Lana Del Rey feels your pain. So much so she wrote a whole song about business being slow during Summer months, put it to a catchy beat, and sold something like 2 billion records. Or at least that’s what we assume “Summertime Sadness” was about. But since you’re probably not going to make a multi-platinum record this summer, you’re going to need to find some other ways to keep your business going during the next few months. Here are seven things you can do to get through the leanest part of the year, and make your business even stronger come Fall.
Develop New Products for Fall
Kind of like an old guy on the tennis court, your sales are going to fade when the weather gets hot. But instead of being like that old guy and denying you’ve lost a step, throwing your racket, and making really bad line calls, admit you’ve slowed down, sit in the shade, and think about how to play better once the weather cools off. This means instead of futilely slashing prices and coming up with zany marketing schemes, take the summer months to come up with some gangbusters ideas that’ll smash it in the Fall, and save your energy for when you’ll really need it.
Give Employees Flexible Schedules
You know what employees just love? Sitting inside on sunny days with nothing to do at work. And if you believe that, you need a lot more than a business blog to help you manage your company. Even employees without kids are going to want more time off during Summer, and since business is slower anyway, you may as well give it to them. Things like Summer Fridays, flex scheduling, and weeklong closures can save you money if you pay people hourly. But even if you don’t, it will still give you happier, more productive workers who won’t waste time staring out the window and thinking “it’s totally gonna rain on my day off.”
Develop Relationships With Your Best Customers/Contacts
It’s summer. Which means A) Motley Crue is touring and B) You have officially run out of excuses to avoid embarrassing yourself on the golf course. What does this have to do with improving your business? Well, even if Motley Crue isn’t your best customer’s favorite band, there may well be another summer concert you can take them to, or another outdoor event like a baseball game. Or even just lunch. With so many activities and more time to do them, Summer is THE best time to cultivate relationships. You might even throw a picnic or waterside Happy Hour to make your best customers and contacts feel special.
Raise Prices On Your Most Popular Products
You probably think this sounds crazy. So much so that you’re going to stop reading this, get in your car to go pick up some Chipotle, realize you’re low on gas, stop at the gas station, and say “Wow, they’re raising the prices again for Summ…..SWEET MOTHER OF EXXON THEY WERE RIGHT!!!” If you’ve got a premium product with a fairly-inelastic demand, or doing something nobody else can do, people will still buy it during the Summer, even with an inflated price. Then, in the Fall, mark it back down, get even more people to love it, and have a bigger customer base when you do it again next year.
Network, Network, Network
That guy sitting in front of you at the Dodgers game? He might be your best customer come Fall. Or he might just be an obnoxious guy who won’t sit down and fights your 8-year-old for a foul ball. Either way, he’s just one of hundreds of people you’ll meet out and about at all the events and activities that come along with Summer.
You ever watch the local news in the summer, see a lead story about a summer camp spelling bee, and think “Man, must be a sloooooow news day?” Since there’s less going on during summer, the media has less to report on, so it’s also THEIR slow time. And when they’re desperate for content, you know who they report on? Whoever comes calling. So even if you’re not a PR genius, think about some media outlets that might be interested in what your business does, find the appropriate contacts, and reach out telling them why their audience will love it. Then, when they’ve got more important stuff to talk about in the Fall (aka football) you’ll have a great bunch of new customers to try out your great new products.
Plan Your Cash Flow
This means don’t take your Spring profits, go to Monaco for a month, and expect your business to still be there when you get back. It also means understanding when money will be coming in and when it will not, and what you can do to get more of it if operating expenses will exceed income. Yes, you can put some cash aside for Summer. But if you realize it won’t be enough, plan ahead with things like small business loans that you will expectedly pay back as soon as things pick up in Fall.
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