Many financial experts and economists predict the next economic recession is just around the corner. An equal number, if not more, say there will not be an economic downturn in the months ahead. Regardless of who is right and who is wrong, “recession proofing” your snow and ice management business can ensure survival if tough times occur – and a better bottom-line if they don’t. Here are strategies everyone can employ:

 

GROW YOUR CUSTOMER BASE

The importance of increasing the number of customers the snow removal or ice management operation has can’t be overemphasized. After all, the unexpected loss of a big customer or contract can impact even the most financially stable business.

 

MAKE THE MOST OF CURRENT CUSTOMERS AND CLIENTS

It is unfortunate that customers are usually the first to go during tough economic times. An economic downturn or recession means that now is the time to take care of loyal customers, since they could also bring new customers to the business. Telling customers how much their business is appreciated or rewarding them through discounts, loyalty cards and gift certificates can reap big dividends.

 

WIN A COMPETITOR’S CUSTOMERS

Any snow removal business hoping to prosper in tough times must continue to expand their customer base – and that often means drawing customers away from the competition. This can be accomplished by offering more or something different than the competition does. Providing better customer service is often viewed as one of the easiest ways to outdistance the competition.

 

BETTER AND MORE AGGRESSIVE MARKETING

In tough economic times, many businesses make the mistake of cutting their marketing budget. However, lean times are exactly when the business needs marketing. Customers are restless and make changes in their buying decisions. This is a time snow and ice operations should become aggressive in marketing. Prospective customers, who could be feeling the same economic pinch, will be on the lookout for special offers that provide some financial relief. Developing these offers and discounts, while limiting them to a specific time frame.

 

REDUCING DEBT

Many snow and ice removal contractors and businesses need to go into debt to finance their operations, whether by borrowing money or charging expenses to a credit card. Now might be the time for a snow removal and ice management business owing money to make an aggressive plan to pay it off as soon as possible. If a recession or any economic downturn does materialize and if the operation is maxed out on debt, there will probably be limited access to cash.

 

MAINTAIN GOOD PERSONAL CREDIT

It is no secret that hard times make it more difficult to borrow. After all, small business loans are among the first to disappear. However, with good personal credit, a professional snow removal and ice management contractor will stand a much better chance of being able to borrow the money needed to keep the business afloat – if necessary.

 

USE TECHNOLOGY

There is no better money-saver than modern technology. This means computerizing the operation to the fullest and using accounting and inventory software and spending less time balancing the books. An online business should install hit counters on their website to know how many visitors they’re getting and where they are coming from. Motion sensors, which shut off lights where nobody is present, can also be installed to lower utility bills.

Mark E. Battersby is Snow Magazine’s financial writer. He is based out of Ardmore, Pa.