“The best way to avoid a slowdown is to always have plenty of new job opportunities.”
If you have been in the field service game for more than a year, you know that there are cycles; busy times, and slow times. Feast or famine, right? If your business is anything like mine, the phones were busy in the fall, with everyone working hard to complete projects before the holidays when they’re hosting family. But what happens in January in your business? Do you still have plenty of work, or do you sit home? For many of you, you will be sitting at home or will start doing odd jobs. Now is the time you should be working on building your winter pipeline (even if it’s for next year!).
Why does this happen every year?
You may not experience a seasonal slowdown, but if you are one of the millions of companies that does you need to understand why it happens. In every industry, there are cycles of buying that are affected by other things. In the summer, my business has a slowdown of phone calls due to families going on vacation. In the spring, we get a flood of calls due to homes going on the market and people wanting to freshen things up. The fall is our busiest time of the year due to families getting together for the holidays. Winter slows down because: a) there are no exteriors to paint, and b) people have just spent a bunch of money on the holidays.
What happens to most contractors in my industry is that they get super busy before the holidays, they overcommit to what they can actually produce, get too busy to continue to market, and then start advertising (or doing what they can afford) in January. They then pick up one or two jobs (that do not pay well) just to keep their guys busy and hope they can wait it out until spring. Sound familiar? But, there is a better way…
Build a marketing funnel
The best way to avoid a slowdown is to always have plenty of new job opportunities. With 11 teams to keep busy, marketing is a huge focus for me. It takes a considerable effort to make sure we always have enough work, and we continue to grow. We have hired on average one new painter a month for the last year and a half. We have not kept them all, but we have grown our production team from 8 to 16 in the last 12 months. To do this, you need to build a marketing funnel: a plan that has multiple touchpoints for customers to find you, that communicates your value proposition, and constantly makes the phone ring.
You cannot book new work if you don’t bid for new work, and you can’t bid for new work if no one knows about you. The other factor is that it takes time for marketing to become effective. You can’t just start a campaign and hope to have new work tomorrow. That is why, even when we are swimming in too much work, I do not let up on the marketing gas pedal.
In the coming weeks, we’ll do a deep dive into the five core channels I recommend in building a field service marketing funnel: networking, word of mouth, web content, social media and direct mail. Check back here each Wednesday in January as we get into the specifics of building a healthy lead pipeline!
Stay tuned for Part 2 in this series next week!
Nick May ownsWalls by Design, based out of Denver, CO. He started the business in 1999 with one employee, and grew it to be one of the largest residential interior painting businesses in Colorado. May believes in systems, team building, and marketing…not necessarily in that order. When he’s not working with his team, you can find him playing soccer or hosting his successful interior design podcast called The Chaise Lounge where he shares the stories of some of the most successful designers in the industry today.
Last modified: January 11, 2017