One of the best things to start building up early in your career is a carpentry portfolio. Not just to show case previous work but as a sales tool to potential customers as well.
Not every client will want to see the portfolio but it's a good way of reassuring anyone who has doubts or that you can sense is apprehensive. People are worried these days about being ripped off or employing shoddy rogue traders that do a crap job and charge loads of money.
That's why it's a great idea to show clients or potential employers lots of things about you/you're company. Not just before and after pictures of work you've carried out but qualifications, testimonials, insurance certificates etc. - the more you have the better.
The portfolio should be well organised, with pages that are laminated or each in their own plastic sleeve. Use tabs to seperate topics and so that you can quickly flip to any given section as needed. I bought a really nice Ring binder from Amazon that is slightly larger than A4. It's an ideal size to carry and organise all your documents in and has business card and USB holders too. I can take notes with it, show clients some previous similar jobs.
Some of the things to include;
If you have taken photos of your work, get the best ones printed off and into your carpentry portfolio.
If you've never taken pictures before, start from now on - even if it's only with a camera phone. Having evidence of what you have done doesn't just show what you are capable of but that you have pride in your work too.
Take good, clear pictures of the site before you start work, and then at stages along the way. Try to get a broad range too, instead of taking 50 picture of doors you've hung take lots of different types of carpentry work that demonstrates a broad range of skills and experience.
Keep a copy of your up to date carpentry resume or CV in the portfolio with details of the companies you've worked for and any references//thank-you letters.
Testimonials are a great way to reassure clients of how good your services are. If past clients send letters of thanks keep them to go in the portfolio too. Ask friends, family or past clients you've worked for whether they'd write a letter for you to include in your carpentry portfolio if they were happy with your work.
Keep copies of all your qualifications in here too. NVQ's, health and safety test certificates, and CSCS cards. Anything that shows you've passed a test or accomplished something. To get a cscs card for example you need to pass a health and safety test, inlude a copy of the pass certificate.
Keep copies of public liability insurance so that you can show you are insured in case of accidents. Highlight a no claims bonus if you have one!
If you do basement or garage conversions for example and read in the newspaper or a magazine an article about how those conversions can add 20% value to a property use it! Cut it out and keep it handy when selling your services. Anything positive in the media about what you do could be used to your advantage and kept in your carpentry portfolio.
If you have blank copies of standard construction contracts keep them here too. That way they can see that you are happy to confirm everything agreed in writing so both parties can sign it knowing what is expected of each other. Don't just outline what you will do and how much it will cost, but whether or not you will dispose of rubbish or if skips are/not included as well and anything else you can think of no matter how small or insignificant you think it may be. Also agree in writing terms of payment. That is how much deposit is expected in the beginning to cover any outlay in materials and then each stage payment as various levels of work are completed along the way, and a final balance upon completion.
Once you have all that, you are ready to start advertising for more carpentry work.
Have a comment or question about creating a carpentry portfolio?