Almost every single business has a slow season, no matter what service or product you offer to your customers. For some businesses, the slow season comes because of changing weather, like in the case of a surf shop. For others, specifically those in the wholesale or home improvement business, the slowest part of the year comes in the summer when other people tend to take vacations from their jobs or focus on leisure activities.
Whatever your slow season is, the answer isn’t just to go through the motions and wait until business picks up again. Use this guide to help you learn how planning for the slow season can boost your revenue and help you spend your time in a worthwhile fashion, even if you aren’t earning as much as you do during the busiest part of the year.
Focus on ‘Free’ Marketing
There’s no such thing as free marketing when you’re running a business, because even going out on the street and telling potential customers about your business takes time and money whether you’re doing it yourself or paying someone. However, there are types of marketing that cost very little when compared with traditional print media or advertising.
For most companies, cost-effective marketing is all about using social media wisely. Developing a social media strategy is essential when it comes to planning for the slow season. Dedicating a little more time to communicating with your customers and boosting your visibility on social media sites like Facebook is an ideal way to spend some of your downtime.
To really connect with your customers and raise awareness of your company, consider implementing things like giveaways or contests for people who follow you or like a certain page or product. When customers or potential customers follow you in the down season that means they will also be following you when it’s time to buy. This concept of gaining followers in the slow season that will carry over to the busy season is particularly important for companies who sell seasonal items or activities.
Prepare Your Staff
One of the best things you can do to make sure your business is functioning at its highest level when you are busy is to work on building your staff’s skills during the slow season. For companies in the retail market that could mean teaching your sales associates the basics of making sales or even sending them to classes to learn more about your industry or business.
Preparing your staff could also mean giving each employee time to study your product line or visit the factory where products are made. Downtime for you also means downtime for your employees so make sure they’re using that time wisely so they can help your company improve when they really are busy.
Planning for the slow season, at least in the case of many retail businesses, means offering discounts to your customers when they normally wouldn’t be thinking about your product or service. If you own a surf shop, try having a mid-winter sale. People may not be surfing, but they may take advantage of great prices and get a jump on the gear they’ll need when the weather starts to warm up.
Improve Your Office or Store
If you own the office where your company works or the retail space where you sell a product to customers, basic improvements can make it hard to do business. Paving the parking lot or even putting up a fresh coat of paint can make it hard to close a sale.
That’s why you should be planning for the slow season by making the necessary repairs when you don’t have a lot of business. Your space will look its best when you’re overrun with customers and you’ll be using your downtime wisely.
Woo Your Potential Best Customers
Having a slow season can have some pretty major benefits when it comes to courting new clients and turning small clients into much bigger ones. Why? Because when you’re not overrun with customer phone calls and 100 things to do each day, you have the ability to interact with your biggest customers and get your smaller customers to become more intimately familiar with your business.
You can do this in a variety of ways but for many wholesale businesses or retailers who work with big clients, doing things like hosting lunches or parties, taking associates on golf outings or even just setting up face-to-face meetings you wouldn’t have time for during your busy season is the best bet. You don’t have to spend a fortune either, just make sure you spend quality time with clients and show them that their business is important to you.
It might sound like an old-fashioned business practice, but just picking up the tab for something small in order to ensure big sales during the busiest parts of the year is a big part of planning for the slow season.
Use Vacation Time
Planning for the slow season is very important if you want to keep your business growing all year round but even the most proactive business owners need some time away from work to unwind. If you’re smart, planning for the slow season also means making sure that you take your vacation time when you’ll be needed at work the least.
If you would like to speak to a financial specialist on how to maximize your revenue or save money during your business’ slow season, contact us today.