Scheduling Winter Work Now - Guest Post by Mark Osborne

Posted by David Chism | Tue, Aug 9, 2011

 Scheduling Winter Work Now - Guest Post by Mark Osborne
As a con­trac­tor, I have always dread­ed the win­ter” because work would dry up, and weath­er often pre­vent­ed what types of projects could be per­formed. As the leaves began to turn, I used to get an uneasy feel­ing in the pit of my stom­ach, as I knew what was just around the cor­ner. After the first painful win­ter, I decid­ed to be proac­tive and gen­er­ate the work I need­ed not only to sur­vive, but also to pros­per. Start Before Winter The key with devel­op­ing win­ter work is to begin gen­er­at­ing it PRI­OR to the win­ter begin­ning. Once Thanks­giv­ing comes, peo­ple stop think­ing about home improve­ment projects. It is imper­a­tive to con­tract for and sched­ule the win­ter work before Thanks­giv­ing while peo­ple are still in a buy­ing mode for home improve­ment projects. Bud­get & Projections First, start with a bud­get of what you need both from a break even, and then a full capac­i­ty, per­spec­tive. For instance, if you need $100,000 of work to break even over the win­ter months, and the aver­age job is $5,000, than you need 20 jobs to break even. If your clos­ing ratio is 66%, you would need 30 esti­mates to gen­er­ate the $100,000 you need to break even. You should do the same for a full capac­i­ty pro­jec­tion. Past Cus­tomers The eas­i­est way to gen­er­ate the required leads is to start with your past cus­tomers. A good response rate for direct mail is 0.5% response rate. Obvi­ous­ly, peo­ple you have a rela­tion­ship with (and whom are pre­sum­ably sat­is­fied), will respond at a high­er rate. Depend­ing on the effec­tive­ness of the offer, it is rea­son­able to achieve any­where from a 2% to 5% response rate. Going back to the orig­i­nal break even analy­sis, if you need 30 leads, you would need 1,500 cus­tomers on your mail­ing list (30 divid­ed by 0.02). How­ev­er, if you can gen­er­ate a 5% response rate, you only need 600 peo­ple on your mail­ing list. The big­ger your cus­tomer list, the larg­er num­ber of esti­mates you will gen­er­ate. Next, you need to gen­er­ate a com­pelling offer to incen­tive peo­ple to sched­ule work in the win­ter. What I have done in my busi­ness is give a large per­cent­age dis­count (usu­al­ly 30% off our reg­u­lar rates) for work sched­uled between spe­cif­ic dates in the win­ter. Our most dif­fi­cult peri­od for sched­ul­ing work is Decem­ber 15th through Jan­u­ary 15th, so we set that win­dows as the dis­count peri­od”. The catch is you lim­it how many projects you take at the heav­i­ly dis­count­ed rate. For instance, if you need 30 projects to break even, you lim­it this dis­count to the first 30 peo­ple to respond to the offer. This will give your past cus­tomers the sense of urgency to move quick­ly and take advan­tage of the pro­posed sav­ings. Whether you send a let­ter or some oth­er post­card style mail­ing will be up to you, but I sug­gest a sim­ple let­ter. It will give you the oppor­tu­ni­ty to explain why you are will­ing to offer such a tremen­dous dis­count. Specif­i­cal­ly, that you need a cer­tain amount of work to retain your employ­ees dur­ing a nat­u­ral­ly slow peri­od, and that you are will­ing to offer a great deal in exchange for sched­ul­ing dur­ing this slow peri­od. I sug­gest send­ing this let­ter in late Sep­tem­ber or ear­ly Octo­ber. Fol­low up this mail­ing two to three weeks lat­er with a fol­low up mail­ing (this time a post­card) indi­cat­ing how many projects you have sold, and how many spaces are left. Two weeks lat­er, send a final mail­ing stat­ing how few spaces you have left for the pro­mo­tion, and remind­ing them that the pro­mo­tion will end short­ly. You will find you will get a flur­ry of calls at the tail end of the pro­mo­tion of cus­tomers des­per­ate to get the last spaces avail­able. Email Works As Well If you have email address­es of your cus­tomers, you can send email blasts in between mail­ings two and three. Again, the focus should be about high­light­ing how many spaces you have left. It may seem counter intu­itive to have work sched­uled say from Decem­ber 15th – Jan­u­ary 15th when you may have open­ings still in Novem­ber, but know­ing the exact amount of work you have signed and sched­uled dur­ing your slow peri­od, will give you the com­fort lev­el to con­tin­ue to sign and sched­ule the nor­mal” work that will come in nat­u­ral­ly. Mark Osborne owns and oper­ates Manor Works Paint­ing, which ser­vices the Greater Wash­ing­ton DC Metro areas and North­ern Vir­ginia. His web­site is: Manor Works Paint­ing. Mark is a leader in the paint­ing inudstry: known for know­ing his num­bers and run­ning a smooth and orga­nized paint­ing com­pa­ny. In his spare time he enjoys attend­ing local beer din­ners and is in the process of cre­at­ing his own brew­ing com­pa­ny. Stay tuned!

About David Chism

David Chism started his business out of a passion for helping small contracting businesses grow, be more profitable and become better known to their target clients. One lifelong hobby of David is using techie gadgets. So this blog is a place where he writes about technology, marketing ideas, just for fun (humor), personal thoughts on small business and more.


Subscribe to the Blog

Please provide a short summary of why you are reaching out today.