After a year full of uncertainty, now is the perfect time for contractors to reflect on what they’ve learned in 2020 and prepare for 2021. At ABC Supply, 2020 has taught us how to be flexible through the changes that COVID-19 created, the importance of maintaining strong relationships with our customers through challenging times and how to adapt to using more technologies (like video conferencing and myABCsupply) when doing business with our customers.

As you reflect on your experiences over the past year, think about how you can turn the lessons you learned into strategies for how to be successful in 2021. Not sure where to start? Here are some areas to consider:

Your People: Think about the makeup of your 2020 team. Do you have the right mix of skill sets? Does everyone on your team have the know-how they need to do their jobs? If not, think about what kinds of training you might need to provide before the 2021 season kicks off. Did you have enough people on your team to efficiently complete your jobs this year? If not, consider what you can do differently to find qualified new workers while keeping the people already on your team.

Ask your team members for their feedback, as well. Have they felt supported? Have they felt informed — especially on changes related to COVID-19 — or would they prefer more proactive communication from you going forward? Are there any aspects of their jobs that could be improved? Use these insights to inform your management approach moving forward.

Your Customers: If you’re not doing so already, be sure to ask homeowners for their feedback after a completed job. Give them a call, provide a short feedback form they can fill out or even use an online tool like Survey Monkey or Google Forms to create a brief survey you can email to them. Also keep an eye on reviews your business may be receiving on sites like Angie’s List or HomeAdvisor. The end of the year is the perfect time to reflect on this feedback as a whole. Are there any patterns in the feedback, or any criticisms that arise more than once? What are some steps you can take to ensure you don’t receive the same critiques in 2021? 

When you receive positive reviews, ask the homeowners for permission to share their reviews on your website or social media. You can also take pictures of finished projects and use these photos and testimonials to showcase your business’ success.

Your Suppliers: Evaluate your relationships with your suppliers. Do they offer reliable delivery, a fair return policy or other value-added services? COVID-19 has caused shortages of certain materials, and it’s unclear how long these challenges will last. Think about how your suppliers handled material shortages. Have they worked with you to find the materials you need or made recommendations on alternative materials?

Consider how easy it was to work with your suppliers. Did they communicate any changes in the way they would operate during the pandemic? Did they offer convenient alternatives to doing business at the branch, such as an online tool to order materials, track deliveries and make payments?

virtual meetings

Your Marketing: Reflect on the marketing initiatives you undertook in 2020. Did any seem to pay off more than others? In your initial meetings with customers, ask how they heard about your business and keep track of their answers. Also consider whether there are groups of prospective customers that you’re not reaching. Is it easy for homeowners to find you online? Do you have an active presence on Facebook and LinkedIn? Let these questions guide how you approach any changes to your marketing in 2021.

COVID-19 has influenced the questions that prospective customers might have. Is there an opportunity for your marketing materials to address these questions? Consider adding information on the safety precautions you’re taking to avoid spreading COVID-19 while on the jobsite, for example.

If you need help addressing your marketing needs, ABC Supply’s Freedom Programs offer services to create a company website, apparel, postcards and other marketing materials. Direct mail is a great option as a contactless marketing tool that allows you to reach prospective customers at their homes.

Looking back on a challenging year like 2020 might not be easy, but doing so can help you determine how to be successful in 2021. For more tips on building your business, check out the ABC Supply blog.