This time of year, you’ve probably either already gotten started on your personal resolutions for the new year — or have already lost interest and ordered a couple half-pound hamburgers. But when it comes to your business goals, being a contractor usually means you’ve got a lot of local competition, and can’t afford to lose many jobs to the other guys. That’s where a business plan for contractors in 2020 is going to become crucial; if you don’t have a roadmap for where you’re going this year, you can expect to wind up in the middle of nowhere. Here’s how to know where you’re going from the jump, and get there by the time you need to buy a new calendar.
Know Your Driving Force
Growing your business by 25 percent. Recruiting two or three new pros to your team. Being more efficient at the jobsite every day. These are all incredible goals, but they don’t address why you want to grow your business in 2020. So, before you start on your official business plan, let’s do some soul-searching: What’s the driving force for following through on this plan? Is it to afford yourself a nice vacation for you and the family in 2021? A college fund or a retirement nest egg? Are you growing your team so you can get off your feet a little more often? This could be as simple as wanting more money so your phone bill isn’t such a punch to the gut every month — what is it that gets you out of bed and onto the jobsite in the morning?
Once you have that, write it down, maybe even put it on a post-it you keep on the dash of your truck. Keep reminding yourself why you want to stick to this business plan, and then the rest won’t feel like such a pain in the neck.
Understand Your Past Year
Historians would say that those who don’t study their history are doomed to repeat it; when it comes to a business plan for contractors, we’d rewrite that to say those who don’t study their data from the past year are doomed to make the same mistakes. So it’s time to take a deep dive on your numbers for 2019.
What were your biggest expenses for the year? Were you pouring money into supplies and materials, only to wind up with a room full of leftover material? Use that knowledge as a barometer for how much you buy this year. Did you find yourself losing time by waiting around for particular parts to ship your way? Make it a priority to establish direct relationships with more suppliers — bonus points if they’re close by. How about return trips to the jobsite? Consider mixing up your go-to products for a contract job; even if the upfront cost is a little higher for a piece of material, if it installs easier and holds up better, you’ll save on time and supplies if you don’t have to double back to repair it. It may sound basic, but many don’t do it: Crunch the numbers on what you spent in 2019, where you spent it and how much each investment wound up bringing in. You’ll soon see where the belt can tighten, and set your goals accordingly.
Develop Your Future
At first blush, it can look like the manufacturing industry hasn’t changed much in years. Plenty of contractors are still using the same products they have been since they started, and are doing okay for themselves. Look a little closer, though, and you’ll see we’ve never stopped innovating. Just this last year, for example, Trim-Tex released our Fast Edge® corner bead, which can cut an entire day from your drywall finishing process, along with decreasing your costs on mud and eliminating corner bead adhesives from your budget. And we’re not alone; there’s a goldmine of new technology this industry has been producing lately that will change the game for your contracting business.
Then, on the business side of things, there’s no end to new technologies you can leverage. As a contractor, you may find yourself too busy most days on the jobsite to worry much about marketing — and there a ton of tools that’ll let you essentially “set it and forget it.” For instance, you can start increasing your exposure to potential clients on social media, without worrying about taking time out from work to post multiple times a day. Think up a handful of simple posts (like a few pictures you’ve taken on the jobsite), and spread them out over the next few days — early afternoons tend to get the most traction. You can do that with an easy-to-use app like Hootsuite (pictured below), which will post and schedule content to all your social media channels, and has a free plan that will work just fine for most small- to medium-sized contracting businesses.
Additionally, if you haven't already, you may also want to consider starting up an email list of past and prospective clients. With that list, start scheduling out some email blasts with special offers, photos of completed work or just to let them know what you've been up to. An email marketing service like MailChimp couldn't be simpler to get the ball rolling here — it's important to keep your name in your contacts' mental Rolodexes the next time they have a project come up. And while MailChimp and other similar sites have free options, studies have found that you can see a return of $38 for every $1 spent on email marketing.
Constructing a business plan for contractors for the year shouldn’t be a chore — another year means all sorts of new opportunities to grow your business and become the go-to source for your community. And if you’re looking to jump-start your year with the best in the business for vinyl drywall products, be sure to check out Trim-Tex’s stellar family of products here.