With an inconsistent cash flow, these slow periods can be a challenge for any business owner. But with a few strategies, you can successfully weather your annual production slowdown.
Managing the annual slowdown begins with knowing when to expect it, when sales hit the absolute bottom and how long the slowdown typically lasts. Once you really understand what your annual production pattern looks like, you will be able to make adjustments in your business to manage it.
Look at ways that you can manage your staffing and expenses when your business’s income is at its lowest. Perhaps rather than hiring staff that meets your needs during your production peak, you rely on adding a few seasonal workers to get you through the busy season. You could consider slightly reducing your hours of operation during the slow season. Consider reducing overhead costs by using less of your office space during the off season, or running fewer machines to meet your lower production demands.
If demand for your screen printed goods screeches to a halt during your slow season, you might consider finding alternative sales channels. You could consider taking up space at local malls or local vendor fairs during the holiday season to sell your original designs, shirts with trendy sayings or garments printed with logos that appeal to your area, such as local schools or sports teams (as always, be mindful of licensing issues). You also could create an online store to find a larger audience for your goods.
You also could offer incentives to encourage customers to do business with you during the slow period. If you have a customer that places large orders every spring, you could offer a slight discount if that customer will do business during the slow period. That helps you to fill your production calendar during your down time, and it opens up another production slot during your busy season without you losing business.
Your annual slowdown is the time of year to focus on your marketing efforts. When production is at its peak and you’re working hard to fulfill order deadlines, marketing often falls by the wayside. Take the time while you have it to increase your social media efforts, revamp your website and to hit industry trade shows, attend meetings of local business groups and call or visit potential customers to try to book new clients. Making time to focus on marketing during your off season could help boost your business year round.
Despite your best efforts, your slow season is bound to result in some downtime. The trick is not to let the downtime become a waste of time. Use this time to perform often overlooked maintenance on your machines, take inventory of your inks and supplies or to research products that have piqued your interest. The downtime during your slow season can help you catch up on all of the business tasks that fall by the wayside the rest of the year.
In just about every business, the slow season is an inevitable reality. As long as you anticipate the slow season and develop a clear strategy for dealing with it, you can make your annual slow season a valuable part of your business plan.
Seasonal weather can also play havoc with your screen printing! Check out this blog post to learn more: