It has been a real slow summer here in south Florida and I just laid off my only employee. I will be going door to door in some of the better areas tomorrow to distribute flyers, as I have nothing else to do. In the middle of a new website revision and better SEO and have tried many other avenues. Any cabinetmakers on the Gulf Coast that need me to produce for them? All advice is welcome.
From contributor T:
Here's an idea that I think would be a good program for my company to implement. I think it would work for you too. I want to create a rolling tune-up team. This would be a 4 hour effort once or twice a month going out to former customers and letting them know we're here to give their kitchen a once over to make sure all the doors are gapped properly, hinges are tight, everything working like it should and looking good.
If you did this a couple of times a month in a year you'd have another 24 extremely satisfied customers. The amount of buzz this would create would soon amplify. The word would soon be out that no company in south Florida cares as much about their customers as you do!
You'd get a chance to see how things held up and what you could improve for others in the future. This could be your stated goal when asking when a good time would be to show up. Some of your former customers will have at least a small project you could do right away. Some of them will also know somebody else who needs something done. This gives you a chance to re-harvest some of the good will you created the first time you worked for them.
Think of how impressed you would be if the mechanic that tuned your truck up called up a month later to see how it was running. You'd never shop anywhere else and you'd make sure nobody else did either.
Then I had a friend ask me to come to a networking meeting, and I thought "this is exactly what I was looking for." Low cost, meet once a week for lunch, and I'm building relationships with people that have become my friends as well as a steady source of new work. Only one person from any category was allowed to join, so I had no competition. Things have slowed quite a bit these last two months, but I have been working through what I had on the books for that time. Because of that, I'm going to be joining the Chamber of Commerce and maybe one more meeting to expand my base. Without this networking meeting, my business would have failed. It has been a very focused way to grow my business. I receive referrals from people who are already pre-qualified, they're looking for work to be done. You never know who the "other guy" knows. Things are tough for everyone out there. In Milwaukee, there are big established shops going out of business, just closing their doors.
Don't get me wrong, things have been down for me as well, but I know that with these relationships, when things begin to turn around, I'll be on the leading edge of it. I hope we're one of the ones left standing at the end of all this. One of the best things you can do when you do your 60 second presentation is educate people. Let them know what you do, and everything you do. I just did my 10 minute speech, and I had people come up to me and say "I never knew you did that." So I guess I missed some work that I might otherwise have gotten.
I just gave my 10 minute presentation last week with a full slide show of my work and I bring a different door or wood sample each week that I hold up as I give my 35 second commercial (we are 55 people in our group). I know it takes time and I am considering it a long term investment. Thanks for all the advice.