Women In Business

Seasonal planning that works for you

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Leading up to Christmas, seasonal work is often at the forefront of many business owners’ minds.  It might be that you are in retail and this will be the time you make your best profit.  For others of us, it’s a time when we tend to get quiet, slow down or even close down.   Whilst a well-earned break is lovely, it’s often not great on the bank balance.

Here are some thoughts on the subject.

  • If there is a period of time when you tend to be slow (it might be Christmas, or if you are in the business of lawn mowing or pool maintenance, it will be winter) then you need to have concepts, plans and programs for these quiet times. I know one electrician who does all his annual air conditioner services in his quiet times.  For a garden person, it might be pruning.  So, work out what activities your business can perform during those quiet times and schedule them then.
  • Another suggestion is to draw business to you in quiet times. We’ve all become familiar with “Dollar Tuesday” at our local video stores.  What, along this line, could your own business do?   If you know a certain day of the week is quiet, give your customers a reason to visit you on that day.
  • Many retail outlets have sales and specials. Possibly you will give away a free gift or extra (value-add) during the month of say January (if this is the quiet month).  Alternatively, you might offer a free extra night’s accommodation or extra service with every purchase – but only during your quiet times.  Remember discounting where possible should be avoided, you are much better to value-add.  A free complimentary gift might entice someone to visit you.   Imagine a beauty salon, and February (when the kids go back to school) is quiet (due to the costs of books and uniforms) then it would be an idea to send out a card to your clients announcing the kids are back in school and it’s time to pamper yourself and put your feet up – come in for a manicure and you’ll get a free pedicure at the same time.   Remember that the pedicure might be a charge price of say $50, but what is the real cost to your business.  If it costs say $20 to supply, then the customer perceives $50 of value, but for you the cost is only $20.
  • Also, quiet times are NOT the only time to market. Marketing should be a year-round activity, but I especially believe you should market when you are busy.  My logic is that there is always a lag time with marketing activities, so in fact, the results will occur some weeks or months down the track … when you might have been quiet.
  • Frequent user cards are a great idea. Buy 9 coffees and your 10th is free. But make it achievable.  I received a frequent user card recently, but had to buy 40 times.  Couldn’t see it happening any time soon, so ditched it.  Also a very valuable tip:  If you have one of these reward card systems, give the first one free.  Train your staff when they start off a new person, clip their card TWICE, saying something like “we’re really pleased to have you on board – here… I’m going to give you an extra credit”.  Make your visitor feel special and when they are well started they are more likely to keep it going.  Remember that when someone visits your store, even if it’s just for a coffee, what else might they likely buy?  Croissant, cake, sandwich?   Once they are in the door, that great line “would you like fries with that” can be utilised.
  • Could your business move to monthly payment plans? Many accounting firms are now pre-quoting their fees for the year, and then invoicing (or being direct debited) 1/12th of these each month.   It’s great for consistent cashflow – not only for your own business but for your client as well.   Small chewable chunks is much easier to swallow than a once a year annual whopper bill.
  • Don’t’ forget to organise your money. We do have quiet times or simply choose to have a bit of a break. so ensure that you have put money aside to cover your ongoing overhead costs such as telephones, rent, insurance etc.  Having a savings account is always a good idea, whether it goes towards covering your BAS, your staff super, your income tax or the quiet times in your business.
  • Finally, don’t forget that if you do have a quiet month, that’s not the time to be spending a fortune. Budget your ups and downs accordingly so your extra spending is done in the flush months and not when the purse strings are tight.

About Donna Stone

Donna Stone is a business coach with three decades of experience. She grew her own business from a garage to be a multi-award winning operation that spanned five locations nationally. Donna works with business owners and other business coaches, consultants and trainers to help them build their own success. Her Coach the Coach ™ program has proved exceedingly popular. Donna is a prolific writer with hundreds of articles written and six books published. Visit www.donna-stone.com.au

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