I have always considered myself an optimistic, positive person. Therefore I was somewhat surprised to find myself halfway through a column which was very negative about the near future of our industry. After giving it some thought and tearing up that copy, I still have serious concerns about the next several months in our industry. However, I have decided to attack the problem in a different manner. I believe that most of us have already made most of the major cost savings cuts which we could, just in order to still be around. So if we can’t realistically find ways to save money, then we better get out and hustle and do some new and different things to generate more sales.

We know that sales opportunities are going to be out there. Unfortunately, with the downturn so seriously affecting the new residential and commercial markets, there are more and more contractors seeking those sales. Therefore we are going to have to work smarter to increase our share.

The first step is to analyze who your customers really are. If you haven’t done this in the last two or three years, then you definitely need to look at it carefully. I assure you that over the last few years there have been changes in your customers, how they find you, and the amount of knowledge they have when desiring to make a purchase. Obviously this is mostly a result of the abundance of information and knowledge available on the internet. Whether it’s all a good or bad thing is really out of our control. The fact is that it is here and we need to learn to deal with it. As my wife says when I inquire why I need to do something: “deal with it.”

Review where and how you are spending your advertising dollars. Maybe now is the opportunity to try something different which may result in your finding an entirely new and different market for your company. And remember, websites, Facebook, and Twitter are not going to go away. I think it’s better to join rather than try to fight them. Now is the time to use your co-op monies. Also, you might try talking to your equipment supplier about helping to fund one of your new and different marketing ideas. We have found that some are very receptive right now. I believe they want to get on board with those contractors that are doing positive things to make an impact in the market.

There is a great opportunity out there for us. To begin, think of how many installations were made in the 1990s. Those units are all getting to the 15-20 year old “time to replace” range. That certainly creates an opportunity. Also, take into consideration all the incentives that are out there for a consumer to make a purchase. The tax credit is scheduled to conclude at the end of the year. That should be a big incentive for us to sell. Virtually every manufacturer is offering heavy incentives for the purchase of most types of the higher efficiency equipment. Sure those incentives may be around next year, but couple them with the tax credit and you really have something to sell.

Just in writing this article I am more positive about our ability to succeed in the months ahead. I think we all need to not let the overall economic climate, over which we have no control, affect our ability to be successful. We have the opportunity, the market is certainly out there, and with all of the tools that are available to us, there is no need for us to be pessimistic.

Take advantage of everything that is available to you and remember the glass is always half full and not half empty. In the long run it does no good to think pessimistically. After all, when you dream things they often come true. So, better to dream of the positive things that will help you get through these times.