Every business goes through peaks and valleys when it comes to revenue. So if, for example, you live in a ski town or specialize in winter holiday items, summer is that valley. A slow season can be an exciting time, though, if you’re ready for it. Slower times allow you to take a breath and step back, evaluating your business and brainstorming new ideas. Here are some strategies for making it through your slow season stronger than ever.
Plan for it.
If you’ve been in business longer than a year, you should have a pretty good sense of when you’re busy and when you’re not. Beyond anecdotal evidence, software like Square Analytics can give you a precise view of your sales and performance over selected time periods. Knowing how much you’re making during your strongest season can help you prepare for times when you have fewer customers and less demand for your products and services.
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Hire seasonal workers.
If your staffing demands decrease after your busy season, it makes sense to maintain a core staff with supplemental help from part-time and seasonal employees. That way, you don’t have to worry about paying extra staff when you don’t have the demand for them, or funds to cover their paychecks.
Focus on new ideas.
Your slow season is a great time to get creative and experiment. For example, if you produce holiday items like Christmas ornaments and décor, try your hand at making other decorative items, like signs, frames, and wall hangings. If you operate a restaurant, take this time to research trends, meet with farmers and bakers as possible supply partners, develop new recipes, and freshen up your physical space. Stay true to your brand and preserve the things that make you beloved, but strengthen quality while attracting new customers.
Team up with other local businesses.
If your business is in a place that relies on a seasonal population, like a college town or ski area, target a slightly different demographic during the off season. That is, focus on the full-time residents, and collaborate with other local businesses, like nearby restaurants, salons, boutiques, and more, on an event that celebrates the people who keep you going all year round. The options are as wide as your imagination. Try a “taste of the town” event that brings together local restaurants, or a weekend shopping event. You can even have a family fun festival that combines booths from neighborhood businesses with music, food, and games.
Build your brand.
Your slow season is an ideal time to lay the groundwork for an even stronger busy season. Review your social media accounts to determine whether you have a consistent brand voice and aesthetic. Are you alerting followers to special offers or new items? Are you incentivizing them to engage with your content? Also, if you haven’t already, establish an email marketing program. Even if you have a program, you might not be effectively segmenting and targeting various groups, like loyal customers and those who haven’t made a purchase in months. If you have a brick-and-mortar location, the slow season is also a great opportunity to add some polish to your space—perhaps with a fresh coat of paint and décor, new packaging (like shopping bags highlighting a newly designed logo), and perhaps even a more efficient point-of-sale system. When you see the slow season as an opportunity to strengthen your brand, attract new audiences, and create new products, it’s not so slow after all.