3 Tips for Making the Most Out of Downtime

Even in an essential industry like plumbing, it’s not business as usual at the present moment. Here are a few things to think about to help ensure you’re spending time productively no matter what your actual workload looks like.

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With the disruption that the coronavirus pandemic has caused in our lives, for most people it’s not business as usual. Many nonessential businesses are shuttered or running skeleton crews, and others have had to totally shift the way they do business.

As we all know, plumbers are absolutely essential, no matter what’s going on in the world. And with people flushing all kinds of things down the toilet as a result of the great toilet paper shortage of 2020, many plumbers aren’t seeing a decrease in business at all. But given the emphasis on social distancing, a downtick in overall work is still possible for those using extra discretion about what types of jobs they take on at this time.

No matter what’s going on with your business — an increase in work, a decrease, or no change at all — here are three things you can be doing to find opportunity in this moment and make sure that it is not time wasted. 

1. Hire people from other industries who have been laid off due to the circumstances.

For most service businesses and contractors, hiring is a major operational problem. It’s always hard to find good employees — not only for field work, but also for office and administrative positions. And understandably so. Prior to the pandemic, unemployment rates in the U.S. sat around 3.6%. Finding good people and keeping pay competitive was a challenge. 

Now many industries have shut down and thousands of people find themselves suddenly unemployed and unable to pay their bills. Why not help those in your community, and solve your hiring problem at the same time, by looking for people who have been laid off in other industries and offering them a job? 

While it’s sad that so many people are without work right now, you may find that because there are so many people unemployed, you have a better pool to choose from than you normally would. 

2. Engage with your customers on social media and build brand awareness.

Guess where all your customers are right now? Glued to their screens. 

They’re probably spending more time on social media than ever before, so make sure your brand is there, too. Engage with them and use this time to show them how you respond to a crisis and what your team is like. 

Video is a great way to engage on social media, and there are all kinds of relevant videos you could make right now. For example: 

  • You could walk your customers through simple plumbing fixes for problems they may have right now.
  • You could show them what steps your team is taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep your community safe.
  • You could ask them to share pics of how they’re spending quarantine or what crazy things their pets are up to. 

The options are truly limitless. Just get creative and show off your company’s personality.

3. Get in front of searchers who would normally find your competitors.

A lot of business owners are panicking right now. They’re turning off their ads — or at least decreasing their ad budgets — and maybe not even answering their phones. But business owners who let fear drive the bus are the ones who suffer most during times of great uncertainty. 

Before you turn off your ads or scale back your marketing, do a quick analysis of the landscape. You may find that, by keeping your ads and marketing running as usual, it’s easier than ever to get in front of your ideal customers. Think about it: If your competitors with bigger ad budgets have scaled back and gone into panic mode, you’ll be the one showing up in searches instead and getting the calls they would normally get.

Remember, there are a lot of uncertainties right now. But one thing is certain: People will always need plumbers — even during self-quarantine.

About the Authors

Carter Harkins and Taylor Hill are the co-founders of Spark Marketer, a Nashville, Tennessee-based digital marketing company that works primarily with service businesses. They're also co-creators of the award-winning app Closing Commander, which helps contractors close more estimates effortlessly, and co-authors of the book, Blue Collar Proud: 10 Principles for Building a Kickass Business You Love. Both regularly speak at service industry trade shows and conferences across the nation. Visit www.sparkmarketer.com, www.about.closingcommander.com, www.facebook.com/sparkmarketer, or www.facebook.com/closingcommander.


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