How do you deal with the slow times in your business? I started my cleaning business in 1985, and in 1999 I started Bonnet Pro. In those 47 combined years, I have gone through more than a few slow periods that can be financially unnerving. I now almost look at them like a blessing as these periods allow me to catch up, evaluate and prepare for what is to come. They say life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond to it. So if that is true, it comes down in large part to a mental game.
That being said, if your slow time is dragging into months, then you may have a serious problem with your marketing – performance and or customer perception of you – provided you are located in a region that can support your services by its demographics and population. But even when it’s just days or weeks when the phone or online orders start to slow or cease it can be uncomfortable especially if you just went through a robust period of prosperity.
So what to do?
First, if you have not already started preparing by cleaning up and performing the possibly overdue maintenance of your equipment to get ready for the business that is to come. To me this is a foundation. If my shop or my office is a mess then I’m unhappy. That mess seems somehow to translate to how I’m personally doing. Get it cleaned up and organized, you will feel and operate better. What papers, ads or changes should you look at to improve your current position with your current and potentially new customers or clients? In other words you should be writing?
Here is one idea. Create survey questions in a format you can give to your current customers to see how they “really” see you so you can know what you are doing well and what must improve. Give them the encouragement to be totally honest with you! I read one of Trumps books, Branding 101 and one of the examples was that they surveyed their most wealthy customers – the “whales” as it’s termed – to see what perks excited them to do business at the casino. It wasn’t the room upgrades or any of the other luxury perks that you might expect. The number 1 thing these high end customers wanted was a very clean room. Who would have guessed? But if they did not survey, Trump’s people would not have known the truth about the customers’ priorities and what made them spend their money. Knowing what your customer thinks is a goldmine! Take the time! Make up an attractive survey and use it on a regular basis.
What changes do you need to make with the way you discover and get new customers? Is this period a normal slow period, say the week after Christmas, giving you a needed rest or is it at an unexpected time that requires you to take a closer look on your marketing habits? I just went through two years of record growth for Bonnet Pro but this last January was a very slow month. But I was happy in a way as it was a blessing. It allowed me time to work on the All-in-One Spotting Kit, Omegazyme, the new MiniMax and put much needed time into CT6 to help finish the forum. So without the slow time, I would not have been able to do all of the new projects I wanted to help increase my business growth for our future. So to me, it was actually a good thing and that leads to another perspective. When you are slow it allows you to see just how blessed you are in the good times and this allows a grateful heart for all we have been given. Keep up your good work and never listen to the under achieving store clerk that says “Don’t work too hard.” Work hard, but work smart. Learn whatever you can to improve your current knowledge base. I’ll never tire of learning something new and realizing how much I still need to grow and learn. The motivation alone that learning brings will cause growth in you and your business.
by John H. Klucznik, Founder of Bonnet Pro and Key Floor Care