Ask Dr. Deborah | The Summer Sales Slump
Dear Dr. Deborah,
I am a freelance website developer. Throughout the year, I’m typically fairly busy and my business is doing well. However, during the summer I see a big slump in customers and my finances get pretty tight. I would love to be out enjoying the sun, but instead I’m worrying about paying bills on time. What can I do to get more customers?
Many businesses experience peak and slow seasons during the year. For B2B companies such as yours, summers can mean slower sales. The weather is great, kids are out of school and people are on vacation. Collectively, this often means play time takes a priority over work time.
Fear not! The best (and only) way to overcome this is to address it head on!
You know it’s coming and so plan for it. Rather than wait for the inevitable, act early so that you’re in control instead of being controlled. Here are three tips that can help:
- Balance Cash Flow | When money is flowing in and your bank account is looking good, it’s easy to get carried away with spending. However, in business every spending decision you make should be considered in terms of both the short- and the long-term consequences. If summertime is slow and you want to be out enjoying the sun, put some pennies away to cover expenses while business is strong.
- Manage Spending | If less money is coming, less money should be going out. Success in business is about making more money than you spend. Look for ways to lower your fixed expenses during slow periods. In your line of work, this can mean taking advantage of office space on demand instead of an annual lease, using project-based contract help instead of permanent staff, and paying less for less use of energy resources.
- Drive New Biz! | If you don’t want (or can’t afford to) be out enjoying the sun and want to grow your business instead, think about ways you can drive new business during the summer months. This may include:
- Leverage Past Sales | Offer prior customers some type of value-add. This may be enhancing the look and feel of their website, tweaking SEO strategies, and updating cybersecurity protocols.
- Diversify | If all you’ve been doing is designing and developing websites, consider branching out to other complimentary services. For example, graphic design for online content, app development, or possibly even social media. A wider range of services equals a wider range of potential customers.
- Referral Program | Develop a customer referral program when business is strong so that you’ll have new customers during the month’s ahead!
In short, success in just about any aspect of life is about choices. If you want to play during the summer months, be sure to balance out cash in- and out-flows. If you want to be working, be sure to develop ways to grow your business. It’s in your hands (…and your bank account <grin>).