When the phone stops ringing, the orders almost cease to exist, the inquiry emails come trickling in, and your calendar transforms into a vacant vacuum, you might feel like you’ve hit the end of the road.
Thriving in the offseason requires survival skills. Armed with the right strategies, you can not only make your off-season productive, but you can also improve your future profitability and financial resilience.
Here are 5 tips to keep the wind in your sails (and food on the table) through your business’s offseason.
1. Adventure time: take your business on the road
Now’s the time to take advantage of a change in scenery if you can. Go get on the road and experience life and all that it has to offer all while working on your business.
By venturing out of your comfort zone, you’ll discover new ideas. If you’re a storefront, check out other venues similar to yours in other regions. If you work online, take yourself to a beach house, watch the waves, and conjure new marketing ideas. You can even give “van life” a try if you dare. Don’t worry, you can take your business with you so you won’t miss anything! You’re always connected, right? So why not be connected from a place that will give you a fresh perspective?
If you have the budget, this is also the perfect time to take a team-building weekend away with your staff. Reward them for their hard work and provide an opportunity for company bonding outside the confines of the office.
And, if you think company retreats are a waste of money, consider the following: company retreats help foster positive coworker relationships, which is one factor in creating better employee engagement. Engaged employees are more motivated to show up to work and to work harder to achieve company goals. Company retreats are an investment that can only result in positive returns.
2. Upskill & reskill to improve your business
If you’re too busy all year to upgrade your wardrobe or organize the tools in your garage, you’re probably also too busy to enhance your business skills. But, your offseason is a great time for exactly that. Business Unusual is a great place to find bite-sized tips and advice like how to move your business online and how to develop core business values. The beauty in Business Unusual is that it’s an educational learning hub designed by business experts to help small businesses through their various stages of growth. This also means that there is something in it for everyone.
For additional skills building, check out sites like Udemy, Coursera, and LinkedIn Learning.
You’ll find both short and long courses on topics ranging from digital marketing, web development, and design to photography and personal development.
3. Add value to your existing client base
The offseason is the time to remind your clients that your product or service still exists even if they don’t need it at the moment. Consider a newsletter, a special preseason sale, or incentives for referrals. Instead of letting your brand sit on the back burner, stay at the forefront of your customer’s minds by:
- Ramp up your social media presence, add a new platform like TikTok to better your reach, or provide recent developments in your field.
- Personalize your business by posting photos of your staff on vacation, promoting work-life balance.
- Launch a promotion encouraging customers to take selfies with your product, awarding a free product, lesson, or session as a prize.
- Using your expertise to teach, offering short webinars or how-to guides published on your site.
This is also the time to improve your infrastructure so that you’ll be able to optimize your interactions with your client base and prospects during the more active periods.
Using surveys, conduct customer research to determine your client’s pain points and needs. Based on these results, you can update your marketing approach and the services/products you offer. For service-based businesses, it may be time to create packages with promotional pricing. When clients purchase packages, you fill up your calendar and lock in more income.
4. Find partners, share & network
Now is the time to connect and collaborate with complementary brands. By collaborating or even co-branding with another company, you’ll gain a new audience of potential customers.
When Pottery Barn partnered with paint retailer Sherman-Williams, it made perfect sense. Who doesn’t want to see sample paint colors for their living room when choosing furniture? Both companies found new customers, and their customers obtained great value as a result.
Companies also collaborate to share resources. As the sharing economy expands, more people are seeking to own less and share more. Think Lyft and Uber, Airbnb, even coworking spaces like WeWork. How can you share parts of your business and earn cash at the same time? Can you rent out your office space while your staff is on vacation, share/rent your company car or van with another business currently in their own high season, rent equipment, or order supplies together with another company to negotiate a lower price? The offseason is the perfect time to seek out partners for collaboration.
5. Build the offseason into your yearly strategy
Knowing that an offseason exists in your business means you need to plan properly to ensure sustainable income during that time.
For example, if you offer your customers a lengthy payment plan for purchases in the winter, you’ll reserve some incoming cash flow for the summer while also providing an attractive payment option for your customers. You can also set aside a portion of your income during busy times so you have money to pay salaries during the slow ones.
If we’ve learned anything in the last 18 months, it’s to not panic. The off-season can be an amazing opportunity to expand, upskill, collaborate, and accomplish all those niggling business tasks that have been haunting you all year long. With the right strategy in place, accompanied by the right perspective, you can survive and thrive during the offseason.