Even the largest of companies around the world have lulls in production or sales.
This is part of the business lifecycle as certain industries have a busy period and one where numbers seem to dip.
Mitigating the times when things aren’t going great is important because if you can turn a traditionally poor quarter into one of the strongest, the profits at the end of the year will skyrocket.
Simply accepting that a certain part of the year is slow isn’t what a great manager or founder should do.
Striving to reach optimum performance during all times of the year isn’t realistic but it cannot hurt to make that the goal. Below we will discuss ways to get out of this annual slump or simply to jumpstart things if production as a whole has gone down.
Customer Loyalty Programs
The fact is that it costs money to try to bring in new customers on a consistent basis. Getting the most out of your existing customer base is quite important if sales have hit a slump in recent months. There are certain steps you need to take in order to grow your business via a customer loyalty program.
How to implement this effectively:
- The first step is to make your customer base aware of this program. Easy or automatic enrollment should be used as nobody wants to fill out 10 pages of questions for a loyalty program that they aren’t sure will benefit them.
- Before implementing this program you should poll customers on what type of rewards they would like. Obviously, you will side with the majority on this as while the minority of customers is important, the program can’t be custom tailored to everyone.
- Planning the profitability of this is rather easy. If you give five percent in rewards or credit back make sure that your margins are well above that. A customer loyalty program is great but if it doesn’t make the company more profitable then it should be modified immediately.
Automate and Streamline Processes/Workflow
Work can tend to bottleneck during busy times of the year but the slower times can help you plan for this. Trying out new workflows or processes when things are slow can help you optimize your processes for when business picks up again.
Automating everything possible can reduce costs in employee hourly wages as well as eliminate the possibility of human error in some cases. Something as simple as converting files to PDFs in an efficient manner can save an employee quite a lot of hours during the year.
How to spearhead making your business processes flow better:
- Talk to the most productive employees in each department and ask how their jobs could be made easier.
- Have employees install time tracking software so you can see how their time is spent. This will make it easier to optimize processes if you can see where people are slowing down in their workflow.
- Take out unnecessary steps in processes without sacrificing the quality of work. Something like waiting for approval from a client can be sped up by holding clients accountable. Businesses that are on timelines auto approve things after a certain amount of time to stay on schedule to hit their deadline. Remember that clients might be lax about approving things but they will not have the same attitude if a deadline is missed and their boss is yelling at them.
Take a New Approach to Marketing
Marketing approaches should be modified during the year as you do not want to spend copious amounts on marketing during a slow season if there is no return on the investment. At times a company can just be approaching marketing inefficiently or is being led down the wrong path by a marketing company they have hired.
For example, a local business should concentrate on SEO as a whole but it should incorporate some type of local SEO. The business will see the best ROI here. Here is how to evaluate your marketing approach.
- If the marketing is done in-house you should have a monthly report on website traffic, leads, and sales that come from the marketing that has been done.
- In the case of contracting out your marketing, do not let your contractor tell you that marketing is all qualitative data. Ask for hard numbers so you can see if what they are doing actually works.
- Take a look at your competition or a company a bit larger and more successful, do not copy the company exactly but you can build your marketing strategy using that company as a model.
Create a Contest
Contests work great when it comes to sales teams because people who are competitive generally thrive in sales. This could be a team contest or individual contest depending on the department you are implementing it in. It is important to keep the contest exciting with weekly updates so people do not grow bored of this and stop participating.
The length of the contest, as well as the rewards, will have a huge impact on staff. A yearlong contest that is being dominated by someone isn’t as intriguing as a monthly contest with a new slate wiped month after month. The competitors will rise to the top and this can also build a great team atmosphere but make sure that things don’t get too heated between individuals or teams.
Reevaluate Your Website
The company website is one of the most important tools that a business can utilize. Even the homepage might be scrutinized by potential clients so making sure everything is up to date is essential. Having something that looks like a Geocities site can lead a potential customer to go elsewhere. Custom WordPress development is much more affordable than it was in the past.
Checklist for your website:
- Is your contact information easy to find? In the cases of doctor’s offices, this should be at the top of the page as the purpose of the site is to book appointments.
- Does your blog offer information that is useful to clients? Blogs that read like a commercial are often skipped over but those that answer questions or explain things will garner more traffic.
- Has your website been optimized for SEO? Ranking high for a certain keyword can be the difference between a great quarter and a quarter that a business is in the red.
As you can see there are plenty of ways to get out of a slump that your business or staff is having. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for a yearly lull in production so you have to be proactive and plan for these times. This can be a great time to step back and look at what you can improve about the company as a whole.
Downtime isn’t always bad but if your company isn’t doing anything to improve itself during this time then it is just an unprofitable waste of time. Don’t accept that sometimes things will be slow and try to turn your slow times into one of your strengths.