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The Sharpest Tool™

Seasonality Strategy: How to Maximize Your Off-Season

Cheryl McRae
Josh Smith
Matt Eckhart, Director of Business Development in Home Services at Scorpion, shares his expert tips for conquering seasonality, maximizing your off-season, and boosting your revenue with a smart marketing strategy.

Josh Smith (00:03):

Hello, and welcome to the sharpest tool where we take the sting out of marketing with everything that we're bringing to the table. My name is Josh Smith. I'll be your host today. And, uh, I'm really excited cause we have Matthew Eckhart in the booth who is a director of business development for the home services division here at scorpion. So Matthew, welcome.

Matt Eckhart (00:19):

Thanks for having me, Josh. Honestly,

Josh Smith (00:21):

It's, it's great for Tabby here in the booth and I want to give our listeners a little inside scoop as to what a director of business development does day in and day out. What's your name?

Matt Eckhart (00:31):

Yeah, I spend the day on the phone with contractors, I'm kind of developing strategies to help them attract more of their ideal customers in their local markets really is with an understanding of their business, their business goals, and really what they want to accomplish year in and year out, depending on what it is. More new trucks, more new tax revenue base has just formulating those plans that really help them get there.

Josh Smith (00:52):

What do you find is like a consistent challenge that you're seeing with today's contractor?

Matt Eckhart (00:57):

It's seasonality. I mean, we're dealing with that right now. I'm there really there's two sides of it. There's the people who have been planning for it and are actively doing it. There's the, then the complete other side is it's hot out and we're having this crazy weather right now and then their phone's not ringing. So it's definitely dealing with a seasonality thing,

Josh Smith (01:14):

I think seasonality. And so give me a little inside scoop like, well, let's step back for a minute. What, what is marketing for seasonality mean? What's, what's that look like in your world?

Matt Eckhart (01:24):

Right? It's really about showing up at the right time with the right messaging for the type of season that they're in is like when you're leading up to a hot, traditionally hot season, you have some months that are always hot. So leading up to that, you want to make sure that you're in front of those people with messaging similar to like, Hey, you're about to be that hot season. And let's put in that preventative maintenance that you typically see HVAC companies doing of like servicing those units, making sure that when they fire them up in a hot season, that they actually fire up and don't blow ups. And then the reverse of that, of like when it's cold, same kind of thing

Josh Smith (01:58):

With a lot of different types of businesses, not just HVAC plumbers, what are the types of businesses that you typically help?

Matt Eckhart (02:04):

Yeah. Anything homeless home. Service-related when you have like basically a tech or contract or walking into a home roofing, pest control, plumbing, HVAC, carpet, cleaners, pretty much anything where someone would walk into a home and service a home.

Josh Smith (02:19):

Would you say that seasonality affects every single one of these, you know, these business types that to work?

Matt Eckhart (02:26):

Absolutely. If that can be storm-related and there can be people who do restoration type work, those are definitely seasonalities of when those immediate needs hit, but then it's also in the off seasons, making sure that you're planning for that. Like you have enough tax on hand when things get busy or when there's slow down of not necessarily laying off people, but put them into like a bear, like their little dormant stage of not quite as much work as are used to.

Josh Smith (02:50):

And how does that change the kind of marketing messages that you're getting in front of, you know, and that you're putting in front of people, you know, I know it's about the right message, right. Time, right place. Obviously during seasonality there's decreases in searches, I'm sure there's people aren't looking for things as much and that's impacting the business. So how does a business owner stay in front of those, those changes for the slow season? I know you're you mentioned HVAC coming into the slow season a couple of months away. Right? That's every, every business owner is looking at that. So how, how do you change and adjust your strategy to where you're not having to lay people off and you're not having to make some of those tough business decisions in that respect. Yeah.

Matt Eckhart (03:32):

Yeah. I mean, a example of that as I talk, I'm talking to refer now and there's typical slow season is August, September for whatever reason is that people aren't willing or wanting to pay a fee for getting something done. It's like that it's not a necessity at that time. So they're not thinking with it, but it's getting them with a message that says something along the lines of it's preventative is like, you're trying to prevent them from a job that can be a $300 patch job on your roof to a $10,000 roof replace, maybe because you waited too long. So it's messaging like that is like really just saving the consumer money in the long run of, if you don't address this now a small fix can then be a huge fix.

Josh Smith (04:12):

Sure. And D do you find in your dealing with business owners that a lot of them are aware of what the service offerings seasonality aspect is?

Matt Eckhart (04:20):

Yes and no. I mean, there are some that have been around a while, so they kind of understand it more from a, just a seasonality is they're typically slow. So they know it's just a status quo of the business where it doesn't have to be that.

Josh Smith (04:31):

Yeah. And oftentimes, do they have an idea of the types of products or services that they might shift their focus to when it comes to their marketing

Matt Eckhart (04:39):

Again? Yes and no. The more well laid out ones are the definitely ones that don't necessarily have what is traditionally known as a slow season where they're doing that preventative steps, whether it's internal locals, like they just send their guys on vacation, not necessarily most ideal for them, but so far as a revenue stream. But then again, it's, they've adapted over the years and have their own plans, not necessarily a marketing strategy and plan. And that's where we kind of come in and say, Hey, look, traditionally, this is your slow period. It doesn't have to be,

Josh Smith (05:11):

It doesn't have to be if every business owner could hear that, I'm sure they'd be, that'd be music to their ears. Oftentimes we look at seasonality I'm sure. And it's, it's such a negative, you know, a monkey on the back of the business owner, right. Um, how can marketing impact seasonality really head on in a very positive way? Can it affected in a positive way? Does it have to be this negative, this negative connotation?

Matt Eckhart (05:36):

Oh, it has to be part of your overall strategy when you're looking at, Hey, there's probably a little bit less search volume for those particular things, but it's, it's not where people are spending their time as like there's still people spending their time on social media. So shifting and adapting to where people are spending their time and then actually putting out messaging that is still like, Hey, now's the time to act for, uh, fixing that leaky roof because when the storm season comes, it's going to create restoration problems, mold problems, so many problems. So it's about marketing to what people are looking for at that time.

Josh Smith (06:10):

What would you say, just kind of a curious, random thought. What would you say in your experience with dealing with these business owners in their busy season? How much of the annual revenue is their busy season, really accounting for? Is there a percentage that you might typically see, do most businesses see 70% of their revenue come from their busy season? Or what does that look like?

Matt Eckhart (06:32):

Yeah, great question. I mean, what I typically say is that it is what you nail that is about 70% is that are there, they're so focused on that, those seasons where it's just like the phone's ringing off the hook, they're scheduling stuff. Two weeks out, all their guys are backed back jobs. But again, having to rely on that, let's say the weather is mild. Like it has been in certain locations this year, or just crazy weather when you're so reliant on those factors, you can lose a lot of revenue if the weather doesn't cooperate with you.

Josh Smith (07:02):

So how should you plan really from, from a marketing perspective, how should you plan the, for the slow seasons as things start to slow down when looking at your budget and the diversification of your marketing, what would that look like for an HVAC contract?

Matt Eckhart (07:17):

Yeah. I mean, you definitely want to diversify and make sure that you're showing up where people are spending their time. That's what it's all about as I just, cause they're not doing a search for AC repair or staying with the client, they're still spending Tom online. They may be watching YouTube videos and maybe paying attention to social media. They're always on social media. So advertising and those places while still paying attention to that in need services that, um, typical paid advertising does like PBC with Google, but it's really making sure that you're diversifying it. And then really just with that, the messages that lead to them, giving you a call because you've peaked enough interest for them to really just say, wow, that fits my scenario of like, you have a AC unit that was dripping a lot during the summer. So maybe I need to get that paid attention to, so when I fire it up in the winter, it's not going to poop out on me.

Josh Smith (08:06):

Yeah. So, well, how would you say, what would you say is the impact actually of if you do it right in the off season, I'm sure you've seen a lot of businesses who have this locked down now, you know that they get it there, they understand the impact of it, the short term and the longterm impact. What is the impact for the following season? That's your busy season? What's the impact of doing it right in the off season and making sure that you're not just shutting everything off from a marketing perspective, but you're staying in front of those customers. What's that? How does that affect the next year?

Matt Eckhart (08:37):

It really helps it grow. You're staying in front of your, your customers during the times where they're not necessarily going to call you for in demand. Service is where you're doing is preventative maintenance is you're keeping the guys in the call. It the off season, busy with service work that is going to prevent things from happening in the slow months. Those slow months you're able to really just get in front of them for that type of business. Just keeps your, your schedule pretty full with the service work. But then in this on demand stuff that you're hoping happens that

Josh Smith (09:09):

Available for that. How important is it in terms of building the brand to, and the value that you're providing customers, keeping your mind fresh in people's minds? Does that play a factor?

Matt Eckhart (09:17):

Absolutely. I mean the more, I mean the customer loyalty, isn't what it used to be is like you see a lot more people just pulling out their phone, doing a search, finding whoever is available at that time. So keeping relevant, keeping in those searches as like we have people who turn advertising off, not definitely not the smartest of things to do because people aren't have that brand loyalty. Even if they look you up, make sure you're there in that search. Yeah,

Josh Smith (09:40):

Absolutely. You mentioned the loyalty is not what it's used to be. I want to kind of dive into that a little bit more because I think that's really valuable and important for a lot of owners to understand just because you do business once with a company, it doesn't mean that their loyalty, I heard a quote once it was that immediacy trumps loyalty. And so when a customer has an immediate need, the customer loyalty is out of the questions out the window. If you're not there, they're not going to be loyal to you because they have an immediate need. Describe that a bit more to me that that idea of customer loyalty is not what it used to be. How so? And in what ways can business owners get in front of that?

Matt Eckhart (10:19):

It's really about making again, sure that you're, you're always showing up when searches are done for that need. As a person is going to do a search on their phone, on their computer, whatever it is, and pretty much call the first person they find is they may even do a search for your name of your company. And if you guys aren't there, they are going to click and call that person who's on there. And it happens all the time. I mean, we run a pretty strong campaigns against that to make sure that our guys show up where they need to, when that person does that search and my name because it's that customer loyalty is hasn't been passed down through the generations. People are losing business, people are moving in, people are moving out. You just have to constantly adapt and change for what's happening in your marketplace.

Josh Smith (10:59):

Definitely. Let's talk about planning a little bit. I think that's something a lot of business owners might struggle with. A lot of business owners probably are built into the tray. They apprenticed into the tray. They weren't apprenticing as a business owner, but as a technician. And so now they've your average business owner finds himself in charge of this, you know, multimillion dollar company potentially, or even just a startup. So planning, how should you plan for seasonal marketing from a strategy perspective? You know, talk a little bit about hiring lead flow, that marketing funnel. How should you plan moving into those months? Yeah,

Matt Eckhart (11:36):

I definitely have to diversify and pay attention to what traditionally is. Like if depending on the type of business you're in of like what actually drives business for the on demand side of things versus the kind of advertising and things that people are just paying to call it the off season. And then when you're looking at the most home service contractors call the off season is times where it's typically slow during those times. You definitely still want to make sure you're out there, but also be providing informational things like, Hey, now's the time to check and make sure fire up here to make sure it works. Um, those types of things. And then in the midst of the hot seasons or the cold seasons, or even in plumbing when pipes are freezing as being in front of them for those types of things. So it's adjusting your strategy based on what's happening in, uh, in the marketplace at that time. If you can plan that with your, your marketing team, it's really just, you're not going to have these ups downs as much as you would see in a company that's not planning for those things.

Josh Smith (12:35):

Sure. And what different services do business owners really need to con they need to consider, you know, to offer based on the seasonality, when things start to go low or dip low, what do they need to dial up in order to stay relevant and in front of potential problems for customers?

Matt Eckhart (12:52):

Yeah, it's really about billing. The value of getting their unit service is a simple $300. Checkup can go a long ways to making sure that when you fire it up and not the off season, that it's not going to blow up on you and you're going to need a whole new unit. I see it constantly with my guys that I work with as that as like really making sure that they're, they're doing the service because it does bring a lot of value to those people and smart consumers tend to see that.

Josh Smith (13:17):

Awesome. We talk a lot about the marketing funnel and this idea of the different stages of the consumer journey. You mentioned different stages of the consumer journey. Where is your customer at? Where are they hanging out? What message do you need the right. How does that play into seasonality? Are you shifting focus to a specific part of the consumer journey in the off season versus the on season? And how should you maximize your marketing mix for the funnel at the different stages?

Matt Eckhart (13:45):

A sales funnel is very important. I mean, you have people doing research on like, okay, well this last, let's say the last summer, my AC wasn't keeping my home cold. What can I do to prevent that next year? Because it was a miserable year in my house. My kids were crying, that type of thing. So it's when you're advertising to those people, you definitely want to make sure you're providing information about what units are out there. What a typical home size should have as the type of unit to keep that square footage, cool zoning, things like that, providing information that is really that top part of the funnel. And in the middle, you kind of have where people are in that decision-making mode. They're probably going to be choosing someone to come in and put in a new unit or install new toilet that it has better water flow or whatnot, or they just had another kid. So there, there's definitely factors that go into this that are unseen. So you definitely want to make sure you're hitting it out. Then you have the demand, people who are like, I need to fix, let's just get in and do it. So it's making sure that you hit them at all phases of whatever part they're in, in that funnel to maximize the impact.

Josh Smith (14:46):

Exactly.

Matt Eckhart (14:47):

If they just see you, like, if they're just cruising around social media and they see little advertisements for you, they're just going to remember that name and that and customer loyalty, again, not being what it used to, just the frequency of seeing you in all the searches that they're doing in the social media and all their feeds. It just leads to when it comes in time of need, or it comes in time of, Hey, I need to get this thing serviced. They'll think of you.

Josh Smith (15:09):

Awesome, Matt. Well, this has been awesome. I want to wrap this up with a nice bow. So, uh, we're for those experiencing seasonality, whatever stage you're in for your business, what would you say is the one piece of advice that you can give them in order to maximize their marketing efforts in the off season?

Matt Eckhart (15:26):

It's really don't stop. What you're doing during the nod off season is it's a traditional thing to just shut everything off and just give up. It's not the strategy that's going to make you guys succeed and win business and get whatever hit, whatever goals that as you want to do is come up with a strategy that keeps you in front of those people who are actively searching or doing on finding services that you guys provide.

Josh Smith (15:48):

Well, this has been awesome. I appreciate you taking the time out of your busy day to talk to all our listeners. So thank you. Thank you so much. And for all of you listening, if you enjoyed the content you heard today, definitely hit that subscribe button wherever you might be at. So we can continue to bring more things your way. And from all of us here at the sharpest tool, we'll catch you next time. Thanks.

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