We see some interesting demand trends around Christmas. Our unique insight into the state of the trade sector in New Zealand allows us to spot these trends in our system, which we believe are representative of wider trends in the sector.
- End of November through to early December we see a surge in jobs with a higher urgency
- After mid-December through to end of December, we see a pronounced drop-off in jobs across all sizes
- Around early-mid January we see a dramatic uptick in demand before we settle back into our usual demand in February
This may seem intuitive, or common sense – but the silly season isn’t given its name for no reason. We see the pressures ramp up in communications between Tradespeople and Homeowners in the weeks leading up to the Christmas period. We empathise with the difficulty in meeting what can seem like unreasonable expectations, with people wanting everything done yesterday. We also understand the stress in some trades of getting back to work in the new year with a sense of urgency in finding work.
With this in mind – and off the back of this data, combined with feedback and discussions with a range of tradespeople across different trade-types, we’ve put together some points for consideration when conducting business during this period – how to keep your sanity, and your business in good shape through what can be a stressful period.
When a potential client applies pressure to have a job done in a time-frame that will be difficult to achieve – it can be difficult for some operators to stand firm, while being respectful and professional.
I want to get into this more in later points, but first things first; over-promising creates stress for you, and creates expectations for the homeowner that their need (around job completion) will be met. When the expectation isn’t met – that homeowner (coupled with their own Christmas stress), is likely to be less forgiving.
Worst case you end up with a bad review and an unhappy customer, neither of which are good for business.
Can We Undertake In January?
Often it’s tempting to outright reject the work to avoid over-promising and stress. Another classic is responding to enquiries with something along the lines of “it’ll have to be in the new year”.
Neither of these responses are doing your business any favours. Every lead is an opportunity, and for many homeowners, quite simply – a decision made is a problem solved. Solve their problems by setting a date for a site visit in January, or “next month”, as opposed to the ambiguous “new year”. It sounds closer, gives the impression you care, and builds a work pipe for your business in the new year. Follow up early January to remind them and they’ll appreciate it big time.
If you can convert leads in December, into work in January – it can take the heat out of the new year.
Of course, many homeowners will push back in an attempt to bring the work forward. Work on staying patient and talking them around. Focus on adding value by asking about their job, showing interest and offering advice if appropriate. If they’re dead set on the work being done immediately – then it is what it is, but if you can, work on building the connection and see if they’re open to scheduling in a date next month. Once the date is set – you can let them know it’s as good as done.
Stay Focused On Your New Years Work Pipeline
In early to mid-December, there isn’t much of a shortage of urgent work. Once we all head out on holiday, people don’t want to know about getting jobs done. All of a sudden, people want everything done asap again in January – play this to your business’s advantage by booking as much work as you can through December, January and February.
This can set your business up for a strong start to the year, and keep you on top of your work pipe well into the year.
Take a Break With Confidence
Most businesses have a checklist of things needing doing before winding down for the year. As the one responsible for soliciting, securing and managing work – it can be helpful, to put your mind at ease and really relax over the break, to touch base with all the clients you’ve got lined up for the new year and wish them a nice break themselves.
Not only is this a professional touch, it will give you a sense of confidence that you’re going into your break without so much of the new year’s stress of soliciting work.
The silly season can throw up some real curve balls. Our customer service team sees this year in, year out. It can be easy to get caught up in the mix and let frustration creep in. For what it’s worth – we do our part in attempting to manage expectations, assist and encourage homeowners to be patient and realistic with their expectations around this time of the year.
The best thing you can do is stay cool, be patient, and focus on offering the same professional service you do at any other time of the year.
We’re working hard on continuing to grow our supply of work, and as always, we encourage our members to leverage Builderscrack to lock in work both now and into the new year.