Photo of an untidy desk

What can you do for YOUR business whilst in Lockdown?

Now we are in lockdown sales, jobs and customers are hard to get or actually complete.

Don’t waste this time you’ve been given just watching Netflix and doing housework. Spend some time each day working ON your business so that when the lockdown ends, you are in the best possible position to get back to work and recover the losses you have are suffering right now.

Here are some ideas of a few activities you can complete that, for the most part, will only cost you some of your time.

First, start with the jobs you have been putting off for a “rainy day”!

If you have a van, home office, shop or any working area, give a tidy. You have no excuse to clear up all the piles of paperwork, stock, rubbish etc. that accumulates over a normal working day.

By having a good spring clean you may find stock you didn’t know you had, paperwork you thought you had lost etc. Be ruthless and bag up all the rubbish (for when the local refuse centres are open again).

Tidy and sort your “tools”, it doesn’t matter if they are workman tools or office stationery, tidy them, sort them, get rid of broken ones and make a list of any you need to replace or renew.

This applies to power tools if you use them and anything than needs servicing or calibrating. Get them sorted now whilst you don’t need them so often.

If like most people, you put off these jobs because you find them boring and difficult to get started, have a look at my tips on “How to start a job you really hate or find boring”.

Now move on to your current paperwork and files.

Make sure all your jobs have been invoiced, you’ve sent out all your quotes and followed up with all your leads.

File everything away where it should be and sort all your paperwork for your accountant.

And whilst you are thinking about your accounts, speak to your accountant about any ways they can help (defer VAT payments, if possible, claim for Government support etc.).

Create your list of things to do (To Do List)

Your brain can only hold a finite amount of information so empty it onto a to do list.

This can be on paper or an app on your phone or computer.

Just list everything you are thinking about doing or need to do. During your workspace tidy you might have found some things you need to replace or ways to keep it tidy, add them to your to do list and update it as you think of new ideas.

The list can be any task or idea you have with any relevant information but the reason they are helpfull is that once you have recorded the idea or job, you can forget about it (in your head as the task still needs to be done as some point) and give you brain room to come up with more ideas,jobs and tasks.

To Do lists are obviously nothing new but they are rarely used properly by most people (ironically as they are often too busy!). There are many ways of creating and using a to do list but for a starter guide, I have a look at my article -“How to set up and use your first To Do List”

Now the physical stuff is sorted, let’s look at your customers.

Get your customer list in order.

Your existing customers are repeat business so if you don’t have a record of all your customers details, start now.

This record can be a paper record, but often it is best to get the details on the computer. If you can, open up excel or Google sheets and start creating a list of all your customer details.

If you already have customer details on the computer, go through them and add any missing details or missing records.

Once you have a list of customers, you can use this to see when their next service is due and contact them to book them in for June so that you have work booked as things return to normal. ou can always reschedule if the restrictions are still in place.

You can then use this list in the future to remind customer each year.

You can store any information you need so as an example, for heating engineers it could be:

  • Details of their system – so you know what you are likely to find when you next visit).
  • Dates of installs, boilers, cylinders, pumps, controllers etc.
  • Warranty dates – so you know if their products are still in warranty (reduce wasted calls).
  • Service dates – so you can remind the customer when a service is due and book it.
  • Email addresses and other contact details – for keeping in touch.
  • Any notes relating to the customer – good or bad payers, best contact methods, previous discussions about future work etc.
  • Reminder dates – If they have mentioned they might want some work done in the future, add a date to their record to call them about the work.

Right now you might keep this information in various places and mostly in your head but getting the information into a system, helps clear your head so you aren’t constantly thinking about what has to be done next.

If you are not comfortable with computers or don’t know where to start I have a template I can send you as a starting point.

If you hate computers, then do it with paper. Create a paper form with all boxes for all the information you want to store and photocopy or print out one for each customer and keep them in a folder.

If you are not an organised person, then, get someone to help, your wife, children, anyone who can get your started.

But, you might ask, why should I bother, I never have before?

Because times are changing and the current situation will have long-lasting effects (think back to 2008) and this system will allow you to get extra work from your existing customer that you would have missed out on in the past.

Once you have that sorted, you can look at marketing your business!

Yes, I know you probably get your customer through referrals or maybe you already have some form of marketing in place but whilst you have the time, why not have a look at what else you could be doing?

Marketing doesn’t have to be paid ads and time wasting. The customer system above is marketing! Any action that promotes your business, products and services, even to existing customers is marketing.

So what can you do yourself?

Learn the basics of marketing. You won’t feel like you need a shower after, they can be things you are already doing or could be the spark that rebuilds your business stronger and more resilient to future events.

Read some books –

  • Look on Amazon for books related to your topic of interest such as
  • How to create website content
  • SEO for beginners
  • Marketing basics

Watch some YouTube Videos

  • If you prefer to watch rather than read, search on YouTube for videos about anything of interest

Join a Facebook group

  • You don’t have to get involved, you can just monitor others questions and advice.

Join a local network group

  • Many are doing it by ZOOM video so no need to get out of your pyjama bottoms).

Learn about LinkedIn and sort your profile

  • Get a good profile picture.
  • Create a unique banner.
  • Flesh out your profile with how you help your customers and what services or products you offer.

Get your online presence sorted

  • Google My Business.
  • Website.
  • Create content.
  • Possibly create your social media accounts.

If you have an artistic flair

  • Design a flyer.
  • Create a brochure to give to customers highlighting your services.
  • Create a neighbour postcard.
  • Sort your business card, letterhead, invoice template etc.

If you are active on social media

  • Get your LinkedIn profile set up and optimised.
  • Get your Facebook page tidied and optimised.
  • Create some content for your social accounts that you can post in the future.
  • Learn about the best use of social media.
  • Learn how to automate social media.

Don’t forget you and you family.

There is so much you can do right now with your spare time to help you recover when this all ends but don’t forget yourself and your family.

Make some time to be involved with them, you might not have a chance when business picks-up.

  • Movie nights or matinees.
  • Take advantage of the outside walk with your family to just chat.
  • Keep the children amused – play board games, cards, anything to interact.
  • Rediscover or get a new hobby.
  • Help your children with their hobbies and interests.
  • Keep in touch with family and friends outside of your home.
  • Tidy the loft.
  • Do those DIY jobs you have been putting off.

As bad as this lockdown is for some, if you and your family are healthy, there is no shame in seeing this as an opportunity to grow yourself and your business.

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