Winter arrived early in many parts of the U.S. this year, which means that if you haven’t put thought into your holiday business strategy, now is the time. For custom integrators there are so many things to consider around the holidays, from business building to servicing existing customers.
In terms of building the business, while no one expects us to be open on Thanksgiving Day, like more and more retailers, we still need to think about Black Friday and what, if any, specials we will offer our clients. Many distributors offer special discounts on everything from networking gear to TVs. Does it make sense for any current projects you are quoting? Do you have any existing clients who might be interested in an upgrade? They are going to be shopping the holiday deals, so instead of being reactive and waiting for them to bring the latest Best Buy ad to you, be proactive and offer them a great (and profitable) deal. Plan ahead and maintain your margins instead of being caught off guard and having to reduce pricing without lower costs.
One thing I have noticed over the years is that during the holiday season, the mix of calls we get shifts significantly to service calls. It makes sense that homeowners don’t want to start large, invasive projects around this time of year. Also, many people are focusing their shopping efforts and budgets on others and not on themselves, so home improvement projects get put on the back burner. However, as people think about entertaining family and friends for the holidays, they want their homes in tip-top shape and now is the time they call with the inevitable, “I’ve meant to call you for the past few months, but my [fill in the blank] just isn’t working right.” Typically turnaround times are quick, and clients are anxious to get things up and working. So this is the time of year we shift our labor hours and budgets more to our troubleshooting and repair skill sets.
While many people are not in the mindset to do large projects, some are. So now is the time to break out the amazing lighting and shading packages you offer. Adding the tree lights to the “welcome home” scene, changing the “evening” shading scene to leave the shade near the tree open, or even selling new automation packages to take advantage of the fact that people want to show off their homes during this time year are all great opportunities to get back in contact with existing customers or to propose to new clients. Think of all of the possibilities, especially now that automation systems like Crestron’s Pyng, Lutron’s Home Control+, and others allow clients to make minor changes on their own, what a great selling tool that you can program the system for the holidays to show off the tree, but they can change the scenes come December 26 to fit their needs for the rest of the winter.
Finally, now is the time to plan for next year. Finalize your bookkeeping for the year, make sure you have taken advantage of any volume discounts that you are eligible for or are approaching. Put together your business plan for 2015 so that you can hit the ground running in January and have the core strategy in place to start the new year off right.
I know it is easy to go into cruise control this time of year and, rightly, focus on your family and what a great year you’ve had. Just don’t let great business opportunities pass you by.
+Todd Anthony Pumais president of The Source Home Theater Installation, Powered by Fregosa Design, in New York City.