How Savvy Small Businesses Approach the Off Season
The official first day of winter in 2013 is the 21st of December, meaning that it’s still technically Fall for another two weeks. However, the signs of the changing seasons are all around us, as many parts of the US have already experienced their first snows and the leaves on the trees have been shed. The winter brings with it a lull in business for many; seasonal businesses who profit during the Summer, such as landscapers, are now going into a part of the year where demand for their cores services is rapidly cooling down. But just because it is the off season, that doesn’t mean that your business needs to go into full hibernation. Here are some ways that your small business can spend the off season in order to make the most of the time and come back stronger than ever in 2014.
Spend time evaluating your performance. Your small business’s performance over the last year might have been great, or it might be needing improvement. Either way, the off season will provide you time to think of what worked and what didn’t in the interest of optimizing your processes. Some things to look for when going over your data are what events coincided with your highest numbers of sales. Seeking correlations between marketing, referrals, or external events and improved sales volume will give you an idea of what factors have a positive impact on your business. Similarly, identifying data around poor performing weeks can help your business plan around possible sales gaps.
Define your brand and message. Use the off season as a time to get in touch with your brand’s core values. When business is coming in fast, you may want to spend the time to create a list of core brand attributes, but chances are you’ve been too busy. What makes your brand unique? What is your unique sales proposition? What qualities do you want your customer base to associate with your service? You and your staff should think about how to answer these definitively and then create marketing materials based on what you come up with.
Stock up for the busy season. As soon as your peak business is ready to come back at the end of the Winter, you should be able to spring into action. Creating a segmented plan that is ready to go during the Winter will free up a substantial amount of time later down the road. Some things that you can plan in advance are marketing initiatives, hiring and purchase of essential materials.
Create new revenue streams. While your main business might be temporarily suspended by the changes in the weather, it may be possible for your business to offer modified services that can create alternative, seasonally appropriate sources of revenues. For example, a core landscaping business might promote snow blowing services as a means to continue creating revenue while core business is down. Think about what services you offer, and what ways they could be modified for the off season. As a warning, don’t roll out a seasonal business supplement without first ensuring that there will be a market for it. If you take the time to offer a product that there is simply no demand for, it can wind up costing you money in the long run, so carefully think through any proposed revenue supplementing services or products before you offer them.
Photo Credit to Dick Uhne on Flickr