Get Ready To Check Off The Offseason To-Do List

Labor Day marks the beginning of the end of the hectic summer season for PROs. Get ready to gear up for the projects you’ve put off since Memorial Day.
Get Ready To Check Off The Offseason To-Do List
Judy Kneiszel

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There are a lot of should-do tasks when you run a business. These are projects that are not direct moneymakers but improve operations.

Since a should-do task requires time you can’t bill a customer for, it becomes a low priority. It’s understandable that should-do’s get pushed aside during the busy season when you’ve got paying work to do. But sometimes these jobs get neglected during the slow season, too. You know how it goes: You think you’ve got so much time and then before you know it, it’s the busy season again.

Fall 2015 is just beginning. Oh, sure, it may feel more like July weather-wise, you’ve got harvest festivals, fall weddings and fall color events on your events calendar, and maybe there’s several months left of construction season in your part of the country. But it’s not too early to make a should-do list to start working on as soon as things slow down. That way, you’ll enter next year’s busy season full of confidence rather than regret.

Here are a few should-do jobs to tackle when the winter winds blow:

WINTERIZE

Cleaning and winterizing vehicles and restroom units is more of a must-do. This includes sorting, inventorying, repairing and possibly replacing worn-out units. What you should also do, however, is take the time to assess your business and determine if you can support more units or even a new restroom trailer. Considering your needs in the relative calm of winter beats panicking when you run short during peak season.

Beyond keeping your inventory shipshape, maintenance will also keep your staff busy.

In a November 2011 PROfile story, Alaska PRO Sean Cude explained why that is important.

Cude said during the slow Alaska winters he keeps employees busy cleaning, painting or maintaining equipment so they don’t leave his company in search of more hours elsewhere, because employee skills and knowledge of customers, local industries and service routes are valuable. It’s always more costly to find, hire and train new employees than to keep experienced ones.

Brad and Amy Beier of Northland Portables in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, explained in May’s PRO how they spend time in the winter upgrading all of their equipment.

“Restrooms get antifreeze on the construction sites, but also they are winterized in the yard; we pump them and clean them, do an inventory, sort them by grades (construction units, etc.) and inventory anything that needs to get fixed,” Amy said.

SPREAD SOME CHEER

A few PROs spend some slow-season hours working on their trucks for festive reasons. In past years PRO has featured photos of trucks owned by Dervin Witmer, of Pump That Septic, in Cassopolis, Michigan, and David and Andrea Knight, owners of Knight Environmental Services in Caledonia, Mississippi, decorated with lights for the holidays.

If your city or town has a Christmas parade, putting it on your should-do list for early winter means you’ll have some fun while getting your company name in front of a big crowd of potential customers.

FIND ANOTHER LINE OF WORK

For some PROs the offseason just means a different type of work, like plowing snow or spending more time on other aspects of their business. An example might be ramping up a small grease-trap-cleaning service. Adding an offseason line of business is an option many consider in order to make ends meet.

TACKLE INDOOR TASKS

Winter is a great time to accomplish things “back at the office.” It’s probably no coincidence that federal taxes have to be filed near the end of the offseason, giving business owners plenty of time to tackle that arduous task.

The offseason is also the perfect time to increase local marketing efforts. Maybe you’ve already joined the hometown chamber of commerce, but have you ever met with members of chambers in neighboring communities? You could also spend some time looking into local business networking groups to see if there is one or two you might join. Take time to get to know your local tourism board, too. This is the time of year when community event planners are looking into contracts for next summer’s fun runs, art fairs and music festivals. Let them know what your company can do for them.

There’s also a lot of marketing and technology should-do tasks to tackle in the offseason. Build or update a website. Increase your social media presence.

Remember how you started a blog in winter of 2012? It’s way past time to write a second entry. Tackling the little things that slip through the cracks in the summer can make a difference in the professionalism of your company. How about changing the telephone hold message that customers hear? Or finally going through that catalog of advertising premiums a sales rep dropped off six months ago and ordering something with the company logo on it to reward your best customers? Believe it or not, business cards are still important in this high-tech age. Do yours have outdated information you are correcting by hand every time you give one out? Order new ones in time for spring.

GET SCHOOLED

The offseason is also a great time to learn something new, because you finally have time to actually think. Get certified. Take a course and add to your skills. Get the ongoing education needed to renew your portable sanitation licensure in your state. Learn to use all the bells and whistles of your smartphone or business software. Take a Spanish-in-the-workplace class or learn to weld.

This is the optimum time for staff training as well. Who couldn’t use a refresher in safety, customer service or some job-specific skill?

Of course, lots of education and training can be found at the 2016 Water & Wastewater Equipment, Treatment & Transport (WWETT) Show. Planning for and attending the show is a highlight of the slow season for many PROs around the country … and the world! It should definitely be on your “should-do” list for Feb. 17-20.

HAVE A PLAN

Depending on your location, the slow season might be a long way off, but planning for it early will make it a much more productive time. If you and your crew are hard at work during the slow season, the time will seem to fly by and before you know it you’ll be springing into the busy season again. But you’ll have a better, stronger company come spring if everything on your should-do list has been checked off.



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