I grew up running track and cross country. When we weren’t running long, slow distance, we alternated fast pace with slow periods of recovery. Over the years, I learned that the secret to this “interval training” was the improvement it made in the efficiency of the recovery time. The better I got at lowering my heart rate, controlling my breathing, and recovering my muscle strength, the more the fast-paced running took care of itself.
As a business — and as an industry — we are in one of those slow recovery times. But the pace will pick up as the weather warms in the coming months. Here’s a checklist to make sure you’re ready when the pace quickens.
If you haven’t already, get the word out now about how your company is better and different from your competitors. Touch past clients, get in front of people at home shows, and have a presence at community events, and supplement these “hands on” efforts with mass marketing. As homeowners come out of hibernation, you want to be top of mind.
Ask yourself three questions about every team member: Can they do their job? Will they do their job? Do they fit your company? For every “no,” develop an improvement plan; if things don’t change quickly, start looking for replacements. There are too many good people on the bench to keep B or C players in the starting line-up. Act now so that new players are up-to-speed by spring.
Consumers have changed; has your approach to handling leads and sales changed along with them? Start by searching on Google or even calling your own company as if you were a prospect. Evaluate the experience, then reevaluate your sales process. Our prospects want ease, quality, value, and respect — every step in our process needs to meet these criteria.
Take stock of your business. If the level of risk exceeds your level of tolerance, develop a plan to close the gap. Evaluate project types: needs-based projects (repair, replacement, etc.) are typically less risky but pose unique challenges versus larger wants-based projects. Also look at how much debt you carry. Debt can expedite growth, but can pose a risk.
Become educated about lead paint and OSHA rules, as well as other regulations, and find ways to weave them into your processes. Yes they can be burdensome, but failure to comply can expose you and your employees to unsafe conditions and personal liability. If you’re upset about increased regulation, get involved with industry associations and help the cause.
When the pace is fast, adrenaline flows and progress is easily measured. But the winners of the race will be those who get their businesses in order during slower, recovery times.
Share your ideas on preparing for spring at Bruce’s blog.
—Bruce Case is president of Case Design/Remodeling, in Bethesda, Md. firstname.lastname@example.org Click here to read more from Bruce Case.