There are many reasons why businesses have quiet periods, especially if its market is cyclical by its nature. But if you are concerned that a quiet spell is turning into a chronic problem then you may need to make some changes to revive its fortunes.
Many business owners come to when things are quiet because they use the time to get up to speed with their finances. Getting your books in order is vital for any business and catching up on the finances is a great thing to do if you expect a quiet month or even season.
There are other things you can do to make sure your quiet periods are used productively, especially if they are unexpected. Here are some suggestions:
- Target new customers
It may seem obvious, but if business is slow rather than moaning about it, you need to be proactive and use this time to look for new customers.
Let me tell you about self-employed tradesman John, for instance, an Ozlop client who regularly sends us his books for processing. After a year working flat out, John was looking forward to a well-earned Christmas break in 2018. He expected January to be quiet and planned to enjoy the break. However, when February passed without much uptick, John began to get worried about the future of his business.
John could see that without winning more new business he may not have enough money to pay the bills.
When he realised this, John quickly started attending local business events and building up his social media presence to raise the profile of his business. It took a few months of juggling the finances and there were a few sleepless nights, but John soon navigated his way out of stormy waters.
It is important to remember targeting new customers is a continual job. If you neglect it because you are busy, then you could be in danger of running out of customers. The best way to solve this is to set some time aside monthly (or weekly in quiet times) to make sure you are building a pipeline of business. Ideally, you should always be building new business pipeline, even when you already have lots of confirmed work.
- Build connections with existing customers
Another mistake John made was not to keep in touch with his regular customers because he had been so busy working.
At Ozlop many of our customers come to us on the back of a referral because one of their contacts has had a great experience with us. Client referrals is one of the best methods of winning new business. That is why we work hard to stay in regular contact with our existing customers to make sure they are getting the best from Ozlop and would recommend us to a friend. We also want to keep customers up to speed with our latest offerings so that they know what is available.
By contrast, John felt that because he had done a good job there was no point calling old customers – they would come to him if they needed him. He soon realised that this was a mistake. What he needed to do was take the time to remind regular customers of his existence so they could recommend him or perhaps make use of another service.
I’ve lost count of the times when I’ve been quoted for work from various trades and nobody has ever followed up to make sure I received it or what my thoughts are on their offering. If they had followed up, they may have been able to convince me to work with them by listening to my feedback.
- Work on the business
John is just one example of the many business owners I have met who become so engrossed working in the business that they forget to work on it. For John, the problems arose when he stopped marketing his business to customers old and new. There are many others, however, who get into trouble because they simply neglected their books.
If business is quiet, use the time to get your finances in order so you can process invoices and chase down unpaid debt. If your books are in a mess you will want to look for some support.
At Ozlop we understand that only by having timely and accurate books can you make sound business decisions. This means that when have a clear view of what money is coming in and out of the business, you can look for other ways to streamline business costs and boost your income, which will help when things are quiet.
- Get up to speed with the competition
Finally, a quiet spell is a great time to look up from your business and see what your competitors are doing. It may be time for a quick audit to see how your business stands out from the crowd or where improvements are needed.
You may even want to revisit your business plan to understand how your target market has moved on since you first wrote it and, also, whether your business is going to plan. Most business owners are familiar with their own ups and downs, understanding why you