Every home improvement contractor is familiar with the phrase ‘slow season.’ Depending on the region and trade, this slow period can come at different times of the year, yet it consistently presents a financial challenge for businesses. While geared towards consumers, with National Financial Planning Month beginning next month it’s a good idea for businesses to think about their financial plans as well. With that in mind, the team at Salal Dealer Direct has prepared a guide to help home improvement contractors tackle this tricky time. Here are 14 tips to financially plan for the slow season:
- Budgeting and Forecasting:
- Develop a detailed annual budget that considers both high and low revenue periods.
- Monitor your actual financial performance against your budget regularly and adjust accordingly.
- Build an Emergency Fund:
- Save a portion of profits during the busy season to create a financial cushion.
- Aim for 3-6 months of operating expenses as a general rule, but tailor this based on your business needs.
- Diversify Services:
- Offer services that are in demand during your typical slow periods. For example, if your primary service is exterior home renovation, consider offering indoor remodeling or repairs for the winter months.
- Regular Review of Expenses:
- Periodically review and analyze all business expenses.
- Identify areas for cost-cutting or optimization, especially during the slow season.
- Flexible Staffing:
- Consider hiring seasonal workers during peak times.
- Cross-train employees so they can perform multiple roles, providing more flexibility in work allocation.
- Offer Promotions:
- Consider providing discounts or promotional offers to stimulate demand during off-peak times.
- Promotions can also keep your staff occupied and maintain some cash flow during slower periods.
- Manage Cash Flow:
- Regularly review accounts receivable to ensure timely payment.
- Consider offering early payment discounts to clients or using invoice factoring if necessary.
- Maintain a Line of Credit:
- Access to a business line of credit can be invaluable during slow periods. It can help cover operating expenses until the business picks up again.
- Engage in Marketing and Networking:
- Use the downtime to engage in marketing campaigns, attend industry events, or take classes to improve your skills.
- It’s also a great time to network and foster relationships that can lead to more jobs in the future.
- Negotiate with Vendors:
- Work with suppliers to negotiate favorable payment terms, especially if you’ve been a loyal customer.
- This can help stretch out your payables and improve cash flow.
- Delay Major Purchases:
- Unless it’s crucial, postpone significant equipment or other big-ticket purchases until you’re in a better financial position.
- Plan Maintenance During Downtime:
- Use the slow periods to maintain and repair equipment, vehicles, and other assets, ensuring they’re in top condition for the busy season.
- Stay Updated with Market Trends:
- Keeping up with industry trends can help you adapt your services and remain competitive.
- By anticipating market shifts, you can better prepare and offset some downturns.
- Continually Assess and Adapt:
- Business environments change. What worked one year might not work the next. It’s essential to continually evaluate your strategies and be ready to adjust as needed.
By taking these proactive steps, home improvement contractors can navigate slow seasons more effectively, ensuring they remain financially stable and prepared for the future.
We’re here to help with Customer Financing
Your home improvement organization needs every tool available during lean seasons to ensure ongoing success. Offering customer financing is a great way to reduce the risk of lost sales, allowing you to protect your bottom line.
Partner Forward with Salal Dealer Direct
We team up with contractors nationwide to provide their customers with affordable financing for various solar and home improvement projects.
We can offer some of the most competitive rates and dealer fees because we’re part of a member-owned credit union. That means our profits return to our members—and business partners—through lower rates and fewer fees.
Our Dealer Direct Financing programs feature:
- An online loan application with fast credit decisions and a high approval rate.
- Terms and loan amounts are available to fit various budgets and project sizes.
- Partners pay ZERO dealer fees on our standard program.
How to Start Offering Salal Dealer Financing to Customers
We’re serious about helping your business grow with fast funding times and personalized support from a dedicated and experienced team of lending specialists. To get started, our dealer application process requires these documents:
- Completed dealer questionnaire
- Current income statement and balance sheet
- Copy of business license and/or contractor’s license