Make the most of downtime in your business

Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.

If you run your own shop or ecommerce store, a quiet period is possibly something that you dread, but you shouldn’t. Even large multinational companies experience quieter months when the sales just don’t come. It’s part of business and something that you must learn to expect and ultimately, plan around. It’s essential that you prepare for these times and use them productively.

Take Inventory

How often do you do a thorough, in-depth stock review? When it’s busy it can be hard to keep track of what you’ve got, and larger than usual orders can make a detailed inventory difficult. This is a great time for running non-essentials down and completing a detailed stock count. This can save you money on orders, give you a more accurate idea of your cash flow and make your business more efficient going forward.

 

Appraisals and Performance Reviews

If you employ staff, use the quieter periods to perform appraisals and reviews. As a society, we’re very quick to judge and criticize, but often not as good as praising and picking up on the positives. So, sit down with every member of your team, praise their hard work, listen to their ambitions and help them to set goals for the future.

 

Chase Payments

This is also a great time to chase up any outstanding payments. A common problem for smaller companies is getting paid on time. If this is something you are struggling with, consider debt factoring to make sure your business doesn’t suffer while you are waiting for money.

 

Planning

When you are busy, it’s hard to plan too far ahead. You do what you can, but a detailed plan and forecast are often out of reach. Spend some time looking at your financial projection and adjusting it to reflect current sales and up and coming events. Then, plan your strategies going forward. Start preparing for winter holidays or you busiest seasons months before using last year’s sales as a guide.

 

Tidy Up

How often do you actually get the chance to give your store and office a good cleaning? Even if you hire a cleaner, you could take some extra time to re-arrange furniture and displays and organize your files and systems. You should also use this time to access your equipment and repair or replace any that need it.

Marketing

Yes, all businesses have quieter times. But, is there anything you could be doing to limit the damage? Look at your marketing strategies. Are you getting your voice heard? Implement new campaigns, run special offers and reward customer loyalty.

Grow Online

Having an online presence is hugely important to modern businesses. Use this time to grow online. If you haven’t already, set up social media profiles and a blog for your business and start using them. When you are busy, there is a lot that you don’t have time for. You focus your attentions on the day to day running of your business and don’t have the time for much else. Use any quieter periods productively, to plan for the future and catch up with any admin or maintenance that needs doing. This will help to ensure your business continues to grow and you are prepared for the busier times.

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