Project Practitioners > The Key to More Work

The Key to More Work

By Chris Cook, PMP

READ TIME: 5 minutes

 

In construction or any similar industry, the winter is slow. The weather gets cold. The ground freezes. People do not want to be outside or physically cannot for too long without risking bodily harm. The work orders start to decrease, and people get laid off until the Spring.

The holidays also impact the schedule. Naturally, around Thanksgiving and Christmas, people have other ideas for their time. Instead of wondering when the next shipment arrives, they are planning to have family over for dinner. They are deciding which gifts to get each other. Decorating around the house becomes a priority.

Those 50-, 60-, or 80-hour workweeks make up for the slower times in their minds. As an organization, that should be the case as well. However, if you are starting up and did not get a full season’s worth of work, this slowdown is nerve-wracking.

You start to ask questions about surviving. You know you put out a good product or service. Your clients are happy with your work. They are slowing down and cannot force work orders to appear. You rely on their work orders. This cause and effect can determine your initial success.

For smaller companies, this slowdown is expected yet always a cause for concern. During the season, was there enough revenue to carry through to the next year? If not, how can you drum up work to remain active?

 

Stillness

In the wake of the storm of nothingness, remain still. When all appears lost, increasing your stress and anxiety helps no one. You become short with those around you. You lose sight of the goal. Instead of long-term impacts, you start to focus on the immediate.

Some respond well to adversity. They take the hits, yet keep on coming. They remain still in action and thought. Others respond with reckless abandon. They start saying yes to projects and tasks out of desperation instead of thoughtful, long-term decision making.

Stillness, taking a breath, and sticking to your vision are priorities. Keeping your identity and not confusing busyness for action. Stay on the path. Remain calm. Be true to you and your organization.

 

Volume

Continue to fill the pipeline with leads and reach out. Might not have an immediate impact, but remaining at the forefront of their brains keeps you involved. Following up is difficult when things are getting thrown at you every minute of the day. Now that the days are slowing down, start to follow up on those lost work orders and rebuild any relationships that have suffered.

During the busy times, having only one or two clients can be all you need. Then, things start to slow down, and that work disappears. Their in-house staff can manage it, and the need for you dissipates.

However, if you have five or six clients who depend on you, those one to three work orders per client adds up over the week. They are slow, but each slow company adds up to you. Their cycles may not line up either. One slow week for a client could be another’s uptick week. They tend to balance out over time.

Continuing to stress the importance of reaching out and building that client base wider and wider. By doing so, each supports the other. While some foundations with clients may be deeper, having many of them can pay off during slow times.

Your larger clients go quiet, but the one smaller client needs a full remodel to fill out your week. Sprinkle in some smaller tasks, and your month does not look so bad.

 

Just Do It

Not acting makes it worse. That spiral continues downward if you sit and stew. You start to look ahead, and it is bleak. You do not see how this ends well. You continue to think no work orders will ever come through again and you should plan your exit strategy.

All of this continues when you do not do anything. Of course, no work comes in if no work is put in. Action must take place. Send the email. Make the phone call. Take the meeting. Drive around and solicit. There are always options. Doing nothing is one of them but makes it worse.

Ask for follow up on old work orders that are forgotten during a busier time. The work still needs to be done. Send some discount pricing. $35 per hour is better than $0 per hour. It may only cover costs, but who cares? You are treading water right now. Beggars cannot be choosers.

Act swiftly.

 

Takeaways

Downturns are eventual. Even meteoric rises have dipped. Enjoy it while it lasts but also plan for the worst. Do not pull all of the money out assuming you produce dollar bills by the handful. At some point, that assumption will get tested.

Winter is a great reminder for organizations that feasting like royalty is not year-round. Times can get lean. Bulk up in the warmer months so you can cut weight in the colder months. This resolve helps an organization grow stronger. You become battle-tested and prepared for anything.

Each work order is a bonus instead of needed. You have all of the resources necessary to survive so anything that comes your way adds fuel to that fire. Remain calm in these times. Your team feeds off of that energy. If you are anxious, they begin to worry. Be honest, and keep a level head.

Turn your focus to volume. Cultivate the clients you have already and see if there is more you could be doing. If not, start to reach out again. How did you get your current clients? Start to mine those areas again. Be relentless in your pursuit. The goal does not end with ‘no.’ You learn to deal with ‘no’ and how to turn those into future relationships.

Act. Nothing gets done by sitting around thinking about the possibilities. You must put fingers to the keyboard. You must put words and thoughts into action.

 

https://www.crcpress.com/The-Entrepreneurial-Project-Manager/Cook/p/book/9781498782357



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