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Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Winter Business BUM...

How many times have you heard these excuses for a company slowdown?

  • The kids are on a school break
  • The kids are back in school
  • People are too busy traveling
  • People aren't traveling
  • Tax refunds haven't arrived yet
  • The weather's too bad
  • The weather's too good
  • We work hard most of the year; we deserve a little downtime

Depending on your business, the excuses may be valid. However, that doesn't mean that you have to accept them. Adopt a new attitude about these cycles by banishing the term "slow season" from your vocabulary. When your employees are slacking off because it's the "slow season" they are making excuses. Slow periods require the exact opposite of slacking off. They require active participation on all levels. Instead of a calling it the "slow season," come up with a new term. You might call it the "get busy" season or the "drum up business" season.

In order for this to work, the entire company needs to understand the cyclic nature of your business and your plan for each cycle. This means that you need to have such a plan. Before you berate others for their excuses, come up with a proactive plan that addresses company slowdowns.

Start by analyzing your business's seasonal cycles. When is business typically busy? When is it typically slow? Why? Next, think about how you normally respond when business is slow. How can you respond that's proactive rather than reactive? Instead of laying off customer service representatives, can they switch gears from handling incoming calls to making outbound sales calls when it's slow? Can your mobile technicians knock on a few doors after completing a job, offering customers a discount because they are already in the area? Can you rearrange your marketing plan so that fewer advertising dollars are spent when you're overbooked and more spent during slowdowns?

Once you have a solid action plan, communicate it with your team. Employees know when it's slow. While some may feel entitled to a little break after a long busy season, many are fearful of what the slowdown really means. By communicating your plan and including employees in brainstorming sessions, you are empowering them to get busy while also easing their fears.

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