Opinion: Four Wise Ways to Winterize Your Business
authors John Harris | January 24, 2018
While the cold weather came late to many parts of the U.S. this year, it’s definitely here now. For home improvement contractors, this was a welcome blessing as it gave them more time to take advantage of the typical slow-down in business that almost always comes with the seasonal transition.
Whether you’re a contractor still seeing this transitional opportunity or winter has already hit you and your business in full force, here are four ideas to help you prepare and maintain your business for the colder months.
Your business may have specialties on the exterior of the home—be they siding, windows, roofing or other outward improvements. If the weather is preventing you from doing those jobs, however, all is not lost. Think inside the box. While remodeling a kitchen, bath or basement, or doing interior painting might not be your specialties, winter is the ideal season to begin growing your business in areas inside the home or even the time to farm it out to your subcontractors. Just because the temperature drops doesn’t mean your cash-flow should drop, too.
Give Them Your Time
Despite your best efforts, you simply can’t control the impact of the cold weather on consumers, and winter may cause the supply of work to level off or even decline. But this is when you make lemonade, so to speak. Take advantage of the slower time to show an even greater level of personal touch to your current and future clientele. Offer a no-cost, no-obligation walk-through inspection to check whether their home may have potential for upgrades or future opportunities to fulfill a remodeling dream. It’s possible the homeowner hasn’t considered smaller fixes such as holes and breaks caused by their children, larger projects such as improving energy efficiency, or a modernized bathroom or kitchen. Use the inspection as an opportunity to schedule another visit, if not a job, later on.
Meet to Repeat
While the snow, ice and cold might be preventing new business, winter can be the ideal time to warm up your best source of homeowner leads—your existing and past customers. Take advantage of this time to reach to your biggest fans. Don’t miss the opportunity when things are slower to use your good reputation and relationship with your favorite customers—asking for referrals, making follow-up calls on jobs and gearing up for the added work that will surely be coming when the weather improves.
Do That Thing You’ve Been Putting Off
Winter is the perfect time to put attention to the behind-the-scenes parts of your business that you never have time to do during the busy season. You know what they are! Be disciplined and use the time now while you have a chance. Spruce up your outdated website. Queue up that spring marketing promotion you’ve thought about doing forever. Put more attention to your social media presence. Get things in order for tax season, or your next round of hires, or your overdue training program. If you don’t have a pricing/financial program in place already, consider one for 2018. Your ability to offer attractive payment options to each potential customer can be a vital part of your sales offering to close more and bigger deals in the new year—not to mention avoiding the need to offer deeper discounts or up your marketing.
Feel like your business is moving into the winter doldrums? Cheer up! Winter can be a wonderful home improvement contractor blessing-in-disguise. Use it to your advantage!
John Harris is the executive vice president of sales and marketing for EnerBank USA, a specialized bank providing unsecured home improvement lending through strategic business partners and independent home improvement contractors throughout the U.S.