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Mitigating the Summer Swoon

2 minutes Read

Summer can be a slow time of year for many small businesses. . . but it doesn’t have to be! The confluence of warm weather and a more laid-back work environment makes eight out of 10 Americans likely to travel during the summer. However, just because your business may see less foot traffic or even cash flow doesn’t mean it can’t be productive.

Here are some tips to ensure your small business doesn’t merely survive – but thrives – this summer.                                                                             

Play catch up

With people taking time off and enjoying the warm weather, it’s not uncommon for businesses to see fewer customers. To make the most of this slow period, catch up with invoices.  The quieter summer months provide the perfect opportunity to hit the phones and chase late payments. Collecting many of your outstanding invoices in the summer can help make up for fewer sales.

With fewer customers to attend to, you can also begin preparing for the busier months ahead. Entrepreneurs can properly stock for the fall by determining what products sold well the previous year, or use the time to get ahead of staffing calendars. The summer also provides a chance to take a step back and set goals for the remainder of the year to keep you and your team motivated.

Team up

It’s not in a small business owner’s nature to sit back and wait for sales to roll in. Especially in the summer, you need to create the action! Team up with a local partner to host a summer event and draw in a diverse customer base from within your community. For instance, a restaurant can team up with a body shop and provide catering for patrons while they wait for their cars to be fixed. This both drives traffic to the auto repair shop and gives the restaurant a chance to showcase its food to a new audience. If a partnership isn’t feasible, simply moving your store to an outside location can help spread brand awareness, which could lead to further sales down the road.

Just as you can team up with another local business, the summer is a great time to create win-win scenarios with your customers as well. You can start a loyalty program to reward faithful customers with discounts after they reach certain targets, or you can bundle overstocked goods at a discounted price to clear your shelves. These initiatives will help drive sales during a slow time and build appreciation among your customer base.

Spend wisely

The summer can be tough on businesses, but don’t make it even harder with unnecessary expenditures. If you know certain products won’t sell as well in the summer, stagger orders to reflect the season’s activity. Restaurants that adjust their menu should order ingredients accordingly while sporting goods stores can back off on winter-sport equipment. At the same time, just as business owners don’t want to be wasteful, the summer could be a good time to stock up on goods on the cheap. Be sure to check your distributors to see if they are offering any of your go-to items or supplies at a discount.

If your business depends on weather or a nearby school, it could make sense to reduce staff and/or hours of operations where appropriate. A ski-equipment retailer no longer needs a full staff to assist customers, and a college pizza shop doesn’t need to stay open late at night to meet the rush of students. Fortunately, overstaffing issues could solve themselves as college students return home for the summer and high schoolers go away with family. Either way, without jeopardizing relationships with long-standing employees, having a lean staff during the summer can make up for reduced profits.

Everyone looks forward to the summer, and so should small business owners. This generally slower period allows you to change up your day-to-day and focus on different aspects of your company. If you prepare properly and are creative, the summer can be one of your most productive seasons and help build a foundation for future success.