The building industry usually experiences a lull during the winter season when fewer customers are looking to build a home or remodel. While business might be a little slower on-site, you can use your off-season downtime to improve your operations, so you’re primed and ready to go for the spring when things pick back up.
If you’re looking for some creative and resourceful ways to stay busy and keep your business moving forward this winter, keep reading.
Tips for homebuilders and remodelers to use the building off-season effectively
Here are seven ways to grow your homebuilding or remodeling business, protect your bottom line, and get ahead of your competition over the winter months.
Attend virtual events and network
Going to in-person events is more ideal for making connections, but given the restrictions of the pandemic in most states, this is likely not an option right now. Virtual tradeshows and conferences are still an excellent place to work on partnerships, get more customer leads, and possibly gain referrals. They also present excellent opportunities to gather new business ideas, learn about upcoming trends, and find out what your competition is up to.
You can also generate an additional stream of revenue by holding virtual events like webinars or workshops. Teach important skill sets, business operation basics, or any special skills you have that others could benefit from knowing. Educating your community, especially young building professionals just starting, will help you establish yourself as a thought leader and expert in your industry.
Get more active on social media
Increase your social media activity to stay relevant and on the minds of your past customers and prospects. There is a high likelihood that homeowners will begin researching builders and remodelers for spring projects. Share photos of your favorite finished jobs, short videos of simple DIY tricks or home up-keep pointers, and customer testimonials. You can even ask your audience to share their photos of the work you’ve done for them.
This time of year is also great for running a giveaway to build your email list for marketing initiatives in the new year. Offer gift card prizes to the popular home stores in your area that fit your budget but are enticing enough to attract interest. To enter, users would click through to your website, fill out a form to subscribe to your email list, then provide their contact information. They get a chance to win a shopping spree at Home Depot and you get a new list of emails.
Related: How to Get More Remodeling Leads
Spend more time planning for the future
Once you gain these insights, you can determine what you want to accomplish in the next year based on where you are now and set S.M.A.R.T goals: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound. Brainstorm ideas and strategies with your team and shareholders to create an actionable plan considering components like budget, revenue goals, marketing efforts, resource needs, quality control, and efficiency.
Access your needs for better technology
The building industry tends to keep things more old school, but this can become an issue as more technologically advanced generations start to build and remodel their homes. Millennials are already 24-39 years old and the largest group of homebuyers today. Gen Z will catch up within the next decade. Running a more old-fashioned business can make you less appealing to your largest customer base.
Do you have a mobile-friendly website? Do you have a website at all? Are you managing your projects and customer relationships with spreadsheets or have you implemented customer relationship management (CRM) and project management software? What other tech tools could your team use to make the job more efficient? Are you taking online payments or only accepting cash and checks?
Look at your entire operation from customer-facing content to internal processes. Any chance to automate is more time to spend on the things that matter most: customer experience and engagement.
Embrace “going green”
Speaking of Millennials, they’re also known as “Generation Green” because of their interest in and push for sustainable living. It’s a smart idea to begin embracing this movement and looking into environmentally conscious building materials and design approaches, energy-efficient appliances, and ways you can reduce energy consumption in the homes you build or spaces you remodel. Offering eco-friendly choices can attract more customers who spend money in alignment with their beliefs, which is a growing trend, so off-season is the perfect time to start exploring those options.
Build up your reviews and referrals
Reach out to your past customers and ask them to write a review. Building up your number of reviews can make your business more legitimate online, and help increase your star rating if your reviews are great. Reviews are one of the first places potential customers will look to learn about your business and decide if you’re a company they can trust, so you want to curate these whenever you can. If you don’t already have a Google My Business account set up, do this first. Then you can give customers a link to write a review and post it directly to Google hassle-free.
In addition to getting more reviews, the off-season is a great time to work on referral marketing. Reach out to your most satisfied customers and ask them to refer someone they know. Offer a reward for the current customer such as cashback or a discount on their next project, which helps drive repeat business. Offer any referred customers a discount on their initial project.
Focus on employee training and assess hiring needs
When on-site work is less demanding there’s a great opportunity to prioritize employee training. Make sure everyone is up to date on safety protocols, equipment and machinery operation, workplace conduct, and any task-specific training that might be required.
In addition to employee training, it’s also a good time to think about your hiring needs for the busy season. Consider your projected sales for the next year and decide if you have enough team members both in the field and at the office to handle the expected workload. If you think you’ll need to hire, start writing job descriptions and reaching out to local trade schools, apprenticeship organizations, community colleges, and other sources of potential employees to let them know you’ll be looking for talent soon.
Set yourself up for success
Before you make any changes to your business this off-season, always consider the impact on your customer. Your customer experience directly affects your bottom line because unhappy customers are unlikely to return or refer you to others, and more likely to leave a negative review and rating – all of which can hurt your reputation and revenue.
To use the winter productively and be prepared for a successful spring, you need to manage customer data effectively, assess your customer experience, and gather intel to make the right business decisions.