I know, you’re done with snow. You’ve finished putting your equipment to bed for the season, and you’re focused on the summer work that many of you consider your core business. But resist the urge to ignore your snow business until after the last of the leaves have been cleaned up. Commit to a couple hours a week of sales and marketing for your winter work.
The economy is the strongest it has been since The Great Recession, and people have disposable income now. Here are some key drivers of your business:
Consumer confidence is at a 13-year high. The economy and the consumer sentiment that drives it have been climbing slowly out of the doldrums of the mid-2000s. It has been a slower recovery than usual, and many homeowners have been hesitant to part with their disposable income. But beginning late last year, consumers have been ratcheting up their spending on everything from durable goods to home maintenance services. Consumer spending and disposable incomes are at all-time highs, and household debt-to-GDP ratios are back to pre-housing-crisis levels. Consumers think it’s a good time to buy.
The service sector is at its highest point since 2015. The service economy — where landscaping, snow removal and other home services are measured — plummeted in 2008 immediately following the banking and housing crisis that dragged the general economy down into the most severe recession since shortly after WWII. It bounced back in 2011 and has remained stable since then. In April, business activity continued to increase, and new orders reached the highest volume since August 2005 as nonmanufacturers were largely positive about business conditions and the overall economy. Commercial and residential consumers are purchasing more services now that they can afford to do so.
Housing is bouncing back. Analysts say the housing market has almost fully recovered to pre-crisis levels. While I think this might be a tad optimistic, especially in the Northeast and Rust Belt, I do think housing prices are at about 80 percent of pre-crisis levels. In most cases, mortgages are solvent. New housing starts in 2017 have shown double-digit increases compared to the same period last year, and both new building permits and construction completions are inching higher every month in 2017. Those of us who remember the housing booms of the past understand the echo-boom of a strong housing market for the home- services industries. New perennial beds, patios, annual installations and service contracts for summer and winter maintenance alike should accompany new homes this year with projected increases for the next five years.
The economic recovery that many businesses have been waiting for might be finally here. And even if the macroeconomics don’t quite support the recent surge in spending, consumer confidence at this level often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: We spend our way out of recession. Use this time to sell year-round schedules. You’re talking to customers every day. Use the opportunity to further the conversation to gain incremental revenue and long-term contracts.
This issue explores sales and marketing ideas, summer equipment maintenance and other tips to maintain and expand your snow business during the summer months. This opportunity in space, time and economics won’t last forever. Analysts are already nervously watching an overheated stock market that is riding the momentum of a new administration. A down cycle is inevitable, but for now, it’s definitely selling season.
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