For many businesses – particularly B2B organizations and those selling services – summer represents the slowest period of the year. It’s a time when customers and clients vacation with family, cut back hours, and mentally check out for a few weeks. But it doesn’t have to be wasted time for your business. With a proactive and realistic strategy in place, you can make the most of the summertime slowdown.
5 Tips for Summer Slowdowns
Summertime may not be the most productive period in terms of sales and revenue, but it can still be beneficial for your organization. If you and your employees find yourself with some free time, here are a few recommendations:
1. Conduct a Post Audit
There’s no better time than summer to reevaluate the budget you set at the beginning of the year and determine where things stand. Are your expenses higher or lower than you anticipated? Were revenues properly forecasted? Are all of your fixed costs truly fixed? An audit will help you answer these questions.
Bridgepoint Consulting advises its clients to, “Conduct a post audit of the current year’s budget. How is each line item tracking with the expectations you set several months ago? If you find material differences, run a proper variance analysis. This will be invaluable in developing next year’s budget.”
A post audit is also invaluable in staying on track over the remainder of the year. If you find that your numbers are out of alignment, a simple correction could save you thousands.
2. Set Up One-on-Ones With Employees
During the busy seasons of the year, it’s hard to engage employees in an individual manner and gather feedback. So it’s important that you use the slower periods to sit down and have one-on-one meetings with employees.
During one-on-ones, listen more than you speak. Feel free to provide advice and instruction, but use this time to ask prodding, open-ended questions that help you understand what your employees are thinking.
3. Refresh Your Online Image
Your online image is everything. But if your business is like most others, you aren’t taking full advantage of the opportunity to promote your brand with accuracy and consistency.
Summer is the perfect time to refresh your brand image. From your company website and social media profiles to email marketing and SEO, audit your presence, correct mistakes, and discover opportunities for improvement.
4. Host Creative Brainstorming Sessions
It’s easy for a business to get stale when employees are constantly facing the pressures of productivity and output. While some people work and think better under pressure, most people need some freedom in order to generate their best ideas. This makes the summer slowdown the perfect time for hosting creative brainstorming sessions with your team.
You can set the parameters of your brainstorming session, but it’s recommended that you have somewhere between three and eight people involved. Ideally, these individuals will come from different parts of the business and possess unique interests, talents, and abilities. You should let the participants know about the session ahead of time and ask them to come prepared with ideas.
In a creative brainstorming session, there is no goal or outcome. The only priority is to share ideas, discuss them in detail, and compile a list of the ones that have the most promise. That’s it. Nothing else needs to come from the brainstorming session for it to be considered successful. It’s a practice in creative thinking. Should an idea actually be executed upon in the future, that’s simply an added bonus.
5. Encourage Time Off
Summer is the perfect time for you to encourage employees to use vacation days and to spend time with family. Additionally, feel free to offer added perks and benefits like four-day weekends, half-day Fridays, and 9/80 work schedules where every other workweek only has four days.
As children, we’re preconditioned to view summer as a time of leisure and enjoyment. Until the age of 18-21, most kids look forward to June, July, and August as a time to relax. Then the real world hits and young adults are expected to work year-round. Yet even with these new expectations, there’s a deep-seated notion that we should be able to relax. By granting additional time off during the summer, employees will return to work rejuvenated and appreciative.
Make the Most of Summertime
Summertime is unique in many ways. But while things may seem a bit more carefree, you have to resist the temptation to become lackadaisical in your approach. Productivity is still just as important. Use your time and resources well and you’ll enter the fall season with a new level of focus and purpose.