How to Manage Your Small Business During the Slowest Times

Small business owners can manage slow periods by planning and preparing for the busy season.

If you are the owner of a seasonal small business, then you already know how important it is to capitalize on the busy months. But, if your small business is a haunted house, landscaping company or pool supply store, how do you make the most of your off-season? Just because foot traffic slows, doesn’t mean you have to. Instead, take advantage of the less hectic time you have to find other ways to market your small business, connect with your customer base and prepare for your peak time of year.

Adjust the Way You Run Your Small Business to Meet Demand

Watching your cash flow and taking steps to minimize your expenses during your slower periods can help you keep your business in the black all year long. If your toy store sales drop off every year after the holidays, consider modifying your hours and hiring only essential staff as full-time employees, with seasonal workers as needed. You can also try taking a “Just-In-Time” ordering approach to avoid ending your busy season with inventory sitting on shelves.

Explore Ways to Extend Your Small Business’s Busy Periods

Another important part of seasonal small business management is anticipating and understanding the ebb and flow of your specific business cycle. For example, if you own a small ice cream shop with only outdoor seating, you may find out you have two short busy periods in the late spring and early fall, with a slight dip during the hottest months of the year, and a bigger drop-off in business when the weather gets cold. You could expand your menu during the winter to include coffee drinks and affogato ice cream, and add some fans and shade cover to make your patio more welcoming during the summer.

Offer Alternatives to Support Your SMB in the Off-Season

If your business stays open year-round, consider looking for new opportunities that require minimal investment. During winter months, a landscaping company may offer holiday light installation and snow removal. Aside from generating revenue, it creates an opportunity to communicate with existing clientele and secure new customers during the off-season. Try offering multi-service discounts through your marketing channels or through your automated phone answering service to increase your chances of carrying over customers from one season to the next.

Understand Peak Period Sales & Traffic During Business Lulls

When you’re in the midst of your busiest time of year, taking a moment to even catch your breath can feel like a struggle so taking time to analyze traffic patterns, inventory, call logs and social trends when things are most hectic so that you can plan ahead for next year’s peak period. Forget about it! Instead, use slow times to review sales data, Google My Business, social media analytics, call transcripts and recordings to get a clearer picture of what transpired. Be on the lookout for correlations like whether in-store traffic picked up after running a paid social campaign or if there were common customer questions over the phone that could have been answered using advanced phone technology. With this information, you can see whether certain marketing and sales strategies worked or if there are ways that you can improve training or overall operations for the following year.

Taking advantage of the lulls to strategically prep for the next peak is one of the smartest decisions you can make as a small business owner. To begin, click here to download the 4 Steps for Conquering High Call Volumes During Peak Periods playbook.