How to survive the “dead season” for business»
Ekaterina Ukolova gives advice to entrepreneurs on how to overcome the “dead season” – from describing the process of diversifying areas of work-to special training for sales managers and new ways to motivate customers
Every entrepreneur is secretly afraid of this terrible time when all customers run away, go on vacation, suddenly lose interest in his product and simply forget about its existence. For example, the scourge of a large part of Russian business is summer holidays: no one agrees to meetings, marketing offers are automatically sent to spam, calls remain unanswered, messages in social networks hang for days… No wonder this period is called the “dead season”. Even the long may weekends preceding the summer season are usually unprofitable — the end-to-end Analytics service Alytics suggests that during this time, Russian business loses almost 30% of orders.
But you need to realize that the seasonality of sales is an inevitable phenomenon for almost any sphere, repeated with enviable regularity, just “UPS” and “downs” happen at different times of the year with individual intervals and amplitude. Of course, most companies adjust their sales plans to take into account seasonal fluctuations in demand, but still the difference in sales volumes in different periods can reach from 30 to 100% (and in the case of pronounced seasonality, even more, such as in the trade of cut Christmas trees or fresh berries).
Let’s see what can be done during a lull and how to turn it in your favor?
Search for a related direction
Adding your product/service to a related area that will compensate for the downtime will help you cope with a sensitive drop in demand. For example, if you are the owner of rental of summer sports equipment such as bicycles, rollers, scooters, you can expand the range to skates, skis and children’s snowmobiles, which are in high demand in the winter.
Motivational and informational training of employees
Of course, the sales Department and call center should be informed about the nuances of the target audience and motivated to work effectively at any time of the year, but it is important to take a serious approach to drawing up a work plan and remuneration for the lead and the fact of sale. For example, a good step would be to link the employee bonus to a “pulsating” coefficient that is relevant to the profitability of the business at a given time.
The sales plan for the summer season should be formed based on the vacation mode of your potential client. Of course, it is impossible to take into account all the schedules, but certain weeks in the season are especially popular among vacationers. The Ask Your Target Market analyst says that the second week of July has become the most popular holiday month, while 11% of respondents plan to rest in June, and 35% plan to rest in August. And the company Manager should make sure that all employees responsible for sales receive such valuable information on time and adjust their sales strategy to it.
Additional customer motivation
Discounts, promotions, sales, discount programs, special summer contests, collaborations with partners, the formation of individual offers to regular customers, an exclusive gift to buy — all these tools should be in the Arsenal of a business that plans to keep its positions even in the low season.
Various marketing strategies should be supported: advertising campaigns and promotion in social networks, traffic segmentation, testing of multi-format landing pages, and batch placements in the media field.
Of course, not every business can afford such huge discounts, which are made in the summer, for example, by a fur salon. In addition, you need to take into account the mentality and purchasing power: most of the Russian population usually purchases goods that are needed here and now. Therefore, usually all efforts to earn money are reduced to the fact that the company only supports the bar, but does not raise it. To get a tangible result and stimulate sales helps what we mentioned above-the diversification of the product matrix in the price list at the expense of products with different seasonality.
Work on quality and preparation
Periods of calm seem to be created in order for businesses to have time to exhale and think, experiment, and search. The seasonal downturn provides a precious opportunity to communicate with the consumer longer, get to know them better and find out their long-term needs, gather information and conduct analytical work. It is important not only not to forget about the client at this time, but also to use your free time to improve the quality of communication with him.
Planning a strategy for a high season will help you work on the quality of services, products, and services and optimize processes, earning audience loyalty and increasing competitiveness.
Also, “off-season” is a great opportunity to improve the skills of your team, audit the sales system and customer base, double-check the KPI, analyze the effectiveness of each Manager, upgrade equipment, and so on. All this will help to avoid “roughness” in the future period of high demand.
High-quality vacation of the company’s employees is very important for its development. Even at your favorite job, you can burn out, get tired and get angry. Therefore, sometimes it is better to use the summer for its intended purpose — not to work half-heartedly, but to pack your bags and fly to where you like!
If the difference in profit between the “dead” and “burning” seasons is small, about 20-30% or even less, then you can solve this issue by reducing operating expenses. For example, if you spend less on rent, contractors, logistics, or supplies that will be needed in more modest amounts due to a reduced flow of customers, this will slightly smooth out the difference.
The decline in sales activity gives you a great chance not only to expand your existing customer and partner base (for example, by getting to know them at events that are so many in the summer!) and learn about their future needs as early as possible, but also prepare the already “recruited” audience for the innovations that you plan for the next peak of sales.
In General, in my experience, a properly organized business has a certain “fat layer” in the form of resources that will help it survive during any “dead season” and cover all costs. Therefore, to sum up, I want to say that the entrepreneur must know their own periods of growth and decline in customer demand, prepare for them in advance, and have an appropriate response plan for all departments to the changed conditions. If your team has a clear strategy and goal, it will be much easier for them to work in any weather, whether it is rain, sun or hurricane.