It’s a wild time to be alive here in the spring of 2020. As preventative measures against COVID-19 become more commonplace and businesses across the world close their doors indefinitely, for those with desk jobs, that means more time spent working from home with mild cases of cabin fever. For those in the construction and finishing industries, whose jobs can’t be done sitting down, “self-isolating” can mean no working, period.
We’re not here to tell you about all you can do to help “flatten the curve” and slow the spread of the coronavirus outbreak (we’ll leave that to the experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) but we do know how hard it is for contractors to sit still for very long. Especially for drywall finishers, whose work is so often done indoors and in close quarters with their teams — we’ve heard from building inspectors that they’re focusing more on outdoor inspections and new buildings right now, leaving those who do remodels particularly high and dry — we want to help them figure out how to stay productive. Follow some of these tips, and you’ll be in a better place than ever to grow your business once we get back to business as usual.
Drum Up New Business from Old Customers
Scheduled jobs getting postponed and face-to-face meetings getting cancelled can come with heavy blows to your bank balance. But this time can also present new opportunities to market your contracting business in ways you might usually be too busy for. The spread of COVID-19 means you may not be able to pound the pavement to get the word out about your services, but you can’t contract a disease from phone or email — and, chances are, if you’re stuck at home, your former customers are, too. There’s no one more likely to bring you business than someone who already has.
Take some time to comb through your old records and make some calls. Ask some questions about how your work on their home or building has held up. They may have some new work that needs doing, like patching up some cracked drywall, but even if they don’t, now’s your chance to let them know about any new services you offer or to update their contact info. They may even refer you to friends or family who need a hand. If you can afford it, consider starting up a special offer for these calls when the coast is clear to resume work, like free or discounted touch-ups around the house.
Take Stock of Your Business
There’s no time like the present to do a little spring cleaning — what else were you going to do, watch basketball? We touched on this in our article on 2020 business planning for contractors: if you don’t take stock of where your business is right now, it’ll be hard to plan for where it’s going.
First, take inventory of all your equipment and materials. Take down the condition each tool is in, whether it needs replacing and what needs re-upping on when you’re back at the jobsite. See how much mud you have, how many drywall corner beads you’ve got left and maybe even do some research into new materials that will up your game once you’ve returned.
Then take inventory of how your business is performing. Go through your books and crunch some numbers, like your labor and material costs, profits, recent markups, bid-hit ratios on your sales and more. This is going to give you major insights into what’s working for your business and what’s not — maybe you’re spending too much time and material to net enough profit on the job to keep you in the black, for instance — and will be an incredible use of your time during this coronavirus outbreak.
Up Your Game on Social Media
We’re guessing you’re spending more time on social media than usual during this downtime. Your potential customers are as well. So, if you’ve never dipped your toe into advertising on social media platforms, now’s the time to give it a try. Facebook, for instance, gives you the opportunity to reach thousands in your area at an affordable rate, and they make it fairly simple to set up your first ad. But if you’re too strapped for cash for paid advertisements during this time, that’s totally understandable. Trim-Tex has been putting together guidebooks on free methods of growing your business on social media: here’s our tips for contractors on Facebook, and here’s the guide to Instagram.
Hopefully, it won’t be long until you’re back at the jobsite and the coronavirus outbreak will be contained. In the meantime, follow all the steps the CDC recommends to “flattening the curve” — stay at home as much as possible, wash your hands thoroughly and often, and keep your distance from others. Follow some of our tips for taking advantage of this downtime, and you’ll be in fighting form when we get the go-ahead to get back to work.