Q: How Do You Keep Your Business Afloat During the Off-Season?
As you likely know, a lot of major construction projects begin in the spring and end in the fall. Some of the reasons are due to the fact that summer months provide longer daylight hours and folks are happier to work outside during the warmer months. The summer’s warm temperatures allow paint, concrete/cement and asphalt to dry faster. Construction during the winter can become very expensive with shorter daylight hours, and colder temperatures requiring additional heating devices like generators or space heaters to expedite drying or curing times.
We are less likely to find large commercial projects in the off-season. When planning for a ‘downtime,’ it’s smart to look for projects that don’t have an off-season. For example, school and other government work is a good place to start. The government doesn’t shut down in terms of renovation projects. Look for RFPs and start putting in bids.
We’ve also found a lot of success with residential remodel work. That work doesn’t stop in the offseason because investors are buying properties all year long and will have a need to prepare those homes for market regardless of whether it’s July or December. In our experience, remodels are the way to go in the wintertime.
Part of your planning should be ongoing networking. Construction isn’t like selling a brand like Coca-Cola® or Nike.® You’re selling construction, which is a very expensive product. We’ve found success with networking and meeting people face to face.
In the words of my late father-in-law, “Join, join, join.” Join your local chamber of commerce and other organizations. Then, go to every meeting. Get your face out there. Get your business card out there. Get your business known.
And lastly, as you’re planning ahead, remember that people may be more likely to cancel projects in the winter. So, I suggest working your business like an airline. They overbook flights for a reason experience has shown them that a certain number of people will cancel, and they don’t want to risk the lost revenue. Neither should you.
You want to do what you can to make sure your employees have work all year long. So, go ahead and overbook yourself. If customers cancel on you and you’re overbooked, you’ll still have enough work. And if they don’t, you can always hire to fill in the gaps. There are many experienced, hardworking people looking for construction work, especially in the winter months.
Owner and COO, HCH Construction
Along with her husband and a business partner, Michelle Cox started HCH Construction five years ago in Dallas, Georgia. The trio has experience in land development, construction (including electrical, plumbing, paint and more), marketing, and financial and business management.
The company has managed a variety of projects that range from college turns to bank remodels, retail stores to turnkey properties. HCH also works with investment groups to remodel residential homes so they are move-in ready for buyers.
Their proudest achievements are their involvement in giving back to their community and local school system in Paulding County; HCH Construction helps provide necessary supplies to local teachers. In addition, with the help of Behr Process Corporation and The Home Depot, HCH Construction recently organized more than 50 volunteers to provide improvements to a local school.