In some industries, the holidays serve as the best time of year to maximize your business and meet your bottom line. But this is not the case for many small businesses such as landscapers, contractors or other seasonally focused businesses.
For some, the anticipation of an upcoming holiday can spur worry over the dreaded “slow-down” of business. The easy, and possibly most natural, thing to do when you project a lull in your business activity is to close up shop and look forward to the return of business as usual.
This year, I challenge you to resist the urge to shut it down and instead turn it up.
Take traditionally slow times of year for your business and find creative and unique ways to reach more potential customers, forge new relationships, and foster a sense of community among your clientele.
The holidays are a time to reach out with purpose and remind those you serve that you care about the community they live, work, play and shop in.
In today’s business world, so much of what we do happens at the click of a button or the swipe of a smartphone screen, but there is so much to gain from personal interaction.
Every year around the holidays, I make a point to go through my client list and find reasons to reach out.
I send closing statements knowing that my clients need those documents for their taxes to come January. This simple outreach is an effective and personal way to strengthen relationships, and it comes from a place of genuinely wanting to help those I serve.
I also get on the phone. Making phone calls to clients to check in and make sure they are taken care of is a fixture of my real estate business. A phone call is a great time to connect with your customers and invite them to share your business with their family and friends.
Create a buzz
Launch holiday promotions to remind your clients why they need your products or services. Remember: these promotions don’t mean deep discounts. Find a way to market your business so it’s front-and-center. Remind your customers that you’re standing ready to provide them with the best services and products that you do year-round.
As a contractor, there was a time I offered discounted prices around the holidays as a gesture of goodwill and a way to keep workflow coming. This backfired when that client referred me to several friends and I was cornered into my discounted rate. Before I knew it, I was providing an extensive amount of work for half my value. Your clients will hire you because they trust that you will provide a quality service. Offer your services to them during slow times of the year, but don’t feel you need to drop your prices to secure their business.
Get face time
So often we hear that neighbors today rarely get to know each other. In the hustle and bustle of life, it’s easy to focus inward. As a business owner, it’s important to get face time with current and potential customers and to be genuine in your approach.
During the holidays or slow times of the year, carve out time to be present in the neighborhoods you serve. This could mean going door-to-door to all the clients you served in the last year. Or volunteer your time with local nonprofits and be present at community events to make new connections.
To prevent your small business from losing clients, find ways to continue to be a resource in an attempt to boost business during slow times. Working in the landscape industry, there are some fun, helpful, and creative ways to do this.
During the holiday season, send out a branded e-mail blast or postcard offering your clients some helpful tips and suggestions for winter yard care. Share a “how to” list outlining proper poinsettia care or offer tips for winter landscape decor. As the spring holidays approach, share best practices on how to ‘spring clean’ your garden or cultivate lilies. And come summer, a tutorial on drought-tolerant landscape ideas might pique your customers’ interest.
Be strategic in your timing and thoughtful in your approach. Be willing to take on smaller projects to keep your business’ name at the forefront of your customer’s minds. There are opportunities that come with each holiday to maximize your exposure and position yourself as the valued expert that you are.
Incorporating some of these tips into your business practices can help you build relationships and ultimately boost your clients. With a little foresight, creativity, and planning you can transform a business lull into a growth opportunity.