It felt like it would never get here, didn’t it? After getting battered every which way by The Beast From The East, being torn on whether to spend Easter Sunday eating chocolate or building a snowman, and facing a gruelling winter that just refused to go away, most of us had resigned ourselves to the fact that summer wasn’t happening this year.
Then, like that one absolute legend who shows up at the last minute to make up the numbers for your five-a-side game, the sun finally put his hat on and came out to play. This May Bank Holiday Weekend was the hottest on record, and if the weather over the last few days is anything to go by, we can be certain of one thing: no, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. Yes, summer 2018 is officially on.
For self-employed tradesmen like you, the warmer weather brings about its own unique challenges and opportunities to grow your business, prepare for the future, or even take some well-earned time off. Whatever your plans are, here’s your complete summer checklist, complete with everything you might want to think about to truly make the most of the months ahead.
Plan how you’ll manage in the summer holidays
All that time off school your kids get over the summer can be great for really getting to spend some quality time with them. Still, as much as you’d love to take a few months off to hang out with your young ones, you’ve still got bills to pay.
As most UK schools enter the final term before the break, now is the perfect opportunity to work out how you and your partner will balance looking after the kids with keeping your business running and, of course, getting some decent family time in to boot.
Taking time off? Let customers know
Whether you’re jetting off for some sun, sea, and sangria, or just chilling at home with the family, you’ll find it helpful to let customers know which dates you won’t be around for. This can be particularly helpful if you’re working on a long-running job for a client and need to explain why you won’t be around for a few days, but also to reduce the likelihood of customers getting the hump if you don’t answer the phone when you’re away.
Speaking of which, when you do finally take off, change your voicemail to let customers know when you’ll be back. You should also update your website and social media pages well in advance, giving people plenty of notice about when you’ll be unavailable.
Make the most of the boom – or prepare for the lull
For some trades, summer can be their most profitable time of year. Look back to previous years: was June to September busier than normal?
If so, now’s the time to start preparing for the annual boom. Think about what you’ll need to ensure your business makes the most of the summer boom and start planning.
- Do you have contact details for reliable sub-contractors or temporary employees who can help you out when the going gets busy?
- Is your van in tip-top condition ready for the extra mileage?
- Which suppliers are offering summer discounts on materials?
On the other hand, summer may not be your busiest period at all. With most customers spending more money on holidays and day trips than getting work done around the home, the next few months can be awfully quiet for some tradesmen. If past experience proves this to be the case for you, think about what you might do differently this year.
- Can you start planning marketing campaigns offering special summer deals to increase your workload?
- If you won’t be as busy with customers, can you use the extra time to make sure you’re on top of your paperwork and that your tradesman’s insurance is up-to-date?
- Does summer present a chance to give your website a much-needed overhaul or to take care of some long overdue repairs to your van?
Remember – winter is coming
Look, we’re sorry for bringing it up. We’ve only just seen the back of the previous winter, so the last thing any of us want is to start thinking of the next one. Still, the fact remains that winter will once again be here before we know it, and that means it pays to be prepared.
For some, particularly the plumbers and gas engineers among you, the colder months are likely to be your busiest time, so what can you be doing now that ensures you’re well prepared?
- What creative marketing ideas can you come up with to keep work rolling in during the winter?
- What kind of budgeting or financial forecasting might you want to do now that can help you later in the year?
Speaking of all things financial…
If you normally make advance payments on your tax bill, then now is a good time to remind you that you’ll have a payment deadline coming up on July 31st. Even if you don’t, it isn’t a bad idea to make sure your books are in order over the summer.
Not only will this save you sometime come January, but it might prove essential if the government once again changes its mind about those pesky quarterly tax returns that nobody wants.
Not to sound like your mum or anything, but now might be a good time to nip to Boots and stock up on suncream, especially if your job will have you working outside a lot over the next few weeks. Apart from being seriously bad for your health, sunburn can also be pretty painful and doesn’t exactly make working on the tools all day a whole lot of fun.
You might also want to stock up on plenty of bottled water too. The hot weather can lead to dehydration which can make you ill, not only leaving you unfit to work, but putting a serious dampener on the next few months. And you wouldn’t want that, would you? Not after waiting an eternity for summer to finally get here, that’s for sure.