Things are starting to slow down here at Kile Construction. And by slow down, I mean come to a screeching halt. We’re beginning to stay home. Everybody is. Hell, it could be the law here very soon.
The virus hasn’t hit here yet, in fact, there aren’t any confirmed cases in my city as of today. Despite this, we are still starting to stay home just in case.
The last thing we want to do is spread this thing to our clients, or anyone for that matter. They say the majority of people that spread it about don’t show symptoms. Whether that’s true or not, we don’t want to risk it.
But, we can’t just stop working. We need to keep this train moving if we are going to survive. We remember the recession that started in 2008 and all the hell that brought with it. We had to put our heads down and push hard to make it through. This time is no different.
It’s easy to fall into the trap that most fall into: being scared and pulling in all resources when the economy starts to show signs of weakness. Over the years I’ve learned that if you want to get ahead, you have to zig when everyone else zags. The majority of businesses fail. If you want to succeed, you have to be different.
A Great Idea Finds Me
Speaking of different, my friend and client Wesley Chiles emailed me last night asking if we could add some things to his website. He is starting to offer online estimates. He set up a calendar using Calendly.com that people can use to schedule a time to do a video call with him to talk about their project. What a cool idea. I’ve been thinking about the same idea for the last few days. Anything I can do to keep the business moving forward is where I want to focus my attention.
How I’m Advertising Online Estimates
This morning I implemented this same strategy for my remodeling company. Just because we’re staying home doesn’t mean we can’t get more jobs on the schedule. Maybe there are even some jobs that we can do right now in this current environment. Shoot, 1/4 of our clients don’t even live in the area while we work on their vacation homes… As a business owner, I feel like I need to do everything I can. Nobody else is going to do it.
The first thing I did was log into Google My Business and change the name of our company to include (online estimates). This way people will see that when they are looking. Nobody else in my area is doing this yet so I will certainly stick out. If this produces just a few phone calls in the next few weeks it will be better than nothing.
Then, I went to my website and added a notice that we will offer same-day estimates via video call without meeting in person.
How I’m Getting People to Schedule Calls Before I Talk to Them
Next, I set up a calendly.com account and created a calendar so homeowners can schedule a time to talk to me. Now, I think this will work fine if people just call, but I’m doing it this way because I’m going to need to send them an email before the meeting that gives them some information I’m going to need so they can be prepared when we talk.
Mind you, it’s hard to give a proper estimate for a big remodel like this, but it’s a way to keep the sales coming in. We do a lot of bathroom remodels and can estimate the costs pretty accurately just by looking at pictures and finding out what the customer wants. This isn’t a contract, it’s an estimate. We’ll still need to verify everything once we can enter the home and take a look at it ourselves.
For company’s like Wesley’s that do landscaping or smaller projects that are easier to bid, this can be a real killer way to fill up the schedule ahead of time. His work is outside so he can take the call, give the estimate, schedule the project, and complete the project without ever meeting someone face to face. It’s a fantastic idea and a great way to do business when social distancing is a thing.
For us, we are used to booking projects months in advance. The idea is that when we are able to go back to work, we’ll have 12 months of business lined up in front of us.
What Are You Going to Do?
If things get worse yet, I will expand this strategy to advertising with Google Ads. Even if the number of remodeling jobs is reduced by 90%, I will be there scooping up the 10% by pushing hard and moving forward when everyone else is cowering in their homes praying for the economy to get better.
Someday things are going to be back to normal and most people are going to be starting from scratch. Not me. I’m going to do everything I can now to set myself up for success later. You should do the same.