It’s baaaacccckkk…!! Now that we’ve jumped the hurdle of Halloween, the holiday season is officially upon us. In the blink of an eye, we will be flying through holiday favorites such as Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Hanukah and Kwanzaa and landing dazed and confused at New Years’ Eve. For many businesses, the holiday season is met with excitement; it is their showtime, the main event where business will be booming, and they pull out the stops to complete orders, manage staffing levels and maintain adequate inventory. For others, this season is met with concern; this is their slowest time of the year, where they must determine how to maintain a stable cash flow and continue operating through the downtime. If your business falls into the latter category, you are not alone. Several industries experience a slowdown in work and sales during the holidays. However, the downtime does not mean that there isn’t work to be done. Below are some steps you can take to use the downtime to lessen the impact of the holiday blues and prepare your business for the next season.
- Understand your business cycle and plan for it: ensure a balanced cash flow throughout the year to avoid a feast or famine situation. Create a downtime account by setting aside funds during your peak seasons. This will ensure you meet can your obligations even if your stream of revenue has slowed down for the season.
- Complete an operational assessment: What is the state of your business? Have you set and met your goals? What areas need improvement? What areas of your business can you work on now to streamline processes and improve operations?
- Prepare for the upcoming busy season: get ahead of the rush by developing marketing plans, testing new products, preparing inventory, performing audits, backing up files, updating your website, scheduling system upgrades, etc.
- Manage your client relationships: Often out of sight is out of mind; send holiday cards with promotional products such as calendars, pens, notebooks, etc. Stay connected with your customers through emails or newsletters, offer promotions to sample new products or specials for early bird orders.
- Focus on employee relations: show your appreciation for their hard work, plan to boost employee morale with holiday celebrations, offer vacation time during the downtime, ask for employee input on the state of the business, complete team building activities together, etc.
- Check in with your vendors: Review contracts and determine if expectations were met on both sides. Discuss your goals for the upcoming season, order products and materials ahead of time to ensure timely deliveries.
- Take a break: as a business owner, you also need to take time off to decompress and rest. Time away during the slow season can help you come back recharged and ready to tackle new goals.
Most businesses operate in a cyclical manner throughout the year, seeing peaks and valleys in sales and activity. Do not let the holiday blues lull you into complacency. Using this time to proactively assess the state of the business, plan training, upgrade systems, and implement new strategies can provide you with a running start to a successful new year.