For many small businesses, summer represents a boom period, when all hands are on deck and demand is high. For those in the tourism and leisure industries, for example, the holidays can be a stressful, busy time.
For others, however, the hot months can bring a serious lull in trade as partners and clients take holidays and the nation seems to collectively pack its esky and go to the cricket.
It can represent a challenge. Small business expert and author Dr. Greg Chapman says, “Whether open or closed, the overheads continue. Rent and utility costs still need to be paid, and the cost of these overheads need to be met from profits from the busier parts of the year, reducing overall profitability.”
Here’s a guide to a few ways to make the most of summer’s downturn.
“One common practice is to have sales,” says Chapman. “These tend to appeal to a different market segment to the rest of the year – and it’s important to differentiate the product in the summer months. An example would be a sale of summer stock before winter.”
Normally, owners are too busy throughout the year to make a plan.
Make a plan
“The lull is a great time to undertake business planning,” says Chapman. “Normally, owners are too busy throughout the year to make a plan, so using the slower period to undertake this essential task should be a priority. Other operational tasks that would interfere with normal trade, such as housekeeping and stocktaking, can also be undertaken, but these activities don’t improve business as planning does – they just maintain it.”
It is universally acknowledged today just how essential online reviews and testimonials are in attracting new business. Reviews should be gathered throughout the year because, as Chapman says, “delight wears off over time”. However, he adds that “using slow time to present them in marketing materials makes sense”.
Foster key relationships
Of course, important relationships cannot be nurtured solely over the summer. However, Chapman points out, “In the summer months, there may be events that only happen then – such as summer sports – enabling a more relaxed environment to build relationships.” Take advantage of good moods, in other words.
Join the fun
Perhaps the best answer in the summer months might be to accept the fact things are slow. You might, therefore, negotiate the crowds and enjoy the opportunity to take your own vacation – it many be your only chance for the year.
Barnaby Smith is a writer and journalist who has written for a variety of publications across several subject areas in the UK, Australia and Switzerland.