The telephone is starting to ring again. And, in this weather-dependent business, you’ve started getting more work. Now is the time to do the things to even out seasonality and get ready for the times when the telephone isn’t ringing again.

And yes, those of us who have been in this business for a while know that the telephone stops ringing and we have to do the proactive things to generate work for our employees. Here are the things to do now:

First, you are in business to serve customers’ needs. Make sure that you always explain why they need to use you, even when they have an emergency. Turn that emergency into a service agreement opportunity. Obviously, solve the problem but ask for the agreement too. Remember, the more service agreement customers you have, the better chance you have to even out seasonality.

Second, make sure that your technicians look for work. I’m not asking them to recommend things the customer doesn’t need to be fixed. I don’t recommend parts changing. However, if there are dirty evaporator coils, pitted contactors, etc., these should be mentioned to the customer. If the customer doesn’t want to make these repairs, keep a tickler file for work.

A good technician always keeps his eyes open for additional work.

Third, if your customers have older systems, mention a replacement to them. The energy savings alone can often pay for the payments if the customer’s system is ancient. If you don’t mention it to the customer, the customer won’t know that there are options. Of course, the customer can say, “No thanks.” But, the customer can also say, “Yes.” Then you have a replacement sale without competing for the sale in most cases.

Fourth, give out at least 500 business cards per year. Make sure that your employees, both field and office, have business cards. You’ll never know when one of them runs into someone who needs your company’s services. It is much more professional to have a business card to give that person than to write the information on a back of a napkin. Then, turn that prospect into a customer.

Fifth, use drip marketing. This means sending something once per month to current and potential customers. It could be a postcard, a newsletter, or a telephone call. Keep your name in front of your customers. Make sure they have magnets. You think that you don’t need the work when it gets busy. However, you don’t want your good customers forgetting about you if they need work done.

These are five ways to get the telephone to ring. Now that it is getting busy, make sure you do these activities. It will keep work flowing during the slower times.

King is president of American Contractors Exchange. She can be reached at 800-511-6844;

Publication date: 05/20/2002