For some businesses the summertime is a slow season. But it also may be a good time to take stock of operations and make improvements. There’s nothing wrong with slowing down— but don’t shut down. Here are 10 tips to keep you and your team busy in a productive way.
1. CLEAN UP YOUR SYSTEMS
If you have been running your business for a long time, you may do things a certain way because it’s how you have always done them. While technology has made a quantum leap from the typewriter to the smartphone, your systems may not have kept up.
Of course, systems are not just related to technology. You may have archaic personnel systems or supply systems. For each process executed, can any waste in effort or cost be reduced? For example, are employees going to business lunches or driving long distances when the same tasks can be achieved via webinars or conference calls?
2. CATCH UP WITH LOST LEADS
Most of us have met an old acquaintance at a business function at some point during the year and resolved to meet up and discuss a possible partnership or another opportunity, only to put it off and forget. The slow season is a good time to blow the dust off that Post-it Note with a name scrawled on it and pick up the phone.
3. CONDUCT A SWOT ANALYSIS
When you are in the fray of running your business and just keeping your head above water, it can be a challenge to take the time to step back and evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. The slow season gives you the opportunity to assess your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.
4. CLEAN UP YOUR EMAIL LIST
Email is a great tool for marketing because it’s fast and cheap. However, the larger your email database becomes, the harder it is to manage.
A contact database can degrade up to 20 percent in a year’s time. When we send out e-blasts or other correspondence, it’s common to have a few emails come back as undeliverable. Unless you use a data management company, you may not have had time to clean up those lists.
5. IMPROVE YOUR MAILING LISTS
Mailing lists can be a bigger headache to maintain than email lists. There’s more data to track, and it’s hard to know when an address isn’t valid anymore.
If you are mailing to businesses, double check to make sure the contact is still employed there. (LinkedIn is a great tool for this.) When the postal service redirects mailings, you’ll receive a record of new addresses. Use that information to update the database.
6. UPDATE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA PROFILES
Many small businesses don’t have a lot of time to spend on social media. They often set up profiles and then forget to update the information on them.
Social media companies are constantly adding new features that you can leverage. Use the downtime to experiment with new features on social media and see which ones work for you.
7. ENSURE YOUR WEBSITE IS READY
Is your website performing as well as you want it to? Do you even know? If you were satisfied and you have the data to prove it, you don’t need to spend much time browsing Google Analytics during the slow season, but you should still highlight pages that are underperforming.
8. FINE TUNE YOUR MARKETING PLAN
Ideally, your marketing plan should already be in place by December, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be improved. Take time during the slow season to find out if you met your marketing objectives.
9. DO THE VISION THING
Many small businesses have operated day-to-day, year after year without a clear vision of why they exist. It’s common for a local business to be handed down in the family. Because of the change in management, the original vision may get lost, or maybe there never was one, beyond the desire to sell shoes or another product.
Draw up a unique selling proposition, a concise statement of why people should use your products and services rather than a rival’s.
10. PLAN FOR REWARDS
We’re all familiar with the old cliché about all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. The same can be true within businesses who expect their employees to toil constantly with no light at the end of the dark tunnel.
Use the slow season to map out a policy to reward employees and to make sure their hard work is balanced with some play.
If you attempt to do all of these 10 things during the slow season, it won’t be a very slow season.