Recessions are seemingly inevitable. But a slower market doesn’t mean a trade company has to take a hard hit or even go under, says Collin Hathaway.
The owner of Guardian Roofing and founder/CEO of Flint Group believes there are opportunities to improve your business even when a recession is knocking at the door.
Hathaway’s collection of companies has survived—and thrived—through the recent pandemic as well as the Great Recession of 2008.
“Our companies are not recession-proof,” Hathaway says. “They’re recession-resistant.”
He admits a market slowdown can be brutal and scary.
“There were a lot of days we weren't sure which way was up or down,” Hathaway says. “But for a good business, you have a chance to actually make your company infinitely better. We actually grew 10 to 25 percent. It was terrifying, but we were a much better company and were positioned for a lot more growth afterward.”
He says his teams buckled down and focused on basics during slowdowns.
“A lot of us got thrown off by COVID in terms of in-person technical and sales training,” Hathaway says. “So, getting back to the basics on training technicians was really important.”
Guardian Roofing, for example, put a huge emphasis on offering repair options. The company was flexible with product mix shift. And financing that allows consumers to pay over time.
Hathaway emphasizes that recessions bring stress, and that managers have to look beyond current market conditions.
“I feel a lot more stress thinking about the wellbeing of our techs and staff and our key managers than I do about the money,” he says. “I just think if we do right by our team and do right by the customers, the money usually works itself out.”
That’s his 15 years of experience talking.
“When we started worrying about the money or the financial results, that’s when things tended to get derailed,” Hathaway says. “If that becomes the only thing you talk about, things are going to be problematic for you fairly quickly.”
Collin Hathaway recently joined ServiceTitan’s Jackie Aubel as part of Season 6 of the “Toolbox for the Trades” podcast, which included thoughts by Hathaway on:
Keeping a business afloat in a recession.
Opportunities trade companies can seize in a down market.
Steps to secure a company ahead of a recession.
How to change tactics without excess disruption.
Managing stress and mental health in the workplace.
To hear more tales from the trades, subscribe to Toolbox for the Trades on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, our website, or anywhere you get podcasts.