Does your income plummet during the holidays? Here is the top 10 Strategies for overcoming sales slumps. (part 2 of 2)

Highs and Lows are just a part of your business that makes a profit from your pouring passion.  Whether you are selling, teaching, or both— your income will benefit from using some of these 10 strategies. We went over strategies one through five last week, here’s six through 10 in part two.

Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance!

To start overcoming your business’s seasonality, implement some of these strategies:

  1. Diversify
  2. Hosting Christmas parties and charities
  3. Christmas themed classes that solve problems for your students
  4. Establish partnerships
  5. Take a needed break
  6. Use your knowledge of your flat seasons to keep an eye on your cashflow.
  7. Pre-sell in three ways
  8. Follow the money
  9. Use your downtime to focus more on promoting your business
  10. Improve your products and services!

6. Use your knowledge of your flat seasons to keep an eye on your cashflow. 

This is the least exciting strategy. Decrease expenses. Keep your eye on the bottom line. Overspending in your busy season can have catastrophic results in your off-season. While it can be difficult to predict how much money you’ll need for the off-season, it’s essential you save enough. Without enough savings, you may not be able to afford your expenses. To avoid this scenario, you can:

Set yearly, quarterly, or even monthly cash flow projections. Cash flow projections estimate how much money will come in and go out of your business for a specific time period. To make these projections, you start with the amount of cash you have at the beginning of the time period you’re estimating. Your starting cash amount is your income minus expenses for that time period. Once you do that, you can then:

  • Estimate the amount of cash that will come into your business for the next period.
  • Estimate the amount of expenses you will pay in the next period.
  • Subtract your estimated expenses from your estimated income. This will be your projected cash flow. Calculating cash flow projections can help you make sure you’re on track to save enough for each time period.

The first way to reduce your business’s off-season expenses is by reducing your inventory. You don’t need to order as much paint, canvas, and other art supplies in your off-season. Especially, when you know you’ll have fewer sales. Some other ways to reduce expenses in your off-season include:

  • Adjusting your employees hours
  • Cutting back on supplies you buy
  • Establishing more energy-efficient business practices

7. Pre-sell!   

Use the knowledge you’ve gained about your seasonal highs and lows. Collect the money in the season that your ideal client avatar is spending on themselves and offer the class when they are not. There are three ways to do this:

  1. Gift Certificates are another form of preselling. You can offer gift certificates for gift giving to a specific class offered in your slump time. Do you know how your students always say they wish their friend would have come? Now they can make them! 
  2. Presell packages of workshops in a series. Think of it this way, people have plenty of time to go to your classes in January, it’s just difficult for many people to consider spending more money after they just spent so much on Christmas. In fact, the first week of January, many people are still on Christmas leave— so they have time. Meet their needs by selling at your peak and offer the class during your lows. For example: presell in November an exclusive series you offer in four parts in January and February.  
  3. Presell during a launch. “Open cart” for a limited time after a big marketing build-up. Use scarcity and immediacy. Sell and collect the payment during peak for classes that are offered during your low times. Here’s an example of what I mean:

One of my mentors, Matt Tommey, sells all his workshops for the whole year at one time. When he announces enrollment is open they sell out in less than an hour. How does he do this? Well, strategically! All throughout the year in his emails he increases desire to attend through anticipation, scarcity, and fear of missing out! So when he finally opens the “cart” his classes fill up fast. Every year he hears stories of people that missed out. Of course, he shares those stories to start building urgency for next year.

8. Follow the money 

Simply put: travel teach. Do you teach at a destination location where people are traveling during the holidays or vacations? If not, then the money is leaving your area to be spent elsewhere. During the holidays, is money literally traveling toward or away from you? If you teach at vacation location you can increase your number of classes at those locations. If not, consider starting to offer classes at destination locations.

It can be fun too! I bring my family! Since my wife is a teacher I maximize the time that the school is closed and we go to the beach, mountains, or other fun locations. While there, I teach at a local art center or offer a retreat. Again, pre-selling your classes, workshops and retreats can be a huge advantage.

9. Use your downtime to focus more on promoting your business:

Increase marketing with:

  • Contests
  • Limited-time promotions
  • Refer-a-friend programs
  • Offer special deals during your off-season. Offering discounts and sales to customers can help keep cash flowing to your business year-round. However, discounting during slow times is fine to keep net income coming in, but it’s not a good strategy to offer classes at a loss just to keep busy.

Batching. You can schedule posts on social media and emails to go out in the future.  Preparing them ahead of time in batches is a smart way to do your marketing all year.  Doing a lot of batching in your slow times is even smarter!  

Marketing means staying in touch with your customers throughout the year. This should be a regular business practice for you and your team. Spend your available time and energy researching, making graphics, writing copy, and possibly learning scheduling software and apps. Some best practices for this include:

  • Using social media to interact with customers
  • Starting a blog or podcast for your business
  • Building an email list during your busy season that you can use to communicate during your off-season
  • Creating a monthly newsletter to distribute to your customer base

Tips for creating social media content for your customers:

  • Create messages that your friends would relate to
  • Create messages that sound natural, casual, and not forced
  • Ask your customers open-ended questions so that they can share their opinions
  • Automate your reply to customers in Messenger inquiries to consistently make them feel like their voice is heard. Via your Facebook Business Page consider adding a Manychat bot. With email, you can use autoresponder features.

10. Improve your services!

Were you too busy to follow-up with your student survey? Now is a great time to make contact with previous students for crucial information. As you contact (call, post polls on your group, or email) your previous students also keep in mind both their demographics and psychographic profiles. (More on this next month when I share the 5Ps of people, problems, positioning, planning, and promotion strategy!) Stay aware of who your students are when talking to them and surveying and getting feedback. You want to learn exactly what type of person is your ideal client avatar? Further defining your client’s avatar is key to reaching others like them. 

Gaining feedback is critical to prep for future classes and prep for marketing. Slower times in your business is a great time to do this effort. Get needed feedback by asking questions like:

  1. Did we meet your expectations?
  2. How likely are you to repeat your business with us?
  3. What would have made your experience with us better?
  4. What products or services do you wish we carried?
  5. Are there any features missing from our current services?

 

Seasonality is to be accepted as a part of owning your own business.  

It takes planning to make the most of your business!  

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