Summer is here! It’s starting to warm up, and the grass and trees have all reawakened from their winter slumber. While you may be excited about the weather, for many of you this means business is about to slow down.
Every business goes through sluggish periods. For most retail businesses, summer represents the slow season. For businesses focused on outdoor services, winter can be difficult. It doesn’t matter which season is your slow season; you’ve still got to prepare.
Ultimately, the key to working through a slow season is all about preparation and planning. You know by now when the slow season is coming, so you should have plenty of time and warning to prepare. Here are some ways you can prepare for and deal with a slow season in your business.
- Anticipate it
I can’t stress this enough, but a slow season should be easy to anticipate. All you need to do is be willing to take a slow season into account during your yearly planning.
Don’t base your goals and plans on the best months of business; you should always keep the worst months in mind. Keep your budget and spending plans conservative, and avoid spending large sums during the slow months. Nothing is worse than reaching the slow months and needing unreasonably high business to meet a budget shortfall.
- Don’t sweat it
If you’re able to anticipate and plan for a busy season, then you shouldn’t have anything to worry about when the slow months come. You’ll do yourself no favors if you’re always fretting about the sales numbers during the quiet period. Relax, take a breath and prepare for the next busy season.
- Stay the course
When business is slow, it’s easy for you to think you have to switch it up and change strategy. I’ve seen it time and time again: business owners panic and reach for the tactic of the week whenever their numbers don’t quite meet their expectations.
The problem is, if the tactic doesn’t fit with your strategy and target audience, it won’t do anything to help move the needle. You’ll just end up wasting time, effort and money spinning your wheels.
Now imagine someone who doesn’t keep calm and stay on strategy. His or her store is quiet, and they have to meet the planned sales numbers for the month. The owner feels an immediate fix is in order and is hearing a lot about marketing on Snapchat. They rush into starting a Snapchat marketing campaign, despite the fact that the store’s target market doesn’t use the social media platform.
Next thing you know, the business owner has spent his or her money on a campaign that’s doomed to fail, and now they’re even deeper in the hole.
If they had planned for the slow season and stayed the course, even though they would have had a slow month or season, they wouldn’t have made it worse.
So that brings to mind an important question: Now that business is slow and you have a little more time on your hands, how do you spend that time to be productive?
- Plan for the future
Slow seasons or months are a great time to do your yearly planning. Look forward to the next year, set goals and prepare to meet them.
Getting in a yearly planning routine is critical for businesses looking to grow. Your business’ slow season is a great opportunity to take the time to plan for the next year. Because your slow season will likely repeat yearly, planning at this time can become routine.
Spend some time with your entire team thinking about the year ahead. Plan out your marketing calendar and budget for the year. Think about your content schedule and plan. Dream about goals and think about the rewards you will have upon reaching those goals.
If you take the time to plan and dream, your slow season will set you up for greater success when business picks up.
- Work on your business
There’s a saying that is all too common with business owners: “I don’t have enough time to work on my business, only in my business.” Well, now there is no excuse. Much like your planning activities, you should have more time in your slow season to improve your business.
Think about the ways you can improve the customer experience. Is there a process you use that could be enhanced or refined? Are there ways you can improve your business’ efficiency? How about renovations and structural changes to your business—is there an opportunity to improve your storefront or offices?
If you feel your business is running as well as possible, maybe there’s even an opportunity to improve yourself. Stop by a conference or networking event and expand your knowledge base. Who knows, more opportunities may present themselves.
The slow business season happens to almost every company in America. Don’t let a month of slower sales get you worried. Use the time to improve your business, rather than to let a quick decision cost you down the road.
What is the slowest season for your business? How do you prepare? Share your experiences in the comments below.