While nothing is certain in business, one thing is almost assured: The summer will bring change. For some small businesses, summer is their busy season; for others, it marks the slower time of year. But whatever the case, almost every business should look at summer as a special time of year and plan accordingly.
Here then are seven tips to help you, regardless of the nature of your business:
1. Hire smart: We have all been there – the day when the restaurant fails to plan accordingly, and everything takes too long. It is a missed opportunity for the restaurant: dazzle the customers with great service and tasty food, and they will be impressed and come back time and again. But miss the mark, and customers are unlikely to return.
Multiply that several-fold, and that is the case when you run a business that gets busier over the summer but isn’t adequately staffed to account for the extra demand. Big mistake.
If your business picks up in the summer, now is the time to jump on the hiring process or hire those summer interns. These two sources of help – seasonal workers and interns – are key to making your summer both profitable and enjoyable.
2. Take a break: Just as your customers are coming and going, so too should you and your staff. In another article I wrote recently, I shared some creative ways to handle vacation policies and time off. The important thing is that you plan ahead so that everyone leaves the summer season feeling rejuvenated, not exhausted. And the only way to do that is to get everyone on your team some much needed time off.
3. Take advantage of summer events: The plethora of outdoor festivals, fairs and other similar events is a huge opportunity for many small businesses. If you have a business that lends itself to selling at these sorts of festivals, this may be a new profit center that you never considered. But even if your business is not the type that can sell at the artisan food and crafts fair, for example, your business can still take advantage of the good feelings that come from being associated with such an event by advertising or sponsoring part of the program. In addition, you can use these celebrations as an excuse to close shop early for the day and go have some fun with your employees.
4. Partner up: There is likely an association – formal or informal – of businesses similar to yours in your region. It would behoove you to see if they are promoting your industry or city this summer and then hop on the bandwagon. Chambers of commerce do this, and getting your chamber to recommend your business can be a huge boon. Similarly, there may be a local tourism board, restaurant association or concierge group that you can tap into as well. Getting on their list is a smart way to get referral business.
5. Check in: Summer is a great excuse to get in touch with old customers and let them know what is new right now. Maybe you have made some upgrades to the business this year, or maybe you are planning some summer sales. Whatever the case, updating your existing customers is a good way to get on their radar again.
The next two tips are for those businesses where summer is not their busy time of year.
6. Take on a new project: If you have time to spare right now, then use it wisely:
- Update your website
- Clean out the stockroom
- Paint or freshen up your business in other ways
- Prepare a new advertising campaign
- Organize the office
- Launch an e-newsletter
7. Learn something new: As a small business owner, there is never a shortage of new things to learn, whether it is mobile marketing, social media, accounting, etc. If summer is a slow time for your business, use this time is to learn something new that can help you when business picks up again in the fall.
How are you prepping for the summer season? Share your story below.
About Steve Strauss
Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss