5 Ways to Handle Slow Seasons Effectively

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5 Ways to Handle Slow Seasons Effectively

You have more options than you might think to help your business when the work is not just rolling in. Last week I described some of the strategies that will likely hurt your business in the long run, and in this post I present some better options. Use one at a time or more than one, depending on your available resources.  Each option can help your business to stay afloat and survive the slow season.

1. Streamline your business

Is there anything that you have been putting off because you were too busy to manage it?  Now is the time to attend to those issues.  Streamlining your business processes is always a positive change that can be made.  Usually we don’t have the time.

Now is also a great time to review your business.  You create a business plan and a marketing plan so that your business has a definite direction in which to begin.  As your business grows, both plans can be expanded and changed.  Dust off those plans and see if changes are in order.

2. Learn a new skill

Your business probably began with an idea to provide services based on your strengths, but there is always more you can learn.

Diversifying your business may increase your profits.  If a client can get more than one service from you, that makes your business more attractive than the competition that only offers one. Use your downtime to take a course that will enhance your business skills.  Explore what’s available through organizations like NAPO, POC, the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD), or the National Association of Senior Move Managers (NASMM).

In addition to courses specifically for organizers, you might benefit from a course in public speaking or creativity. If you wish to improve your blogging, consider a writing course.

Adding to your skill set is always a positive thing.  You never know when that learning will come in handy.

3. Optimize your customer service

The backbone of any business is how it treats its customers.  Attracting new clients is not the end of it; you also need to keep them satisfied, in order to maintain the integrity and positive image of your business.  To neglect your clients is to ruin your reputation in their eyes, and these days information spreads more quickly than ever.

Create an email draft to handle routine emails.  If a client has to wait more than two days for a response, they may send another email that is not so friendly.  Or, they may simply go to another business that provides similar services.  A quicker response will prompt a shift from your company to another. If you’re too busy to respond right away, send a quick message to acknowledge receipt of their email and let them know when to expect your detailed reply.

Consider posting a survey to give your clients a chance to express their thoughts about your business.  Everyone wants their opinion to be valued.  Customer surveys give you an opportunity to make changes in your business that will benefit your clients.  Knowing that their suggestions are taken seriously will inspire customer loyalty.

Repeat clients deserve a little something extra every now and then.  Reward them with special offers, thank you gifts when they get a friend to use your services, and “no purchase necessary” entries into contest drawings.  If the incentives are good, they will continue to use your services and recommend others to use them, too.

4. Create a follow-up system

I’m sure you’ve spoken with or emailed many people who didn’t “bite” the first time around.  Don’t give up on them too easily.  Some people take longer than others to take that big step from “I’m interested” to “let’s get started.”

Save all the information you have on each prospect in your Contacts, including the reason they gave you for not buying your services at that time. This will come in handy when you send a follow-up email. It can be a simple cookie cutter email where you fill in the blanks with something personal from your previous contact, so they realize that you remember the meeting or past correspondence.  This personal touch is very important.  With a little coaxing, this time around you may hook that elusive client and add them to your list of loyal customers.

5. Explore new areas of marketing

Look for ways to keep the momentum going in your business by drawing in new clients and keeping your existing clients coming back.  Marketing in different ways leads to a wider customer base and the opportunity to increase your earning potential.

If a new marketing strategy has caught your eye, work up the particulars on how it will positively impact your business.  Research how other businesses have benefited from this strategy.

How many of these options have you tried?

Marketing today takes one idea and expounds on it in several different ways.  From web content writing to videos to podcasts to forums, seeing the same bit of information from four different angles means more website traffic for less work.  No wonder everyone is doing it!

Conclusion

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve looked at various ways that a slow season can be a good thing in the life of your business.  If not for the slow times, you couldn’t prepare to capitalize when business revs back up.  Don’t kid yourself.  Slow doesn’t mean that things are dead or that you can take a break and let the business run by itself.

It’s the perfect time to get it in gear and work that much harder to make your business even better.  Through popular online marketing techniques and the traditional standbys, position your organizing business for a bigger and better future.

Let the slow season in your business be a new beginning.  Think of it as a reprieve from the hectic everyday life of an entrepreneur.  Everyone needs a break once in a while.  This is yours, so make the most of it.

Gravatar mystery man

A former professional organizer, I'm now a Website Design and Care Specialist. I love helping others succeed by sharing the knowledge and insight I’ve gained through marketing my own business for over 15 years! When I’m away from my desk, I enjoy reading, photography, watching movies, and cooking.

Gravatar mystery man

A former professional organizer, I'm now a Website Design and Care Specialist. I love helping others succeed by sharing the knowledge and insight I’ve gained through marketing my own business for over 15 years! When I’m away from my desk, I enjoy reading, photography, watching movies, and cooking.

18 Comments

  1. Avatar Seana Turner on March 23, 2020 at 10:07 am

    I’ve been thinking about listening in to some of the NAPO Conference recordings for sessions I could not attend last year (can’t attend them all!). I think this is a great time to try a new skill, because there is an increased tolerance for imperfection; everyone is running up the learning curve so it is okay to falter a bit as we do.

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on March 23, 2020 at 12:28 pm

      That’s a great plan, Seana, especially since you’ll be missing the conference this year. I like what you say about “an increased tolerance for imperfection” – I hadn’t thought about that but it’s definitely encouraging.

  2. Avatar Linda Samuels on March 23, 2020 at 10:48 am

    It’s quite the time now with so many people experiencing time and their work lives in completely different places. Some businesses, like yours, were already set for working virtually. But for many others, they provide face-to-face, in-person services. So work life as they knew it has come to a halt. But as you so beautifully suggested, there are many ways to make this dark time, lighter. I see it as an opportunity to rethink so many things- not just how I do business, but what my priorities are. And there are tons of learning and growth opportunities- taking online classes through NAPO, ICD, or some of the mind/body groups I’m connected with, working on marketing pieces, developing additional income streams, and integrating lots of self-care like walking, sleeping, connecting with loved ones. It’s also a time for experimenting. What’s particularly fun is hearing how everyone is in that mode, which isn’t normally the case. I’m inspired each day by the ways people are coping, creating, and reinventing.

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on March 23, 2020 at 12:30 pm

      Yes, this is a great opportunity to do some of those things we never seem to have time for! (On the other hand, now we have no excuse not to do them…)

  3. Avatar Stacey Agin Murray on March 23, 2020 at 11:02 am

    Thanks for all these ideas! When I’m not assisting my kids with distance learning, feeding four people three times a day, and tackling organizing projects in my own house, I am planning to use the down time in my business to get those things done that I haven’t been able to make time for. I wrote a blog post and put out a newsletter (and organized my pantry). I’m getting back to marketing my book and I’m considering attaining a NAPO specialist certificate. Goals!

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on March 23, 2020 at 12:30 pm

      Great goals, Stacey – and probably doable too.

  4. Avatar Sabrina Quairoli on March 23, 2020 at 1:32 pm

    Great tips! Early in my career, I worked in the customer service industry early on and found that people really appreciated it when you make them feel special. I love the tip of a follow-up system. I’m going to try this one.

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on March 24, 2020 at 12:31 pm

      I bet that’s an area that, for most of us, can always be improved.

  5. Avatar Janet Schiesl on March 23, 2020 at 1:38 pm

    Reading this gives me hope. Seems like I am covering all the bases you suggested. I have a meeting scheduled this week with someone that is going an audit on my business to help me streamline with automation. I have offered more education than usual to my employees. It’s definitely time for learning, since we can’t be working. I am connecting with one client each day. Just checking in to make sure they are OK. I think reaching out during this isolation is important. I also re-started facebook live postings. I don’t like doing them, but for now, they are free marketing. Just trying to keep top of mind.

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on March 24, 2020 at 12:31 pm

      Wow, you are definitely covering all the bases – way to go!

  6. Avatar Julie Bestry on March 23, 2020 at 3:43 pm

    So many of us are in this weird period where we don’t feel focused because of all that’s going on, and we feel funny promoting, but it’s scary thinking about not knowing when we’ll be making money again. Having a plan for gentle ways to stick with the program, whether that’s virtual work, or pivoting, or just riding it out with low-pressure marketing, is going to help us all feel in control. Step #2, with continuing education, is probably the best tip for me — because learning calms and centers me.

    Thanks for sharing this!

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on March 24, 2020 at 12:33 pm

      I was glad to find this in my archives, since it is really on point right now for most of us. It’s important to know what calms and centers you so you can do more of it. I took one of my clients to task yesterday because she’s going all out to support others during this crisis, working crazy hours and all, but she told me that it helps her if she has something to focus on.

  7. Deb Lee Deb Lee on March 23, 2020 at 8:17 pm

    This is a great post to save and look back on, Janet. I especially love #2. It’s a great way to put my brain to work and stay focused on something positive.

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on March 24, 2020 at 12:36 pm

      It seems there are even more learning opportunities than ever right now too. So many organizations are offering free online courses that would normally be paid and/or in person! I’m toying with the idea of signing up for WordCamp San Antonio this weekend!

  8. Avatar Nancy Haworth on March 24, 2020 at 6:28 pm

    Thank you for sharing this during the Coronavirus crisis. With most people stuck at home, your tips provide great ways to stay productive.

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on March 25, 2020 at 12:27 pm

      You’re welcome, Nancy. I figure everyone has a project or two on the back burner, so what better time to revisit them?

  9. Avatar Ronni Eisenberg on March 25, 2020 at 11:19 pm

    You shared lots of helpful suggestions for those who feel stuck. I’m finding this time ideal for reflection, a necessary element of growth.

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on March 26, 2020 at 12:24 pm

      I’m glad you are able to do that and hope you get some great insights. Some folks are finding it hard to focus, which makes it even harder to cope.

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