It’s the nature of the beast in our industry; there are going to be slow periods. Project flow is a challenge to manage, especially as jobs get pushed back for reasons beyond our control. We recently had a little slow spell, with things really picking up in late April and May—those pushed back jobs all seem to get pushed to the same time, don’t they? In the meantime, I’ve been using the downtime productively both for myself and for my team and I thought it might be helpful to share. So here’s a list of the seven things we’ve been doing.
Illustration: ThinkStock1. Sell. More. Work
This one is pretty obvious, but sometimes we get so bogged down in the grind and the long-term sales process that we forget we have some low hanging fruit to take advantage of and the marketing opportunities that exist
- Reach out to existing clients with new products or product categories. Maybe something as small as a starter lighting package to get them hooked on home automation or a new streaming music player (if it’s been a really long time since you’ve been there) or an improved network to handle all of the streaming media they consume.
- Update your website
- Send direct mail. Buy some lists of home builders, architects and/or designers in your area and send them a brochure and ask for a meeting
- Network. Set up meetings with industry contacts you haven’t spoken with in a while, especially those same architects, builders and designers from ‘C’ above.
- Send email blasts or update social media postings with recent jobs and some great pictures
2. Pull Jobs Forward
Those jobs that got pushed back a few weeks will invariably conflict with other work, so see what you can pull forward to fill the man-hours. Maybe you can do some pre-wires or trim-outs in the meantime so that your team isn’t crunched later
3. Train, Train, Train
It’s time to get up to speed on the next great thing or on a new category you’ve been interested in or to brush up on existing knowledge. We get emails almost every day for webinars and training sessions. Take advantage of them. Also look to your manufacturing partners and see what trainings are available on their website—it’s always a good idea to brush up. I had a tech doing some training on managed networks last week because he expressed an interest in branching out
4. Organize Your Storage Areas and Conduct an Inventory Review
Clear out old inventory by selling it through liquidation channels or putting it on sale in the showroom. This frees up valuable working capital so you can invest in new product, like that shiny new system you want to put in the showroom.
5. Update your Showroom or Home
Add some new gear that you keep telling yourself you want to test out before you add it to your company's product offerings.
6. Meet with Your Reps and Distributors
Build your relationships and reach out them. Meet up for a cup of coffee to find out what is the latest and greatest and what is coming down the pipeline. Stay top of mind so when projects come their way, they are thinking of you
7. Update Firmware and Conduct System Checks for Your Clients
It may be part of your service plans, or could be add on work. Plus while your team is in the home or business opportunities may arise for a new project you (and client) never knew was there
The worst thing you can do when business slows down is to sit back and bemoan your fate. Go out there and make something happen. It may not pay off today or tomorrow or next month, but it will pay-off eventually. I have to go now and work on that new lighting system I sold to a client last week when I talked to them and found out they are doing some renovations in their formal living room.
+Todd Anthony Pumais president of The Source Home Theater Installation, in New York City.