Every business tends to have busy periods and not so busy periods. If you work in a particularly seasonal industry, this cycle is even more pronounced.
But whatever your industry, don’t spend the slow season twiddling your thumbs and stressing about the health of your company. Here are 6 ways to maximize the unproductive days and grow your business.
Upgrade or Switch your Office Facilities
Office equipment, software and utilities are things that just run along in the background. The reliability of these day to day essentials has a huge impact on your business success, so you should keep them in top working condition. Unfortunately, it’s often impossible to upgrade or switch your equipment during the busy days when there are clients waiting. Use the slower season to check if everything works properly and make any necessary changes.
We all know the feeling of working with poor quality office equipment. Printing a document, downloading a file, making a video conference call – when equipment works slowly (or sometimes fails altogether) you and your business are losing minutes from each and every day.
Whilst that may not seem like a big deal, add those minutes up over the course of a year and you’re losing valuable time. That’s time that could be dedicated to much more important business activities. So upgrade any equipment that has seen better days.
The same goes for any software you use. Is your database as efficient as it could be? Is there some software out there that could streamline your workload and even automate certain tasks? Do a little research into the capabilities of your current software and any newcomers to the market.
When things are back up to full speed, you’ll appreciate how the right software helps you to work faster.
Check Those Bills
Now is also a good time to review your business spending. If you don’t budget and track your expenses, start doing it now.
With a clear idea of your costs, you might be able to find a better deal on your phone system, your internet package or your utilities. A cheaper option will save your business some cash that could be invested elsewhere.
Create a Marketing Schedule
Marketing is one of those things that tends to fall to the bottom of the to-do list when we’re busy. But it’s really important to consistently spread the word about your brand and the service or product you offer. Take this downtime to examine your marketing strategy.
Think paid advertising. That could be in a publication, on TV, radio or social media. Or Google PPC ads. Think about when you want to reach out to your audience and where best to find them. Then plan a schedule of paid advertising.
With a bit more time to spend on your hands think about the things you can do for free. Email marketing has a huge potential to grow your business and you have probably been using it already. Have a closer look at your strategy and decide whether it is the right time to introduce some changes.
Maybe your old email template doesn’t feel right anymore and you should think of a new one instead? What about follow-ups? Maybe you can prepare a few new automated emails too. Finally, plan some email content ahead of time – that way you’ll be able to reach your customers’ inbox regularly and consistently.
We’ve all heard the saying, “content is king”. Content marketing really does work. Creating blog and social media content is a great way to reach out to your customers without ramming a sales pitch down their throats.
However, keeping on top of your content marketing is a huge task when you’re busy with the day to day running of your business. So now is the time to build up a bank of blog posts ideas, and to schedule some social media posts.
Plan content around special times of the year – Christmas or a seasonal sale, for instance. And remember that you’ll still need to post reactively in order to offer your followers the best content experience.
Update your Website
Do you have the latest customer information on your website? Does your website work correctly on mobile devices ?Are your content and images consistent with brand image? Are your SEO keywords working well for you?
Take this time to give your website an update. This could just involve tweaking a few product descriptions and changing layout for a better customer experience. Or it may involve a complete redesign.
Your website is often the first contact a potential customer has with your business. So it’s incredibly important that it gives the right impression.
Get Up to Date with Industry News and Developments
What’s the latest in your industry? If it’s a while since you caught up with industry news, now is your chance.
Find out what new products and services are being offered. What new technology or strategy is being deployed? What are your competitors up to?
You could also take this opportunity to attend a course or a seminar to expand your knowledge of the industry. It’s possible that things you learn could be put into practice to grow your business.
Set up Some Face to Face Meetings
Phone calls and email are obviously the best bet when things are busy. They offer a speedy way to communicate with your clients, customers and collaborators.
But when things slow down, why not set up a few face to face meetings? Even in this technological age, sitting down with someone still brings a host of benefits .
You can read body language and communicate a lot more information within a shorter space of time. So you can really get to understand the needs of your clients and, as a result, deliver what they need more effectively.
Find out if there are any industry events happening near you. Networking face to face is a great way to expand your business contacts and maybe find some new business leads too.
Work on Business Analysis
When we’re busy, we keep our heads down and get through the day to day work. But stepping back and taking a look at the bigger picture is really important when you’re looking to grow your business. The slow season is the perfect time to do this.
Work on your business analysis and put systems in place to make future analysis easier. Here are just a few questions to get you started:
- How productive are you and your employees? What things slow you down during the working day?
- What ROI are you getting on your marketing efforts?
- How many visitors are you getting to your website? And how many of them convert?
- Are you and your products and/or services providing the best experience for your customers?
- What are your current business goals? What are the opportunities and threats related to those goals?
Look at Google Analytics, conduct customer surveys, review your business plan and take a look at office systems. You’ll probably find room for improvement somewhere and can then work on those improvements during this slow season.
There’s plenty to keep you busy during the slow season. Dive into the tasks you don’t usually get time for. A little housekeeping and forward thinking during the quiet times will help you to work more effectively during the busy times and has the potential to really boost your business growth.
Audrey Robinson is a customer service manager, a blogger, and a self-proclaimed productivity fan. Currently, Audrey is supporting Maxo – experts in the telecommunication field. With over 9 years of experience working with customers, Audrey is often found online, sharing her suggestions about growing one’s business and attracting customers.