Carrier pigeonFor many kitchen and bath dealers, contractors and remodelers the winter months and holidays tend to lead to a noticeable decline in sales.  Of course, even as old man winter settles in for another extended stay, the spring building season is actually right around the corner.  And with the New Year comes new hope for a real economic rebound and renewed activity in the construction industry.  Some markets have already begun to see an improvement.

Is your company ready if business does indeed pick up in February or March?  If you are like most companies, you have probably already cut all unnecessary, and maybe even some necessary, expenses.  You have also probably trimmed your staff to a skeleton crew.  If 2012 really does bring renewed activity, will you be ready to handle the spring business boom?

Is everything where it should be?

Look at everything in your operations and make sure you’re prepared to handle extra business.  Now through January is the time to prepare.  Have you taken an inventory of the warehouse and are you comfortable with your product offerings?  Do you have enough workers to get the jobs done?  More importantly, how would you handle a spike in new orders with your current staff?  And if you had to hire a new designer or contractor, for example, do you have fresh candidate resumes on file?

Running a tight ship is critically important, but ensure that you have adequate coverage in your marketing and sales departments.  There is nothing worse for a small business than losing a sale because of poor staffing.  And make sure your team is fully equipped to go after and follow up on any leads in your area without missing a beat.

Your staff should be polished and your sales team should use a proven sales process.  In addition, you’ll want to make sure all other departments are prepared and have enough workers.  Don’t allow your operations to have any single points of failure.  If you’re not sure your budget is equipped to add full time staff just yet, decide if temps will be able to handle the type of work you need done, but avoid placing temps in key point-of-contact positions such as sales.

Keeping your trim dealership effective

Another way to ensure you’re covered, which will even allow you to get by with less staff during the busy time is to automate your dealership  with the utilization of industry specific  software.  By now, almost everyone realizes that computer software is necessary (perhaps a necessary evil) for an efficient and streamlined operation.  There are products available to handle everything from design to quoting, ordering, scheduling, and more.  But, you’ve been taking advantage of that for years, right?  You haven’t…?  Oh boy.  If you are still doing everything by hand or relying on your accounting or design software to do everything…or worse yet, Excel and pencil and paper, you’re making everything so much more painful than it has to be.

Technology is here to make our lives easier.  Utilize it.  Just think, if it weren’t for technology, manufacturers would be making all of your cabinets and countertops by hand in the candlelight, you’d be delivering them by horse & buggy and this blog post would have just been delivered by a messenger on horseback, a pigeon, or a message in a bottle.  Embrace kitchen cabinet software now and you’ll increase your margins before you know it.

Handling Stress during busy season

Lastly, you’ll want to start off the new-year right by planning for every possible speed bump.  Chances are, you’ll be reviewing your employee healthcare packages soon.  If your staff tends to get stressed during busy season, it may be beneficial to include a wellness program with a stress-management package.

The survival of your business in any season depends on your employees, your tools and your offerings.  Make sure you’re fully equipped and ready to take on anything that busy season throws your way.