Amazingly, we’re already speeding toward the end of quarter one of 2022. After a rollercoaster two years, 2022 may be the one where the pandemic ends, and we move into “what’s next.” Though drain cleaning professionals have generally avoided some of the major downturns in work that other industries have experienced, the stress of 24 months of uncertainty have certainly still been felt. When setting your 2022 business goals, you may have been apprehensive about writing down anything “too lofty;” or perhaps you were the exact opposite, and decided to lean into the unknown and go all in. Either way, the end of Q1 offers a good opportunity to check in: are you on track to your goals?
We still don’t know how the rest of this year will pan out, and it’s of course always possible that you’ll need to adjust your goals in light of major changes to come. Yet, the first three months of the year give you valuable insight and a chance to course correct anything that doesn’t seem to be going the way you’d like. No matter what your goals encompass – a profit margin, an expanding team, a certain number of new customers – the following ideas will help you evaluate and keep moving forward.
Evaluate your pricing strategy
It’s likely that at least one of your 2022 goals is tied to how much you want your drain cleaning business to bring in this year. You may have made pricing adjustments for your services at the start of the year; however, considering the latest inflation numbers, it is a good idea to step back and look at your prices. Do they cover the costs to you associated with each service? Did you make any necessary increases to account for rising cost of materials and supply chain issues? And, most importantly: after those are covered, are you turning a profit for each service? It can also be helpful to separate your fixed costs (consistent regardless of sales, like rent, salaries, equipment) and your variable costs (rise as your sales increase, including materials, hourly labor, etc.). Lastly, take a look at your competition and get a refreshed idea of current market rate.
Get paid on time
A frustratingly common issue in the drain cleaning and plumbing world is clients who don’t pay their invoices on time. However, a steady cash flow is vital to ensuring you meet your business goals this year. Getting paid on time ensures a profit of course, but it’s also key to helping you invest in your business as planned. Review your current invoicing process and look for ways to tighten up and encourage timely payment. Make sure you have a prompt deadline for payment clearly stated; 30 days is a common option. Rather than add in an interest fee for late payment, rework your prices to offer a discount for early payment. For example, if you normally charge $200 for cleaning a pipe, adjust your regular price to $220 and offer a 10% discount for paying within 15 days instead of 30. When an instance does arise that you need to remind a customer to pay, don’t worry about making things awkward – this is your livelihood, after all. Keep things polite but keep a firm schedule of reminders about non-payment. Sometimes folks just need a gentle nudge to get an invoice taken care of.
Up your social media game
If your goals this year include growing your business and snagging more of the market share, social media will be an important tool for you. Social media platforms are today’s yellow pages and word of mouth recommendations. Thankfully, you don’t need to have a page for your business on every platform possible to see success; instead, you just need to do one well in the time that you have available. Make sure that your platform of choice is fully set up and includes easy ways to contact you. Learn about that platform’s audiences and styles of use and tap into them (hashtags on Instagram for example). If you are on a platform like Facebook that includes reviews, add calls for testimonials on invoices and email updates. Lastly, don’t forget about channels like Next Door and other neighborhood forums. Though you can’t set up a business page here, asking your customers to recommend you on these apps can be a powerful way to spread the word about your services.
Invest in your business
Even if your goals this year are more about maintaining or stabilizing, continuous investment in your business is important. As you do your Q1 check in, consider how you can upgrade right now, and what you may be saving for long term. For example, are you aiming to expand your capabilities and the amount of money you can bring in? It may be time to invest in a new camera you’ve been eyeing. Are you planning to take on more customers, and are already seeing success in Q1? You might benefit from hiring an additional set of hands. Investment can also look like paying for a new brand logo or website refresh or setting aside some budget for social media ads. It doesn’t need to be a massive expense each quarter to count; what matters is that it ties to your overall goals.
As you consider how you’re tracking toward your goals in 2022, be honest with yourself about how things are going. A challenging Q1 doesn’t mean your business is on the path to a bad year. Rather, consider any bumps in the road as opportunities to pause and reflect on your pricing, invoicing, social strategy, and ways to invest in your business. And once you’ve worked through your Q1 reflection, book a time for yourself at the end of Q2 to do it all again. Making regular time to review your business goals is one of the most important appointments in your quarterly calendar. Consider it a requirement of your role as a business owner and give yourself time to do the big picture thinking your business deserves.