For some businesses, like ice cream shops and anything having to do with vacations, outdoors or the beach, the summer season is the busiest of the year, and they often need to hire extra help to handle all the additional customers the warm weather brings. For some businesses, however, summer represents a slowdown, often resulting in fewer sales – and fewer profits. If you are the owner of one of those “summer slowdown” businesses, below are some tips that may help you boost your sales and turn your slow season into a profitable one:
Go Mobile. If your business is the type that can work outside of your brick and mortar location, consider taking it to the people. There are many summer festivals, farmers markets, community events and vendor fairs at which local businesses can set up booths and sell their products or services. This is not only a great way to generate more awareness of your business, it also gets you and your employees out and about. Check with your city or chamber of commerce to see what’s scheduled for your area this summer and determine which events your ideal customer is likely to attend, then purchase a table, booth or exhibit. If you decide to try this out, make sure you are able to accept credit card payments on the go with a mobile card reader like Phone Swipe – accepting credit cards at fairs and festivals will increase your sales volume over accepting cash only.
Partner Up. If you’re experiencing a summer slowdown, chances are other businesses nearby are, as well. Why not join together to boost each other’s businesses? Partnering is a great way to broaden your reach when you team up with a non-competing business to launch promotions or giveaways, with each partner offering a free service or discount coupons for the other’s business. Partnering not only has benefits for your business during the summer season, it can also have a positive effect in the future, too, in the form of repeat customers – when summer is over, keep track of how many people come into your business as a result of your summer partnerships. You are likely to be pleasantly surprised.
Get Seriously Social. When business slows down, ramp up your social media activity! Social media can help to increase your business by taking the news of special promotions (and partnerships, as mentioned above!) directly to the customers. You may even want to consider a special offer or discount for your social media followers. Contests are also a great way to generate excitement for your business during a slow time, and social media is the ideal place to conduct one. Contests engage customers, increase page views and creates goodwill for your business. A social media contest can be as simple as having customers post their favorite summer memory, then picking a winner at random from all commenters, or asking a question and picking a winner from the correct entries. Ideally, the prize should be something customers can only use at your business, like a gift certificate or a coupon for $10 off their next purchase.
Promote Yourself. Get innovative and develop a couple of summer promotions or sales that go beyond the standard 25 percent-off sale to draw customers to your business. For example, a bookstore could offer buy one get one free (or half price) on popular summer “beach reads” or any type of business could do a “Two-fer Tuesdays” type of sale where certain items are two for the price of one on certain days of the week. Make sure that you mention your promotions on your social media channels, and take advantage of small community newspapers, that often offer free space to local businesses for promotions.
Reward Your Customers. If you are looking to generate repeat business (and who isn’t?) consider implementing a rewards program. Rewards programs stimulate sales and loyalty year round by encouraging customers to visit your location more frequently so they can accumulate “points” that go towards a later purchase. As an example, a typical rewards program for a coffee shop may be giving customers a free drink or pastry after their sixth purchase. While you can launch a rewards program any time of the year, doing so in the off-season has one distinct advantage – it gives you time to test which programs (or parts of programs) may or may not work for your business and your customers, so when your busy season begins, your rewards program will be fully in place and working smoothly.
A slow summer season doesn’t have to mean a leaner bottom line. Getting creative about marketing ideas and implementing some of the above suggestions or developing your own can have a positive impact on your bottom line. Identifying new opportunities to win over new customers while re-energizing existing ones takes some effort, but it will pay off not just in the summer months, but year round.