Most small businesses have a “slow” period throughout the year. In the world of detailing, the weather is probably the biggest cause of this slow-down. This obviously applies mainly to those of us suffering from the winter season, but it applies a bit to everyone. Whether you’re a small time weekend detailer or a larger business, there’s a time where work is a bit slow and that time can be spent in a productive manner. In this article, I wanted to cover a few ways anyone earning money with detailing can cope with some slow time and come out better at the end of it.
Planning vs Worrying
This is one of the biggest things I had to overcome years ago when I started detailing full-time. There were always things to worry about, like “I’m only booked for 2 weeks, there’s no work scheduled for a month, I need a larger shop/garage but not sure if I can afford the rent, etc”. Years ago, I finally learned that worrying resolved nothing nor did it put any money in my pocket. Turning a worry into a plan was the best way to combat this. It works both because you’re less stressed about things that are out of your control and it also makes things better for you and your business in the future. Instead of wondering how I will get work and get booked further in advance, it’s much better to focus on doing a great job with the work that is available now. Planning how to adjust services, reach new clients and attain a new location will get you a lot closer to great results. For those at the very early stages like I was once, there are plenty of jobs out there where you can earn the extra income until business takes off. One of the main things I recommend planning for is failure. It sounds negative but it’s a very realistic issue and it’s backed by plenty of facts. Most businesses fail, especially small ones with little to no startup funding. This doesn’t mean the work is bad, the person running the business and/or doing the work is bad or that clients are to blame for not liking the work or coming, etc. It can simply come down to “it just didn’t work out”. There are dozens of reasons out there for this, like bad economy, bad location, really good competition, weather, etc. Planning for failure will ensure you’re not stuck in a bad situation thousands of dollars in debt if the time comes that you realize that this business won’t work out. Oddly enough, it’s also a great way to succeed because you’re more aware of all the potential outcomes and can focus better on everything. That said, I would of course encourage anyone to follow their dreams and I sincerely wish all who do the best. This probably applies to many other businesses and also general things in life.
Build up the Business Image
This is one great thing to do whenever there’s some free time, but especially if it’s slow for a while. The image of a business is what brings in new clients and keeps old clients. Documenting some work on personal vehicles is a great way to show your skills and create good content for your business website, portfolio, etc. While they look great, long articles with tons of photos aren’t a must to show potential clients the quality of work in your business. Simple photos and videos with a quick description go a long way and are a much easier way to get more content. In short, just because there isn’t paid work doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be building up the website content, service descriptions and most importantly skills as a detailer.
Handle all the Menial Tasks
Menial tasks are for me usually the biggest time wasters and something that always leads me to procrastinate. From cleaning up the shop, to taking inventory of supplies, to getting accounting up to date… it all takes time and a slow period during the year is a great way to get on top of these. Handling as much of this simple yet necessary stuff during slow times allows one to be more efficient when actually working on a client’s vehicle. These tasks can vary from person to person and business to business, but they will mainly include the little things needed to run a business. For me it’s mainly sorting through tons of photos/videos and accounting. However, many times it includes stuff like revising the website, updating/upgrading service options and going over some advertising opportunities. At the end of the day, the small stuff is extremely important and needs to get done, so may as well do it when you have nothing to do.
Improve Yourself and Any Staff
This may go along with business image, but here I want to focus mainly on the individual(s) that make the business run. Whether it’s a single owner/operator learning new skills or teaching an employee how to do a new task, slow time of the year is great for this. This can be done through in-house training (someone like me learning a new skill by practicing on my own) or outside paid training (some school or course) to learn new or improve existing skills. For many people, learning and training is better with no pressure of impressing a client or finishing a job by a certain time.
I know all these things seem like common sense and to many maybe they are. For myself and many detailers I’ve spoken with over the years these things are easy to forget due to the “daily hustle”. So, having a reminder of such advice can be very helpful and I hope that is the case for some of our readers here. Thanks as always for reading and please don’t hesitate to comment with some of your own advice on the topic.