Brace yourself. The off-season is coming.
For many artisan contractors and small construction businesses, the off-season can be a daunting time. Inclement weather can make building just about impossible. Jobs -- and money -- can slow.
We've got your off-season survival guide so you can keep business moving forward, even when everyone else is in hibernation mode.
Get Behind the Desk
Things may have slowed in the field, but there's still plenty of work to do.
Get thee behind a desk and refocus on all of the aspects of running a business that you don't have time for during peak season.
- Analyze last year's profits/ loss
- Create next year's budget
- Order materials for the coming year
- Update your marketing strategy
- Create or update your website
Attend Trade Shows, Conferences, or Training
Whether you're an exhibitor or an attendee, trade shows and conferences are great opportunities to network, gather leads, get up-to-date on industry trends, and inspire you with new ideas to cut costs and increase profits.
The slow season is also a great time to expand your -- and your employees' -- skill sets with additional training and education opportunities. At the very least, it's a great time to make sure your employees are up-to-date on their safety training.
Tip: green building continues to be a hot area of the construction industry for both residential and commercial projects. Green and LEED certifications could offer a boost to your business.
Optimize Your Team
It may sound counter-productive to start hiring when business and income is slow. But off-season may be the perfect time to build, expand, and optimize your team.
Do you have low-performers who need to be replaced? It's easier to replace and train a new employee now, so they can be up and running when things pick up.
Are your employees all in the best roles for their skill sets and motivation? Use this time to move people around, train (or re-train), and get your employees where they need to be for their own job satisfaction and your maximum profitability.
Not everyone is in a position to hire, train, and pay more staff in the off-season. If you are, you may have less competition to worry about and may be able to get the "cream of the crop" when it comes to applicants.
It takes money to make money. In construction, this is doubly true. You need capital to bid on jobs, pay employees, purchase and maintain equipment, and to get materials.
Use the slow season to obtain the capital your business needs to keep marching forward.
With cash on hand, you may be able to negotiate discounts on construction materials, hire and train employees, or buy or lease new equipment.
Figure out how much you need, then look into different funding options, including:
- Business line of credit: a flexible solution ideal for big purchases
- Business loan: money in the bank that can be used to pay employees or invest in materials and equipment
- Alternative financing: non-bank lending options can put cash in hand if you don't qualify for a bank loan or line of credit
Don't Fear the Off-Season
The construction industry can definitely have its ups and downs, particularly if you live in a location with extreme winter weather. But that doesn't mean you can't still work hard to improve your profitability, even during the slow times.
Be strategic with your efforts when you're behind the desk instead of out in the field. Use the slow time to plan ahead, optimize your team and processes, and to get everything primed for peak-season. Because, rest assured, the winter won't last forever.