Making the Most of Your Business’s Slow Months
While some businesses operate with steady sales year-round, many businesses don’t have the luxury of full-time “high seasons.” Restaurants, hotels, and other hospitality businesses frequently see business drop off considerably in the winter, while manufacturers of gift items may plunge when the holiday season ends. Financial businesses (such as accountants) often experience feast or famine around fiscal year-end and tax deadlines.
Regardless of your business or industry’s reason for experiencing predictable seasonal shifts, you can use the downtime to your advantage. If you think of the time as a gift, enabling you to put energy into working on your business instead of “just keeping up,” here are seven ideas for turning the slow season into an opportunity to fortify your foundation and prepare for the future.
Making the most of slow months
When tourists dry up and customers are focused elsewhere, pour energy into these overall business builders.
1. Give your business a checkup
Take the time to check in on your business’s health. If you have the time for a full small business checkup, that’s wonderful, but if that seems overwhelming, you’ll still reap many benefits from analyzing your progress toward financial goals and strategies, and reviewing and streamlining expenses. Bolster your foundation before the next wave hits.
2. Start your taxes
Don’t wait until the last minute: Get a jump on taxes by reviewing upcoming deadlines and securing appointments with your tax accountant in plenty of time to be ahead of the game.
3. Spruce things up
Take the time to freshen up your brand image from top to bottom. If you operate a brick and mortar location, give your space a facelift with new paint, updated decor, and deep cleaning. And don’t neglect your online space! The slow season is a great time to review and refresh your website, update content, and ensure that your site is optimized to be mobile-friendly. If your site is more than a few years old, consider a full professional redesign.
4. Offer seasonal promotions
Entice new and returning customers in your door with seasonal offers that convince them to come out of slow season hibernation. Deals on hotel rooms, tourist activities, and food are welcome. Make sure to get the word out via social media, email campaigns, or wherever your customers are in the slow months. Consider partnering with a business experiencing high demand (say, a gym in January) to promote your offers.
5. Shift your target market
For hospitality businesses whose customers primarily come from afar, market your services to locals during the slow months. Write and promote a blog post showcasing your services to the people who are available to utilize them when your usual market dries up. For seasonal products, identify alternative uses for your product that can be marketed locally during the slow months, or expand your promotion to a region where your products are in season.
6. Try something new
Following on the heels of your business review, a slow season is the perfect time to make changes for your upcoming busy season. What worked well? What didn’t? What plans and ideas have you been considering that you have time to design and implement? If you haven’t yet built a presence in social media, pick one platform to launch and grow. Take the time to dream big while the pressures of keeping up with the details during busy season are at bay.
7. Invest in your employees
If you have employees, slow months are an excellent time for professional growth. Invest in additional training and education, and take the time to mentor promising employees so that they can grow into new roles during the next busy season.
Slow seasons can be scary for a small business, but with a bit of planning and attention, they can be a catalyst for refocusing and growth. Revisit your vision with intentionality to make this coming busy season your most successful one yet.