We are in the snow removal industry. Weathering daunting blizzards is literally our business! But some storms are more severe and last longer than others. COVID-19 has caused not only an alarming global health crisis but also precipitated a major economic downturn. As business owners and entrepreneurs, we find ourselves in an unprecedented situation. How do we continue to move ahead in the face of this overwhelming adversity? By taking advantage of financial assistance where available, maintaining your marketing, and offering promotions with a positive focus, you can and will set yourself up for success even in uncharted territory.
Businesses with entrepreneurial spirit are a key factor in regaining economic stability. Small businesses are fundamental to our economic recovery. At times like this, we cannot afford to freeze out of fear or remain idle in frustration. The big question is: What can we do to keep driving our industry forward? Today, this very minute, you have an opportunity to focus on strategies to grow your business. Here are some active measures you can take to help drive growth and provide service in this hostile environment.
Seek Financial Relief
While mandatory “stay-at-home orders” are helping to “flatten the curve” of COVID-19, there is no doubt that these measures are taking a giant economic toll - especially on service industry businesses. With uncertainty over how long these measures may be in place, taking care of your employees is critical right now. Fighting churn and maintaining a solid workforce that is ready to perform services or resume operations is essential to the continued health of your business.
Government supported COVID-19 relief has been passed to financially aid small businesses. Not only can these loans help provide employee salaries, some of these loans can be converted to grants if you spend money on eligible expenses. Check out federal websites like sba.gov or canada.ca, as well as state and local sites, for more information, and act quickly on these fast-moving initiatives.
Budget and Plan Carefully
In addition to applying for economic relief, rethink your budget to determine what you absolutely can and cannot operate without. Consider postponing costly equipment purchases or moving to a new, expanded location. Plan to reduce your overhead by not amortizing additional pieces of equipment or real estate and being conservative with your cash flow. If you invest in technology, look into a cloud-based CRM and teleconferencing software to allow your staff to continue company operations without going into the office.
Budgeting and planning doesn’t just mean the financial aspect of your business: it includes training and internal culture, too! Enhance your customer support through Facebook chat bots or Drift website bots to make signing up for your services as convenient as possible for your customers. There’s value in acquiring a cloud-based phone and call forwarding solution, like RingCentral, to facilitate inbound call routing to your employees whether they are in the office or at home. And if you have the equipment (which can just be a smartphone), record videos now to enhance employee training and onboarding.
Double Down on Marketing
While you shouldn’t pretend it’s “business as normal” at your shop, you do need to continue to project a presence in your market. It’s important to consider how your marketing is affected by this pandemic and how your competition’s will be, too. It appears that many businesses believe that the smart money is not on marketing right now. In fact, Facebook has reported a drop of 50-75 percent of their ad revenue following the initial outbreak and spread of the Coronavirus. Despite this type of advertising decline, clients are still out there, and chances are they will need more, rather than less, help this year!
Continuing to market during this difficult time lets your contacts know that you are still providing services. Maintaining a market presence helps to reassure your client base that you’re still operational and provides a sense of normalcy. Snow removal companies have to be reliable in a storm, and this is no different. The competition may be lying low and pulling back from marketing; but you can take this chance to get more value out of your ad spend.
Offer Attractive Promotions
As part of your marketing review, determine what types of promotions you want to offer to help tip the scales in your favor. This is also a prime time to upsell non-snow services that your company provides. If you’ve never upsold before, your client base has no way of knowing what you offer or how you can simplify their lives by consolidating providers and streamlining services. If property managers and homeowners are stuck in the house, there is no better time to offer unique promotions and sign up specials!
Taking an optimistic tone in your messages and reflecting a genuine desire to provide excellent service is key. It is important to remember that, in addition to being service providers, we are providing peace of mind to our customers that a problem is resolved. This marketing lull can be used to your advantage to expand your client base and provide them with convenience and consistency. By offering creative promotions and upselling non-snow services to broaden your client base, you can grow the number of clients who receive services from your company.
This black swan event has absolutely changed the day-to-day lives of everyone on Earth. These are scary times and we can’t allow ourselves, our businesses, or our communities to fall by the wayside and give in to the panic. As entrepreneurs, we overcome adversity daily. We will step up to the plate and take this problem on just like any other. Showing your clients your perseverance can help you secure their business now and in the future. The snow is going to fall no matter what happens with COVID-19. People still need a sense of safety, security, and normalcy even while they’re in quarantine and practicing social distancing. And this is how we drive our industry forward: by easing the minds of our clients, providing them with services they can rely on, and by not giving in to fear.
A frequent Snow Magazine contributor, Mike Callahan is a 20-year industry veteran and owner of Simple Growth Systems.