Written by Ari Greenbaum, co-founder of conXpros
The dreaded “slow season” is already here for many home improvement and home service companies. You know it… that time of year where there is holiday cheer & joy throughout the world, but your business experiences less cheer & joy in the revenue department due to the annual seasonal drop off. This type of seasonality affects so may home pros across so many home improvement categories. It is just simply the reality; roofers, painters, carpenters, landscapers, concrete contractors, and so many other categories see a slow down in the number of potential projects available. In some categories, depending on the location and how extreme the conditions are in that location, opportunities reduce to a trickle. There Are many things we can control, but the changing of the seasons, the fact that homeowners have other priorities for their available monies (holiday gifts and travel), and the availability of homeowner projects during these times are not on that list of controllable things. So, what exactly is within your control? How can you maximize your results and combat the “slow down”?
Turn up your customer acquisition efforts:
As an owner of a lead generation company and having worked with home improvement pros for over a dozen years, I can share that many contractors simply accept the “defeat” of the winter and slow down their efforts to bring in new opportunities. Often, they will create limits on lead flow or pause services entirely. My opinion, this is typically due to what that contractor has experienced firsthand from the previous “slow seasons” and is making a calculated decision to cut back spend when business is slow due to seasonality. On the other hand, there are many home pros that understand the adage “it takes money to make money”. Instead of scaling back their advertising and lead generation efforts, they do the opposite…dial it up!
The concept that drives the approach of “dial it up” is a simple one; if opportunities are less, increase ad or lead spend to compensate and create enough opportunities to succeed and hit goals even in the slow times. This approach is applicable to any successful avenue you are using to generate new customers for your business. If you are doing pay per click campaigns, increase the spend on keywords producing the best results and volume. If you are using lead generation services, inquire with that company to see what you can do to increase your lead volume (or at least maintain it at the regular volumes). Some will have options to help, some will not, but you will not know unless you inquire. These 2 suggestions require increasing your spend, however, there are other ideas that can help supplement your growth in the slow season. For example, bump up and improve your efforts to get referrals from existing clients, create some special offers to gain more interest in getting things done now, or when you are in a neighborhood doing work for a client, increase your door knocking and door hanger efforts to hit more houses than you would during the busy season. There are many ways to combat the slow down. You can deploy one, all, or a combination of these ideas. When it creates more opportunities and generates more revenue for your business, the money and time spent will be well worth it.
Savor every opportunity:
Here is an image to think about; you are shipwrecked on a deserted island, food is scarce but there are options for sustenance, and shelter will only be provided by your efforts to create one. If you were in this situation (God forbid) and you do not love coconuts or seafood (which are the most abundant and available food on the island) but can palate them. When you capture a crab or climb the tree to shake down a coconut, do you sit down to eat and decide after a few nourishing bites to toss the leftovers because it is not your ideal meal? Or do you savor every last morsel of edible food and are appreciative for the sustenance that was provided for you? Silly question, but the analogy will help us better understand the choices we face with each homeowner inquiry, lead and opportunity we receive during the slow times. I experience and coach our New Account Specialists on this very subject. I have been doing so for years. Typically, after a few days (or up to a week) of a drop off in productivity and results, I hold a meeting. The reps all want to share how things are more difficult now with Thanksgiving around the corner, Christmas has their attention elsewhere, guys slowing down due to the season, or a variety of similar “reasons” to justify the lack in productivity. After providing some practical help to assist them with these types of calls, I always follow up with the most important piece of information to achieve success at this time of year. I share with them that they have 3 options to choose from; 1) succumb to the ”reasons” people say they will not do business and be grateful that you have had a great year up until this point and wait it out until the new year 2) do the exact same thing they always do (same approach & effort) and accept that due to the season, the results will be less than normal but at least something, or 3) Increase the number of dials each day to compensate for the decrease in opportunities & savor each conversation with a prospective client (as if it will be the last opportunity for some time) and go a bit harder to get deals done. They are human, and some choose the options that have them at the bottom of the totem pole by months end when compared to their peers. On the other hand, the ones that make the choice to do more and maximize each opportunity are all sitting at the top of the list and the ones closing out their year the same way they did leading up to it… successfully!
This is the same message I implore any home improvement or home services pro reading this article to consider and choose. Yes, there may be less opportunities than other times of year (some of which is in your control and some of which is not as described above). Yes, there are more challenges to get homeowners to pull the trigger on large financial decisions at this time of year. Yes, there are other non-controllable factors at play. But, just like there are things we cannot control, there are the things we can control. How much you value a homeowner inquiry or lead is completely up to you. Do you go after each opportunity as if it could be your last? Do you dig in and push further to get deals done normally? Are you sharpening your skills with down time or just lamenting not having someone to go meet for an estimate? These are all 100% within your control and simply require a choice and commitment to put to work for you. Hypothetically speaking, even if you do not “close” extra deals (which is unlikely with this approach), you will gain so much in preparation for opportunities in your future with the work you are doing now.
There is such thing as seasonality and a “slow season”. But the question is, do you have to accept it? Clearly, I am on the side of the fence screaming HECK NO!!! Quite the contrary. Take the bull by the horns and ensure your success. Better yet, ensure that you are one of the elite pros that does not believe in slow seasons because you remain slammed with projects all year regardless of the climate or season. Being successful does not happen by accident. You need to put forth the efforts to make it happen. At this time of year, massively increase your efforts towards the things you can control and reap the rewards.