During the 2017 festive season, Christmas markets once again exceeded expectations, providing a much-needed boost to local economies. However, as the retail industry gears down after the sales and tourism traders await warmer weather, we often see businesses struggling with cash flow. With this in mind, I thought it would be a good time to look at how you can make the most of the lull and use your time to prepare for the next busy spell.
1. Adapt your offering
Start by reducing overheads and making more time to focus on your company by adapting to the levels and demands of your customers. That could mean temporarily shortening opening hours, cutting stock levels or offering fewer choices. If you’re worried about putting off regular clients, simply ask their opinion first. It’s easy enough to compose a survey or mass mailout with free tools like Survey Monkey – and you can use the chance to sound out their voices on your product/service in general.
2. Focus on marketing
By working out branding and marketing ideas in quieter spells, you have more time and energy to deliver on the details. You could even work on a marketing calendar to ensure promotions tie-in with busy periods and public holidays. If you’re considering spending on advertising, you might be able to get a cheaper deal and more attention in the off-season too.
3. Spring clean
Spring is the perfect time to spruce up your premises. You’re more likely to have leftover liquidity from the festive season, which can be spent on repairing or replacing furniture and display items. Plus there’s more time to get to those occasional maintenance jobs that are put off when you’re rushed. It’ll be worth it when customers and clients visit and see the difference.
4. Skill up
Whether you’re a sole trader or have a team, the off-season is the perfect time to invest in staff training. Use your experiences of the festive period to identify areas for improvement, or look out for new ideas your team can get on board with. It might give you the edge over your competitors when business picks up.
5. Get your house in order
Contact your late payers and agree incentives or plans to recoup outstanding invoices. Every penny counts during off-season, so be ready to chase all debts. Engaging with your customers in this way is an opportunity to decide which ones are worth keeping and which are not. After all, you don’t want to waste your time and energy serving clients who won’t pay up when you need it most – and now is the time to find fresh faces if you need them.
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