Summer sales slump? No problem. This slow time can be valuable for your small businesses. Now’s your chance to do what you normally don’t have time to do: instead of working in your business, you can work on your business. These projects to tackle a slow summer slump could benefit any small business; pick one or two and make the most of the long, lazy-feeling days of summer, so your business can be even better when things pick up again.
1. Update Your Marketing Plan
Small business marketing is not a static set of rules; it’s a flexible, evolving strategy that needs to be updated and improved regularly.
So how do you update your marketing plan?
First, set aside some hours for information gathering and analysis. Look back at what has and what hasn’t worked in your marketing efforts over the past year: maybe that community event brought in new customers, but the end-of-season promo fell flat. Think about what you want to repeat and what techniques you’ll change or eliminate from your marketing strategy. Brainstorm new ideas for marketing your business.
Next, evaluate any new opportunities that may have appeared since you last worked on the plan: perhaps a new local event. Analyze the resources you have available, and set new priorities for the upcoming year: do you want to build your local reputation, increase your online marketing, or focus on some other area of marketing? This could include email marketing, content marketing or social media marketing.
Finally, set some realistic goals and timelines for each marketing technique or opportunity you want to try. Do as much prep work as possible now, creating reusable project plans or fill-in-the-blank outreach letters that you can breeze through later, when you’re busy.
2. Tackle Big Improvements
There are always plenty of ways to improve your business, but when you’re busy handling customers and managing employees you just don’t have time. Use your slow weeks to take on a couple of those big improvements that always seem to get pushed to next week or next year. Overhaul your landscaping, update the interior, install new equipment, decide on new inventory or product lines, revamp the menu, reset the prices, or redo the showroom.
Set a budget for each project, then decide how you’ll tackle it: DIY, hiring help, or a combination. Gather up all the needed supplies and set a target completion date. Put out signage (and send a customer email) for projects that affect day-to-day operations, such as interior updates.
3. Update Your Operations
Improving operations can be one of the most complex responsibilities you have as a business owner; it’s certainly not something you want to tackle during the busiest time of year, when operations have to move smoothly, not change course! But during a slow summer, you can look over your business operations and make them better.
Inefficiency in daily operation methods builds up over time; you may have implemented great systems, but even the best systems need to be maintained and improved over time. Take a look at the daily procedures of your business, from accounting to customer service, and think about how they could work better.
Be sure to pick a defined area of operations (such as invoicing, customer follow-up, or inventory control) rather than trying to improve operations in general; that’s too vague a goal which will leave you frustrated. And focus on an area that will give you significant improvement. If you spend the time on minor tweaks and detail adjustments, you’ll burn up your hours without significant gain in your business operations.
It might be intimidating to tackle the area that needs the help most direly, but weak areas are precisely where you can have the greatest impact on your overall business. Call in experts for help with those areas you’re unsure about, then spend enough time with them to truly improve the way your business operates.
So, how will you spend your slow summer months? Why not pick a project or two and make your business even better than before? The improvements you make now can benefit your business for the busiest times to come. One possible upshot: maybe you’ll even figure out a way to avoid slow times altogether.