As much as the holidays coincide with a business slowdown for many field service companies, for some they present an great opportunity to reconnect with customers and employees. Earl King, founder of Texas-based King Productions International, a commercial HVAC contracting sales consulting firm, says managers should take advantage of the down time by getting year-end preparations in order and plan ahead for the coming year, too. Here are King’s three tips for making the most of the holiday season:

Reach Out to Customers

You already send holiday greeting cards to friends and family — so don’t forget your customers, King says. Sending out cards to customers (and even business partners) is a way of expressing warm wishes without expecting anything in return. This not only maintains good relationships but keeps your company fresh in their mind for when an emergency comes up.

King warns that it’s vital to steer clear of greeting cards that may offend. It’s better to stick with neutral well-wishes — and don’t go overboard with marketing. At the most insert an upcoming deal that your company is offering, but remember that this is really about nurturing good customer relations.

“Holiday greeting cards have to be done with the most discretion,” King says. “I recommend that we stay away from any religious themes and recognize that Jewish people and Muslims do not recognize Christmas.”

Be Charitable

The holidays are a time for giving, and according to King, donating to a charity can be beneficial for business. Customers are more likely to do business with companies that aren’t only good at what they do, but also seem human, he says. But remember: If you’re using charity only for the sake of attracting customers, they’ll sniff out your deceptive efforts and likely be turned off by your company.

“Some contractors (both residential and commercial) have launched their own charitable programs,” King says. “I think that is fine if it is done in the right spirit and conveyed in that vein.”

But when some go as far as to pay for radio, TV and newspaper ads to touts efforts, it pushes on the edge of crass promotion, he says.

Reward Your Techs

You couldn’t have gotten through the year without your techs, so thank them and show them how much you appreciate their hard work. Remember, an employee who feels valued is more likely to be happy and stay with the company. A cash bonus, present or holiday party can go a long way.

Also remember to go over holiday scheduling, and offer overtime for holiday volunteers.

“Most managers understand that most people — techs included — want to be with their families during the holidays,” King says. “In light of this, I suggest they ask for volunteers to be on call. There are usually enough techs that want the overtime. If they can’t get enough volunteers, I suggest [days off] go to seniority.”

More: Gearing Up for Winter: 3 Tips for HVAC Contractors.

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