When is the "slow season" for your business, and how do you plan for it in advance?
To help business leaders plan for the “slow season,” we asked small business owners and business professionals this question for their best tips. From offering season specials to pivoting your client focus, several strategies there are several strategies that may help you plan ahead for the “slow season” and expand your business.
Here are ten10 tips for planning ahead of time for the “slow season:”
- Get Approvals Before Big Trips
- Plan to Offer Season Specials
- Invest in Training
- Test Out New Strategies
- Create Slow Season Programming
- Focus on Client Retention
- Set Aside Funds and Stay Active
- Build Relationships
- Incorporate Team Building
- Pivot Your Client Focus
Get Approvals Before Big Trips
Summer can be a slow time for our business because we have so many of our high-end clients go on extended vacations. Before clients leave on trips, we ensure that we have designs approved and furniture ordered to make sure there isn’t too much pending while they are away. We set lots of design meetings in the spring to plan for the slower summer months. Because working with a client to design a luxury custom home spans the time of several months, we try to plan accordingly!
-Alisha Taylor, Alisha Taylor Interiors
Plan to Offer Season Specials
Although the weather in Sedona is beautiful year-round, we still tend to see a slow down towards the end of the year when it gets a little chilly. We plan for it by offering different types of retreats and specials during that time of the year! It is perfect for individuals or couples looking to travel around the holidays and allows for some new experiences internally as well.
-Gregory Drambour, Sedona Retreats
Invest in Training
Your industry’s “slow season” is a great time to invest in training for employees. Whether the training is around compliance or sexual harassment, employee downtime can best be utilized by completing training that may not be prioritized during the peak seasons of a business. Taking time to do these vital training sessions will ensure success for your team year-round.
-Andrew Rawson, Traliant
Test Out New Strategies
Seasonality is a huge factor for us. The hospitality industry ebbs and flows at different times, depending on what city you’re talking about. For example, in Phoenix, business slows down when the weather heats up. In New York, the slowdown happens in the cold winter months. Fortunately, when one city is slow another one is busy as hospitality is never 100% dormant. While breaking into a new city isn’t feasible for every small business during a slow season, testing new strategies in your current market is. Take advantage of the slower flow of business to take a look at your existing processes, pinpoint opportunities for improvement, and use the slower months to build new things.
-Zack McCarty, Qwick
Create Slow Season Programming
Typically, in the world of education, our slow season is during the summer months. Families plan vacations and trips, though not all do this. We accommodate for this by making sure we discuss the summer programs with the families that we work with. It’s important that children keep up with their learning, and taking long summer breaks can produce the “summer slide.” So we keep our doors open and help children through various themed summer events retain what they’ve learned, learn even more, and have fun while doing it!
-Jeanne Kolpek, Cadence Education
Focus on Client Retention
After the summer season burns out into fall, we typically experience a lull in business. We plan for this by leaning into customer retention. The ability to retain and expand existing customers helps us when we can't depend on significant new business during slow seasons. We look into data and find customers who can potentially expand their contract with.
-Nik Sharma, Sharma Brands
Set Aside Funds and Stay Active
The slow season of our business (residential real estate investing) is the winter months, specifically December through February. We plan in advance by capitalizing on the active, fast-paced months for the rest of the year. We set aside the same percentage of money from every transaction even in the months when our income is much higher than the slow season. We have also found that our slow season for making money is a great time to capitalize on growing our business. Many people in our industry take time off around the holidays, but we choose to work a few hours per day to network and keep our website and socials active. This sets us up for success once the slow season passes.
-Andy Kolodgie, The House Guys
If you often refuse lunch invitations from colleagues, now is the time to agree. When you are not busy, you can connect by eating lunch and drinking coffee together. By establishing friendships in this way, you can accumulate your contacts and prepare for more cooperation in the future.
-Abby Ha, WellPCB
Incorporate Team Building
In our case, July and the first two weeks of August are definitely the slowest from the marketing perspective. As our business engages with lots of universities and other educational institutions around the world, these six weeks are quite relaxed on the marketing front. We usually prepare for this by trying to allocate vacations for our employees on these days. It is both the holiday season and a low season from a business perspective, so we try to make the most of this by organizing a summer trip and integrating a party as well. In the past, we’ve traveled to the mountains in Central Europe and the seaside in Southern Europe.
-Daniel Torres, Zety
Pivot Your Client Focus
Our slow season normally comes after tax season ends. For the first three weeks, or so after individuals and businesses have filed their taxes and submitted their returns, we hardly get any new clients. To effectively plan for this, we pivot our services to other possible clientele outside of our main target audience--coaching businesses. For instance, we offer our services to schools and nonprofit organizations during and shortly after tax season. In exchange for a small, heavily discounted commission, we develop and implement highly effective marketing strategies/campaigns for local schools and nonprofit organizations. We also provide career guidance services to the students in these academic institutions and the communities that the NGOs serve. By pivoting our services, we are still getting paid, albeit much less, and we are increasing our brand’s visibility in niche market segments.
-Sai Blackbyrn, Coach Foundation