As a business owner, you know that at some point you’re bound to experience down times when customer activity decreases and sales dry up. Whether these slowdowns are caused by seasonal changes or economic fluctuations, your business’s survivability may depend on what you do during times of stagnation.
When slowdowns occur, you may feel an overwhelming urge to panic. But as the Huffington Post points out, when business slows, “it is an excellent opportunity to take stock of your overall business. It is a time to evaluate what is working and what is not, a chance to formulate new goals and objectives, and an occasion to set new plans in motion.”
Here are 6 useful things you can do when business slows so you’ll be at the top of your game when it gets busy again!
1. Marketing – It’s probably not surprising that marketing is often the first thing to get the ax when times get tough. Realistically, though, marketing should receive even greater focus when things are slow. “Increasing your visibility while your competition is decreasing theirs,” says Huffington Post, “makes you poised to capture an even larger market share when things begin to recover.”
When your customers are disappearing, it’s not a good time to stop communicating with them. While you may not be able to dedicate large amounts of money to marketing, there are actually creative and low-cost ways to connect with your audience.
One way to do that is by taking advantage of free publicity from local news sources for special events relating to your business. Or, you might host a workshop or seminar to educate your audience about what you do and network with potential customers.
“Marketing should always be high up on your to-do list. Not only does it keep your business visible, but it forces you to constantly think about the benefits and positives associated with your business; something that can help any business owner through tough times.”
Source: Huffington Post
2. Education – Slow times are the perfect opportunity to improve your knowledge and skills and learn about the different ways you can make your business better.
For instance, if you don’t know much about social media, you could take a class or read and watch online tutorials. Another great way to educate yourself is to learn from someone who does what you do. Mentors can offer invaluable insights and information about your industry because they’ve had real life experience.
Any continuing education you can acquire will increase your industry knowledge and skills, help you better serve your customers, and contribute to the overall success of your business.
3. Website Maintenance – Your website plays an important role in driving traffic and increasing sales for your online and offline stores. But if your website looks outdated, loads slowly, or lacks useful and relevant content, you’ve got some work to do. Why not use your downtime to spruce it up so it’s ready to perform at peak optimization when business gets busy again?
All website elements should be optimized for quality and speed so consumers can quickly load your pages and find what they need. Make sure your navigation is intuitive and will easily guide customers to relevant pages. Customers should also be able to navigate from cart to store without having to click the “Back” button and your site should provide convenient navigation options between your checkout and product pages.
Additionally, optimizing your website with a responsive platform will ensure that your site is easy to view and use on all mobile devices, including smartphones, tablets, etc. But that’s not the only reason to make your website mobile friendly, according to the following quote:
“Smartphones are a new front door to the businesses around us,” says Lisa Gevelber, vice president of marketing at Google. “We see more and more people turn to their phones prior to making an offline purchase.”
Because today’s consumers are consulting their smartphones throughout the entire shopping process, from gathering ideas and inspiration to comparing products and searching for store locations, you need to recognize the critical role mobile plays in the success of your online presence and adapt accordingly.
The more effortless it is for customers to navigate through your site, the greater the odds are that they’ll stick around and make a purchase or perform an online search for the product they want and visit our brick and mortar location to buy it.
4. Inventory Evaluation – It’s not unusual for your business to have an overabundance of inventory when sales are low. Assess and modify your inventory accordingly. If it looks like you can cut back on certain items—especially slow moving ones—then do it. Convert surplus items to cash by returning them to the supplier or running special close-out sales.
The key here is to find a practical balance between having too much product and not enough so you don’t waste money on stagnant products and lose out on much-needed sales.
5. Content Creation – If you’re actively involved with social media or blogging, you know that consistently and frequently publishing new posts is a time-consuming process at the best of times. Whether you’re posting once a day on Facebook or 3 times a day on Pinterest, it’s hard to find a few spare moments to take pictures, write articles, or curate content that’s relevant for your audience.
When business is slow, don’t let that time go to waste when you could be using it to beef up your content library! Review your product images to see if they’re clear and crisp. If not, update them. Drool-worthy photos will help your products sell better online.
Additionally, spend some time searching the internet for topics that would make interesting blog posts. Then whip up several high-quality articles that can be scheduled out several weeks or months when business starts to pick up again.
Generating content during slow times is a great investment for your business because it will help take a lot off your plate during busy months. As an added benefit, all this extra content will ensure that your existing audience will continually have engaging and consumable content during the times that your business is too hectic to create it.
6. Social Media – Like marketing, social media is a great area to focus your attention on when business slows down. Social media is a low-cost way to connect with a significantly larger audience than traditional media can provide. Platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest offer viable avenues to improve customer service by “listening” to your audience.
Through social media, you can gain a wealth of information about your customers, including who they are, what they like, and how they feel about your brand so you can make smarter business decisions.
When business slows down, it’s hard not to panic. But those slow times can actually be an opportunity to improve and fine-tune your organization.
Whether you use the extra time to update your website, refine your skills, or sell off excess inventory, these things will help you feel like you’re more in control and set you up for greater profitability and efficiency as your business gets back into the swing of things.