Many businesses generate a third of their yearly sales during the holiday season. Those companies are swamped with orders and have to hire extra staff just to meet the high demands of the season. But not every business owner rings jingle bells at this time of year – some organizations come to a slow crawl. If your business is slow during the holidays, here are a few tips to maximize your downtime and generate more enthusiasm and potentially, more profits.
Mark the calendar on the date when sales traditionally begin to sag, as this date will become the target for your new campaign: “We’re Slow – So Let’s Go!” Inform the staff that you are approaching the downturn in business with an upswing in attitude. The goal of the campaign is to have fun and accentuate the positives, rather than the negatives of downtime.
List all the benefits of downtime: Less stress; more time off; time to enjoy the season and attend pageants and concerts; time to de-clutter the office and files; and time to generate new ideas and promotions. Once you have made a list of “perks” of downtime, invite the staff to a meeting. Order pizza or bring gifts – remember to be creative!
How to generate business during the slow times? What about diversification? Could you offer a particular product or service during the holidays as a “Limited Edition”? Discuss new promotional ideas. Discuss ideas of how to give back to the community. Could you host a fundraiser?
Could You Volunteer?
Why not get into the spirit of the season and volunteer! You and your staff could donate your time and effort and make a difference – together! Many charities will welcome your gift of time: Festival of Trees – help decorate trees for a fundraiser, and afterward, treat your staff to dinner. Volunteer to buy and wrap gifts for needy children. Donate your time to a homeless shelter and prepare a holiday meal. Volunteer at a literacy center and help a child learn to read. Give some books because every child should own at least one book. There are many worthy causes, and you will find that your efforts as a staff will strengthen morale. Take along a camera and capture your employees – united in a cause. Frame a favorite snapshot of your team and give a copy to each employee. Hang a photo in your business, as an inspirational and memorable experience. Hopefully, you will continue to volunteer, not just at this season, but every season.
Your Business Could Host a Party:
Create a memorable theme and invite preferred customers, suppliers, business neighbors, and the media. Organize decorations, door prizes, food and drink, and music. If your company doesn’t have a large space available, rent a room at the local library or school. You would be surprised how little the expense would be, and most times, the rental fee includes the use of the kitchen and cloakroom. Just remember to organize a memorable theme that ties into your business. If you own a travel agency, a “Jingle Bells Under the Sun” might be a good idea. Tropical drinks, sun umbrellas, and Santa’s (wearing sun hats, of course) would set the tone. Guests would receive a garland as you welcome them. Whatever fun theme you decide on, remember that details are important and make a lasting impact on your guests.
Re-Assess Your Business:
Most business owners are too busy to work “on” the business. Take the opportunity to re-visit your marketing plan. Ask your packaging supplier to visit the store, and suggest that you would like new ideas, new trends, and unique packaging ideas. Or, make an appointment with your accountant, and review all expenses. Most times, a business owner meets with his accountant during the tax season when the accountant is swamped. Take the time and re-visit every detail of your expense sheet. View it as a gift – to your business! The bottom-line might even improve.
Thank Your Customers:
Prepare a quality notepaper and add your logo and mission statement at the top. Send out a hand-written note to both customers and suppliers. Say something memorable. Perhaps tie in your mission statement with the relevance of the holiday season.
Send out a Newsletter or Email:
Prepare quality copy and make the newsletter cheerful, and personal. Relate staff stories to the relevance of the season (and your mission statement). Include photos of the team and your customers, too. Take the opportunity to express thanks and gratitude to your clients, suppliers, and employees. Ask each staff member to comment on the season and express holiday wishes. Because that is what the season is all about – caring about customers and caring about staff and their families!
So, next year, when the slow time approaches, do not be surprised if your staff marks the calendar for the campaign “We’re Slow, So Let’s Go.” You might find that slow time becomes the best time of the year!