Winter is one of the slowest times of the year for construction businesses. A combination of icy weather conditions, fewer daylight hours, and an increase in homeowner travel leads to an industry-wide decline in construction. Seasonality makes it even harder to survive in an already competitive business environment. In fact, according to a recent Census Bureau Business Dynamics Statistics survey, only 36.4% of construction businesses survive their first five years, compared to the national average of a 40-50% success rate across other industries.
So how can you plan ahead for the winter months so you can survive the storm ahead? Below are strategies to fill up your downtime before the flurry of new projects begin:
Plan ahead for extra staffing
The best construction workers, especially those with specialized skills, quickly get snapped up. Instead of taking whatever gig you can in the winter months just to retain your staff, it’s better to assess the number and types of workers you’ll need for the upcoming projects and schedule in advance. That way, if you’re looking to hire additional full-time employees, and you don’t wait until the last minute, you can recruit and hire now.
Catch up on the latest in technology and home improvement
Running a successful business not only takes time and effort, but you also need to adapt and evolve to the latest customer demands and technology. Tools of the trade like HOVER help contractors measure and design the exteriors of potential client homes and save time and money on every project. Any technology that makes the construction process more transparent also establishes credibility with your client, and helps contractors close more business by showcasing what the final product can look like.
Diversify your projects
There is always an opportunity to branch out into different markets, and winter is no exception. For commercial general contractors, winter can be the perfect time to bring on a project manager who specializes in residential construction to do kitchen remodels, insulation services, new flooring and bathroom overhauls, and interior projects that aren’t dependent on the weather.
Start marketing early
When it’s spring, summer, or fall, you’re probably so busy with projects, you barely have time to eat lunch, let alone focus on promoting your business. Take advantage of the natural down time winter provides to start your marketing planning for your upcoming busy season. If you have a website, make sure it’s up to date and add any new photos of projects you’ve completed this year. Maybe add a 3D model from HOVER to entice your leads, and you go through your previously serviced and captured properties to proactively seek bidding opportunities for next season. If you don’t have a website, now is the perfect time to build one and invest in showing off your best work.
Lend out your resources for additional income
It might sound like an unconventional idea, but excavation and landscape contractors can score additional business by transforming their work vehicles into snow plow equipment. If residential snow removal is too big a task for you to take on, you can sign up to become an approved contractor with the city or county agency responsible for cleaning up after snow events.
Get your finances in order
Winter is also a good time to focus on some of the nuts and bolts of your company that may fall off your radar during the busy seasons. Talk to your accountant to make sure you take advantage of available deductions and to get your receipts and other paperwork ready for tax season.
Whether its lending out resources, recruiting new talent, or adopting new technologies that can be implemented for the busy season, the winter ‘off-season’ can be the best time to get organized. It’s also an excellent time to market your business, try out new revenue streams, and take care of your finances. So take advantage of the slow season so that when the warm weather arrives you’ll be ready to hammer away.