This past Wednesday, President Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which gives small business owners new tax credits and federal payroll-tax relief to help offset some of the new paid-leave requirements. What does that mean?
It may be more beneficial for you to retain your employees, take advantage of these relief measures, and use this time to work on developing your business from the inside rather than hunker down and hope it's over soon. When production slows, that doesn’t necessarily mean that there isn’t any work to do. Here are five ways to boost your business while you’re self-isolating.
For those of you that have a designated sales or estimating team, their work doesn’t have to come to a halt when the leads slow down. Now is the perfect time to bring your team together, either 6 feet apart or virtually, to work on your sales game. A lot of team meetings tend to focus on increasing sales, sure - you may even take the extra step and talk about how to respond to customer objections - but do you SHOW your sales team HOW to increase sales by acting out how you would overcome those objections?
It may feel silly at first - and you may have some of your team that is reluctant to try - but role-playing an estimate or sales call is the ONLY way to know exactly what your guys are saying and doing when they’re selling and how it feels on the receiving end.
“It’s a valuable tool for showing salespeople the most effective ways to meet customers, handle them, and make the sale. Unlike other training tools, such as manuals or classroom lectures, role-playing is active. And because of the activity, involvement, and peer pressure people feel in the “drama,” the learning rate is high.” says Larry J.B. Robinson in his article “Role Playing as a Sales Training Tool.”
Role-playing gives you the opportunity to show your sales team how you would do it if you were estimating, First, have them act like the customer - then let them take the reins as the estimator and sell to you. After all, do you really want them practicing on your real customers? The answer is no.
By the time your estimator gets in front of a potential customer, you’ve already invested in trying to earn their business through marketing and advertising dollars, CRM software, scheduling, and administrative work, not to mention the payroll and fuel to get to them. Once you’re there, you need to have the A-team ready to ALWAYS BE CLOSING. Make sure to use this time to make your A-team the A+ team so that when the leads come back - AND THEY WILL - you can CLOSE THEM like you never have before.
You and your sales team CAN sell from home. Everyone is home and self-isolating. They might just answer the phone...or that text message. Now is the time more than ever to call all of your previous customers, potential customers that you’ve already estimated, or honestly - even new potential customers you’ve never spoken to!
What’s the worst thing that could happen? They could say no. Rejection isn’t fun - but by not trying, you’re telling yourself no for them. Let the customers use their own voices to give you their own answers. You may get 99 no’s - but you may get that 1 yes that’s going to be worth it.
Walking around my own neighborhood, I’ve noticed a significant increase in people walking, biking, and doing long-overdue yard work. Although these are tough times that have been brought upon us, we can all take a minute to see the positivity in people having extra time to spend with their families and reconnect to nature.
What this is for you is an opportunity, even if it doesn’t feel like it right now. This is the time that people are going to notice that their house needs to be washed. This is the time that wives are going to remember that they REALLY hate the “is this yellow or is this beige?” color the previous homeowner chose in the wrong type of paint for vinyl siding (don’t ask me how I know).
I digress. Wouldn’t it be ideal for them to come in from this yard work and soul-searching to find an advertisement from you? You know, they were JUST thinking about how outdated their house is and now you’re on the front of their minds! There are those that are working from home and not feeling a financial crunch - and this is just more time for them to get that overdue work done in between episodes of House Hunters. You have a captive audience - literally - that finally has the drive to find someone. So, make sure you are there for them to find.
It’s easy to let things fall to the wayside when your business is booming. Now is the time to not only catch-up - it’s the time to set yourself up for success later.
Have you considered applying for an SBA loan or one of the relief efforts that are available to you so that you can increase your cash flow now before you need it? Well, for that you’ll need a current P&L, Balance Sheet, AR and AP summary, a Statement of Cash Flow, and a current debt schedule. Is your head spinning? Take a seat and a deep breath. This is the perfect time to do this. You want to apply for relief before you need it when all of these reports show the strong numbers you’re currently working with. There are people that can help you with this.
Are you up to date on taxes? Thankfully, the tax deadline has been extended to July 15, 2020. This gives you an additional 90 days to find a dedicated bookkeeping and tax adviser that specializes in painting businesses. Doing so will allow you to maximize your tax savings when you need it most and free you up to focus on the marketing, sales, and operations that only you can do. It might not seem like the best time to spend money, but what you might not know is that proper managerial accounting can show you how to save money, cut expenses, and maximize profit.
Additionally, you should plan for taxes before you need to - so start planning on how to maximize tax savings now for next year. Get your bookkeeping system in place early in the year so you’re not stuck with a large clean-up bill and a headache later. Even if it’s not the right time for you to hire someone, you’ll be missing out if you DON’T take 30 minutes to find the right fit for you so you can hire them when you are ready! Who wouldn’t want to take advantage of 30 minutes of free bookkeeping and tax advice?
Most of you reading this are men, so I ask you to PLEASE DON’T SKIP THIS PARAGRAPH and open your mind. I know what you’re thinking, “I ain’t taking no damn bubble bath.” First of all, have you tried it? Don’t knock it. It’s relaxing AF. Secondly, self-care isn’t just bath scrubs, face masks, and lighting a “healing candle.” Self-care is whatever you need it to be. Do you enjoy mowing your lawn? Do you enjoy working on an old car? Do you enjoy reading the IRS’s latest tax publication?
Take a minute and think about what makes you happy. Now, I want you to go to the calendar that you should be using and literally BLOCK OUT at least an hour of your time to do that thing. The world will always be turning. You need to put your oxygen mask on before you help others. It’s a stressful time to be in business, to have people relying on you, to just be a human being. Please, take the time to take care of yourself so that you don’t burn out. And if you are willing to and need a suggestion for some good frou-frou bath bombs, I’m your girl and you can email me anytime.
There is a lot of speculation and assumptions running rampant. One thing is for sure: we’ve been through tough times before and we’ll go through tough times again. We can’t change what is happening around the world - we CAN change how we react to it and the mindset that we move forward with. Is this going to be easy? Well, would we be small business owners if we were looking for the easy way? Life has thrown us lemons. It’s time to take those lemons, turn them into lemonade, add some vodka, throw it back, and get to work.