Every business has its slow periods, but not every business owner knows how to make the most of them. If you’re worried about how your contracting business is going to do over the next few months, check out these insider tips to keep your business out of the red.
Winter is a notoriously slow time for most contractors (though some industries are just hitting their busy season). While the loss of revenue can be a tough time for contractors, it can also be the perfect opportunity to develop your company if you know the right steps to take.
Use these insider tips to make your company stand out through the slow season and come out with a stronger business, a bigger level of recognition, and overall a more successful organization.
Do What You Normally Wouldn’t
Now, we’re not talking about jobs you’re not qualified to do, or jobs you’re less than stellar at (you know which ones those are). But jobs which are a bit farther or a bit lower in cost than you'd usually take on are perfect for this time of year. Also consider getting some new training in those services you’re less experienced in. The smart guys over at the Harvard Business Review see adaptability - the ability for a business to change with the times - as the new key to success in our constantly changing world, and your business should be doing just that. Remember, the more skills you have, the more types of work you can take on, now and in the future.
Call Up Old Friends
Or old contacts, old clients, anyone you previously had a good working relationship with who you haven’t spoken to in a while. You never know who has an idea they’ve been developing, or who’s enjoyed your previous work so much that they’d hire you on that basis alone. Be sure to ask about the previous job you did for them and how it’s holding up - that reminds homeowners how much attention to detail you give and shows them that you care about your work even after you’ve been paid. If you’re really struggling and you feel like you have to offer discounts, offer them to previous clients; they know your quality of work already and won’t worry that they’re being scammed. Of course, if you do offer discounts…
Make Discounts Time-Sensitive
Send out deals that only apply if the homeowner books a project by a certain date. That way, even if you’re getting paid less than you usually would, you’ll know you’ve got money coming in by a set date. Take note from big businesses and holiday sales, as well. There’s a reason they keep doing them - people love advertising! You’re bound to get at least one or two homeowners that are persuaded by some sort of a “fireplace repair before your romantic Valentine’s Day weekend!” line. Which brings us to our next point...
Invest in Marketing
Marketing, especially basic marketing you can do on your own, can get your name out to potential customers quickly and keep it in their minds more dependably than anything else. Plus, when you’re not busy with other projects you can put more energy into building your company's reputation and brand awareness. Set up a new website with pictures of your previous work, or run an ad in the phone book. Send an email campaign or post signs in the community. Any amount of marketing you can do on your own will help you out in the long run, and if you’re not too web-savvy, visit us again soon for an article about creating your own company website.
Work on Your Customer Service
We’ve written before about how to leave a top notch voicemail message, and those kinds of skills are really the ones you need right now. Practice everything you need to make sure you’re presenting the right image to potential clients, and never stop networking - you never know when something might come up.
If All Else Fails…
...do some community service. No, really. Doing a job you don’t get paid for can feel pointless (especially when you’re low on income to begin with), but pro bono work can help make you an essential part of any community. Help repair the ramp at the nursing home, or build the set for a school play and simply ask that they include your company's name in any news they send out. Community service might feel worthless but it can always lead to other jobs, it gives you a good name, and if nothing else, it’s good work you’re doing for the community.
Feel like we missed something? Share your own insider tips for the slow times down below in the comments!