Summer holidays can mean two things for businesses depending on the product or service they provide. It can be one of the busiest times of the year for the hospitality or tourist industry, but for those providing business to business (B2B) services, it can be an incredibly quiet time. Often clients will take time off over the summer or reduce their required services. Some may even review the services over these quiet months and decide to stop using them altogether.
Last week I attended a Biscotti Gold networking meeting – The Marlow Business Club – and we discussed just this problem. Most of the businesses around the table were B2B or Business to Customer (B2C) financial services, which naturally slow over the summer. Here are some of the tips these businesses had for the quiet summer summer months.
Staff Catch Ups
If you have staff, summer is a great time to schedule appraisals or general catch ups. It’s a chance to review performance and work with them to plan business objectives for the remainder of the year. If business is traditionally slow for you over the summer months, then it’s a great time for staff to take time out for training courses without it having a huge impact on your business.
There is nothing worse than emailing a supplier and receiving no reply through the summer, not even an out of office. Marginally better, but as frustrating, is receiving an out of office that gives no indication of how long someone is out of the office, who to speak to in an emergency or just gives a blanket ‘I am out of the office all summer’. There is nothing wrong with taking the summer off. It may be one of the reasons you run your own business, for that flexibility. However, it is really important to manage the expectations of current and potential clients.
Make sure you use an out of office and update your voicemail for your time off. Give clear guidance as to what a client can do if their enquiry is urgent. Think about building a strategic alliance with someone who offers a similar service to you, they could be your back up over the holiday period. Another option is to engage a Virtual Assistant, they can monitor your emails and deal with enquiries using a system agreed with you (see how this worked for one of our clients in Nicola’s recent blog). People really don’t mind if you taking a holiday as long as they know what is happening – this makes them feel valued.
Schedule blogs and social media posts so you are still present online even if you’re taking your children to the zoo or enjoying cocktails in sunnier climes. You can use systems such as Hootsuite, or most of the main platforms have scheduling options built in. If you really want to have a digital detox and don’t want to have to deal with comments and likes then outsource. Again, you can think about engaging a Virtual Assistant to keep things ticking over while you’re away.
Reflect and Plan
Use the slow time to review how the first half of the year has gone. Are you on target to achieve your goals or do you need to review them? What is going well and what needs to be improved? Which items have been dropping to the bottom of your to do list? – can you get them ticked off? What are your ambitions and goals for the remainder of the year? How will you achieve them?
Plan your content for the rest of the year. Spend some time producing blogs and newsletters to take the pressure off when business picks up. It’s ok if something changes between writing the content and when you plan to post it. You can easily tweak what you have written to reflect those changes.
These are just a few of the tips from the businesses I met last week. What are your business tips for the quieter summer months?