April 17, 2020
Who saw this coming? We all knew coronavirus was a serious issue and was going to be a very difficult time for everyone, especially installers – but I don’t think any of us realised how quickly and radically it’d change the way we live and work.
And while the absolute best thing we can do at the moment is to keep washing our hands, stay inside, and only venture out for essentials, that doesn’t mean business has to stop completely. If anything, it is a vital time to pivot and remobilise your business in the short term to take advantage of these opportunities.
1. Take advantage of government support, and get your cash flow sorted
Cash is king as the age-old saying goes – and getting your cash flow sorted is crucial for the survival of your business. Fortunately, the government has responded to the crisis with the biggest package of financial support for businesses we’ve seen in generations.
First, they’re allowing businesses to defer their VAT payments for 3 months, which may free up some short-term cash.
Second, if you’re self-employed, they’re allowing you to defer your Self-Assessment tax returns payments until January 2021. Any self-employed installers in our industry can also claim a grant worth 80% of their trading profits each month to help them through the crisis.
Third, if any of your employees are currently on sick leave, the government will pay the Statutory Sick Pay for periods that started after March the 13th.
The government-owned British Business Bank is offering loans of up to £5m for SMEs and will cover the first twelve months of interest.
And through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, you can furlough members of staff, and the government will pay 80% of their wages up to £2,500 a month per person.
2. Sell your products and services virtually
Just because you can’t meet customers in person doesn’t mean that your sales activity has to grind to a halt. One of the most valuable things you can do in the current situation is to start offering virtual sales appointments.
Video and audio platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom have experienced significant growth over the past few years. They are great systems to enable you to talk to your customer about the products and services that you offer. They also provide your customer with the chance to give you a tour of your home, all whilst keeping everyone safe.
It might seem alien at first but it will become easier – and as you get better at it the results will speak for themselves.
3. Work on your website
You and/or your sales team might be using tools such as Zoom to sell, but it’s easy to forget about the most valuable salesman of all – your website.
It’s always on duty, and it can carry on as normal throughout the coronavirus period.
Use your newfound downtime to give your website some attention. Perhaps you’ve been putting off updating your ‘meet the team’ page, uploading some new case study material or installation shots, or adding other useful content. Now’s the perfect time to do it.
4. Keep posting on social media
Social media has always been one of the most popular online activities, but usage has rocketed since the lockdown period.
In fact, daytime UK internet use has almost doubled since the crisis began, according to Virgin. Twitter’s active daily users have increased 23% since 2019 – and a study by an American firm found a 22% rise in Instagram impressions between Q4 2019 and Q1 of 2020.
In short, people are online more than ever at the moment – and that means one of the most useful things you can do during the lockdown is to simply keep your name out there.
You can do that in all manner of ways. One of the quickest and easiest is to simply keep your social media presence ticking over.
Regular posting will reassure homeowners that even if they can’t buy from you now, you’re in it for the long haul, and will still be there when the lockdown is lifted.
5. Make the most of a captive audience with some great content
People are getting sold to all the time. Every day, the average person sees dozens of adverts, eshots, and may receive the odd sales call, too.
Inevitably, that starts to get wearing, and response rates often aren’t great as a result.
Offer them something genuinely useful or interesting, however, and it’s a different story.
Have you recently finished a particularly stunning installation? Why not email them the photos, with a brief description of how you helped your customer fulfil their home improvement ambitions?
Or why not offer them your top tips on how, with your stylish, eco-friendly, and competitively priced windows and doors, they can bring more natural light into their home, or lower their energy bills? Let’s face it – at the moment, they’ll probably be pleased to have something different to read.
6. Check in with your existing customers
Your customers aren’t just entries in an order book – they’re human beings, and often people you’ve developed lasting relationships with.
Why not check in with them? You don’t have to try selling anything at all – you could ask them for a review or a video testimonial.
Or perhaps you know of an elderly customer who lives alone. Dropping them a quick phone call and seeing if they need any shopping won’t take much time at all but could make a world of difference to them.
7. Don’t forget the little things
Even something as simple as giving your vehicles a good clean is a good way to spend a couple of hours during the lockdown.
Or how about some admin?
Perhaps you could collate all your customers’ details in a spreadsheet ready to contact them and potentially upsell when the lockdown is over – or, if you’ve got one already, make sure it’s tidy and up to date.
You could also try and get a head-start on your tax paperwork, or other big admin tasks that are always a pain to do when you’re having to juggle sales visits and installations at the same time.
Does your business have a Business Continuity Plan? You could create one of these.
At Dekko, we’re carrying on as best we can during this difficult period – and doing our utmost to support our customers, too.
In recent years, we’ve invested a lot of time and energy into developing Make It Yours – our comprehensive range of customisable sales literature. Using it to produce some stylish and professional-looking marketing collateral would be another very valuable use of your downtime.
And we’re still on hand to process quotes or give technical advice – just send an email to email@example.com.
This is one of the most challenging periods many of us will have experienced in our lifetimes. But, if we continue to follow the experts’ advice, it will end. And if we use the time sensibly, we could all come out of it ahead of the game.
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