Offseason Prep Q&A with Branch Manager Dustin Cover

Posted December 19, 2016

Whether work slows down because of the holidays, weather or a lighter project load, there are some things that all contractors can (and should) do to set their businesses up for success when work picks up again. To give contractors some insight into how they can take advantage of slow times, we sat down with ABC Supply branch manager Dustin Cover.

Dustin manages the ABC Supply branch in Mesa, Arizona, recently transitioning from manager of the Lakewood, Washington, location. While some contractors don’t have a true “offseason,” Dustin says most tend to see a decreased workload around the holidays and often experience periods of winter weather that force them and their crews to temporarily stop working on projects.

Regardless if a slow period lasts for two hours or two months, Dustin believes that contractors can use these times to learn new skills and build their businesses.

ABC Supply Branch Manager Dustin CoverQ: Why is it in contractors’ best interests to spend time prepping for the upcoming year during their slower periods of work?

A: After a busy stretch on the job, it’s easy to want to take a step back from work when things calm down. However, this slower time provides a valuable opportunity for contractors to make investments that strengthen their skills and businesses. Contractors who use this time to prep for the upcoming year are more likely to set themselves up for success in the future because they’ll be prepared to take on new opportunities and challenges.

Q: What should be done during slower periods of work from a business management standpoint?

A: Slow periods of work are great times to evaluate the success of past jobs so that the information gathered can be applied to future projects. This is also a good time to review lost bids to understand how factors like price and value may have impacted them so that contractors can adjust their approaches for their next bid cycles.

As contractors review the previous year, they should also forecast and look ahead to anticipated work. Participating in training events also strengthens their skills and knowledge of the industry.

Q: What kinds of training should contractors participate in?

A: The industry is constantly evolving. While it’s important to stay up to date on rules and regulations all year long, slower periods of work are great times for contractors to dive in and make sure they really understand the policies affecting their specific trade or region. It’s often tough to follow industry changes during busy times, but it is so important to the health of your business.

This is also an ideal time to attend industry or supplier events that can provide a deeper knowledge and understanding of the products, tools, trends and services that can benefit a business in the coming year. To assist contractors with this, ABC Supply branches often set up events, meetings and seminars throughout the year to help contractors gain product knowledge and learn ways to build their businesses.

Q: What is the benefit of diversifying a business?

A: If a contractor’s crew is already at a job doing one project, they can easily increase the revenue for that project by adding additional services. Every contractor’s business is different, so diversifying services may not be for everyone. However, contractors looking to expand the services they offer will likely find that their slow period is the perfect time to invest in the skills and tools they need to do more in their busy times.

Q: Are slow periods of work good times to adapt new processes or technology? 

A: Yes! When I talk to contractors during their busier times about technology that can benefit their businesses, I often hear that they are interested but don’t have the time to think about new tech or implement it.

If contractors are going to invest in technology, they want to know that it’s going to provide real results. That’s why their slow times are ideal for bringing in new technology or processes to their businesses. It gives them time to really understand what tech can do for them when work picks up again. Another piece of advice that I share with contractors who invest in new technology is that to better understand how it works, use it on a couple of jobs. Once they are more comfortable with the process and features of the program, they can use it for all of their projects.

Q: What kinds of technology should contractors consider investing in during their slow periods?

A: I’m a big advocate for programs that make people’s jobs safer and easier, which is so important when considering that many contractors currently face a shortage of skilled labor. Technology can help contractors’ crews work faster and use fewer resources, which can make jobs more efficient and profitable and lessen the skilled labor shortage burden that many contractors experience.

As for specific tech programs that can help contractors’ businesses, ABC Supply offers an online program called ABC Connect that integrates with industry software. There are a lot of benefits that an online program like this can have for contractors’ businesses, including making it possible for them to build estimates and place orders 24/7.
 

ABC Supply and its associates are committed to helping contractors grow their businesses and do their jobs easier because we understand that we are only successful when our customers are successful. To learn more about how ABC Supply can help you improve your business, talk to an ABC Supply associate or visit abcsupply.com/blog