If the country is not already in recession, it appears likely one will arrive in 2023. Here are six ways to turn the downturn into an opportunity.
No. 1: Turn up the marketing and advertising
One of the great things about plumbing is people need it regardless of the economy. Nevertheless, when the economy weakens, most plumbers panic. They cut back on their already marginal marketing and advertising and in essence, disappear from the public’s view, other than their truck signage. This is an opportunity for aggressive plumbers.
Remember, people will still need plumbing repairs. Your competitors will reduce their business presence in an attempt to save their way to prosperity. Thus, your marketing will stand out. This is why the best time to gain market share is during an economic downturn.
No. 2: Hire experienced plumbers
As a rule, it is better to hire people with the right attitude and aptitude, then train them. However, during economic downturns, plumbing contractors who turn turtle and quit trying to seek business see work dry up as the malaise becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Less work means fewer hours. Fewer hours means experienced plumbers will be susceptible to gainful employment elsewhere.
Put together a recruiting brochure for your company that highlights your history, vision, philosophy, benefits, and so on. Geo-fence the supply houses and bombard the plumbers who enter with social media ads. Your ability to grow in the future depends on your ability to put butts in trucks. Recessions are opportunities to accelerate that.
No. 3: Get more involved in your community
Word-of-mouth becomes more important during times of economic uncertainty. Consumers are cautious and seek recommendations before spending money. You, personally, can dramatically increase your community word-of-mouth by joining a service club like Rotary, Kiwanis, Lion’s, Optimist or Civitan. These organizations are filled with community centers of influence. They are the people others call with looking for a good plumber, for example. If you are the plumber in the club, you will likely get the referral. While there are time requirements, they are not onerous. Typically, the clubs meet over breakfast or lunch.
If you are not going to attend, assign responsibility to someone else in the company. Ideally, you can have multiple people attend multiple clubs, spreading your word-of-mouth and building goodwill in the community.
No. 4: Offer financing
During recessions consumers are skittish and worried about their finances. They hesitate to spend their savings. So, offer financing with low payments. Few plumbers offer any form of financing. Nevertheless, there are a number of financing sources available to plumbers. Line up financing now and be prepared to offer payments for any job over a thousand dollars.
Given the current inflationary environment, plumbers should offer financing. The reason many, if not most do not is simple inertia and lack of familiarity. If a recession prompts you to take action on financing, you will be turning lemons into lemonade, which will benefit you and your customers long after the recession ends.
Word-of-mouth becomes more important during times of economic uncertainty. Consumers are cautious and seek recommendations before spending money. You, personally, can dramatically increase your community word-of-mouth by joining a service club like Rotary, Kiwanis, Lion’s, Optimist or Civitan.
No. 5: Simply decide not to participate
In a really deep recession the economy might decline 3%. Ignoring the recession from the pandemic driven lockdowns, the deepest recession since World War II was the “Great Recession” from December 2007 to June 2009. Economic activity dropped 4.3%. Can you work harder and push harder to bump sales more than 4%? If so, you can literally overcome the worst an economic downturn will throw your way.
When the recession arrives, make a decision. Simply decide not to participate. It sounds trite, but it really can be that simple. Of course simple is not necessarily easy. Still it is your choice. Choose not to participate.
No. 6: Count your blessings
When recessions arrive, many people working in corporate America lose their jobs. They live in fear of being laid off. Their employment is largely beyond their control. You run an independent small business. Your future is totally in your control.
In a recession, people who have earned money and must live off of their investments while watching their net worth crater. Stocks plunge. Real estate devalues. There is really nothing they can do to affect the markets. The markets are outside of their control. As the owner of a plumbing company, most of your investments are tied up in your business and you can impact the performance of your business.
While most people feel helpless and powerless in an economic downturn, plumbers largely control their circumstances. Accordingly, plumbers should count their blessings. When you count your blessings, the gloom fades away and your outlook turns positive. A positive outlook attracts people. It attracts customers. It attracts employees.