The first few years of owning my business were challenging, especially in the winter. This time of year, I started to worry about how to make ends meet.
Did I have enough cash in the bank to make it through the winter? Did I have enough startup money to begin working next spring? Like a squirrel collecting nuts for the winter, I had been setting aside cash. I knew the importance of strict fiscal discipline and the need to put away cash ahead of time to help weather the mild winter months.
Winter was tough! Consumer demand slowed down. I had to reduce my staff. My overall business momentum slowed down to a crawl. Eventually, the same old emotional grind started to get old. About three years in, I realized adding booked work ahead of time for the winter months was a critical additional step in overcoming this challenging season.
The time of greatest concern for me was mid-December through late February. This was eight to 10 weeks of our 52-week business cycle. If we didn’t receive enough snow and ice events, we needed something to do to drive cash into the business. Improving cash flow became my mission. While maintaining my tight fiscal discipline, and squirreling away money, I started booking work that could be performed during this eight to 10-week period. Even though I could complete this work at the time proposed, I resisted and held it in reserve. This was always done with the customers approval and understanding.
Here is a list of the types of work you should consider booking ahead of time for the winter months.
- Dormant Pruning
- Stump Grinding
- Firewood Delivery
- Winter Leaf & Debris Cleanup
- Dormant Seeding
- Project Demo Prep
- Holiday Lighting (Install and Takedowns)
- Pressure Washing
- Gutter Cleaning
- Drainage Correction
- Irrigation Installation
- Irrigation Winterizations
- Landscape Lighting Installation
- Dormant Tree & Shrub Planting
- Snow Plowing
- Sidewalk Clearing
- Salt Application
- Ice melt Application
- Winter Annual Installation
- Spring Bulb Planting
- Winter Plant Burlap Protection
- Anti-Desiccant / Anti-Transparent Applications
- Winter Deer, Mole, Vole and Mice control Applications
- Lawn Dethatching
- Lawn Core Aeration
- Storage / put away patio furniture, hoses etc. for winter
- Install / filling bird feeders
- Dog Poo Cleanup
- Install swing sets, play sets and trampolines
After implementing this strategy, our winter months got easier to endure and the stress of low cash flow subsided. Couple that with our strict fiscal discipline and buildup of winter and spring operating reserves and we corrected our biggest winter challenge. Please use the GOST process and work with your FBC to put these recommendations to work in your company. Trust me… you won’t regret it.