- THE MAGAZINE
Last December we took a look at recession-resistant marketing. Things being what they are these days, I thought it prudent to take another look at some of the things you can do to help stabilize your business and insulated it against recessionary influences.
The first key to steady sales in slow times is to take action before it actually gets slow. I know this doesn’t help much if your sales have already dropped, but if you are going to stay in business, you need to head off future slumps now. I am not saying that you won’t have lower and higher sales months, but I am saying that by being proactive you can soften the blow that slower months generally bring, and maximize heavy volume times to make more money during those periods.
Many businesses have slower times of the year due to weather, holidays, or lack of events. There are at least three things you can do to maintain healthier sales all year long.
Cultivate a Recession-Resistant MarketDuring a recession, those who have limited discretionary income are affected most. Middle- and low-end customers stop spending for fear that the money flow will stop. Or, they have already been affected and they simply don’t have the money to maintain the lifestyle they did prior to the recession. One of the ways you can overcome this challenge is to choose a different market. Instead of serving the “Kia” or “Saturn” market, begin to position yourself in the “Mercedes” market.
By choosing the high-end market, you automatically insulate your business from the huge ups and downs of a middle- or low-market business. “Mercedes” clients view many services and comforts as minimum standard. Therefore their spending pattern doesn’t change in many areas during a recession. They may cut down on the exotics, but will continue to purchase things that are viewed as essential. The low-and middle-income customer, however, is far more vulnerable and will react to reports of a down economy by pulling in the reins on spending.
If you are not yet in the high-end market, you may want to consider moving into it, especially if the product or service you sell is considered essential by that type of client. This is not done overnight, but in the long run you will get higher prices and more consistency during the slower times. “Mercedes” clients use a service company more often than “Saturn” customers, therefore creating more income for you.
Make Enough Profit in the High Months to Cover the Margin During Slower MonthsThe second way to deal with slow times, especially when considering weather or seasons, is to maximize your sales and production opportunities during the busier months. Too often, business owners hustle during the high season just to keep up with the work, and customers are turned away because “the schedule is full.” Take advantage of the buying frenzy during the high season, making as much money as possible so that you make more money than you need during those months. That extra profit can be applied to the slower months.
Find ways to work more clients into the schedule so that you won’t have to turn anyone away. This may include bringing in part-timers or working longer hours. Eliminate every possible interruption to production. Get equipment serviced before the season starts.
The more profit you make during the busy times can be used to ease the pain during the slow times. Take retail stores. Some retail stores operate at a loss all year long. They make all of their money during Christmas. Who cares when you make it, as long as you make it! Now, don’t get me wrong – you should do every thing you can to make money every month of the year. It can be a nerve-racking thing to wait all year for your profit.
Create a Better Strategy for the Slower MonthsThe third approach to be red-hot during the off months is to strategically plan your marketing strategy for anticipated slow times in advance. The most successful business owners I know promote their businesses just as much in the slow times as in the busy months. Make your most valuable offers during the slow months to increase sales, especially to repeat clients. Many clients will intentionally buy during those times to get more for their money.
Special Note: The slower months are perfect times to build relationships. Cultivating clients and referral sources during these times will ensure that you have more business all year long. Take advantage of times when you (or your staff) have more time available.