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How to Build a Recession-Proof Business

Published on May 12, 2020

Everyone is desperate to find answers and foresee the unforeseeable future… 


It seems like everywhere you look, there’s an article saying we’re going to have a recession… another one saying we’re not… and another saying we’re already in one. When in reality, no one actually knows.

Since I’m assuming none of us have a crystal ball to see into the future, you should prepare your business for whatever could come our way.

By the end of this article, you’ll know how to make your business recession-proof and withstand any economic crisis.

Join an Association to Take Action on the Things That Matter

Depending on your state (lawn care, cleaning), your business may or may not be considered essential.

If your business is not deemed essential in your state, this is where joining forces with an industry association can come in handy.

For instance, a green industry association has taken action to protect their industry. On their website, they’ve uploaded letters you can submit to take part in getting your industry deemed essential (this is free and open to non-members).

By joining an association, you’ll get things like:

  • Business toolkits
  • Supplier discounts
  • Industry training and certifications

Plus, when you join a community, you’ll have access to thousands of other successful business owners in your industry.

And if you can’t afford to join an association, they offer basic access to their resources for free to non-members.

You can join either a state and/or industry association. Based on your industry, these are a few of your options:

Build a Solid Relationship With Your Clients

During a recession, it’s incredibly common (and inevitable) to lose clients.

That said, the best way to minimize the number of clients you lose is by building a solid relationship with your clients.
Even without a recession, you should always maintain consistent communication with your clients.

This includes things like:

  • Holiday cards
  • Rain delay announcements
  • Sending routine satisfaction surveys
  • Having your office staff call your client after a complaint to rectify the situation
  • Inform your clients of operational changes (i.e. the measures you’re taking for COVID-19)

At this point, you’re probably thinking, “I don’t have time for all of that”. Which would be true, if it weren’t for Service Autopilot Automations. With our Automations, you can automatically send your emails and two-way texts. Plus, Service Autopilot tracks the data for you too!

By building a strong relationship with your clients, they’re way less likely to leave you during a time of crisis.

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Your Employees Are Your Service

Most of you are probably already doing this, but for those that aren’t… Your employees are the lifeblood of your business, so treat them right.

  • Pay them well.
  • Offer gifts and bonuses.
  • Listen to their concerns.
  • Don’t overwork your teams.
  • Offer proper benefits (like PTO).
  • Protect their health and safety, ALWAYS.

Even in the best of circumstances, you should always treat your employees with the utmost respect and decency.

Since providing quality service takes a huge part in keeping your clients happy, you need to make sure you’re offering your team the proper work environment.

Now more than ever, during the COVID-19 pandemic it’s incredibly important to protect the health and safety of your teams.

Even if your business is considered essential during the COVID-19 crisis, you should still take the proper precautions:

  • If anyone feels uncomfortable coming to work, let them stay home.
  • Check in with your teams DAILY via video meeting or conference call.
  • Provide your team with the proper essentials (i.e. water, hand sanitizer, bleach wipes).
  • Encourage sick employees to stay home (consider offering sick leave to further encourage it).
  • Separate your crews as much as possible (if they can be put in a vehicle by themselves - do it).
  • If possible, EVERYONE in your offices should work from home (this is especially easy to do with Service Autopilot).

Also, don’t forget! Tell your clients all of the things you’re doing to protect your team, because it, in turn, protects them too.

Your employees matter, and the more you do for them, the more they’re willing to do for you. So treat them right.

Have Emergency Procedures Set in Place

The moment COVID-19 caused shelter-in-place orders around the country, thousands of business owners went into total panic mode.

… but some business owners were cool and collected.

Here’s why: They already had emergency plans in place.

Even though you can’t predict unprecedented catastrophes like COVID-19, you can still have basic emergency procedures set in place in case something happens.

And while it’s impossible to be prepared for anything that comes our way, we can certainly do our best to try.

By creating a basic emergency plan, you’re giving yourself a framework to adjust to the circumstances.

These are a few examples of emergency procedures you should create for your business:

  • A plan for communicating with your team
  • A strategy for getting the word out to your clients
  • A list of who can work from home (Can you? Can your office staff?)
  • A strategy for ceasing operations (Who can still work from home? What are some things you can be doing at that time?)
  • A plan for continuing operation during unexpected circumstances (How will your team continue servicing properties while also maintaining safety?)

The best part about all of this is that you’ve likely already started most (if not all) of these plans to copy with COVID-19.

Take what you’ve learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. Jot down all of the strategies you’re using for COVID-19 that are working. Then, use those same strategies to develop a basic action plan to use in the future.

Don't Stop Marketing Your Business

In times of crisis, many business owners think they should stop spending altogether - but that’s simply not true.

Despite what you might think, you can still continue marketing your business at low-cost through things like Facebook Ads, Google Ads, and email marketing.

In fact, Facebook and Google Ads tend to be cheaper during an economic downturn.

It’s important to keep marketing to leads because you’re going to need to replace the clients you’ll inevitably lose. Plus, your business doesn’t stop just because there’s a recession. The continuous need for finding new clients to grow your business is STILL THERE.

Actually, you should try to sell even more because your competition won’t be! Since most of your competitors will be too afraid to continue full-throttle marketing, your competition will be slim pickings.

Also, don’t forget to keep marketing to your current clients too! You should still be marketing to upsell and cross-sell to them whenever it makes sense for your business.

Just like anything else, the economy is a rollercoaster. It ebbs and flows with time.

This is why most financial advisors tell you to do the exact opposite of everyone else.

When the economy is at its best, most people are taking their riskiest ventures and investments. But just like a rollercoaster, the “high-highs” won’t last long before dropping to the “low-lows”. And likewise, the low-lows won’t last long before reaching the high-highs.

So while everyone else is overspending in an awesome economy, that’s when you should be the most cautious. And when the economy has hit rock bottom, if you can, that’s when you should look into taking advantage of lower-cost ventures that weren’t available to you in a good economy.

Bottom line: Despite what the economic experts think, the economy is totally unpredictable. Our current economy is proof of that.

You should always make prudent financial decisions that are best FOR YOU. This helps you to prepare yourself for whatever comes your way. Which brings me to my next point… 

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Profit Matters: Give Yourself a Financial Cushion

In order to prepare for whatever comes your way, you’ll need to give yourself a financial cushion.

But building a financial cushion is harder than it seems because it involves:

  • Properly paying your employees
  • Setting yourself a realistic salary
  • Properly pricing your services for profit
  • Budgeting for expenses (recurring and unexpected)
  • Consistently contributing to a company saving account
  • Creating a company bank account separate from your personal one

Many companies miss the mark when they survive by the skin of their teeth.

They leave little to no savings for their business… So when something catastrophic (like COVID-19) swoops in, they either lose their business or cause long-lasting financial damage

Especially in uncertain times, building a financial cushion can be the difference between the life or death of your business. You can’t afford not to do it

Contact Your Creditors: Don't Wait Until It's Too Late

When disaster strikes, most creditors are more understanding of missed payments.

After all, if everyone is missing payments, they can’t take everyone to collections - or they likely wouldn’t get their money for years (if at all).

When shelter-in-place orders were issued during COVID-19, shortly after these companies told their landlord they couldn’t pay rent:

  • H&M
  • Subway
  • Mattress Firm
  • Cheesecake Factory

And many cities, like San Francisco, are allowing rent to be deferred.

The key is that you have to talk to your creditors.

If your business can’t pay rent for your offices, immediately talk to your landlord and see if you can work something out (if there’s not already a city ordinance in place).

Can’t meet your insurance payments for your company vehicles? Talk to your insurance company as soon as you find out.

Bottom line: Communicate with your creditors because they might be more lenient than you think. You just have to communicate with them as soon as possible. Don’t wait until the last minute.

Financial Aid Can Help You Survive

In a broken economy, everyone is struggling. This means the US government will likely offer stimulus plans, grants, low-interest business loans, and other financial resources to keep the economy from totally tanking.

This is exactly what’s happened with the COVID-19 pandemic.

If your business has been affected by COVID-19, here are a few potential options the government has made available to you:

SBA Free Business Counseling

The SBA has several free, local counseling options for businesses throughout the US.

You can take advantage of their local assistance programs to help guide you in finding what’s best for your business

SBA Loan Guidance and Resources

The SBA has put together a guide full of resources and advice that can help your business during COVID-19.

Additionally, they’ve outlined a few options and resources that are available to you.

SBA Coronavirus Relief Options

Through the CARES Act, the SBA has several options your business can take advantage of, such as:

  • SBA Debt Relief
  • EIDL Loan Advance
  • SBA Express Bridge Loans
  • Paycheck Protection Program

No matter which option you’re interested in, I suggest you take advantage of the SBA’s free business counseling to ensure you’re making the best possible decisions for your business.

You can also check out their disaster assistance here.

Always do your research, talk to other business owners in your industry, check out your industry’s associations, and take advantage of your local assistance programs to see what options are available to you.

Streamline Your Everyday Operations by Using Software

If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s the importance of social distancing during a pandemic.

The importance and convenience of working remotely from home has never been so hyped up.

… Which is why you need a software that allows you and your office staff to work from home, while also allowing you to easily communicate with your team out in the field.

As a Member of Service Autopilot, working from home has never been easier:

  • Touch base with your clients
  • Stay in touch with your teams
  • Marketing to your clients to win upsells
  • Instantly invoice all of your clients at once
  • Complete estimates by phone… without missing another follow-up

With Service Autopilot, you can do all of this AND MORE.

Imagine a world where you could be running your business from anywhere! That’s what you get with Service Autopilot.

If you truly want to build a recession-proof business, Service Autopilot will help you do that.

Click here to watch a free tour of Service Autopilot!

Setting Your Business Up for Success

If you want to build a successful business, you have to build a recession-proof business that’s prepared for whatever unexpected circumstance might happen.

In order for your business to withstand economic downturns, you have to be prepared and knowledgeable about the world around you.

And even though these circumstances are entirely unpredictable, that doesn’t mean you can’t create emergency contingencies as best as possible.

In this article, you’ll find out everything you need to know about building a recession-proof business, plus you’ll find out the best resources you should take advantage of.

Related: Top 7 Service Industry Resources for COVID-19

Originally published May 12, 2020 7:00 AM

Alyssa Sanders

Alyssa is the Team Lead of Creative Marketing at Xplor Field Services. When she's not writing or creating content, you can find her watching a new sci-fi series or shoving her nose into a book.


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