One of the most common challenges contractors face as spring approaches is pushing sales in the shoulder season. For some, the challenge is even greater since the slow selling season happens twice a year—depending on where you are geographically. It’s something that you need a solid plan to overcome, as this potential loss of revenue can impact even the most successful contracting business.
Overcoming Negative Cash Flow
For many, if not most, contractors the shoulder season means there is not enough consumption to overcome the overhead costs of business—there just isn’t enough gross profit during this time. This puts contractors in a tight spot, often with negative cash flow as they struggle to pay the bills and keep quality talent on staff without losing them to other trades.
This leads us to the question we often get, “How can I be successful in the shoulder season?”
One of the first things you’ll need to do as a contractor is recognize when your shoulder season is. At iMarket Solutions, our customers have access to a budget planning tool to help identify their shoulder season as well as how many jobs a contractor would need to overcome this—answering the question, “How many units do I need to sell and how many services do I need to provide in order to break even?”
Service calls aren’t enough—contractors need a mix of business and products sold during this period to be successful. And in order to make these sales, some specific steps need to happen. This starts with conducting a situational analysis of your current marketing plan in order to analyze the problem you’re facing. From there, you’ll need to determine:
- Your revenue by department (as part of your budget)
- Your growth by segment, both percentage and dollar amount
- The mix of business and products you’ll need to sell in order to achieve desired revenue
- A media plan that delivers the leads you require on a weekly and/or monthly basis
- How to fix the seasonality problem
- A promotional and pricing strategy to increase revenue
This last point is often one that contractors resist, but it’s an important one. We encourage you to run promotions during this slow-selling period! In fact, we want you to create a promotional plan so strong that a customer who doesn’t even need what you’re selling feels compelled to react on an emotional level.
Yes, this costs time and money in an already strained period of the year. But, it’s important to think of your business as not only a contracting company, but a retailer. And retailers do what it takes to fill capacity in order to bring sales up and break even sooner. Often, this means offering incentives in order to produce even minimal revenue, with the goal to create lead opportunities and future transactions.
Selling Service Agreements
One of the biggest keys to revenue growth for contractors is service agreements. We encourage you to get your service agreements to 1,500 per million for your residential business unit. Of course, this requires a lot of selling, and many contractors are concerned about this as most technicians are not trained to sell but rather to provide service.
It’s up to you to create a daily training plan in order to arm your technicians with the resources needed to provide accessory sales and service agreements.
“But, what if my technicians just aren’t motivated to sell?”
This is a valid concern. People are fueled by intrinsic motivation, and your technicians may have the limiting belief of, “I’m not a salesperson.” This is exactly why training is so important! In addition to regular training, being upfront and honest with your technicians can do a lot to encourage them. Just like any other business, employees are always looking for answers to “what’s in it for me?”
We encourage starting the conversation by sharing your company’s vision, value, and purpose. Explain in principle to your technicians what is in it for them, and why they should care. Many contractors shy away from sharing financials because they think their technicians aren’t interested. However, being upfront gives them a reason to care and empowers them to understand how they contribute to the company’s overall success.
“What Else Can I Do to Help My Business?”
The methods you implement to sell your products and services during the shoulder season will depend on a number of factors, but here are a few more steps we encourage you to take:
- Implementing a new sales process
- Starting a tuck-in strategy in order to add customers to your existing database
- Implementing an annual reference guide for seasonal discounts and promotions
- Creating a brand promise that is unique to your market
- Considering a new vertical to add on to your products and services
- Tracking all your lead sources and defining your cost per lead
Last, but not least, we encourage you to build your digital branding and online presence. This includes an updated website, a PPC (Pay-Per-Click) search strategy, and social media marketing. It’s important to remember that we are in a period of time when mobile search rules all other forms of internet search, so using these methods along with building organic links with a strong content strategy are essential to forming a reputable digital footprint.
Contact iMarket Solutions today to learn more about our digital solutions and how we can help you overcome the slow selling season.