Avoid the “it’s just slow” mentality

Steve Stone
Owner/CEO

Once a week or so I take my family down to our favorite restaurant. It’s become a bit of a tradition – a time for us to unwind together, reconnect after a long week and simply relax. It just so happens that this restaurant is located next to a supply house I used to purchase from when running my plumbing/HVAC companies.

Each time we drop in for dinner, I can’t help but peek across the parking lot to see if I can recognize any faces through the window of the supply house. Not always, but most of the time I can see the same guys jawing at the counter who were there when I’d go in to buy my supplies. They’re still driving the same trucks, wearing the same uniforms, having the same conversations about how business is down.

The only thing that’s changed for most of these guys is the color of their hair.

What these guys don’t realize is that they’re only verifying to one another that it’s okay for business to be slow. The thought among the group is that as long as times are slow for everyone, doing less business is okay. Essentially, they have driven a nail to hang their hat on and now they’re choosing to stare at the hat, wondering where their business has gone.

This is a dangerous mistake for any business owner. Not only have they let their colleagues justify their current lack of business, this attitude will inevitably trickle down to their tech’s and support staff who will further reinforce the “it’s just slow” mentality by using the excuse for explaining why they’re not converting more jobs!

Don’t set yourself and your team up for failure with the “it’s just slow” mentality.

There’s no question that times can be less busy than others in the residential service industry, but do some simple root/cause analysis to figure out what’s causing the slow down and what you can actively do to minimize its affects on your business.

For example, when I was running my first plumbing company – there was was a fair that came to town once a year and typically drew some business away for that week and a half. This particular case, I knew what was going to happen in advance so I would take the opportunity to prepare for it.

The month before the fair would hit town, I would increase my advertising by 10{938cd9e8dae860e800efc538277d4f7684e6f6981618ba70d1c34357a53c2e1f}, sending out my usual seasonal direct mail to encourage business just before and during the festival – but I would also include flyers, calendars and other leave-behind promotional items to place at kiosks around the fair to keep my name in front of potential clients during the event as well.

I would also take this time to scout out any competitor’s employees I wanted for my team. Odds were that if a competitor’s shop had bought in to the “it’s just slow” mentality, their experienced employees who really wanted to work would be hungry for the opportunity to move to a company who wasn’t suffering from seasonal slowdown.

I would recruit by posting help wanted signs at the supply house plastered with phrases like, “we have more work than we can handle.” If a supply house refused to let me post a sign, I simply shifted my business to one that would. They want me to help them by doing business with them; why shouldn’t I expect them to help me with recruiting?

Next time you hear someone mention that “times are just slow,” or “business is just down right now,” your hair should stand on end and you should put on a big smile. Let this gossip dictate your competitors, not you and your company.

Avoid buying into the “it’s just slow” chitchat and you won’t have to worry about giving yourself or your employees an excuse to not be successful.

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