BNI has chapters around the world. Will this networking service work for you? It may be worth checking it out if you wish to expand the scope of leads available. You may wish to participate in other groups or create your own lead sharing group.
Is business drying up? Do you need a quick fix to bring cash in and live for another day? If you are answering 'yes' to either of these questions, you are like many people caught by the sudden downdraft in the economy. You need of course to quickly 'right the balance' but the problem is, can you do it without destroying the foundation of your existing business?
Quick fix solutions are dangerous because they are ill-planned and often mask the real circumstances you are facing. But let us be realistic; doing nothing is worse. If business is declining, you either need to find more business, quickly, or reduce costs sufficiently to restore balance. You may have to do both.
One thing you must be exceptionally careful about is lowering prices to below break-even to secure business. Sometimes this is tempting, I realize. You have fixed costs and equipment expenses, and anything that will generate some cash can buy you some time. But the consequences are costly long term.
Other, perhaps less than ideal, but more rational economically, ideas include:
Door-knocking is distasteful for most of us; and won't help very much if you are doing industrial or commercial work, but if your market is residential and you can sell smaller services, a good canvassing campaign may save your day and bring in much needed cash. See this thread on Contractortalk.com and this site from a canvassing consultant for ideas.
Revisiting old clients
Call them -- perhaps offer a maintenance service package. Depending on your level of trust and relationship, you may come clean and say the work is vital for your survival; some owners have deep pockets, and will help out if you are in a bind (and did good work for them in the past).
Free publicity and innovative (inexpensive) advertising
This is the stuff of marketing creativity -- if you can come up with a compelling story that the local press (or specialty press within your market area) loves, you could reap a windfall. Or maybe you can see an opportunity for signage, creative fliers, or other ideas. NOTE: I am not advocating expensive advertising campaigns as a quick fix -- first, effective paid advertising requires planning and thought; and second, it generally works only if you are consistent and patient -- and this blog entry, after all, is about the quick fix.
Leads sharing groups
You may get some great results by creating your own lead sharing group; bringing together a small group of compatible business owners or sales specialists with complementary interests. For example, you may know a commercial realtor, a banker, a complementary special trades person, or the like, and you can get together for a coffee, breakfast or lunch once a week. (There are also formal, existing lead sharing groups such as BNI you may wish to explore).
Some or all of these solutions may become a permanent part of your business. As you work through the crisis, you'll be stronger and leaner. Remember, even if the economy declines by 50 per cent, there still is 50 per cent of the work out there. You just need to get it.