Cut your prices and keep busy? Or stay at home?

What should you do when work goes quiet?

It’s a tricky situation for anyone to be in. Whether you run your own business, or you’re employed by a firm.

Of course, your current financial situation plays a big factor.

But generally, there are two schools of thought.

  1. Cut your prices and get some work.  Something is better than nothing.
  2. Stay at home and focus on other areas of your business.

There are pros and cons to each.

Cutting your prices to keep busy might be your only choice. If you have no money in the bank and a mortgage to pay, then you need to keep cash coming in.

But if you are more financially stable, this might not be the best choice.

Decorators tend to agree that ‘word of mouth’ brings in a lot of business.

But if you cut your prices to keep busy, what ‘word of mouth’ referrals do you think you’re going to get?

You’ll get more people enquiring because you’re the ‘cheap’ decorator who does a great job.

Are they the sort of customers you want to attract?

Probably not.

And getting rid of the ‘cheap decorator’ label could take a long time.

So, what about the second option? Staying at home and working on other areas of your business.

The first thing to remember is you shouldn’t underestimate the value of doing this.

All too often decorators believe they are only making money when they have a brush in their hand.

But this is not the case.

Whether you’re out on quotes, doing your accounts or working on your marketing you are bringing value to the business.

You might not see the benefits immediately, but this sort of work can impact your business for years to come.

So, in my opinion, this is course of action that is best for the long-term health of your business:

  1. Establish how long you can go without a job for before things get very desperate – Knowing this will help you remain calm and not make any poor decisions.
  2. Minimise your expenses to lengthen the amount of time you can go without work. No takeaways or nights out for a while!
  3. Increase your advertising activities to try and attract work at your usual price. Social media is a great starting place and can be done for free.
  4. Look at other areas of your marketing. Can you improve the look of your quotes? Could you design a digital brochure to send to future clients? Things like this can help ensure work doesn’t dry up again in the future.
  5. Look for areas where you can make savings. Can you get a better deal on your mobile phone? Van insurance? Loan payments? Credit cards? Even clearing out the shit in the back of your van will save you money on petrol. And it’s more than you think! A penny saved is a penny earned.
  6. Can you sell anything? Old tools or general crap from around the house that you don’t use. For every £100 worth of stuff you sell that’s another day you can survive without work.
  7. Sub for someone else. If you work for someone else for a lower rate, then you get the best of both worlds. You keep cash coming in, but your reputation won’t be affected, and you won’t start getting referrals from people wanting to hire you as the ‘cheap decorator’

If you’ve tried all of this and time is running out to put food on the table then of course you’ll need to start cutting your prices to get some work.

But in my opinion, you should always keep this as a last resort.

Final note…

Try to remain level-headed about the situation. If you start to panic, then you are likely to make decisions that have a negative effect on the long-term health of your business.

Of course, this is easier said than done, but you must try your best.

And try to remember how long you’ve been in business and how often you’ve been without work.

It’s probably not an issue that comes up very often.

Work hard and something will come up. It always has before.  

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