Summer can be a perfect time for leaving town, relaxing, and slowing down. The kids are out of school and that makes the adults want to do less too. Sounds great until you realize that customers taking a break can negatively impact your sales.

Some businesses naturally have cyclical business periods like theme parks, beach resorts, ski stores, and ice cream shops. But other businesses can too. For example, an accounting firm may not be as busy in the summer and fall when most customers are not thinking about taxes. In this case, the firm’s owner has to get creative on how to bring in customers during the down times, as well as diversify their products and services, and carefully manage cash flow.

Almost all companies have slow times. Yours might be different from the accounting firm, bathing suit store or dentist. That’s why it’s important to analyze your sales figures on a weekly, monthly, and year-over-year basis. See any trends? Are there certain times that are slower than others? If so, you need to pay attention and address this open time by filling it with sales opportunities.

Here are some ideas to help ensure that your business doesn’t suffer during these slow times:

  • Promotions. The bathing suit store needs to offer special promotions and sales to potential customers who take winter cruises and early spring break shoppers. A great way to do this is through advertising. Or, email an alert to loyal customers and reward them for bringing in a friend to shop. Partner with another business that might be suffering from a slow down at the opposite time of year and offer cross referrals.
  • Diversify products/services. If you exclusively sell bathing suits you might want to offer related products in the winter such as exercise clothing to keep customers cool in the gym. If you’re a dentist run a special on teeth whitening when your appointments are light.
  • Manage cash flow. Resist the urge to spend the money that comes in during the busy times. Save it and budget to make sure you have enough to cover hard costs throughout the year such as labor which tends to be the largest business expense.

Many of The Barter Company’s clients use barter to help them through the slow times. If you have open appointments, fill them with barter customers. They will bring you barter cash that you can use on other expenses without using the money you’ve saved. Barter can also bring in new customers. If a barter customer sees the dentist and likes their service, they now have a loyal new customer who will spread the word and keep coming back – all year long.