Tuesday, September 18, 2012

WHAT TO DO? Addressing Slow & Off Season Sales

The ‘off season’ affects every business; and it affects every business differently.

Some businesses see their incomes soar during the Christmas season and most tourism based businesses may see their incomes soar during the summer.

Some businesses may burst at the seams when the school year starts while others may burst only at the seams if the temperature falls below freezing. Every business has peaks and valleys.

When is your busy season? When is your off season? How do you survive the slowdown in business?

Let’s look at five specific ways you can deal with the slow season and use it to help build your business and position yourself for growth:

1. Follow up with old customers: During the busy season, you probably don’t have the ability to spend a lot of time following up with customers. Now that you have the time, get into the habit of following up with customers. (It doesn’t matter that it’s been six months or a year, give them a call or drop them an email to let them know you are still able to serve their needs.)

2. Create a special. Consider your profit margin carefully and create a seasonal sale. ‘Sales’ can be a great way to build business but be careful that they don't become expected. Doing that may shift your busy season into your slow season because your customer base will wait for your product to go on sale – as it does - the same time each year.

3. Try repackaging your products. Find your way out of an off season by changing your niche or your customer's idea of your product. If you sell gardening tools and your off season is fall and winter, consider packaging those gardening tools together with soap, gloves, and seeds in a gift-wrapped basket and promote your repackaged product as the perfect Christmas gift for grandma. Do you currently offer gift certificates?

4. Test a new product: If you've been toying with an idea to add to your product line, now might be a good time to do it. Don’t initially expect strong sales but launching in the off season will give you time to test consumer reaction, potential defects, and marketing angles. Most importantly, you have the time and won’t have to stick a large amount of investment into inventory.

5. Schedule future business NOW: Get around your off season by offering customers a discount if they pre-paid for service they would receive later. (Lawn care companies are well known for doing this.) Remember that you will end up doing the work later during your busy time so make sure you have your staffing levels ready for it.

There are so many approaches to successful offseason marketing. It just takes work and a solid commitment. How does your business market and sell in the offseason?