For much of the world, summer is here, and small businesses and small business owners and employees are not immune to the highs and lows of a season not typically known for record-breaking sales and customers beating down every door. Indeed, summertime brings with it its own set of challenges for entrepreneurs and small business owners, and being aware of what may come is essential to keeping things running well at this time of year.
Here are a few key things that small business entrepreneurs and owners should remember when it comes to the hotter, brighter months in order to make sure that things not only run smoothly during this time, but thrive.[jetpack_subscription_form title="Subscribe to Out of Office:" subscribe_button="Sign Me Up"]
Customers Can Be Few and Far Between
Summertime schedules are all over the map, and ultimately in most industries product launches or new service roll-outs are not only hard to plan for summer months, but are usually ill-advised. Unless you are well versed in your own industry’s staunch exception, you would do well to remember to keep the summer calendar lighter while you plan hard behind the scenes for a busy fall and winter. Importantly, though, this break in sales should never be looked at as a bad thing. Instead, the chance to keep a breezy summer promotional calendar full of white space is a great chance to allow customers to get to know and love you even more in a new light — one where making a purchase or taking part in an offer isn’t necessarily a part of the equation.
Time Off Can Be Not Just a Good Thing — But a Great Thing
Last month we explored the power of a small business vacation, and why taking time off and giving your employees vacation time during this season is such a smart move for your bottom line. By the same token, though, summer is also a time to realize that customers may be taking time off as well – and, as mentioned, that can be a very good thing. But why not go a step further and actually GIVE your customers some time off? Instead of continuing to promote to the few folks who are hanging around in any given August week, proactively decide to take some time off, and encourage your customers to do so with you by transparently proclaiming your summer break. Ultimately, by giving even your most loyal of customers breathing room to step away from your product and services for a while, you’ll see greater loyalty in the long run. Absence does makes the heart grow fonder, after all.
Smart Summertime Communication
The concept of taking time off is well and good, but how do you actually make sure that customers and clients step away during summer time without completely forgetting about you? It’s all about smart communication during the leaner times. Content marketing in summer should err on the side of friendly check-ins free of product promotion. Sure, a great sale or two thrown in around a key holiday can work, but remember that summer is the breathing room you and your customers need to allow for strong sales during the fall and holiday seasons. Send email newsletters and post social media content that allows customers to get to know you better without the promise of a sale on the backend. If handled right, that backend upside will come in due time in the months ahead.
In practical terms, this can go a few different ways. Perhaps you could try telling customers about the planned break you and your employees are taking for a specific period of time and remind them you won’t be in touch at all during that period. Many companies do this for a day or two around a big holiday, but what about for a two-week period of your own determination?
Or, maybe you’d prefer reminding that them that during summer months you’ll be communicating less frequently but on a regular basis. I’m always reminded of publishing the company I know in Michigan who keeps summer hours for the seasonally awesome summer. One result? Happy employees. Another result? Delighted customers like me, who love the idea of the practice and value their work even more as a result.
Finally — and this is key — encourage customers to do the same, by expounding upon the joys of time off and the rewards reaped in terms of productivity earned and satisfaction gained. No one wants to feel they have to apologize for taking time off, and you shouldn’t either. By explaining to your customers that this is a good thing for your business, a good thing for your employees, and a good thing for your customers, you get everyone on board. Ultimately, summer is a time to celebrate with customers and employees alike, and to share in the good cheer.