How Can My Construction Business Survive When Business is Slow?

A slow down can be an opportunity for growth.
It has been said that the best time for your business to prepare for growth is when business slows down. This is because other businesses close, and yours has the opportunity to gain a higher percentage of the market. You also have more time to improve your business. Then when the economy picks back up, your business would become larger than it was before, if you can survive the slow times.

The key to surviving is increasing marketing, efficiency, and quality, while decreasing expenses.

Better Marketing
This is most important. Many make the mistake of cutting back on marketing when money is tight, but this will make money even more tight. You need to see where your marketing is getting the best results for the least cost. Keep track of every new job, every time a client contacts you, and how that client found out about you. Then compare the number of jobs you get from each type of marketing. Divide this into the amount you spend on this marketing. This will tell you how much you spend in marketing for every job you get. For example if you get ten new jobs from direct mailing flyers, and this marketing cost you $1000, you spent $100 to get each of these jobs. If you spend $1000 to set up a booth in a home show, and you get twenty jobs, each of these jobs cost you $50. That tells you you should put more money into marketing at home shows. If you spent all $2000 on home show marketing, perhaps by setting up a display in a second home show, you might get forty jobs instead of thirty. If you can make it your habit to track your marketing results in this way, you will see how to get more work for less cost.

A home show is a great marketing tool for a business in the construction industry. A well arranged display with a professionally staffed booth can get you a lot of business. The home show collects money from all the exhibitors and uses this to buy a whole lot more advertising than you could ever afford. This marketing brings many people who are looking for ideas for their home. Make sure your display is interesting, your staff is friendly, but not pushy, and that they are prepared to sell. Have an appointment book and sales paperwork in the booth. Record the name, address, and phone number of every visitor who is interested, and be sure to contact them after the show. The Mountain Home Show provides suggestions to our exhibitors to increase their success.

Another inexpensive but very successful marketing program is to contact your previous clients. Tell them how much you enjoyed working with them. Then let them know that you would appreciate being able to contact anyone they know who might benefit from what you do. If they help you to find some work, remember to show your appreciation. Word of mouth recommendation is the best marketing you can get.

Canvassing is another successful marketing technique. You can do this yourself for little or now cost. Organize who you will visit and prepare what you will say. Choose the businesses or homes that would most likely be interesting in what you do. When you call on someone be polite, friendly, and get to the point, showing them how your product or service can help them. "Hello, my name is _. I am with _ Air conditioning company. I noticed that the air conditioner you have is about twenty years old. Did you know that new air conditioners use as little as half the electricity, and if you use our financing program, your payment will be less than the money you will save on your electricity bill? We would like to help you make your home more energy efficient, and save a few dollars every month. May I show you some information on our air conditioners?" Be prepared for common objections. If they reject your offer because they don't know you, be ready with a list of local references, and show them your memberships in local civic organizations. If they don't have time, pull out your appointment book and ask them when would be a better time. Try to exchange names and phone numbers in case the appointment needs to be changed. Calling on people you don't know might seem scary, but it can be a great marketing program that costs very little, and if you're not successful, you haven't lost anything but your time.

An internet web page can also be great for marketing. To be successful, your web page needs to be interesting and have good traffic. To be interesting, provide information that your prospecitve clients want. Think from their point of view. Instead of selling to them, teach them about your product. If you are not skilled at writing or web page design, get professional help. To have many visitors your web site needs to be linked to other web pages with heavy traffic. The Mountain Home Show web site has 2000- 3000 hits per day. Exhibitors in our show can have links to their web pages without extra charge.

Better quality
By studying the history of business, you can notice that the greatest advances in technology were made when business was slow. Why? They were trying to sell more by offering something better. This strategy might pay off with your business too. Study how you can make the most improvement for the least cost. What would make your work more appealing to others? You could ask previous customers why they did business with you, what they liked, and what you could improve.

It is also important to regularly invest part of your time learning. By studying trade publications, taking classes, attending seminars, and researching the internet you can learn more about your trade. That is exactly what you are doing now, reading this article. I hope what I have written is helpful. There is a wealth of information that could help you improve the quality of your work, and help you sell your work better too.

Improving efficiency
Because the construction process is very complicated and involves many people from different companies, there are many ways to improve efficiency. If everyone got together to discuss how things could be improved, projects would run more smoothly, more work could be done in less time, and more easily. Offer your employees a bonus for contributing their successful ideas. Improvements in efficiency like this can help everyone work together to improve quality and enjoy their work more.

Think about what you do in your work, from start to finish. What do you find difficult, frustrating? What could be changed to make your work more efficient? Study everything inlcuding sales, purchasing, transporting supplies, production, delivery, installation, and accounting to find ways to make your business more efficient.

Decrease costs
To reduce your expenses you need to examine where your money goes each month. Look at everything with the idea of reducing what you spend. Is there another company that provides the same service or product for less money? What changes can you make to reduce expenses? For example, a used vehicle is usually much less expensive than a new one, when considering purchase price, maintenance, and insurance costs. Before buying equipment, compare the cost of renting multiplied by the number of times you would use that equipment to see which way costs less. Do you have equipment, vehicles, materials, or anything else that you have not used recently? Could any of this be sold, or bartered for something more useful for your business, or used to pay off debts?

You should consider your debts very carefully. Interest on loans can become a very large burden when business is slow. Try to pay off the loans with the highest interest rates first, and as quickly as possible. Your bank might refinance debts at a lower interest rate.

There is one other strategy to help you get through the slow times. By offering other services or products you might be able to make more money on each project. For example, if you trim houses, you might offer to install windows, cabinetry, wood flooring, etc. If money is tight and you don't have enough work, you might even consider offering a different service that your clients might need. Don't be afraid to consider something that no one else would want to do. There are many stories of people who started a lowly service business to support their college education. But the business took off so big, they quit college to make more money. I'm talking about simple services like detailing cars, house cleaning, etc. Choose something that is needed, easy to learn, and requires very little investment. The construction industry goes up and down. There is nothing wrong with having another business to fall back on. I design and plan homes, and whenever I am slow, I wash windows.

I hope this information helps you find greater success with your construction business. By applying these suggestions you can make your business more efficient. When business picks back up we hope you can keep this efficiency, and then you will have something set aside before the next slow down comes. The Mountain Home Show is here to promote the local construction industry. Please visit the other pages on this web site to learn more about how our show could help you.

How to Contact Richard C. MacCrea
My Facebook Page
(Design news and ideas)
Email Me
(Opens an email window)
800.738.8781 P.O. Box 446, Murphy, North Carolina 28906

Other Pages on this Web Site
The Mountain Home Show, Home Page and Site Map
(How to find what you're looking for)
The Next Mountain Home Show Program
(For guests and exhibitors)
How to Get in The Mountain Home Show
(For exhibitors)
(About designing, building and remodeling a mountain home)
The Mountain Model Home
(A home that experiments with extreme energy efficiency)
The Mountain Model Cabin
(A cabin that experiments with small size and energy efficiency)
Construction Diary
(The joys and frustrations of building these two model homes)
Home Designing and Planning
(How to get plans for building or remodeling your home)

How to Contact The Mountain Home Show
Email Us
(Opens an email window)
Like our Facebook Page
(Join our Mountain Home Show Community for news and contacts)
The Mountain Home Show, P.O. Box 446, Murphy, North Carolina 28906-0446

The Mountain Home Show owes its success to the businesses that participate in the show.
They arrange such wonderful exhibits.
It is obvious that they take great pride in their work and our show.

This web site contains information obtained from various sources. The Mountain Home Show is not liable for the accuracy of this information. Please contact the source of this information with your questions. The Mountain Home Show is not liable for the accuracy of this information. Please contact the source of this information with your questions.