Many people accept that a slowdown in sales is a fact of business life during the lazy days of summer. Well, nothing could be further from the truth, and as a business owner you need to get out of that frame of mind.
A summer slowdown may be something many people want because they expect this to be a season for vacations when the living is easy. But you don't have to accept that. When others go to sleep, you need to wake up. If you follow these tips, you can create opportunity for your small business while others are off to the beach.
1. Make a firm decision not to participate in a slowdown. Don't allow your employees to buy into this thinking because I assure you that they will make a summer slowdown one of the first excuses if there are any issues with their job performance. Hold a daily meeting to discuss what you are going to do to prosper--not contract—this summer. Set clearly defined goals and list the activities that need to be undertaken to achieve them. Give yourself deadlines for your goals and create a no excuses, no negativity environment. You'll be surprised by what you can achieve.
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2. Work your power base. Get out in front of the summer slowdown and let your best customers know you'll be available all summer. Target anyone who has bought from you in the last 90 days through direct mail, phone calls, emails or social media. Get into regular communication with these customers and figure out how to expand your business with them. For example, find out what you can do to assist as they prepare for vacation or to help fill a gap in their absence.
3. Target busy customers who can't take a long vacation. Focus some of your marketing efforts on prospective customers who plan to be around in July and August. Remember that these are clearly busy people who are pressed for time and can't afford a vacation or leisurely summer work pace. Take the initiative by distributing flyers, getting on social media and updating your website to let people know you will be around, too, and can offer something valuable to help them deal with their time constraints. For example, if you're an auto dealer, take that new convertible by the customer's office and let your prospective buyer test drive the car and sign the paperwork there. Or if you're a lunchbox delivery service, let prospects know you can provide food so they don't have to leave their comfortable, air-conditioned offices.
4. Offer a value-added proposition to avoid discounting prices. You will probably need to make even more profit from each sale to compensate for decreased summertime volume. So, figure out creative ways to repackage your products or services to provide something extra, such as a special summer-themed promotion. For example, I took two of my lectures series and packaged them into a Fourth of July special. The value-added proposition: When taken together, the lectures are both more informative and effective.
5. Service is senior to selling and needs to be top of mind. Service should be a year-around commitment, of course, but it is even more important during a summer slowdown when your competitors go into that "living is easy" mode and take their eye off the ball. Show that you are motivated to make things happen quickly and empower employees to accommodate special requests, even if it means opening your business early or letting customers enter your establishment in flip flops or beachwear. This is your chance to shine and make a lasting impression. After all, your goal is to make sure your new business keeps coming back to you long after summer is over.