on head.” Categories are a great way to help — tagging new builds, kitchen remodels, and even specific styles. This can help you sort through them and provide only what is relevant to that client.
Set up each project as a separate portfolio. Like mini-portfolios within your master portfolio. Effectively presenting your work is essential, but it doesn’t need to be in chronological order, so feature the best first. A portfolio should be functional, but reflect your abilities and beautifully balance your skills.
Be consistent with your layouts and style, but again, keep it simple. You want the client to see your work and not be distracted by busy layouts or flashy graphics. Chose a visually appealing layout and follow the same format for every project.
From the beginning of a project to the completion, there is a story to tell. A story of your client’s inspiration and of course, the beautifully finished results. This process will help you identify which images are best to add to your portfolio and the order in which to present them.
Don’t rely on just the images, use descriptions to curate the story from beginning to end. Identify what is exceptional about the project and tell that story through images and captions. Never forget you’re solving a problem for the client. And adding brief explanations showcases how you’ll get your potential client from the beginning to the end of their project.
Here’s a great example:
“Our client wanted a place for their family to gather and make memories. We incorporated a large kitchen island and now they can accommodate even the largest of family gatherings. And enjoy family time every day.”
It’s time to make some decisions about how you’ll capture your work and display it. There are several apps out there that can simplify things for you, including BuildBook's built-in Portfolio feature. Along with several other things, this feature makes it easy to continue to build your portfolio throughout your projects, saving you an endless number of hours putting them all together afterwards.
As a final point, it's important for you to remember that this is your portfolio. A place where you showcase who you are as a builder or remodeler. This is your opportunity to separate yourself from the "other guys" by highlighting your signature look and showcasing your strengths.
Now go get 'em.